How to play

How to play the C13 chord on guitar

Unlock the jazzy sounds of "The Girl from Ipanema" and "Fly Me to the Moon."

The C13 chord

The C13 chord, pronounced "C dominant thirteenth," is a sophisticated and jazzy variation of the C dominant 7th chord. Notable for its rich, complex sound, the C13 adds color and tension to progressions in genres like jazz, funk, and R&B. Artists such as Steely Dan and Stevie Wonder have showcased this chord's unique flavor in their music, adding depth and intrigue to their compositions.

There are many ways to play a chord. Here's a diagram for the most common C13 chord. We've also included other versions below.

Hero Image

Unlock your playing potential in online guitar lessons with experts on Til. Start today and achieve your guitar goals quickly. Find a top-rated teacher.

Finger placement for C13 chord

The C13 chord is typically played as a barre chord on the 3rd fret of the guitar.

Follow these finger positions to play a C13 chord on your guitar:

  1. Place your index finger across the 3rd fret, covering all six strings (barre).
  2. Place your middle finger on the 5th fret of the 4th (D) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 5th fret of the 2nd (B) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 5th fret of the 1st (high E) string.

To strum this chord, use your pick or thumb to play all six strings in a downward motion, starting from the lowest (thickest) string.

How to play an easy C13 chord on guitar

If you're a beginner looking to play a simpler version of the C13 chord, try playing a C7 chord instead. The C7 chord contains the most essential notes of the C13 chord and is much easier to play using open strings. Once you're comfortable with C7, you can gradually add the 13th note to the chord.

How to play a C13 bar chord

The C13 chord is not commonly played as a barre chord on guitar. The standard fingering for C13 uses an open position shape that is easier for beginners to play. If you are confident with barre chords, it's possible to construct a C13 barre chord, but it would require advanced hand positioning and stretching that is quite difficult, especially for beginners. For those reasons, I would not recommend trying to play a C13 barre chord shape, as the open position is much more practical.

Common C13 chord progressions

The C13 chord is often used to add a jazzy, sophisticated flavor to chord progressions, creating a sense of tension and resolution. Here are some common chord progressions featuring the C13 chord:

  • ii - V13 - I (Dm7 - G13 - Cmaj7)
  • I - vi - ii - V13 (Cmaj7 - Am7 - Dm7 - G13) Used in "Girl from Ipanema" and "Fly Me to the Moon"
  • I - VI7 - ii - V13 (Cmaj7 - A7 - Dm7 - G13)
  • iii - VI7 - ii - V13 (Em7 - A7 - Dm7 - G13)
  • I - IV - iii - VI13 (Cmaj7 - Fmaj7 - Em7 - A13)

Drills to master the C13 chord

To master the C13 chord, try playing each note individually, focusing on clean execution and tone. Once comfortable, practice transitioning between pairs of notes, such as C to E, E to G, and so on. Gradually build up to playing all six notes together.

Another effective drill is to play the chord as an arpeggio, starting with the lowest note and working your way up. Repeat this pattern, increasing your speed over time. This exercise helps develop finger independence and muscle memory, making the C13 chord feel more natural and effortless.

Unlock your playing potential in online guitar lessons with experts on Til. Start today and achieve your guitar goals quickly. Find a top-rated teacher.

Brian B.

"Molly is absolutely amazing. The way she breaks things down so you can understand how to play is incredible. She encourages questions to help you along in your journey. I would encourage everyone to take her class. You will be better no matter what."

Songs that feature the C13 chord

Here are 10 popular songs you can play with the C13 chord:

  1. Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder (C13, F13, D7, G13, E7, A7, Dm7, G7)
  2. I Wish by Stevie Wonder (C13, Gm7, C7, F13, D7, G7)
  3. Isn't She Lovely by Stevie Wonder (C13, F13, Em7, A7, Dm7, G7)
  4. Superstition by Stevie Wonder (C13, Eb13, F13, G13)
  5. I Was Made to Love Her by Stevie Wonder (C13, F13, G7)
  6. Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing by Stevie Wonder (C13, F13, Em7, A7, Dm7, G7)
  7. You Are the Sunshine of My Life by Stevie Wonder (C13, F13, Em7, A7, Dm7, G7)
  8. Boogie On Reggae Woman by Stevie Wonder (C13, F13, G7)
  9. Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours by Stevie Wonder (C13, F13, Dm7, G7)
  10. My Cherie Amour by Stevie Wonder (C13, F13, Em7, A7, Dm7, G7)

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.

Learn guitar all over the world