Dominant 13th chords (13) - Guitar diagrams

What's a dominant 13th chord ?

Chord formulas chartA dominant 13th chord is a 7th chord with extra notes. Theoretically 9, 11 and 13 must be added to the basic structure of this dominant 7th chord. When building a chord you generally stack thirds on top of each other and give a name to this chord related to the number of steps from the root note to the highest :

A triad is formed with a root (1), a third (3) and perfect fifth (5). Then, adding a third to the previous triad gives a dominant 7 chord (1, 3, 5, b7). Add in another third to dom7 chord gives a dominant ninth chord (9). Another third and you get a dominant eleventh chord (11) and a last third gives you finally a dominant thirteenth chord (13).

Major triad 1 3 5        
Cmaj C E G        
Dominant 7th chord 1 3 5 b7      
C7 C E G Bb      
Dominant 9th chord 1 3 5 b7 9    
C9 C E G Bb D    
Dominant 11th 1 3 5 b7 9 11  
C11 C E G Bb D F  
Dominant 13th 1 3 5 b7 9 11 13
C13 C E G Bb D F A


In this stack of tones (the 13th chord), the interval 3-11 (E-F for C major) is considered as dissonant so generally the 11 is omitted to avoid this dissonance. It is better to not skip the third nor the 7th, since this would spoil the color of the 13th chord. The 5th can be skipped, it is not the most interesting and important note in this chord. The root (1), when played by the bass player or the pianist can be omitted. So to play a dominant 13 chord on the guitar, a normal voicing would be 1-3-b7-13. However the 9th could possibly be added.

Dominant 13th guitar chord diagrams


Dominant 13 chord - (diagram 1) - Root on the E-string

Dominant 13 guitar chord diagram

Dominant 13 chord - (diagram 2) - Root on the E-string

Dominant 13 guitar chord diagram 2

Dominant 13 chord - (diagram 3) - Root on the E-string

Dominant 13 guitar chord diagram 4

Dominant 13 chord - (diagram 4) - Root on the A-string

Dominant 13 guitar chord diagram 5

Dominant 13 chord - (diagram 5) - Root on the A-string

Dominant 13 guitar chord diagram 3

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Last edited: 02/01/2018

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