Jazz Comping 3: Combining Fifth and Sixth String Roots
Now that we have A decent roster of basic seventh chords from which to choose, we will begin expanding our range across the fretboard by doing exercises that specify chords with roots on both strings. On the exercises on this page, below each chord you will see an Arabic numeral which specifies on which string the root of each chord will be placed. For instance, on the first exercise you will see a G major 7 chord with the number 6 beneath it. This means to play the major 7th shape listed under “Sixth String Drop-3 Roots” above. It is up to you to figure out on which fret of the sixth string that voicing is located. Next you will see a C major 7 chord with the number 6 beneath it. Therefore, you will finger the major 7th shape listed under “Fifth String Drop-2 Roots” somewhere on the fifth string. As this exercise is usually difficult enough for beginning jazz guitarists, we will stick to the “four-to-the-floor” rhythm from the previous exercise. A Youtube video with backing tracks is located at the bottom of the page. You can change the tempo using the Youtube speed controller.
It is useful to begin noticing early the proximity of the chords in each exercise. In jazz comping, we use a technique called “voice leading”. This means we want to keep the notes in our chords as close together as possible. For those interested in music theory, this means no pitch (except the root) moves up or down more than a minor third between chords. But rather than try and measure each shift, we just choose the chord voicing closest to the previous one. That might seem a little tricky at the beginning, but as you become more experienced, it will become very intuitive.