Searching for online jazz guitar courses you’ll come across content from experts like Joe Pass, Mickey Baker, Jens Larsen, Chris Whiteman, Jonathan Kreisberg, and Cecil Alexander.

Then there are small and large websites offering one or more courses.

These include sites like Jazzguitar.be, TrueFire, Guitartricks, SoundGuitarLessons.com, Berkelee.edu, FlatFiv.com, and PickupMusic.com.

When I started learning jazz guitar, it was incredibly difficult to know where to begin. 

  • There was so much information online but little direction on where to start. 
  • To help you avoid the traps, I’ve written this article to fast track your jazz guitar practice and speed up your path to mastery.

With these tips, studying jazz guitar online is very achievable and by the end of this article, you’ll know the best way to go.

You’ll likely take several jazz guitar courses as you progress from enthusiast to beginner to intermediate and advanced.

So, it’s important to find a dedicated guitar courses website that offers a range of ironclad curricula in multiple genres catering to different levels of learning and support.

Get ready to ‘Pickup’ jazz guitar

I’m going to take you through one of the most popular courses from Pickup Music - one of the world’s leading guitar learning websites.

My name is Jack and I’m a team member at Pickup Music by day and a professional jazz guitarist and instructor by night.

Let me highlight how it’s unlike other courses available online…

The ultimate online jazz guitar course:  The Jazz Learning Pathway

One of the best things about the online course we offer is that it’s perfectly tailored towards jazz guitar lessons for beginners and helps you work your way up to becoming a strong intermediate jazz guitarist.  

Here’s some more information about the Jazz Learning Pathway: 

Course name: Jazz Learning Pathway

Course creator(s):  Cecil Alexander and Sam Blakelock

Course copyright:  Pickup Music

Language: English

Who’s it for?  Everyone from ages 15 and up

Course level:  Advanced-Beginner to Intermediate

Course duration: 3 Months

Course delivery:  Online

Media:

  • Video: Theory (55 days of lessons), Instructional (55 days of lessons), Demonstration (290 exercises)

Course support

  • Online Community 24/7/365
  • Live Q&A
  • Live Band Practice
  • Instructor feedback

Course topics & modules

Here’s a very brief overview – check here for an in-depth look at the curriculum.

Grade 1. Jazz for Beginners (with Sam Blakelock)

A music-first introduction to the wonderful world of jazz guitar.

Grade 2. Scales 101 (with Sam Blakelock)

Hit the melodic gym and pump up your improvisational vocabulary.

Grade 3. Introduction to Jazz Soloing (with Cecil Alexander)

Class with Cecil is now in session. Get ready for some college-level soloing.

Grade 4. Intermediate Soloing

This grade is about expanding on the concepts that we learned with Cecil in Grade 3.

Grade 5. Secondary Dominants in 7 Days

Here, we'll take a week to focus on one of the most effective tools in a jazz guitarist's toolkit – the secondary dominant chord.

Grade 6 – Week 1. Jazz Blues

With all the hard work you'll have put in across Grades 3-5, we'll focus on having fun in this grade by exploring a fun pocket of jazz called jazz blues.

Grade 6 – Week 2. How to Learn Jazz Standards

This is everything you've been working toward! In the final week of Grade 6, you'll use jazz standards to better understand the language and function of jazz guitar.

Jazz guitar chords

At the very beginning, you’ll get to grips with the most common major, minor, and dominant 7th chord shapes.

7th chords sound fresh and are a useful introduction to playing harmonically interesting chord progressions that use 9th, 11th, and 13th extension notes. 

Beginner

These four chord types are crucial to learn as the later grades will use these to form longer and more complex chord progressions:

  • Major 7 chords
  • Minor 7 chords
  • Dominant 7 chords
  • Minor 7 b5 chords 

All of the great jazz guitarists from Django Reinhardt, to Charlie Christian, used chords as their basis for rhythm guitar parts or material for chord solos. 

