Major thirteenth (maj13) guitar chords - Diagrams and shapes


Chord formulas chartThe sound of jazz is based on tetrad chords (four-note chords) but it is usual to extend them with other tones like 9th, 11th and 13th to add new harmonic colors to your playing. 

Basically, major 7th chords are built by stacking a root (1), third (3), fifth (5) and seventh (7). The notes in yellow in the chart below can be added to the basic structure of a major 7th chord to extend it. Therefore a C major 7th chord can become Cmaj9, C maj7#11Cmaj13. This lesson is focused on major 7th chords extended with the thirteenth (13), namely major13 chords.

C Major seventh chord C E G B D F# A
Intervals 1 3 5 7 9 #11 13


Maj13 chords | Main guitar shapes

Here are the main guitar shapes to play major 13 guitar chords on the guitar respecting to the major scale. Theoretically major thirteenth chords contain seven tones : root (1), major third (3), perfect fifth (5), major seventh (7), ninth (9), eleventh (11) and thirteenth (13).  But since there are only six strings on the guitar, it is physically impossible to play all theses tones. Notes like 3rd, 7th and 13th are the most important, these are sufficient to highlight the color of the chord. In other words, it means that 9ths and 11ths can be left out and the 5th is not necessary. 

Maj13 chord formula R 3 5 7 13
C maj13 chord C E G B A


Because the 6th is the 13th, it is important not to confuse major 13 and major 6 chords. Major 6 chords do not contain any 7th. It's only 1,3 5 and 6 (13). Check out the page about major 6 chords.

Maj6 chord formula R 3 5 6 (13)
C maj6 chord C E G A


Major 13th guitar chord shape - Bass on 6th string - 5th, 9th and 11th are left out.

Major 13th jazz guitar chord 5

Major 13th guitar chord shape - Bass on 6th string - 9th included. No 5th

Major 13th jazz guitar chord

Major 13th guitar chord shape - Bass on 6th string - 5th and 9th are included.5th is left out.

Major 13th jazz guitar chord 4

Major 13th guitar chord shape - Bass on 6th string - 5th is left out.

Major 13th jazz guitar chord 3

Major 13th guitar chord shape - Bass on th string - 5th is left out. 5th, 9th and 11th are left out.

Major 13th jazz guitar chord 5 1

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Last edited: 19/03/2017

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