Looking for some easy jazz guitar songs to get you started? You’re in the right place! Jazz music requires a combination of skills like speed, precision, and endurance. It can take a lot of practice to become a great jazz guitarist, so that’s why it’s great to start with easy songs!
While advanced jazz can take quite a while to work up to, beginner songs aren’t nearly as complicated or time-consuming to learn. This article will provide videos and tabs for seven jazz songs that any beginner can start learning today. Let’s jump right into it!
What is the Easiest Jazz Song to Play on the Guitar?
If you’re looking for the best jazz guitar songs for beginners, you’re in luck! Here are our favorite easy jazz songs to play on the guitar:
- Summertime by George Gershwin
- Autumn Leaves by Joseph Kosma
- Fly Me To The Moon by Frank Sinatra
- Blue Monk by Thelonious Monk
- Blue Bossa by Joe Henderson
- So What by Miles Davis
- Nuages by Django Reinhardt
7 Easy Jazz Guitar Songs for Beginners
“Summertime” is a catchy jazz standard composed by George Gershwin. It was originally written for the opera Porgy and Bess. Sublime’s “Summertime” is based on this piece.
This eerie melody will stick in your head all day! Below is a simplified tutorial. I think this person does a good job breaking it down (even better than reading tabs):
Jazz musicians like to embellish simple melodies. Here is a more advanced version of “Summertime”:
“Autumn Leaves” is a medium-tempo jazz piece by Joseph Kosma. Here is an excellent recording by Eric Clapton. Listen to the song, and then learn the chord progression.
Be sure to look up any chords you’re unfamiliar with. Strum along with the recording and pay attention to the tempo! It’s not very fast. Take a look at the chords here.
Fly Me To The Moon
“Fly Me To The Moon” is a jazz standard made famous by Frank Sinatra. The steady quarter-note pulse is a great way to practice changing 7th chords, a staple of jazz music.
This is one of our favorite easy jazz guitar songs. Watch this video of the Jason Mraz version to find out why! You can find the accompanying chords here.
“Blue Monk” is a B flat blues piece written by Thelonious Monk. Try learning both parts and playing it with a friend! Look here for the chords and tabs. Here is an advanced version of the piece:
Next, check out this simplified version:
“Blue Bossa” is a bossa-nova piece with an infectious groove. (Bossa-nova is Latin-influenced jazz).
Watch the video below and familiarize yourself with the melody. Notice the choppy way the chords are being played:
This is a famous piece by Miles Davis. “So What” is a piece of modal jazz built on modes rather than major and minor scales. If you’re not sure what a mode is, ask your guitar teacher for a lesson on them!
Check out the tabs for this song. This video is a great example of the main theme on guitar:
I also recommend you watch this video of Miles Davis and John Coltrane ripping the piece apart in 1959:
“Nuages” is a piece of gypsy jazz by Django Reinhardt. This is one of the coolest jazz guitar songs because Django played at incredible speeds with only two fingers! He lost his other two in a fire.
Django’s solos and improvisation move at intimidating speeds, but the main melody of Nuages is easy to understand. Here is a version of the piece for solo guitar.
“Nuages” comes from a classical piece by the same name, composed by Claude Debussy. Look up that piece and see if you can hear the similarities. Here is a recording of Django:
If it’s too difficult to play the chords and melody simultaneously, just play the melody. You can do this by only playing the highest note in each chord cluster. Here is a close up version with a simplified melody:
As you start learning beginner jazz guitar, don’t worry about the improvisations and embellishments (the fast, fancy stuff). Start by making sure you understand every chord in the song, then move on to the melody.
Try learning one of these songs with a friend so you can both practice trading lead and rhythm.
Want to hear some advanced jazz? Check out this video by Snarky Puppy! There’s a cool guitar riff at about a minute in:
Enjoy Learning These Easy Jazz Guitar Songs!
Once you learn some of these jazz guitar songs for beginners, you’ll be ready for more advanced playing. Even better, you’ll be better equipped to write your own jazz song. Have fun with your playing, and make sure to practice every single day!
Dylan P. teaches guitar, music theory, and music performance lessons in Independence, MO. He has trained in many genres of music and has experience teaching students with learning disabilities. Learn more about Dylan P. here!
Photo by Oliver