How to play

How to play the C#13 chord on guitar

Spice up your playing with this jazzy chord, as heard in "The Girl from Ipanema."

The C#13 chord

The C#13 chord, pronounced "C sharp dominant thirteenth," is a rich and complex guitar chord that adds a jazzy, sophisticated flavor to progressions. Notable for its use of extended harmony, the C#13 is often found in jazz, funk, and R&B music. While it may be challenging for beginners, the C#13 is a valuable chord for guitarists looking to expand their harmonic vocabulary.

There are many ways to play a chord. Here's a diagram for the most common C#13 chord. We've also included other versions below.

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Finger placement for C#13 chord

The most common way to play the C#13 chord on guitar is as a barre chord on the 9th fret.

Follow these finger positions to play a C#13 chord on your guitar:

  1. Barre your index finger across all six strings on the 9th fret.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 10th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 11th fret of the 5th (A) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 11th fret of the 4th (D) string.

To strum this chord, use your pick or thumb to play through all six strings in a downward motion. You can also add upstrokes for a more rhythmic sound.

How to play an easy C#13 chord on guitar

If you're a beginner looking to play a simpler version of the C#13 chord, try playing a C#7 chord instead. Place your index finger on the 4th fret of the A string, your middle finger on the 6th fret of the D string, and your ring finger on the 6th fret of the G string. Strum only these three strings.

How to play a C#13 bar chord

The C#13 chord is typically played as an open chord, but playing it as a barre chord allows you to easily move the shape up and down the fretboard to play the same chord type in different keys.

Here's how to play a C#13 barre chord:

  1. Place your index finger across the 9th fret, barring all six strings.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 10th fret of the 2nd (B) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 11th fret of the 4th (D) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 11th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  5. Strum all six strings from the low E string to the high E string.

Common C#13 chord progressions

The C#13 chord is often used in jazz and R&B progressions to add a sophisticated, dreamy, or melancholic feel. Here are some common chord progressions featuring the C#13 chord:

  • I - VI - II - V (C#maj7 - A#min7 - D#min7 - G#7)
  • I - IV - V - IV (C#maj7 - F#maj7 - G#7 - F#maj7)
  • I - VI - II - V7 (C#maj7 - A#min7 - D#min7 - G#7b9) Used in "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye
  • II - V - I - VI (D#min7 - G#7 - C#maj7 - A#min7)
  • III - VI - II - V (E#min7 - A#min7 - D#min7 - G#7)

Drills to master the C#13 chord

To master the C#13 chord, try playing each note individually, focusing on clarity and tone. Once comfortable, practice transitioning between the notes in different sequences, gradually increasing your speed. Incorporate the chord into simple progressions to develop muscle memory.

Another effective drill is to arpeggiate the chord, playing each note separately in ascending and descending order. This exercise helps you visualize the chord shape and improves your finger dexterity. As you become more proficient, challenge yourself by experimenting with different rhythmic patterns and strumming techniques while holding the C#13 chord.

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Songs that feature the C#13 chord

Here are 10 popular songs you can play with the C#13 chord.

  1. I Wish by Stevie Wonder (C#13, G#13, C#m7, F#13)
  2. Isn't She Lovely by Stevie Wonder (C#13, G#7, C#m7, F#7)
  3. Creepin' by Stevie Wonder (C#13, G#13, C#m7, F#13)
  4. You Are the Sunshine of My Life by Stevie Wonder (C#13, G#7, C#m7, F#7)
  5. Boogie On Reggae Woman by Stevie Wonder (C#13, G#13, C#m7, F#13)
  6. Knocks Me Off My Feet by Stevie Wonder (C#13, G#7, C#m7, F#7)
  7. Lately by Stevie Wonder (C#13, G#13, C#m7, F#13)
  8. Overjoyed by Stevie Wonder (C#13, G#7, C#m7, F#7)
  9. Ribbon in the Sky by Stevie Wonder (C#13, G#13, C#m7, F#13)
  10. Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours by Stevie Wonder (C#13, G#7, C#m7, F#7)

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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