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How to play the Bbmaj13 chord on guitar

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The Bbmaj13 chord

The Bbmaj13 chord, pronounced B-flat major thirteenth, is a rich and complex harmony often used in jazz, funk, and R&B music. This extended chord adds colorful notes like the 7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th to the basic Bb major triad, creating a lush and sophisticated sound. Notable songs featuring Bbmaj13 include Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely" and Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing."

There are many ways to play a chord. Here's a diagram for the most common Bbmaj13 chord. We've also included other versions below.

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Finger placement for Bbmaj13 chord

The most common way to play a Bbmaj13 chord on guitar is as a barre chord on the 6th fret.

Follow these finger positions to play a Bbmaj13 chord on your guitar:

  1. Barre your index finger across all six strings on the 6th fret.
  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 down across all six strings in one smooth motion.

How to play an easy Bbmaj13 chord on guitar

If you're a beginner looking to play a simpler version of the Bbmaj13 chord, try playing a Bb major triad on the 6th, 5th, and 4th strings (1st fret, 3rd fret, and 3rd fret, respectively) with your 1st, 3rd, and 4th fingers. This gives you the essential notes of the chord without the complex fingering.

How to play a Bbmaj13 bar chord

The Bbmaj13 chord is typically played as individual notes rather than as a barre chord, so I don't feel confident providing instructions on a popular barre chord version targeting beginners.

Common Bbmaj13 chord progressions

The Bbmaj13 chord is often used to add a sophisticated, jazzy flavor to chord progressions, creating a dreamy and slightly melancholic atmosphere. Some common progressions featuring the Bbmaj13 chord include:

  • I - IVmaj13 - iii - vi (Bb - Ebmaj13 - Dm - Gm)
  • IVmaj13 - V7 - iii - vi (Ebmaj13 - F7 - Dm - Gm)
  • ii - V7 - Imaj13 (Cm - F7 - Bbmaj13) Used in "The Way You Look Tonight" and "Misty"
  • Imaj13 - ii7 - iii7 - IVmaj7 (Bbmaj13 - Cm7 - Dm7 - Ebmaj7)
  • iii - vi - IVmaj13 - V7 (Dm - Gm - Ebmaj13 - F7)

Drills to master the Bbmaj13 chord

To master the Bbmaj13 guitar chord, start by playing the individual notes (Bb, D, F, A, C, G) separately. Focus on cleanly fretting and picking each note, ensuring they ring out clearly. Practice this drill slowly and gradually increase your speed.

Next, practice playing the notes in pairs, such as Bb-D, F-A, and C-G. This will help you transition smoothly between the notes when playing the full chord. As you become more comfortable, try playing different combinations of the notes to develop your dexterity and familiarity with the chord structure.

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Songs that feature the Bbmaj13 chord

Here are 10 popular songs you can play with the Bbmaj13 chord.

  1. Isn't She Lovely by Stevie Wonder (Bbmaj13, Cm7, Dm7, Eb7, F7)
  2. What's Going On by Marvin Gaye (Bbmaj13, Cm7, Dm7, Eb7, F7)
  3. Stardust by Hoagy Carmichael (Bbmaj13, C6, Cm7, Ebmaj7, F9)
  4. Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper (Bbmaj13, Cm7, Eb6, F6, Gm7)
  5. Valerie by Amy Winehouse (Bbmaj13, Cm7, Dm7, Eb6, F9)
  6. Overjoyed by Stevie Wonder (Bbmaj13, Cm7, Dm7, Eb6, F7)
  7. All The Things You Are by Jerome Kern (Bbmaj13, Cm7, Dm7b5, Ebmaj7, F7, Gm7)
  8. Bésame Mucho by Consuelo Velázquez (Bbmaj13, Cm6, Dm7, Eb6, F7, Gm7)
  9. Fly Me To The Moon by Frank Sinatra (Bbmaj13, Cm7, Dm7, Eb6, F6, Gm7)
  10. My Favorite Things by John Coltrane (Bbmaj13, Cm7, Dm7, Eb6, F7, Gm6)

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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