Parent article: Best Intermediate Guitar Lessons
Recently updated on July 22nd, 2020
Made minor edits to copy and updated formatting for informational sections. Also checked product links for availability.
Best Jazz Guitar Lessons: Guitar Tricks
Tons of material over multiple courses and instructors, and ideal for a wide range of skill levels, the Guitar Tricks jazz category is strong on chord theory, rhythm technique, extended chords, and harmonizing.
The best jazz guitar lessons are characterized by a deep dive into chords, extended range harmonies, modal improvising, and artist studies of the great jazz guitarists (there are quite a few of them).
This requires a solid understanding of the fretboard, a handle on basic chords, and the ability to change between those chords quickly.
However, even the advanced guitar players aren't going to be able to just pick up and play without a good jazz guitar course to help teach them the subtle technique and nuanced involved with jazz guitar.
To help those looking to get into jazz, we've picked out five of the best jazz guitar lessons, made up of four courses from Guitar Tricks, JamPlay, and TrueFire.
Best Jazz Guitar Lessons Comparison Table
Since Guitar Chalk is a reader-supported site, we don't run ads or sponsored content.
Instead, we recommend guitar lesson sites like these to help keep our magazine going. If you click through and download a course, sign up for a free trial, or sign on for a monthly membership, it helps support Guitar Chalk at no extra cost to you.
Either way, these courses are genuine recommendations based on research by actual guitar players (see Why Trust Guitar Chalk).
Guitar Tricks Jazz Courses
JamPlay's Electric Blues with Kenny Ray
Jazz Comping Survival Guide
JamPlay's Chord Alchemy with John March
1. Guitar Tricks Jazz Style Section
The jazz style section in Guitar Tricks covers a varied list of jazz-related concepts, though focuses most on chords and extended range harmony. While some of the courses cover more basic chord and rhythm concepts, most of them assume at least a beginner-level understanding of guitar and quickly get you into the deeper chording complexities of the jazz style.
For aspiring jazz players who are more rhythm-focused, these courses are great for expanding on your skill level while also feeling like you're getting a good refresher.
We'd recommend it most for beginners who want to migrate into the jazz playing style.
Read the full review: Guitar Tricks
IDEAL FOR: Beginners who want to move into a jazz guitar style
- Christopher Schlegel is a great teacher
- Good emphasis on complex chord changes and rhythm concepts
- Lots of content within each course listed in the jazz section
- Helpful to both beginner and advanced players
- Interspersed with artist studies
- Some courses are older and lower resolution
- Sporadic courses aren't necessarily optimally organized
2. JamPlay's Jazz Guitar with Jane Miller
Jane Miller's jazz course is one of the most thorough and complete available on the internet, with 70 total lessons covering essentially every aspect of jazz guitar.
You'll start in things like movable jazz chord progressions, minor scales and work your way up to chromatic scale shapes, upper register triads, extended range harmonies, and even comping.
Though it is only one course, there's still a ton of material here, and Jane is a soft-spoken teacher who is easy to follow and encouraging to listen to.
For those who prefer to work from a single course instead of jumping back forth between lessons (like you might do on Guitar Tricks), Jane's course is a better option.
Read the full review: JamPlay
IDEAL FOR: Those looking for a linear, thorough jazz course
- Tons of content in a single course
- Good progression going from easy to more difficult jazz topics
- Jane Miller is a solid teacher and communicator
- Just watching Jane play is helpful and inspirational
- Videos are aged, only go up to 720p
- Interface and video background are bit dark in some videos
3. Jazz Comping Survival Guide via TrueFire
For advanced players who want to focus entirely on jazz and need no introductory material, this course is one of the best, most intensive jazz guitar series I could recommend.
Fareed Haque is one of the world's most respected and experienced jazz guitarists and teachers and I'm a huge fan of his method of teaching chords (shows you how to build them one note at a time).
He also structures his course to focus on what you need to do to be working as a jazz guitarist, so there's plenty of helpful context and application for pro-level gigging. The course is full of complex, yet easy to remember concepts that can definitely make you a better jazz player.
IDEAL FOR: Getting into advanced and/or pro-level jazz guitar study
- Tons of nuance focusing on blues greats and their playing styles
- Intriguing look into the vintage side of the blues style and its origins
- Really good integration of technique with artist concepts
- Lots of content
- Usually just a single camera angle
- Videos are a bit older and lower resolution
4. Chord Alchemy with John March via JamPlay
John March's Chord Alchemy course on JamPlay is one of my favorite recommendations, not just for jazz but for those wanting to get a better understanding of chords and the relationship they have to one another and the fretboard.
John goes deep into the intervalic relationship between chords, sequencing, and single-note movements, all in the context of jazz performing.
IDEAL FOR: General chord study and semi-advanced jazz playing
- Solid study of intervals
- John's approach to chords is applicable outside of jazz as well
- Helpful for the jazz improviser or performer
- John's teaching style is entertaining and engaging
- Usually just a single camera angle (older JamPlay course)
The Review Process
While looking for jazz guitar lessons to recommend, we focused on the most reputable programs and picked from courses within those programs. To test these courses, we actually went through them, watched the videos, and took some good notes.
In other words, we're not reviewing blind or making blind recommendations.