Intermediate

In the middle grades, you’ll learn how to use the 4 chords to outline full progressions that will appear in songs:

  • Major II-V-I progressions
  • Minor II-V-I progressions
  • Major key turnarounds
  • Minor key turnarounds

Advanced

Towards the end of the course, you’ll be introduced to more sophisticated harmonic devices such as the following:

  • Secondary Dominant chords
  • Altered dominant chords
  • Modal jazz progressions 
  • Diminished chords
  • Major jazz blues chord progressions
  • Minor jazz blues chord progressions

Tough time remembering how chords are formed? 

Luckily for you the Jazz Learning Pathway has a huge collection of printable charts to help make those new chord shapes stick. 

If you want a headstart, read through our jazz guitar chords article.

Jazz guitar Licks

When learning jazz improvisation, it’s important to create a collection of licks that you can use to understand the playing style and help you form new ideas of your own. 

  • Learning licks makes studying jazz guitar practical. 
  • Once you understand enough of the theory behind a jazz lick, you’ll start to see where to place it over a chord progression for the best effect.
  • All solos use licks to some degree as they are useful devices for implementing strong melodies that immediately work over a chord progression.

In the early grades, you’ll start by

  • Learning major scale licks that work over the I chord.
  • Using the dorian mode over a minor chord.
  • Expanding the minor pentatonic licks into dorian and aeolian licks.

In the middle grades, you’ll use licks a little differently by

  • Forming licks that work over the I, IV, and V chords individually.
  • Creating turnaround licks that help a chord progression return to the top of the form.
  • Basic major II-V-I licks that link together each of the chords.

In the later grades, you’ll explore licks that use

  • Minor II-V-I licks that link each of the chords together.
  • Altered dominant licks that create tension over the V7 and VI7 chords.
  • Increased chromaticism and enclosures heard in bebop playing styles.
  • Blues licks that combine arpeggios with the minor pentatonic scale and chromatic enclosures.

Jazz guitar patterns and phrases

A key skill needed to learn the jazz language is to train your ears to identify common phrases and patterns. 

For this reason, you’ll spend each of the grades deepening your understanding of

  • Which scales align with which chords.
  • Licks and phrases that work over minor and major chords.
  • Using the pentatonic scale as a skeletal pattern for creating other minor scales. 
  • Learning the melody of songs and how it can be useful for understanding theory.

Guitar arpeggios

Arpeggios are a crucial part of forming jazz vocabulary on guitar.

Most jazz guitar chord theory is built on the understanding of arpeggios and how to use these shapes to outline the harmony of songs – but they aren’t as complex as you might think. 

This course will help you form arpeggios that outline

  • Minor 7th chords
  • Major 7th chords
  • Dominant 7th chords
  • Minor 7th flat 5th chords

Once your ears have absorbed the new sounds of each arpeggio, you’ll be introduced to licks and solos that use these arpeggios to form a more interesting soloing vocabulary.

Jazz guitar scales

There are lots of free jazz guitar courses on the internet that share the scales you’ll want to know for soloing. 

But not many of these jazz guitar curriculums will provide you with tutorials for how to use them across the fretboard – this is where we’re different. 

  • To build you into an all-round guitar player, we believe that scales need context to be learned properly. 
  • Our graded material helps you explore these new sounds one step at a time before introducing some creative exercises and jams to help you get comfortable with them.

Here are some of the scales you’ll encounter and learn how to use in the Jazz Learning Pathway:

  • Major scale
  • Blues Scale
  • Minor pentatonic scale
  • Melodic minor scale
  • Harmonic minor scale
  • Diminished scale
  • Altered scale
  • Whole tone scale
  • Melodic minor modes

Learn popular jazz songs

The Jazz Learning Pathway features some of the top 10 jazz standards to help you start building out your repertoire. 

These 10 essential tunes use the same 2-5-1 chord progressions that you’ll find in hundreds of other jazz standards and jazz guitar chord melodies. 

  1. Autumn Leaves
  2. Stompin’ At The Savoy
  3. Blue Bossa
  4. Fly Me To The Moon
  5. All The Things You Are
  6. Summertime
  7. Billie’s Bounce
  8. Solar
  9. So What 
  10. The Girl From Ipanema

Getting to grips with the most common jazz tunes is an excellent way to spot songwriting patterns in the other standards.

