13th chords

The 13th Chord expands the 11th chord with another tone and, hence the name, this tone is 13 steps from the root.  A pianist could play this chord with seven tones, but the guitar is limited to six tones, and therefore, at least one tone is always excluded. The omitted tone, or the omitted tones, can vary depending on the chord shape.

13

C13

  • C13 chord diagram

D13

  • D13 chord diagram

E13

  • E13 chord diagram

F13

  • F13 chord diagram

G13

  • G13 chord diagram

A13

  • A13 chord diagram

B13

  • B13 chord diagram

Comments

The shape presented is similar to the movable 9th chord. If you don't feel comfortable with the stretch, more shapes follows below.

13th chords with flats and sharps

Additional chords in this category:

C sharp / D flat 13th: X45446
D sharp / E flat 13th: X67668
F sharp / G flat 13th: 242342
G sharp / A flat 13th: 464564
A sharp / B flat 13th: 686786

Chord progressions

Progressions including this chord type:

E9 - E13 - E9 - E13 - E9 (see tab)

tab chord progression

Chord formula

The 13th chord is built with the formula 1-3-5-b7-9-11-13 (root, major 3rd, perfect 5th, minor 7th, major 9th, perfect 11th and major 13th). A tip for memorizing all the chord notes, notice that C13 can be built by a C7 and a D minor, D13 can be built by a D7 and an E minor, and so on.

Chord construction

C13  x - C - E - Bb - D - A
D13  x - D - F# - C - E - B
E13  x - E - G# - D - F# - C#
F13  x - F - A - Eb - G - D
G13  x - G - B - F - A - E
A13  x - A - C# - G - B - F#
B13  x - B - D# - A - C# - G#
Guitar versions of the chord

Notes in chord

C13  C - E - G - Bb - D - F - A
D13  D - F# - A - C - E - G - B
E13  E - G# - B - D - F# - A - C#
F13  F - A - C - Eb - G - Bb - D
G13  G - B - D - F - A - C - E
A13  A - C# - E - G - B - D - F#
B13  B - D# - F# - A - C# - E - G#
The intervals are 1 - 3 - 5 - b7 - 9 - 11 - 13

Alternative chord shapes

G13

  • G13 chord diagram 3X345X

G#13 / Ab13

  • Ab13 chord diagram 4X456X

A13

  • A13 chord diagram 5X567X

B13

  • B13 chord diagram 7X789X

Besides the chord pictures above there are more ways to play the 13th chord. On the pictures above you can see alternatives.

This shape is movable with the root on the 6th string and muted 5th string:

13 chord shape


For example, G13, would be played as 3X345X with the shape above. The fifth is omitted in this fingering. You can also include the high e-string as 3X3457, with the thumb taking care of the 6th string. A third, and not very convenient alternative, is to use the shape 32345X by once again involve the thumb.

Progressions including this chord type:

Dmaj7 - Dm7 - G13 - Cmaj7 - F9 - Bbmaj7 (see tab)

tab chord progression


Bass note left out for a funkier sound:

13 chord shape no bass note


In this chord shape you will mute the second string with an adjacent finger. This chord can sound great with a single stroke as an outro, for example in a 12 bar blues (as a last stroke, in the last bar). (The similar shape 3X3455 is sometimes also referred to as G13, but is more correctly referred to as G13 6/9.)


These are two common voicings:

13 chord voicings shapes

On the diagram to the left, the root is on the 2nd string and on the diagram to the right, the root is on the 1st string. Two examples written in short notations are E13: X5665X and F13: XX1231.

13th chord in open position

The 13th chords are most often played in closed positions as seen on diagrams above, but here are some suggestions for open 13th chords:

C13/Bb: X1221X
D13: X54500
E13: 020120
F13: 100011
G13: 3X3200
A13: X02022
A#13 / Bb13: X10113
B13: X0110X

Dominant 13th chord inversions

A 13th chord is possible to play in numerous configurations including six inversions (it's also common to combine inversions with omitting notes for this chord type).

C13 can be used as an example:

  • C - E - G - Bb - D - F - A (root position)
  • E - C - G - Bb - D - F - A (1st inversion)
  • G - C - E - Bb - D - F - A (2nd inversion)
  • Bb - C - E - G - D - F - A (3rd inversion)
  • D - C - E - G - Bb - F - A (4th inversion)
  • F - C - E - G - Bb - D - A (5th inversion)
  • A - C - E - G - Bb - D - F (6th inversion)

To indicate that a chord is played inverted it is written as slash sign before the bass note. For example, the first inversion of the C13 chord is written C13/E. Some examples follow below in short notation:

C13/E: 032335
C13/Bb: X10210
C13/F: 110210
D13/F#: 220210
D13/C: X30202
E13/F#: 220120
E13/B: X20120
F13/A: X01031
F13/C: X33233
G13/B: X22031
G13/E: 002001
G13/F: 100000
A13/E: 004020
A13/G: 304420
B13/E: 021224
B13/F#: 201102

One of the movable shapes that can be used for the fourth inversion is with the root on the second string:

C13/Bb: X1221X
D13/C: X3443X
F13/Eb: X6776X
G13/F: X8998X

For more chord diagrams, see The Chord Reference ebook.

13th chord alterations

Alterations means that a note in the chord is altered, for example, a flattened fifth. Here is an example using C as root tone (the shape is movable).

C13b9: X32325

In C13b9 the ninth flattened.



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