How to play

How to play the Bb13 chord on guitar

Unlock the jazzy sound of Steely Dan's "Josie" and more with this essential chord.

The Bb13 chord

The Bb13 chord, pronounced B-flat dominant thirteenth, is a rich and complex chord that adds a jazzy, sophisticated flavor to progressions. Notable for its four stacked thirds above the root, the Bb13 includes the 7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th notes of the Bb dominant scale. This versatile chord frequently appears in jazz, funk, and R&B music, providing a colorful harmonic backdrop for melodic improvisation.

There are many ways to play a chord. Here's a diagram for the most common Bb13 chord. We've also included other versions below.

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Finger placement for Bb13 chord

The most common way to play the Bb13 chord on guitar is as a barre chord on the 6th fret.

Follow these finger positions to play a Bb13 chord on your guitar:

  1. Place your index finger on the 6th fret of the 1st (high E), 2nd (B), 3rd (G), 4th (D), 5th (A), and 6th (low E) strings, forming a barre chord.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 7th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 8th fret of the 5th (A) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 8th fret of the 4th (D) string.

To strum this chord, use your pick or thumb to play all six strings simultaneously, starting from the 6th (low E) string and moving upwards to the 1st (high E) string.

How to play an easy Bb13 chord on guitar

If you're a beginner looking to play a simpler version of the Bb13 chord, try playing a Bb7 chord instead. A Bb7 chord consists of the notes Bb, D, F, and Ab, which form the foundation of the Bb13 chord. Once you're comfortable with the Bb7 chord, you can add extensions to create the complete Bb13 sound.

How to play a Bb13 bar chord

The Bb13 chord is typically played as an open chord rather than a barre chord, so I don't feel confident providing instructions for a popular barre chord version targeting beginners.

Common Bb13 chord progressions

The B♭13 chord is often used to add a jazzy, sophisticated flavor to chord progressions, creating a rich and complex emotional atmosphere. Some common progressions featuring the B♭13 chord include:

  • ii-V-I-VI: Cm7 - F13 - B♭maj7 - Gm7 (Used in "Girl from Ipanema" and "Fly Me to the Moon")
  • I-vi-ii-V: B♭maj7 - Gm7 - Cm7 - F13
  • iii-VI-ii-V: Dm7 - Gm7 - Cm7 - F13
  • I-IV-iii-VI: B♭maj7 - E♭maj7 - Dm7 - Gm7
  • ii-V-I: Cm7 - F13 - B♭maj7 (Used in countless jazz standards)

Drills to master the Bb13 chord

To master the Bb13 chord, try practicing a simple arpeggiation drill. Play each note of the chord individually in ascending order (Bb, D, F, Ab, C, G) and then descending back to the root. Focus on clean, even timing and consistent volume across all notes.

Another effective drill is to practice transitioning smoothly between Bb13 and other common chords in the same key, such as Eb7 or Cm7. Work on maintaining a steady rhythm as you switch between chords, ensuring that each note rings out clearly.

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Songs that feature the Bb13 chord

Here are 10 popular songs you can play with the Bb13 chord:

  1. Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder (Bb13, Cm7, Dm7, Eb7, F7)
  2. All Blues by Miles Davis (Bb13, Eb7, Dm7, Cm7, F7)
  3. Birdland by Weather Report (Bb13, C7, Cm7, F7, Eb7, Dm7)
  4. Shining Star by Earth, Wind & Fire (Bb13, Eb7, Cm7, F7)
  5. Lowdown by Boz Scaggs (Bb13, Eb7, Dm7, Cm7)
  6. September by Earth, Wind & Fire (Bb13, Eb7, Cm7, F7)
  7. Peg by Steely Dan (Bb13, Gm7, Cm7, F7)
  8. Isn't She Lovely by Stevie Wonder (Bb13, Eb7, Dm7, Cm7, F7)
  9. I Wish by Stevie Wonder (Bb13, Eb7, Cm7, F7)
  10. Deacon Blues by Steely Dan (Bb13, Eb7, Dm7, Cm7, F7)

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.

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