Jimmy Mack

Learn How To Play Jimmy Mack

Chords and Guitar Lessons

Watch This Video

Complete song – Electric guitar and live band

Extending VS Substituting chords

There are two ways to extend a chord. The first is the traditional way, which works like this: By picking every other note from a scale we get a chord. Keep doing this and your chord becomes bigger.

For example, to achieve a Dbmaj7, instead of Db, you could look for the next “every other note” in the scale and include it, now you have a maj7 chord. Next up would be a maj9 chord, etc.

In the key of Db, Db is chord I and the scale is the major scale (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13). No sharp or flat intervals.

Due to the intervals of the scale, the chords available become Db, Dbmaj7, Dbmaj9, Dbmaj11 and Dbmaj13.

The problem with this way of constructing chords is that we get too many notes to fit on the guitar. Few guitar parts sound good with more than three strings…

A solution to this dilemma is to substitute. Instead of building up the scale using “every other note”, we move to the next “every other triad”.

These are the triads of Db major:

Db (I) Ebm (II) Fm (III) Gb (IV) Ab (V) Bbm (VI) Cdim (VII)

  • To build a Db chord, we play Db
  • To build a Dbmaj7 chord, we play Fm
  • To build a Dbmaj9 chord, we play Ab

As long as you know what key you are in, and all the roman numerals available, you can extend your chords in this way.

Chord progression

The chord progression of Jimmy Mack is played in the key of Db. There is plenty of room to extend and substitute these chords.


Ebm | Gb | Dbmaj7| Gb |

Ebm | Gb | Dbmaj7| Gb Ab |


||: Db Gb :|| x3 | Gb Ab |

||: Db Gb :|| x8

Guitar Lessons

Jimmy Mack – Step 1

With Jimmy Mack, we get a relatively straight forward arrangement, although there are little variations in there.

Let’s start this off by listening to the complete song and work out the structure.

Go to Jimmy Mack step 1.

Jimmy Mack – Step 2 (Free Preview)

In this step, we learn the intro. The chords are extended and substituted to create more jazzy sounds.

First, learn all examples as the TAB says, then start improvising what shapes you play.

Go to Jimmy Mack step 2.

Jimmy Mack – Step 3

Today we dive deeper into everything that is Jimmy Mack as we explore the chorus.

Start by practicing all examples to the loop as the TAB show, then develop your own variations using substitutes or extensions.

Go to Jimmy Mack step 3.

Jimmy Mack – Step 4

In this step, we crack on with the verse of Jimmy Mack. Four TAB examples cover the entire neck.

Simply practice these to the two loops until they feel natural. To become free, spend some time improvising what shapes you use without looking at the TAB.

Go to Jimmy Mack step 4.

Jimmy Mack – Step 5

Today we make sure the verse and chorus are all good by looking at two examples of how you can play these sections on repeat.

Start by nailing them as written before you start improvising what shapes you use.

Go to Jimmy Mack step 5.

Jimmy Mack – Step 6

In this step, we learn how to put the horn section solo found on the original recording on the guitar.

It’s really easy if you compare it to playing the sax solo of Respect.

Go to Jimmy Mack step 6.

Jimmy Mack – Step 7

Today I play the entire song and give you the TAB for what I play in the video.

I hope playing this song has taught you about extended/substituted chords and that you can apply this technique to any song you play in the future.

Go to Jimmy Mack step 7.

Jimmy Mack – Step 8

Today we finish off our study of Jimmy Mack as it’s your turn to play with the band. Ensure you move around the neck in an improvised way.

Only by actually doing this can you find the best part, only by doing this can you get good at substituting chords on the fly.

Go to Jimmy Mack step 8.

Related Pages


Jimmy Mack, Jimmy. Oh, Jimmy Mack, when are you comin’ back
Jimmy Mack, Jimmy. Oh, Jimmy Mack, when are you comin’ back
My arms are missing you, my lips feel the same way too
I tried so hard to be true, like I promised I’d do

Go to Jimmy Mack lyrics.

The Funk Brothers

Motown’s house band didn’t have an official name, only they knew they were the Funk Brothers.

The band played on pretty much everything Motown released until ’72 when they relocated to Los Angeles and the band found a note on the hit factory door.

Go to The Funk Brothers biography.

Holland Dozier Holland

Lamont Dozier and brother Eddie and Brian Holland was Motown’s main songwriting team in Motown’s hit factory during the 60s.

Their hits are so many and their influence is so great it is a mystery how their names are not more widely known.

Go to Holland-Dozier-Holland biography.

Martha And The Vandellas

Martha met her Vandellas as she was a secretary at Motown’s hit factory where her soon to be backing singers sang for Marvin Gaye.

Together they had seven years of hits including Jimmy Mack, Nowhere To Run, and perhaps Motown’s biggest hit of them all in Dancing In The Street.

Go to Martha and the Vandellas biography.


Learning how to play guitar is best done through playing and learning from songs.

These Motown/Soul songs require you to learn how to play fractions of barre chord shapes and build improvised licks using pentatonic scales.

Go to Intermediate electric guitar course.

Intermediate Electric Songs

You can learn how to play these intermediate songs on the electric guitar.

Be My Baby, Can I Get A Witness, Get Ready, I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Jimmy Mack, Master Blaster (Jammin’), Money (That’s What I Want), My Guy, Rescue Me, Respect, Son Of A Preacher Man, Soul Man, and You Can’t Hurry Love.

Go to Intermediate electric songs.

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Including detailed, but bite-sized explanations on how the music theory of each song is applied to the neck.

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