A modernist burner with an abundance of Pat Martino-style chops, Bailey prefers angular lines, odd harmonies and the occasional touch of dissonance as she sails up and down the fretboard with fluid abandon.
–Bill Milkowski

Sheryl Bailey

Sheryl Bailey is an harmonically ingenious American jazz guitarist, composer, band leader, and educator. She is Assistant Professor of Guitar at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. She is the leader of the modern jazz organ-based The Sheryl Bailey Three. Her book “The Chord Rules” can be ordered from her website.

Sheryl Bailey started playing the guitar at 13, wanting to be a rock star. At 16 she studied jazz guitarist, John Maione at Pitt University, working on Joe Pass solos, Charlie Christian, Jimmy Raney, Carl Kress. She also studied with Mark Koch and Joe Negri before she went to Berklee College of Music.

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Started teaching for the jazz program at Towson University in Baltimore. She is a regular at the National Guitar Workshop’s Jazz Seminar and at the Stanford Jazz Workshop.

Influenced by: Pat Martino, Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, Larry Young, Elvin Jones, Charlie Parker, Don Patterson, Peter Bernstein, Thelonious Monk

Performed with: Jack Wilkins,…

Equipment: McCurdy “Mercury” guitar, Yamaha SA 1500 guitar, Clarus 2R by Acoustic Image amp with a 12″ Raezor’s Edge Extended Range cabinet. She records with a Tech 21 Trademark 60.


  • Live @ the Fat Cat, 2005
  • Bull's Eye, 2003
  • The Power of Three, 2002
  • Reunion of Souls, 2001
  • Little Misunderstood, 1995


  • “The Chord Rules” (intermediate to advanced). This book was written for her guitar students at Berkley.
  • Mel Bay's Master Anthology of Jazz Guitar Solos, Volume 4 (Mel Bay Presents Jazz Guitar Solos) (Mel Bay)
  • Flatpicking Guitar Songbook - song and solo collection for flatpicking guitar. Each song has a melody line in tablature with lyrics and a solo arrangement in notation and tablature.

“Playing jazz is about creating melodies from harmony. To be able to play changes means melodically interpreting arpeggios. That’s why Charlie Christian changed the jazz line; he created melodies from harmonic shapes. No one really played “vertically” before him.”
–Sheryl Bailey

“There are no scales; only chords.”
–Sheryl Bailey

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“Bailey's playing, which is always lyrical and lush, with just the right amount of harmonic angularity and tangy dissonance, is bolstered by her beautifully burnished tone. Her sound displays a lovely, sinewy edge that allows the listener to glean every nook and cranny of her wonderful style.”
– Darrin Fox, Guitar Player Magazine, January 2005