Welcome to the Jazz Chords Workshop Lesson 9.

If you have been following the series, we have already completed 4 voicing groups for the middle strings and 4 voicing groups for the top strings.

We are now ready to embark onto the voicing groups on the bottom four strings. We begin with this week’s voicings which span the 7th to the 12th frets.

For all intents and purposes, let us call this the bottom structure of Group B Voicings (for Jazz). 

Click the video below to watch the lesson.

Learning Aids


The chord shapes and TABs for this lesson are provided as follows.

9. Jazz Group B Voicings (Bottom Set)

Primary Takeaways

The main takeaways of lesson 9 are as follows:

1. Similar shapes but different tonalities

Upon closer inspection, we will recognise some of the chord shapes as being familiar. For instance, the Cmaj7 chord shape is similar to Lesson 7’s Dmin7. However, being on different strings makes these chord shapes have different tonalities. In lesson 7, the chord voicings for this Dmin7 shape lie on the top four strings. If we put the same shape on the bottom four strings, we get a major7th quality. The main point here is that although the shapes may be the same, the chord quality is different. You can use this knowledge to help you learn. Unfortunately for some learners, this leads to confusion and thus hinders the learning instead. Ultimately, you will have to decide for yourself if this is helpful or not.

2. The Fmaj7 shape on the bottom strings

As described above, the chord shape this week for Fmaj7 may also look familiar to you. If this shape was played on the middle 4 strings, the resulting tonality would be a dominant 7th chord. However, on the bottom four strings, this chord shape results in a major 7th tonality. 

3. The G7 shape on the bottom strings.

In lesson 4, we introduced in Group D Voicings, the Dmin7 chord shape at the 14th fret position. This same shape if played on the bottom strings results in a dominant 7th tonality. 

4. Minor II-V-I finger orientation.

Interestingly, the last 4 bars for this Group Voicing use similar finger positions, (i.e. the middle two strings are stacked in the middle). As a result, these fingers retain their orientation when changing chords. In other words, we only need to move the fingers by sliding them to the appropriate frets without having to lift them off the fretboard. This is unique to this voicing group.  

Tips for better learning

Building upon what we have learnt in previous lessons, the following still hold true and may help you remember the concepts.

        • The Dm7 (in bar 1) and Bm7(b5) (in bar 5)chords differ by one note. 
        • The Cmaj7 (in bar 3) and Amin7 (bar 7) chords differ by one note.

Wider Stretches are Good for you (in the long run).

While the voicings on the bottom strings might require some wider-than-usual-stretches, they serve an important function. Simply put, if the soloist is playing in a high register, you might want to comp at the lower strings and vice versa. Learning the bottom voicings allows you to make space in the harmony to avoid frequencies clashing. 

Sometimes, it might help to hold the guitar in a different way when practicing these bottom voicings. For example, shorten your guitar strap in order to hold these finger stretches. Alternatively, raise the guitar neck if you play sitting down. This way, your fretting hand will find it easier to hold these chord voicings. 

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