The Jazz Learning Pathway by Pickup Music’s Sam Blakelock and Cecil Alexander is a proven method for learning jazz guitar within 90 days.

I’ve written the following outline for intermediate players who want step-by-step, guided instructions to jazz guitar – I struggled to find a reliable method when I started, so hopefully this will help you.

If you want to learn how to play jazz but always feel intimidated, this method is the perfect formula.

The lesson framework creates an easy way to make consistent improvements every day – and you can track your progress as you move through each grade.

The best method for learning jazz guitar

Method:  Jazz Learning Pathway

Creator:  Pickup Music

Teachers:  Cecil Alexander and Sam Blakelock

Competency Required: Intermediate Level Skills

Duration: 90 Days

Format: Online Course


  • Online Demonstration Videos
  • Interactive jam tracks
  • Downloadable PDFs
  • TABs and chord charts


  • Online Community
  • Live Q&A
  • 1:1 video feedback
  • Chat support

Topics & Modules

What I love about The Jazz Learning Pathway is that it will take you from a total newbie all the way to college-level jazz improvisation. 

  1. Major topics like chords, scales, and jazz soloing are split into grades. 
  2. Each grade is ordered by difficulty and split into days – bite-sized chunks to make life simple.
  3. At the end of each grade, you play a performance piece and get feedback on your progress.

Here’s how you’ll crack the code of jazz guitar over the three-month program.

Grade 1. Jazz for Beginners (with Sam Blakelock)

This is the 101 of The Jazz Learning Pathway – here you’ll learn the foundational principles of jazz guitar.

Sam Blakelock, co-creator of the Jazz Learning Pathway says “We focus on only the most essential vocabulary, scales, and chords that you need to know.”

Sam will take you through…

Day 1 – Explore chord quality, and learn some jazzy chord progressions.

Day 2 – Build harmonic vocabulary with shell voicings and 7th chords.

Day 3 – Learn new 9th chord voicings to spice up your playing.

Day 4 – Dive into jazz soloing using minor pentatonic knowledge.

Day 5 – Learn the modal approach to jazz soloing.

Day 6 – Explore approach chords for tension and resolution.

Day 7 – Recap and pass final assessments to prepare for Grade 2.

Grade 2. Scales 101 (with Sam Blakelock)

Hit the melodic gym and learn some improvisational essentials.

Here Sam shows you…

Day 1 – Explore how scales are constructed using the major scale as a reference.

Day 2 – Master the major scale by uncovering its chords, scales, and arpeggios.

Day 3 – Learn about the Aeolian mode (natural minor) and how to use it in jazz solos.

Day 4 – Connect the Dorian and Aeolian modes using minor pentatonic scales.

Day 5 – Blend Aeolian and Dorian modes to create sophisticated jazz lines.

Day 6Soloing techniques and jam – apply the week's lessons in a musical context.

Day 7 – Review Grade 2 concepts and pass challenges to prepare for Grade 3.

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

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

Cecil goes deep with…

Day 1 Introduction: Review key information and add new jazz chords to your toolkit.

Day 2 The Core of Music: Learn about the I-IV-V progression and how to use it.

Day 3 The I Chord: Learn soloing techniques for the I chord using the major scale.

Day 4 The V Chord: Focus on its function and how to add tension/color tones.

Day 5 The IIm7 Chord: Explore the function of the IIm7 chord and approaches to soloing over it.

Day 6 The II V I Explained: Apply chordal knowledge to the major II-V-I progression.

Day 7 The Minor II V I: Learn the minor II-V-I progression and its corresponding chords and modes.

Day 8 The Turnaround: Incorporate turnarounds into your jazz progressions.

Day 9 Let's Play a Bossa: Practice soloing over a bossa nova-style track.

Day 10 Final Assignment: Use everything you’ve learned to perform the jazz standard, ‘Autumn Leaves’.

Grade 4. Intermediate Soloing

Expand on Grade 3 concepts, transfer knowledge to the key of A major, and tackle new etudes and jazz theory concepts.

Day 1Harmonic Generalization: Apply improvisation concepts to a jazz chord progression in one key.

Day 2How to Make the I Chord Hip: Add tasty color tones to the I chord.

Day 3Building Tension on the V Chord: Introduce tension on the V chord for a satisfying resolution.

Day 4Modal Jazz and the II Chord: Work on vamp and soloing skills with the Dorian mode.

Day 5Connect Through the II V I: Learn to connect jazz lines through the II-V-I progression.

Day 6Adding Tension to the Minor II V I: Blend major and minor licks in a jazz standard over the minor II V I.

