In the world of jazz guitar, 3 note voicings refer to 7th chord voicings that have the 5th omitted.
A standard 7th chord contains 4 notes: Root, 3rd, 5th, & 7th. Because the 5th of a 7th chord is the least important tone, it can be left out and the chord will still retain its quality and function.
Some situations/reasons to use 3 note voicings:
- They are relatively easy to play
- They can avoid "muddiness" in the lower register.
- They allow more "space" and you don't have to worry about extensions or alterations clashing with the melody or soloist.
- More complex chords that have extensions and alterations can be reduced/simplified to 3 note voicings, making it easier to sight read chord symbols.
In addition to functioning well on their own, 3 note voicings are a great foundation from which to build more complex chords. I hope you enjoy these essential jazz guitar voicings.