Chord Substitutions

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  1. Nathan078

    Hey guys quick question, I am currently studying chord subs and was wondering what are some you guys use? Anything from basic to advanced. Thanks!!!

  2. imnobedhead

    "Jazz Rhythm Guitar: A Systematic Approach to Chord Progressions" is the best method I've ever seen for learning the fundamentals of substitutions (and I'm pretty obsessed with checking out all the different guitar methods that are out there). It's a fairly old book and there are a handful of typos but it really is an incredible book. It can be freely downloaded in the shadier parts of the internet if you are so inclined.

    I would recommend thinking hard about how each chord in a tune is functioning. Don't learn subs like they are formulas. Think why each chord is there and what other chords could function in that manner.

    Also, a common mistake I see is students only substituting a single chord for a single chord. As long as the harmonies eventually resolve to the same place then you can replace one chord with a string of chords or vice versa.

    Joe Pass has a video called "Solo Guitar" that would also be useful for you. The video focuses on the vi-ii-V-I and substitution possibilities.

  3. Nathan078

    Hi imnobedhead thanks for your answer! I'll check out that book for sure! Yeah I guess i never really thought about subbing other same functioning chords. How far could you go out with that though? Like if its a ii-V-I say Dm-G7-C the ii chord and the IV chord kinda have the same function so you could put that in there right? FM-G7-C? Or I've heard kurt talk about dominate Substitution, are those just secondary dominates? D7-G7-C? Or could you do a tri-tone sub on those dominates and make it Ab7-Db7alt-C? I know theres alot more but i guess im saying how outside can you go and still keep the function of the main chord progression?

  4. NathanZech

    Hi Nathan. Yeah, for any minor chord you can substitute a dominant chord. So a II V I in C could be D7 G7 C. The tri-tone principle works because the 3rd and the 7th of two dominate chords a tri-tone apart are the same. So the progression could now be Ab7 (either alt or regular) G7 C. Or D7 C#7 C. You can go as far out as you want. It's important to just land on the C. There are some cool ideas with substituting chords that are a minor 3rd apart. This is kinda based of the diminished chord/scale. 1 b3 b5 bb7. So, if you want, D7, Bb7, C. If you want to sound outside, i would suggest exploring altered dominant chords a lot. Lately i've been working on chords built from the half whole dim scale. 1 b9 #9 3 #11 5 13 b7. Some cool chords voicings. b7, 3, 13, b9. b7, 3, 5, #9. So on:)

  5. jazznan

    David Valdez has posted a bunch of stuff on chord subs on his blog:


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