We're guitar players who know what a good guitar lesson should be, and this helps us make genuine recommendations to you based on real research
How We Review Guitar Courses
To go through the material, we usually use one or more of the following items:
- Macbook Pro, Mac Mini, and Cinema Display
- Apple iPad and iPhone
- PRS and Fender electric guitars
- Taylor and Martin Acoustics
Our review team is entirely made up of guitar players and musicians, where a large portion of the work and write-up is done by me directly (Bobby). We don't outsource the work or have these lists written by people who don't know guitar.
From what we typically see online, this is not the norm.
We often see marketers, search engine gurus, and even insurance salesman billing themselves as musicians, and recommending certain programs. This is not the case with our reviews. We're guitar players and musicians primarily, who make it our job to know our instrument and recommend good lessons.
For jazz-related content, we've even consulted with university professors and teachers, including EMU's Mark Whetzel.
Criteria for Evaluating Jazz Guitar Lessons
To evaluate lessons and courses in Guitar Chalk, we have two rating systems: One simplified and one weighted.
For the jazz guitar lessons in this article, we're using the simplified system, which includes four categories:
- Value (cost)
- Content quality
- Educational quality
- Topical organization
While these four criteria aren't necessarily specific to jazz, they still help give us an idea of where the strengths and weaknesses of an online course are.
Let's talk a little more about each one.
Value is how we measure price and overall quality of a given guitar lesson or course.
Since many courses aren't available as a single download for a one-time fee, we have to use the monthly membership cost of the parent program and plot it against that program's final rating.
For example, in the following graph you have a table with the monthly price and overall rating for each program, where lower and further to the right is better:
In this chart, you can see that Guitar Tricks, JamPlay, and Guitargate are three of the highest-value options, if you assume their overall rating (used in this graph).
Since we don't use the rating for each individual jazz course in this table, we take the value of each program overall when assessing courses within those programs.
To measure content quality, we look at the inclusion of media and the quality of that media.
- How many videos are included in the course?
- What kind of picture quality can the reader expect?
- Is it easy to stream and easy to see what the teacher's hands are doing?
- What about the navigation of the site?
- Is it easy to get from one place to another?
- Is it a well-designed user experience?
While this is a very broad category that isn't directly applicable to jazz guitar lessons, it's still an important part of grading any online course.
Unlike measuring overall content quality, education quality can be completely contextualized to a genre.
In the case of jazz, you have a very intellectual style of music, where good instruction and high-quality teaching is extremely important.
To get a score for these jazz guitar lessons we're looking at how well the instructor is communicating theory and functionality as it relates to jazz.
- Are they explaining lead and rhythm topics thoroughly?
- Do they address jazz particulars like comping and chord extensions?
- Are extended chords explained in the context of harmony?
- Are chord progressions addressed in a way that's easy to remember and transfer to jazz playing styles?
We also look at how good the teacher is at explaining concepts, demonstrating them, and helping you apply them yourself.
Since jazz is often a more advanced guitar study, the order of topics matters less, though is still important for the linear thinker to know how they're progressing and where they need to go next.
This category is graded on that order, and how clear the prerequisites are for the course.
For example, do need to have a basic understanding of chords and chord progressions before getting into the course? If so, is that clearly articulated somehow?
Are simpler jazz concepts covered before moving on to more complicated concepts that expand on those simpler ones?
For most courses, there's a natural progression of difficulty that can be followed to achieve a good topical flow.
Though effectively ordering jazz concepts is tricky and there are a lot of courses that I would say do a poor job of topical arrangement.
The four in our list largely do a great job with this.
Other Factors to Consider
Thus far we've looked at four ways we evaluate and review guitar lessons, all of which relate to how the lessons were built and how the manufacturer set them up.
What that doesn't take into account is your own situation and factors that could impact your decision that I can't really anticipate.
They have nothing to do with the course itself.
When choosing your jazz lessons, we'd recommend thinking about the following three variables.
Your Skill Level
Simply put: How good are you at guitar already?
Are you a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player?
Answering that question will inform whether you go with a jazz guitar course designed for more basic or advanced study, perhaps with (or without) some fundamental guitar concepts "baked in" to the earlier lessons.
Lead or Rhythm
Second: Are you a rhythm or lead player?
And maybe you don't know this yet, but it's something to think about as you start to study jazz guitar.
What comes more naturally to you?
Chords, progressions, and bass lines? Or solos and melodies?
Both can be a big part of learning jazz guitar.
Your Learning Style
Third, and last: Learning style.
Often times your learning style will relate to whether you have an easier time learning guitar online or from a teacher.
In this context, it's more a matter of thinking about which course and teacher or teaching style you most identify with and would have the easiest time listening to.
- Do you need a course that's more visual?
- What about detailed explanation?
- Do you need things spelled out or would you prefer less detailing and more demos of concepts?
These are just a few of the ways you can analyze your own learning style to help figure out which teacher and course would work best for you.
Jazz is a style of guitar that can be helped significantly by a good teacher. And these courses have been put together by some of the best jazz guitar teachers we know to recommend. Browse through them, use the free trials for the websites, and figure out which one might be a good fit for you.
Have you taken Jazz Guitar Lessons?
Do you have questions about the lessons listed in this article? Perhaps you want to know about a jazz course I didn't mention or you'd like to just share your experience. Either way, feel free to leave a note in the comments section below and we'll talk.