In time, this will enrich and improve your song-learning speed once you can spot the similarities. 

Course Cost:  From $15/month

What you’ll achieve

By the end of the Jazz Learning Pathway, you’ll have made huge strides in your general guitar playing and fretboard understanding. 

All your hard work and studying will also reap these awesome rewards

  • A deep knowledge of the jazz guitar fundamentals and how to use them.
  • How to take jazz guitar music theory and turn it into real music.
  • How to solo over basic and advanced jazz chord progressions.
  • Forming major II-V-I and minor II-V-I chord progressions across the fretboard.
  • Use voice leading to smoothen your solos and chord progressions.
  • How to transcribe and build up your ear training skills.

As part of the Jazz Learning Pathway, you’ll also become familiar with the work of jazz greats such as Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery, Charlie Parker, and George Benson.

Get your free 14-day trial to Pickup Music’s Jazz Learning Pathway

  • A structured pathway  revealing everything you need to know
  • Get feedback from pro guitarists
  • Be part of a supportive online community

Local jazz guitar teacher vs online course

Is it better to learn from a local guitar tutor nearby or take an online course?

Whether you’re in the USA, Canada, UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, South America or beyond, attending face-to-face lessons with a local teacher has its advantages and disadvantages.

Here are some pros and cons of working with tutors near you versus taking one or more online courses.

The pros

Local tutor Online course(s)
A good tutor can recommend exercises and practice materials that are specific to your needs. High-quality lesson content that you can play along to is a big game-changer. Jams, backing tracks, replay, and slow-down features offer many more opportunities to play along.
Having the opportunity to ask your own questions can help you solve any theory or playing issues. Practicing online with a world-class, professional jazz guitarist provides a huge amount of quality education you’d never normally have access to.
Playing alongside more experienced players can help challenge your current jazz guitar practice. Especially with the Pickup jazz course, you’ll have plenty more choices of performance pieces and exercises that you want to study.
A local tutor can help spot bad technical or playing habits that you might be forming.  Every piece of lesson content, exercises, and practice tips can be found easily whenever you need them. Printable charts and downloadable diagrams are available for every lesson.
If your local guitar tutor is a regular player on the scene, they might be able to let you know of local jazz gigs and community events to get involved with. Structured learning plans tailored to your interest and the ability to track your learning progress with a step-by-step practice journal.
You feel more sense of accountability to show up for a real tutor. Access to an engaging online community and forum can make learning online a group activity and much more exciting.
Having professional, hand-picked jazz musicians available to give you interactive video feedback on your performances.
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The cons

Local tutor Online course(s)
It can be difficult to find a jazz guitar tutor who has the right personality fit and communication style for you. It can be difficult to assess whether information is sticking without testing it in a jamming or performance environment.
Lots of information can be lost during in-person lessons and you might not be able to take notes during the session. It’s not always possible to ask questions about practice material or lesson content.
There aren’t always clear and obvious lesson plans with a tutor. Not every tutor will teach you from a proven syllabus. Practicing with backing tracks can be a much different experience from playing with real musicians at a jam.
Infrequent lessons and availability can be an issue with some jazz guitar tutors who also perform for a living. Some people find instructional videos more complicated to learn from than in-person sessions.
Single guitar lessons can cost anywhere between $50 to $100 an hour. The lack of a 1:1 teacher can reduce the sense of commitment to showing up regularly.
You may feel guilty or pressured if you can’t find time to practice between lessons Unless you download the material beforehand, you can’t practice without an internet connection.
Lesson dates and times are not often flexible and occur at the same time every week. Cell

FAQs

What is the best course to learn jazz guitar?

At Pickup Music, we firmly believe the Jazz Learning Pathway is the best jazz guitar course online. 

