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How to play the A13 chord on guitar

Learn to play the jazzy A13 chord, featured in songs like "The Girl from Ipanema."

The A13 chord

The A13 chord, pronounced "A dominant thirteenth," is a sophisticated and jazzy variation of the A dominant seventh chord. It's constructed by adding the 13th note (sixth scale degree) to the A7 chord tones. The A13 brings a lush, complex sound that's frequently used in jazz, funk, and R&B music to create smooth transitions between chords and add harmonic interest.

There are many ways to play a chord. Here's a diagram for the most common A13 chord. We've also included other versions below.

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Finger placement for A13 chord

The A13 chord is typically played as a barre chord on the 5th fret of the guitar.

Follow these finger positions to play an A13 chord on your guitar:

  1. Barre your index finger across all six strings on the 5th fret.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 6th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 7th fret of the 5th (A) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 7th fret of the 4th (D) string.

To strum this chord, start from the 5th (A) string and strum downwards, making sure to include all the strings in the chord.

How to play an easy A13 chord on guitar

If you're a beginner looking to play a simpler version of the A13 chord, try playing an A7 chord instead. Place your index finger on the 1st fret of the 3rd (G) string, your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 4th (D) string, and strum only the top five strings.

How to play a A13 bar chord

The A13 chord is typically played as an open chord, so there is not a commonly used barre chord version. The standard open A13 chord uses the following fingering:

  1. Place your index finger on the 1st fret of the 4th (D) string
  2. Place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 2nd (B) string
  3. Place your ring finger on the 2nd fret of the 1st (high E) string
  4. Strum all six strings

Common A13 chord progressions

The A13 chord, a dominant 13th, brings a jazzy and sophisticated flavor to progressions, often used to add tension and resolution. These progressions can evoke a range of emotions from yearning and nostalgia to hope and triumph.

  • I - IV - I - V13 (A - D - A - E13) - Used in "Fly Me to the Moon" and "The Way You Look Tonight"
  • ii - V13 - I (Bm7 - E13 - Amaj7) - Used in "Girl from Ipanema" and "Misty"
  • I - vi - ii - V13 (A - F#m - Bm7 - E13) - Used in "Satin Doll" and "Autumn Leaves"
  • I - vi - ii - V7/V - V13 - I (A - F#m - Bm7 - B7 - E13 - A) - Used in "My Funny Valentine"
  • I - VI7 - ii7 - V13 (A - F#7 - Bm7 - E13) - Used in "Take the 'A' Train"

Drills to master the A13 chord

To master the A13 chord, try playing each note individually, focusing on clean execution. Once comfortable, practice transitioning between the notes in various patterns, such as ascending or descending order. Aim for smooth, fluid movements between each note.

Another effective drill is to play the chord tones (A, C#, and E) together, followed by the extensions (G, B, and F#). This helps your fingers memorize the shape and voicing of the A13 chord. Gradually increase your speed as you become more proficient, maintaining accuracy and clarity.

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Songs that feature the A13 chord

Here are 10 popular songs you can play with the A13 chord:

  1. Creep by Radiohead (G, B, C, Cm)
  2. Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton (A, E, Dm, C, G)
  3. Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley (C, Am, F, G, E)
  4. Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin (Am, C, D, F, G)
  5. Under the Bridge by Red Hot Chili Peppers (E, D, A, Bm, F#m, C#m, G#m)
  6. Free Fallin' by Tom Petty (F, C, G, D, A)
  7. Wonderwall by Oasis (Em, G, D, A)
  8. Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd (Em, G, A, Am, C, D)
  9. Blackbird by The Beatles (G, A, B7, C, Am, D)
  10. Knockin' on Heaven's Door by Bob Dylan (G, D, Am, C)

How a guitar teacher can help

If you feel stuck in your playing, it might help to take personalized guitar lessons with an expert guitarist. Taking lessons with a pro gives you access to the skills, feedback, and motivation to reach your goals.

You can find expert guitar teachers to support you in the journey. Thousands of people have turned to online guitar lessons on Til, instead of traditional in-person lessons, because Til gives you access to the best teachers in the world from the comfort of home. And with flexible scheduling, secure payments, lesson recordings, and a private chat with your teacher–there’s never been a better way to learn guitar.

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