Day 7Spicing up the Turnaround: Explore melodic possibilities in a soloing context over a tricky progression.

Day 8St. Thomas: Tackle an iconic tune by Sonny Rollins.

Day 9Stompin’ at the Savoy – First A Section: Begin working on Stompin’ at the Savoy, another common jazz standard.

Day 10Stompin’ at the Savoy and Final Challenges: Wrap up work on Stompin’ at the Savoy and prepare for Grade 5.

Grade 5. Secondary Dominants in 7 Days

Focus on secondary dominant chords to enhance rhythm playing and highlight chords in a soloing context.

Day 1Introduction to Secondary Dominants: Review how secondary dominants spice up chord progressions.

Day 2 III7 to VIm: Explore the III7 as a secondary dominant to access the relative minor.

Day 3VI7: Study the VI7 as a secondary dominant, commonly used in various music genres.

Day 4Combining III7 and VI7: Learn to combine two secondary dominants in one progression.

Day 5I7: Look at major keys using the I7 chord as a common approach.

Day 6 II7: Study the II7 as the V of V7, resolving into another dominant chord.

Day 7Recap and Final Challenges: Review everything learned and prepare for Grade 6.

Grade 6 – Week 1. Jazz Blues

Explore jazz blues to have fun and expand on blues soloing skills with a jazz approach.

Day 1Basic Blues: Compare blues and jazz blues playing.

Day 2Bb Jazz Blues: Tackle a jazz-blues progression in Bb.

Day 3Bb Jazz Blues – New Position: Drill the Bb jazz blues progression in a new area of the guitar neck.

Day 4F Jazz Blues: Transpose the Bb jazz blues progression to F.

Day 5F Jazz Blues – New Position: Adapt the F jazz blues progression to a new area of the fretboard.

Day 6Introduction to Minor Blues: Learn about the minor blues chord progression.

Day 7Expanding the Minor Blues: Expand on the ideas learned in the minor blues progression.

Grade 6 – Week 2. How to Learn Jazz Standards

Use jazz standards to understand the language and function of jazz guitar.

Day 18 Steps to Learn a Jazz Standard: Overview of how to learn any jazz standard.

Day 2 Blue Bossa: Explore the jazz standard Blue Bossa.

Day 3How to Practice Feel and Get Beyond the Notes: Learn about time feel and phrasing.

Day 4 Fly Me to the Moon: Tackle the jazz standard Fly Me to the Moon.

Day 5Stompin’ at the Savoy: Continue work on the jazz standard Stompin’ at the Savoy.

Day 6Why and How to Transcribe: Break down the art of transcribing.

Day 7Take The A Train: Learn and solo over the jazz standard Take The A Train.

A recipe for success 👨‍🍳

Our step-by-step curriculum, Jazz Learning Pathway, has all the ingredients you need to reach your jazz guitar goals.

  • A solid daily routine with practice exercises.
  • An organized system for what to study next.
  • Tracked progress for each step.
  • 1:1 video feedback on your playing from professional instructors.

Plus as a Pickup Music member, you get to be part of an awesome community of jazz guitarists spanning all levels and styles.

Find out more and get your free 14-day trial to Pickup Music’s Jazz Learning Pathway

  • Get step-by-step video demos
  • Get expert support
  • Plug into a supportive online community

Other Methods

In your search for a proven method of learning jazz guitar, you may have come across older courses on CDs, DVDs, or even books.

Here we’ll outline some older methods along with their pros and cons compared to modern guitar methods and modern delivery and support.

Below are some well-known jazz guitar books that cover different skill levels and niches.

Hal Leonard Jazz Guitar Method

This is considered one of the best jazz guitar books for newbies as it gives information about the origins, influences, and notable players in the world of jazz guitar. 


  • Covers jazz fundamentals like chords and scales.
  • Introduces comping and improvisation.


  • Assumes you have a certain amount of theory knowledge already.
  • The included CD may not provide enough audio to keep you engaged long-term.

Mel Bay Jazz Guitar Method

Another one of those jazz method books that’s sat on the shelves of many guitar students. 

It’s suitable for intermediate guitarists and provides plenty of musical examples to help the information stick.


  • Shows you how to practice jazz guitar with various exercises.
  • Difficulty increases over the course of the book.


  • May be too basic for some players.
  • Not as comprehensive as some other jazz guitar methods.

The Complete Jazz Guitar Method By Jody Fisher

This extensive book is divided into several volumes, each focusing on different aspects of jazz guitar, including chords, scales, improvisation, and jazz standards. 


