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I am looking at the fingering for this chord and see that the note on the second string is E, which would be the sixth of the chord. I have seen other fingerings that are similar in jazz standards where instead of the 5th note of the chord, they suggest the 6th note. Is this common practice that I just need to get used to in my jazz studies?

  • 4
    @blusician Often in jazz notation you will write the "basic" chord atop the line with the understanding that the player will understand the harmonic structure enough to choose extentions/alterations that fit with the harmony at that point in the song. Writing G7 is basically saying "This chord is a dominant chord. Knock yourself out." whereas G13 means "this chord had BETTER have a 13th in it ok". On the other hand, when you write tab, you understand that you're writing for a musician to play the notes exactly "as is"; so you'll include an example voicing that's a good "way" to play it.
    – Some_Guy
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 13:35
  • Jazz doesn't usually break rules this bad. X7 is dominant 7th. What the tab shows in a 13th chord. I cannot recall a single instance of a 13th being written in for a 7 and not called a 13th. You can extend or alter chords all you want as long as it makes sense but I not come across a blatant inconsistency in notation before.
    – user50691
    Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 22:36

4 Answers 4


The voicing in question is commonly notated as a G13 chord in jazz sheet music, and in compendiums of guitar chords for jazz. Jazz guitarists frequently leave some notes out of chord voicings; this is sometimes necessary given the nature of the fingerboard, but it is also sometimes desirable to leave space for other players to fill in. The fifth of a chord is often the first to go, since it doesn't contribute to chord quality unless it is augmented or diminished. Note that the G13 voicing shown still contains the guide tones.

Often changes for jazz tunes are written with simple chords to allow players to choose how to embellish. This could explain why G7 becomes G13 in the tabulature: the G13 still functions as a dominant seventh chord, as it contains the major third and the minor seventh.

Note that this particular voicing is also often played with the root on the fifth string, so that for C13 the fifth string is fretted at 3, the third string fretted at 3, and the second and first strings fretted at 5.

Another voicing that I am fond of moves the root of the chord to the first string; that is, fourth string at 3, third string at 4, second string at 5, first string at 3. This is a G13 in third inversion. It has a tritone between the lowest two notes, and sounds a little more tense to me.

It is possible to play a fuller thirteenth chord voicing on the guitar. For example, you can play the sixth string at 3, fifth string at 2, fourth string at 3, and barre the third, second and first strings at 5. This requires a bit of a stretch, and you may find it easier to play higher on the neck; it gives a G13 (omitting the fifth) with the ninth, eleventh and thirteenth.

  • 1
    Excellent answer. Tab is by it's nature for a guitarist who wants an exact chart to play. Changes are there to tell you about the "meat" of a song, and let you decide for yourself how to lay it out exactly.
    – Some_Guy
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 13:40

This is a G13, a hipper sounding G9 (which is hipper than G7). G13 implies the 7th (F) whereas G6 wouldn't.

G7+6 makes it sound like an augmented chord with the sixth mixed in there.

The fifth of this chord, D, is incredibly boring and really has no use in establishing its sound.

The G7 symbol over top the notes should probably be crossed out and written as G13.

Aside from that small correction, yes, this is basically common practice in jazz and should raise no eyebrows.

Also, guitar parts in certain charts are often not done well as the arranger doesn't always have practical knowledge of the instrument.

To really understand the guitar's rhythmic role, listen to Freddie Green with the Count Basie Orchestra... Check out this video on YouTube:

  • 1
    I disagree. G7+6 is a G7 chord with E, the sixth degree. G+7 is an augmented chord (G,B,D#,F). G+7+6 would be the mentioned augmented chord with E, the sixth degree. What is the confusion? Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 3:07
  • 1
    Ansel- I understand what you are saying and why, but that it just not the practice. I don't believe I've ever seen a G13 written as G7+6 in any fake book, real book, chart, guitar chord book, or any sheet music whatsoever. Check out the Real Books and you'll see G13 everywhere.
    – travis.js
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 3:15
  • Exactly. G13 and G7+6 are completely different chords, proving my point. You won't see a G7+6 in place of a G13. Since G13 is such a big chord (7 notes), the listener needs most of these notes to be present to identify it as such. A chord with notes: G,B,F,A,C,E can be identified as a G13, since D would be implied. However, G7+6 is heard as a suspended G7 chord with a degree 6-5 resolution. Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 3:16
  • Disagree... what is you definition of a G13?
    – travis.js
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 3:19
  • 4
    This is a standard G13 guitar voicing from the 6th string. It's a familiar shape to every experienced jazz guitarist. There's simply no question. And no matter what instrument, this is considered a G13 in jazz. You don't need every extension nor would you usually want it (in jazz at least). As for why it says G7, it's pretty common for the tune to indicate a G7 but to then sub in a different and potentially more interesting extension instead.
    – user37496
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 4:37

Yes this is a common jazz voicing for G13. In Jazz it can be common, or not, to include the lower extensions in a higher extension 7th chord. So a G13 might include the 9th and 11th, or not. If you want cool, try first finger F on 4th string 3rd fret, second finger B on third string 4th fret and third finger E on second string 5th fret. Nothing else. No G. Repeat, No G. That is a way cool G13.


The straight forward answer is the major 3rd and minor 7th over the root of G make the chord a dominant 7th.

The E in the staff/tab is then the next concern. It's a little ambiguous, but that particular chord symbol and notation seem to indicate the E is an optional choice otherwise the symbol G13 should have been used to indicate the E was required.

It's interesting that while chord symbols in jazz are considered to give requirements where essential chord tones should not be omitted, there doesn't seem to be a problem with extending simple 7th chords from a lead sheet depending on the style of interpretation.

I've seen lots of cases for piano where a lead sheet gives simple 7th chords, but the interpretation could use rootless "Evans" chords with extended 9ths and 13ths.

Also, those rootless Evans chords omit the roots and do not include 11ths even when a 13th is used. So there can be a lot of flexibility with omissions and extensions when the given chord symbol is a simple 7th chord.

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