Jamie Holroyd Guitar

Jamie Holroyd Guitar

Jazz Guitar Endings Guide

Jazz Guitar Endings Guide

In other lessons from the 30 Days to Better Jazz Guitar Series such as bossa nova comping and creating walking bass lines I have stressed how important it is to keep chords simple to keep consistent groove throughout a piece, however there’s one place in a tune that almost every jazz guitarist and pianist like to showcase their favourite chords, the ending.

In today’s instalment of the series we will be checking out how we can better our jazz guitar chops by looking at studying this jazz guitar endings guide.

You can also use these chords in your chord solos, and solo jazz guitar arrangements.



Major Key Ending Chords


Perhaps the most common chord types for major tunes are #11’s and 6/9 chords. The #11 chords have a bit more crunch, and the 6/9’s are quite sweet sounding and often used to end rock and roll tunes.

Check out the first two chords in the example below for two #11 inversions that you can use in the key of C. Remember to practice all of these inversions in different ways discussed in the beginning at the book so that you have them at your disposal.

Another cool trick used to add colourful extensions to ending chords is the use of open strings. Open string chords work better in certain keys though, sometimes they only give diatonic extensions but other times they provide a pleasing dissonance.

For example the open B string gives us the #11 in the F major 7#11 in the example below.

In the Bb major 7 example the open E string gives us the #11 in the key of Bb.

The last open string example has diatonic notes as open strings in the key of C, but notice the crunchy minor 2nd interval between the F# on the 4th string and the open G string.



Minor Key Ending Chords


Perhaps the most common ending chord type for minor key tunes is the Minor major 7th chord sometimes referred to as the ‘Starsky and Hutch chord’. A minor major seventh chord is a regular minor chord with a natural seventh instead of a flat 7th.

Extra crunch can be added by adding the natural 9th on this chord as shown in the example below.

Minor 6th chords also make good ending chord types for minor tunes, because the 6th sounds more stable and complete than the 7th which your ear wants to hear resolve. Again you can add the 9th on top for a fuller sound as demonstrated in the minor key endings chord sheet.

Like with major key chords open strings can be used in certain keys for additional crunch like on the 2nd A-9 chord on the sheet.

The last minor ending chord is the famous ‘James Bond’ chord which I’ve notated in the key of E so you can use the open bass string as a bass note. Volume and tone knob swelling is optional.

Another simple trick that you can to do end a minor tune is end on a major chord instead of a minor one. This has a pleasing affect because the ear is expecting a minor chord.



Ending Progressions


Besides using chords to end a tune that are also some cool turnarounds and progressions that can be used to provide harmonic interest.

The first example delays the resolution by a bar, by adding a chord before the I in a II-V-I progression. All you need to do is add a major 7 chord a semi-tone up from the ending chord, so for example here the ending chord is C major 7 so a Dbmaj7 has being added a bar before.



This idea of delaying the I chord can be taken much further as show in the example which features a much more extended cyclic ending.

When you get to the I chord, which is in this example is C major 7th, go round the cycle of 4ths until you are a semi-tone away from the one chord then resolve.



This technique works equally well with dominant 7th chords in place of major 7th chords.



The Tag Ending


The tag is perhaps the most commonly used ending and even though it doesn’t include fancy chords or turnarounds it’s important that you are aware of it for gigs and jam sessions.

The tag is repeating the last melody line of the piece which is usually the last 4 bars which is some kind of a turnaround harmonically. Usually the musician playing the melody will make a circular motion with their hand to indicate a tag.

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Do you have any favorite chords or ways to end a tune not discussed in this article? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. Tomorrow we wil be checking some cool ending licks to end tunes that you know with.

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Barry Wahrhaftig

Another cool one that I use a lot can be called the flat 5 ending.
It starts on a mi7b5 chord a flat 5 from the tonic, and moves down in half steps, two beats each. The key is to keep the 'C' in the top voice of each chord. Ex: F#mi7b5-Fmi6-C69/E-Eb13-Dmi7-Dbma7-C69.
Hope that you like it!
Hot Club Philly

Jamie Holroyd

Great ending, thanks for sharing!

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Teemu V.

Beautiful chords, thanks for the lesson! I think I spotted a little glitch, isn't the second to last chord in the first example a B/C not C/B?

Jamie Holroyd

Glad you dug it! Yep good eye, thanks for pointing it out... will soon be corrected!

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