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 Rootless chords for Jazz? 
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Post Rootless chords for Jazz?
Hi folks, to the Jazzer's out there. Possibly a silly question but when you're playing are you typically using "rootless chords" when you go into the upper chord extensions? Unless you have some killer 4 note chord voicings etc..

For example, the 6/9 chord comes to mind, I guess you could always stick to 3'rd, 6th and 9th? Right? Just looking for your take on this.


Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:47 am
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Post Re: Rootless chords for Jazz?
Hey man, I loooove this topic. I think Stick is, thanks to the tunings, definitely top 3 coolest chord generators that I know of.

A lot of time I'll mix ranges on the higher strings of the bass side with the treble side notes, keeping the core chord in the bass side. So if I'm playing an A altered 7th chord I'll usually play the A, C# and G in the bass side and then add upper extensions on the treble side by playing something like a quartal shape like C, F, Bb ascending to really give it that jazzy, hendrix-y crunch.

Simpler than that, if you want to play a maj7th chord, play the root in the bass and then play a minor chord starting at the 3rd on the treble side.

Ex: Fmaj7, bass side plays F, treble side plays an A minor.
Gives you F, A, C, E.

I like the Stick for chords because a chord is the sum of the total notes the ensemble is playing, and the Stick is by itself a huge ensemble if you want it to be. This leads inevitably to a huge amount of chordal possibilities.

I did a video on something I called Wall Method, which is a way of organizing your pentatonic shapes for a neat effect. It veers a bit off of this exact topic, but there is a section where I talk about how to use your pentatonic scales to create neat, rootless chord extensions. I think you might dig it.


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Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:07 pm
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Post Re: Rootless chords for Jazz?
Tuning your 12th string to a 4th instead of a 5th so it's an octave higher than the 10th string is the single most effective way to increase your left hand chord extension capabilities by a factor of 3. There is really no down side to it. Unfortunately it does not work so well on a 10 string because you'd be losing as much as you gain.


Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:03 pm
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Post Re: Rootless chords for Jazz?
Polychords, my friend
Left hand C E 10th
Right hand Gmaj, Gmin, Bmin, Bbmin, Dmin etc
Even a 3 note Barre in the right EAD
Complex chords are a breeze on the Stick
No Holdsworthian gymnastics needed. Fusion, bop, funk, prog. Never met a 13b5#9 that wasn't user friendly in standard tuning. And let's not forget the old secret thumb addition concept.

Steve Adelson


Tue Jul 18, 2017 5:07 am
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Post Re: Rootless chords for Jazz?
Lee Vatip wrote:
Polychords, my friend
Left hand C E 10th
Right hand Gmaj, Gmin, Bmin, Bbmin, Dmin etc
Even a 3 note Barre in the right EAD
Complex chords are a breeze on the Stick
No Holdsworthian gymnastics needed. Fusion, bop, funk, prog. Never met a 13b5#9 that wasn't user friendly in standard tuning. And let's not forget the old secret thumb addition concept.

Steve Adelson


That's the way...and many times in the LH I use to play the 7th (major or dominant depending what I'm looking for) or the 6th (13th)...just amazing results combined with the RH.

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Tue Jul 18, 2017 6:25 am
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Post Re: Rootless chords for Jazz?
Scott Henderson put together a book called "Jazz Guitar Chord System". It is really just a series of color coded diagrams of mostly rootless jazz chords on guitar. He organizes his system so that the harmonic function of these chord forms change depending upon what you are playing underneath it. In other words, a single chord form in the right hand can actually serve as several different chords depending on what your left hand reinforces. Another way to look at it is the right hand forms are somewhat ambiguous and then become less so when your bass choices anchor them. Sorta a Schroedingers Cat sort of thing.....lol

I like it because I am lazy - learn one chord form and it actually can be three or four chords.

Word of warning: it is not a real complete "system" that gets into chord progressions or putting together songs. Its really a just series of chord charts, but very smartly organized, and it assumes you have some familiarity with theory and building chords.

Its available on amazon for about $ 12. Not everyones cup of tea but u may like it.


Sat Jul 22, 2017 6:42 am
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Post Re: Rootless chords for Jazz?
This topic has been explored to great extent in my recent lessons. One shape...12 roots. Great harmonic findings and discoveries. Creative fun for the whole family.

Steve A


Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:27 am
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