  • Covers a wide array of jazz guitar topics.
  • The structured method makes it accessible for most guitarists. 


  • Less visually engaging than some other books.
  • Requires a lot of self-motivation to complete.

Joe Pass Guitar Method

Learn the specific approach of one of the great jazz virtuosos. This book is split into two sections – harmony and melody.


  • Gives an insight into Joe Pass’ style.
  • Explores advanced jazz improvisation concepts.


  • Definitely not for beginners.
  • Doesn’t follow a structured learning plan.

This is one of the most soughtafter jazz guitar method books for high-level players.

Jazz Learning Pathway by Pickup Music

By far the best jazz guitar lessons online! 

Okay… I may be a little biased, so I encourage you to do your own research and see what others think.

Pickup Music has a 4.9 on Trustpilot and an ever-growing community of jazz guitar enthusiasts learning and supporting each other. 


  • Removes the guesswork of what to learn and practice.
  • Less than $0.50 per day for full access to all the content (not just the jazz pathway).


  • Absolute beginners may benefit from some in-person lessons first.
  • Very young guitarists will need help navigating the platform.

Co-creator of the Jazz Learning Pathway, Cecil Alexander says “I've prepared hundreds of students to become confident jazz guitarists using this same method”

Check out our article about online guitar lessons vs. books for a full comparison.


What is the best method for learning jazz guitar?

Online guitar lessons provide a great balance between convenience, cost, and variety of content.

Advanced jazz players can benefit from reading textbooks on niche jazz concepts.

Absolute beginners may want some in-person lessons first to learn the basics.

If you’d want a crash course on jazz chords, scales, and practice exercises – check out this free lesson on how to play jazz guitar.

How long does it take to learn jazz guitar?

Depending on your current guitar level, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to learn a jazz standard to several years to master jazz improvisation.

It’s important to set specific goals – this will allow you to lay out all the steps for achieving that goal and track your progress along the way.

Without a solid structure and routine, it’s tough to move beyond your current level.

Can I learn jazz guitar on YouTube?

YouTube is a great resource for getting quick visual answers to guitar-related questions, but it’s not the best option for learning a huge subject like jazz guitar.

YouTube tutorials are an awesome supplement to your guitar studies, but the lack of structure and distracting nature of the platform makes it hard to develop focus and consistency.

My favorite use for YouTube is playing along to backing tracks – there’s an endless supply in whatever key or genre you desire.

Do I need online community support when learning guitar?

A huge part of learning anything new is asking questions – Google isn’t always the best option, especially if you need an answer to something very specific. 

Q: What’s better than getting advice from a real guitar teacher? 

A: Getting advice from an entire community of teachers and peers.

Can I learn jazz guitar without a teacher?

The “self-taught guitarist” is a bit of a myth – whether you use online courses, read books, or copy licks from songs you like, you’re still learning from someone else.

Growing as a guitar player depends on your motivation and consistency, the best teaching methods in the world can’t make you a great guitarist unless you’re willing to put in the work. 

That being said, guidance is a big part of learning – regular feedback on your playing is a huge benefit for beginner and intermediate guitarists.

Why am I not getting better at guitar?

The best way to improve at guitar is by removing the guesswork – if you’re not sure what to practice every time you grab the guitar then you’re going to stagnate.

So many guitarists get stuck in a rut because they’re not sure what to learn next. Aimlessly flipping through YouTube tutorials is a blueprint for failure.

Without a plan of action, you’ll fall into a loop of aimless noodling. If you have a destination in mind, you need a map to get there.

Do people often give up when learning jazz guitar on their own?

It’s difficult to stay motivated long-term without support – jazz is a very theoretical genre so playing and discussing concepts with other musicians is the best way to stay engaged.

A lack of patience is also a big problem. Obviously, we want to get good as quickly as possible, but it’s important to learn at your own pace.

There are tons of different methodologies out there, but if you're skipping the boring pages in a book or rushing through video classes you’ll end up frustrated later on.

Here’s my most important piece of advice:

🏔️ Don’t climb that jazz guitar mountain alone! 

🌄 Get guidance and support on the best path to the top.

Wrapping Up

Jazz guitar mastery seems like an impossible dream for a lot of us – but that’s because many learners try to approach it without a solid system in place.

You need a game plan!

This genre is unlike any other, it’s composed of many moving parts and has some complex rules – it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

The Jazz Learning Pathway contains some of the best online jazz guitar lessons and has already helped thousands of players develop their chops.

🎁 Want to check it out absolutely free?


Yes, I’d love a free 14-day trial of Pickup Music to learn jazz guitar from experts >