Neo Soul guitar chords

Aug 14, 2023

 Learn the chord progressions and basic tips to add neo soul elements to your guitar playing and chord vocabulary!

You’re about to expand your basic chords and add some real flavor using neo-soul chords! You’ll go into some chord structure, and we’ll build it up from there!

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If you want more slick sounding chords on guitar without a big background in chord theory, this article will pave the way for you!

You will learn:  

  • The framework for setting up Neo-Soul style guitar chord progressions
  • How the chords work together
  • Chords to SUBSTITUTE for the basics to add color to the palette
  • Notes/scale tones that FIT the chords!
  • How to make the chords GROOVE and sound musical

Let’s grab our guitar and have some fun…

Example 1: the basic progression

The first example below is a sample of a simple chord progression you might hear in soul or R&B. We’ll lay the foundation with that and build it up from there!

Let’s walk through exercise one below ⬇️ (also refer to video 1 at the bottom of the page). ⬇️

We’ll lay the foundation and build it up from there! Even the basic progression itself is hip. Let’s look into it! It’s a I-IV-V in A (A-D-E) but with a twist!

  • We’re in the key of A. The 7th chords are there for a reason.
  • Each 7th chord that appears creates tension- and then resolves to its root.
  • So the A7 resolves to root D, the B7 to its root E, and the E7 resolves to A (down a 5th, or 5 scale steps).
  • 7th chords are a fundamental part of your basic R&B/Soul/Neo Soul guitar, and they just get spicier from there…

Example 2: Expand the progression with some extra flavor!

Let’s walk through exercise two above. ⬆️ (also refer to video 1 at the bottom of the page). ⬇️

Example two is adding an “extension” to the A, D and E chords to make them less bland. The extension is the major 7th (in A, it’s a G# note). Here, you’re embellishing the basic major chord (for example, instead of A consisting of a basic 3-note triad chord of A, C#, E- you add in the additional major 7th note of G#).

Your ear will hear these melancholy major sevenths sit alongside the 7th chords that resolve to them nicely and in an even more satisfying way.

(Check out VIDEO ONE below so you hear the groove and articulations). And be sure to make YOUR OWN grooves. Think of 2 beats per each chord.

Example 3: Beef up the progression with more juicy chord extensions!

Let’s walk through exercise three below. ⬇️ (also refer to video 2 at the bottom of the page). ⬇️

Here, we’ll make all of the 7ths become 6ths or 9ths. (9ths are the 2nd note in each corresponding scale, usually an octave higher in the chord voicing- so B is the 9th of A. 6ths chords have a chord tone a 6th up from the root- they can sound transitory, and they sound major with some added pizzazz and jazziness.

The I chord, A6, has a lot in common with D maj9 so take note of common notes along with common fingering to help memorize.

(check out VIDEO TWO for the groove. It’s consistently the same rhythm so you can get it on auto pilot and focus on changing chords with the fretting hand).

DOWNLOAD THE PDF EXAMPLES SO YOU HAVE A COPY! (if you can play several string barre chords, you’re ready!)

CLICK HERE 👉 blog 6: neo soul chords for beginners! (

Takeaway value & NEXT STEPS

After you internalize the chords, practice mixing them up. For instance A-A9-Dmaj7-B7-E-E9 and so on. It’ll help you memorize them and be able to recall them quicker, when you put a chord in a new place.

On your own, substitute these voicings for more bland and ordinary voicings you find in songs- or, to embellish your own chord progressions on guitar!

In addition, check the next steps to propel and progress you forward on guitar BELOW!

Video lessons following the examples above!

examples 1 & 2 from above
example 3 from above

Now that you’ve taken these big steps forward on guitar, you’ve got yourself primed and ready for what to do next! Take and learn from the soul and rhythm and blues of Jimi Hendrix and his rhythm and fills. Here’s an article on the Hendrix chord and HOW to use it! Check out this article complete with TAB/notation! CLICK HERE 👉 Hendrix chord on guitar: HOW to use it (chord progressions with TABS) – Guitar Woodshed (

Another next step is to get serious and do a deep dive into R&B and Soul- the roots of a lot of Neo Soul, modern R&B, rock and even Hendrix’s playing. And of course, you can apply the principles to other styles like your rock to your funk! I have the offer for you, so DO SEE THE OPPORTUNITY BELOW to take that next step & fast track your playing! 👇👇👇

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