6th chords

The 6th chord is a four-note chord that adds the sixth degree note in the scale to the major triad. By comparing C with C6 we could see that the notes changes from C, E, G to C, E, G, A.

6th chords in open positions

C6

  • C6 chord diagram

D6

  • D6 chord diagram

E6

  • E6 chord diagram

F6

  • F6 chord diagram

G6

  • G6 chord diagram

A6

  • A6 chord diagram

B6

  • B6 chord diagram

Comment

These are, generally, chords in open position, with F6 as an exception which is a closed chord (with no loose strings).

Noticeable is that B6 is played with an alternative bass note (F#), see different versions below.

The first chord diagram from the left is a popular way to play C6. It is easy to memorize since it has almost the same positions as C major. But it doesn't include a fifth (G). It is not strictly necessary to include the fifth, but alternative versions that do so are presented below.

Also noticeable is that F6 doesn't have a third (C). The presented version above is popular to play, but an alternative is mentioned below.

6th chords with flats and sharps

Since these are not played all that often, they are only presented in shortened notation:

C sharp / D flat 6th: X4332X
D sharp / E flat 6th: X6554X
F sharp / G flat 6th: XX4342
G sharp / A flat 6th: XX6564
A sharp / B flat 6th: X13333

Theory

The major 6th chord can be found on the IV and V degrees in a major scale. In C major, this would be F6 and G6.

Chord formula

The sixth is built with the formula 1-3-5-6 (root, major 3rd, perfect 5th and major 6th).

Chord construction

C6  E - A - E - G - C - G
D6  x - x - D - A - B - F#
E6  E - B - E - G# - C# - E
F6  x - x - F - A - D - F
G6  G - B - D - G - B - E
A6  x - A - E - A - C# - F#
B6  F# - B - D# - G# - B - x
Guitar versions of the chord

Notes in chord

C6  C - E - G - A
C#6  C# - F - G# - A#
D6  D - F# - A - B
D#6  D# - G - A# - C
E6  E - G#- B - C#
F6  F - A - C - D
F#6  F# - A# - C #- D#
G6  G - B - D - E
G#6  G# - C - D# - F
A6  A - C# - E - F#
A#6  A# - D - F - G
B6  B - D# - F# - G#
The intervals are 1 – 3 – 5 – 6

Other versions

G6

  • G6 guitar chord

C6/E

  • C6 guitar chord

C6/G

  • C6 bar chord diagram

F6

  • F6 chord diagram

B6

  • B6 bar chord diagram

Comment

The first C6 chord diagram is played with alternative bass note (E). It is possible to play without the 6th string also, making it a C6/A to be strict. The second diagram shows how C6 could be played by bar four strings on the fifth fret. This particular chord shape could be combined with a major 7th chord version with similar shapes. For example, Bb6/F (XX3333) and Bbmaj7 (XX3335).

The third diagram present a way to play F6 in open position and include all four tones belonging to it. However, it somewhat harder to play than the version presented above and not especially popular.

The diagram to the right presents a second way to play B6, this time with the root note on the bass string (5th string). It somewhat trickier than the open chord variation.

Simplified versions in jazz context

Two shapes with bass notes on 6th and 5th strings could be added, which are espicially common in jazz:

C6: X322XX
C6: 7X79XX

Movable 6th chord

Here are two ways to play the 6th with movable shapes, including a barre shape.

chord shape 6th chordf chord shape 6th7th chords barre

The root note is the same as the bass note in all examples.

6th chord in open position

Here are additional shapes in open position for this chord category:

F6: 10021X
G6: XX5430
G6/A: X05700
G6/D: X55430
G#6/D#: XX1111
Bb6: X1303X

Chord progressions

Progressions including this chord type:

C - C6 - F - F6

C6 - G11 - Dm7

A6 - B9 - Emaj7

C6 - C#dim7 - Dm7 - G11

G6 - Dmaj9/F# (200220) - Em6


The 6th chord work as I, IV and V chords. So, for example, in C major key, C6, F6 and G6 are viable (diatonic) options.

Back to chord types

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