Cigar Box Guitar Jazz Blues Lesson  

I’m going to tackle a jazz blues on today’s cigar box guitar blog post.  Playing jazz on the cigar box guitar is likely not the first thought you have when learning this instrument. Still, I have to say, not only is it doable, but it can be very entertaining to play as well.

I come from a jazz-classical guitar background so switching to only 3 or 4-stringed instrument was both easy and a real challenge.  It is undoubtedly easier because there are only 3 or 4-strings (depending on which version of the instrument you play) and few notes to choose from and chord with.  More challenging for the same reason just mentioned fewer notes and more significant stretches to reach the required notes to form the chords. 

Jazz and Blues Chords on the Cigar Box Guitar

If you are a relative beginner, I would suggest learning some of the chords below to get started before playing the song with the proper rhythm and tempo.  You will notice several voicings (fingerings) used for most of the chords in this example of a 12-bar jazz blues form.     


12 Bar Jazz Blues vs Standard 12 Bar Blues

Ok, so the jazz blues is a little different than a standard 12-bar blues you may know.  Here’s a traditional 12-bar blues form in the key of G followed by a jazz blues below:


Without getting into too much theory, notice the following differences:

Measure 6 – goes to a C#diminished chord

Measure 8 – goes to a E7b9 chord to set up the Am7 in measure 9 (V of ii).

Measure 9 – has an Am7 going to a D7 in measure 10 to create a IIm7-V7 that resolves to the G7 (I chord).

Measure 11 and 12 – this is a very common jazz turnaround at the end of the 12 bar blues to create tension and then resolve the chords back to measure one.  The turnaround is referred to as a I-VI-II -V- I. Let’s just say there are some fancy chords added at the end to make the song sound like it’s going to start over again.


Ok, enough of the theory.  Here is the 3-string cigar box guitar arrangement of “Jazz Blues #1” followed by a little solo with a few substituted chords the second time around.  Here is the free PDF download.  


For more jazz and blues Cigar Box Guitar music, I recommend my 4-book series entitled:  Cigar Box Guitar Jazz and Blues Unlimited for 3 and 4-string, or Blues Overload for the 3-string.

Please post any comments on this lesson and suggestions for more free Cigar Box Guitar lessons below.

Vote in the CBG player poll below to see the results.  Good luck! Brent.




Cigar Box Guitar Jazz & Blues Unlimited – Book One – 3-String

Learn how to play jazz and blues on your 3-string cigar box guitar tuned to G-D-G in book one of this two-part book series.

Cigar Box Guitar Jazz & Blues Unlimited – Book One 4-String

Learn how to play jazz and blues on your 4-string cigar box guitar (GDGB). A comprehensive two-book series. Book one includes tablature, notation and chords, over 100 jazz and blues riffs, jazz and blues tunes, scales and arpeggios, theory and improvisation and much more.

Book One: Riffs, Scales and Improvisation – 4 String Tuning GDGB

Cigar Box Guitar Jazz & Blues Unlimited Book Two 3 String

Cigar Box Guitar – the “Ultimate Collection” is one the first books ever written specifically for the “3 String” cigar box guitar tuned to GDG. Songs, chords, scales, exercises and more. Everything you need to play cigar box guitar today. Audio tracks below.

How to Play Cigar Box Guitar

Cigar Box Guitar Jazz & Blues Unlimited Book Two 4 String

Cigar Box Guitar – The Ultimate Collection is one of the first books written specifically for the “4 String” cigar box guitar tuned GDGB. Great for beginners and players of all levels. 30+ tunes, scales, chord & fingerboard charts, arpeggios, riffs and exercises provide an excellent introduction to the cigar box guitar. Audio tracks below.

How to Play 4-String Cigar Box Guitar.

Share This