Chords on the Guitar

On every polyphonic instrument, knowing how to play chords is one of the most important subjects, every song is built and based on chords after all. One can sometimes listen to a good chord progression with no real melody and enjoy it.

For some reasons, playing chords seems to be a bit more confusing and challenging on the guitar, regardless of the genre. These days hundreds if not thousands of chord books are available, some better than others. Some are too limited, some too difficult and some theoretically correct but not very practical.

The left (for some right) hand needs to hold on to the neck and fret-board when one tries to play a chord on the guitar. For the pro players, it might not be an issue to hold a very difficult chord for a long time but the real challenge comes up when one needs to move/jump from one chord to another. Only then the importance of a “balanced/standard chord” is going to be revealed. Even if one of the say two chords is too difficult, the player needs to make a lot of effort to jump to the next and it might not always be a success. Therefore, the audience is probably going to hear a lot of “wrong notes”, buzzes, etc. On the other hand, if the chords are too easy, the music might sound too thin.51-rx6tX19L._AC_UL320_SR232,320_

Joe Pass was a great jazz guitarist, known for his wonderful improvisation skill which requires a deep knowledge of chords, chord progressions and melody writing. He had many solo and ensemble performances and was a good example of a “one man band”.

Even though he was a virtuoso himself, he did not believe in super hard to play chords and found it pointless to spend hours on getting only one chord right. Moreover, these chords can sometimes stretch the tendons in the finger too much and lead to serious injuries.

Joe Pass guitar chord book might not be the best option for the beginners but for the guitarists who have at least some experience playing the guitar and would like to broaden their knowledge of chords.


Listen to Joe Pass playing “Autumn leaves“.



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