  • We've taken everything great about in-person lessons and combined it with cutting-edge online education methods to minimize the cons and maximize your experience of learning jazz guitar online. 
  • With world-class players and educators at the helm helping to form an exciting syllabus that’ll keep you busy and more importantly – excited about playing!

In line with our commitment to make the Jazz Learning Pathway the best jazz guitar online course around, we are improving and updating the course for a new volume of jazz guitar lessons in the near future. 

How important is online community support when learning guitar?

Having a sense of community is important and makes every aspect of learning more enjoyable.

There are several websites that can offer a decent jazz guitar class. 

But there are a few things we do differently such as 

The Pickup Music forum

The member’s area is the jewel in the crown. 

Pickup members get access to a community of like-minded players who are also on their jazz guitar journey. 

Being able to chat with other students about guitar, jazz, theory – or just share your own experience with other learners makes studying jazz guitar much more enjoyable. 

Interactive elements 

It’s not just the forum, Pickup members also get

  • 1:1 personalized feedback from our instructors.
  • Customer support (from real humans!) whenever you need it.
  • Regular live Q&A sessions with the team.

All of that is included in the standard membership which works out to less than $0.50 per day!

Can I learn jazz guitar by myself?

Yes. There has truly never been a better time to learn jazz guitar by yourself. 

Whether it’s through free jazz guitar lessons or a dedicated program, there is so much information out there to absorb.

  • Fun fact, Joe Pass was a self-taught guitarist who learned a lot of his mastery from writing transcriptions of the records he would listen to at home. 

What should a jazz guitar beginner know before starting the course?

I’d recommend you have a basic understanding of the major scale, the pentatonic and blues scales, and how chord progressions are created before jumping in.

  • The beauty of the course’s modules is that they are perfectly set up to accommodate jazz beginners and turn them into confident intermediates.
  • This is a self-paced course where you can learn at a speed that’s comfortable for you.
  • You don’t need to know how to use the bebop scale, or any of the other flashy guitar scales as it will be covered extensively in the modules.

I started with jazz bass guitar lessons, can I jump into a jazz guitar course easily? 

Absolutely. 

Much of the educational content you’ll see in the Jazz Learning Pathway aligns with how jazz bassists also practice. 

  • The fundamentals of learning jazz are not that different from instrument to instrument. 
  • Traditional jazz guitar lessons would encourage learning the bass line to songs and progressions first before adding chords.
  • If you’ve got an understanding of jazz bass concepts, it’ll help you make the transition smooth into jazz guitar lessons.

How long does it take to get good enough to play at a jazz jam?

The answer is different for everyone, but with daily practice, I think it’s attainable within a year.  

  • Mastering jazz guitar is a lifelong pursuit that requires a good measure of self discipline. The learning never stops.
  • Once you’ve got some of the basics down and feel comfortable playing jazz tunes, you’ll soon get the urge to perform at jam sessions.  

Why do people give up learning jazz guitar on their own?

The biggest issue by far is lack of commitment.

You can’t just have a monthly strum and expect to get good. In fact even weekly practice sessions aren’t enough to see solid improvement.

If you can get in just a short session each day, you’ll fly through the course.

Time isn’t the only reason though, many people give up working on jazz guitar because they

  • Don’t know what to practice when they pick up the guitar – so just end up noodling.
  • Try highly technical material that discourages them before having the basics down.
  • Having too much information with not enough instruction can lead to feeling overwhelmed.

Wrapping Up

Studying jazz guitar doesn’t have to be an arduous and difficult task. 

As a Jazz Learning Pathway student, you’ll have access to the best online jazz guitar lessons with a world-class education team on hand to help your jazz guitar skills make the jump to light speed.

Each module has been carefully designed to make sure that you are consistently leveling up by taking on new challenges, crafting new musical skills, and becoming involved with an engaging community of like-minded learners.

Check out the 14-day trial and take your first steps on the path of jazz guitar mastery. After signing up you’ll gain immediate access to every lesson available with Cecil Alexander and Sam Blakelock – absolutely free.

Yes, I’d Love A Free 14-Day Trial Of Pickup Music To Learn Jazz Guitar From Experts >