For example an F13. How do you find the 13th note?


8 Answers 8


You play it. For an F13, that would be a D above the octave. But it is more than that. A 9 assumes a dominant 7. An 11 assumes a 9. Thus, a 13 assumes the 11. For F, we're at F A C Eb G Bb D. An easy way to remember is that a 13 is a 7th chord with a minor triad started on the second scale degree.

That looks more like a scale than a chord, doesn't it?

In reality, you would likely play with much less of that. The root and fifth, as I understand it, are two that jazz players routinely drop off. You probably want to drop or sharpen the 11, or else you get a dissonant b9 interval with the 3rd.

  • 7
    1. Don't drop the 3rd on a dominant 7th chord, otherwise you loose the dominant characteristic of the chord which comes from the tritone between the 3rd and 7th. Drop the 5th, then drop the root (and leave it to the bass player). 2 on a dom 7 chord, you want a #11, otherwise the 11 conflicts with the 3rd (awfully sounding b9 interval) Commented Aug 10, 2012 at 9:00
  • @VarLogRant: yep, but you still need to change "11" to "augmented 11" or "#11" (it's a B, not a Bb). Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 7:37
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    The #11 is also very often dropped in the 13 chord, I believe. A typical one-handed voicing for F13 on the piano is Eb-G-A-D (which assumes a bassist, but not necessarily).
    – Gauthier
    Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 19:06
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    IMO when musicians say 13 they usually mean 7add13. A real 13th chord has the 9th and 11th prominent. Like an Ebmaj7 with an F bass. Having rules about not voicing parts of a 13 chord says to me you really don't want a 13.
    – Steve Clay
    Commented Apr 8, 2015 at 21:35

You need to look at the theory behind it. In a scale each note is represented by a number.
In a C major scale you have the notes

C D E F G A B (C)

This will be in numbers:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (8)

Where 8 represents one octave. To find 13, you just have to continue up above in the next octave:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

So here you have 13 as A

In F13 you have F G A B♭ C D E F G A B♭ C D, and there you have D at number 13.

  • This is scant on true information. True, the 13th NOTE in F IS D, but that in no shape or form allows us to say this is how F13 is made or played. The OP is asking about 'F13', a chord based on F major. Merely plonking the 13th note, D, into it does not constitute F13. Actually it makes F6. This is marked down because of basic wrong info.
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 15:52
  • @Tim OP asked "How do you find the 13th note?", and awe answered that part of the question.
    – user45266
    Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 17:42
  • @user45266 - oh dear - the 13th note will always be D. That's very basic. However, F13 will never just be the F triad and the 13th note. that's not how the system works!
    – Tim
    Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 19:27
  • Agreed, but I think OP only asked for how to find the 13th of a 13th chord. OP does say "what is a 13th chord", which leads to confusion, as the two parts of the question conflict.
    – user45266
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 0:00

The 13 note in the F13 chord is D.

A 13th chord is a dominant chord, such as a 7th chord, but with some extra notes.

When creating a chord you generally¹ stack thirds on top of each other and name the chord after the number of steps from the root note to the highest added note.
So the regular F chord is the triad (F A C).
Adding a third gives you F7² (F A C Eb). Adding yet a third gives you F9 (F A C Eb G).
Another third gets you F11³ (F A C Eb G Bb).
A last third on top of that gives you the F13 chord (F A C Eb G Bb D).

However in this stack of notes (the 13th chord), the interval A-Bb (3-11) is considered very dissonant so you generally omit the Bb (the 11) to avoid the dissonance. You shouldn't skip A (the 3), nor Eb (the 7), since this would ruin the dominant character of the 13th chord. The C (the 5) can be skipped since it is so consonant that it adds almost no character in this chord. Further the root F (the 1) is likely played by the bass and can be omitted. So to play the F13 on, for instance, the piano a normal voicing would be
Eb G A D.

¹ Chords like F6 (F A C D) or Fadd9 (F A C G) obviously don't follow the stacked third rule.
² A plain 7 implies the minor 7 note. Chords with "Maj" or △ would instead have the major 7: F△13 gives you the notes (F A C E G Bb D) and might be voiced (E G A D).
³ In an 11th chord the interval 3-11 is considered very dissonant. Since the 11 is the main feature of this chord you generally omit the 3 (the A in F11). F11 could then be voiced as C Eb G Bb.


As the others have pointed out a F13 chord would contain 1/3/5/7/9/11/13, i.e. F, A, C, Eb, G, Bb, D. That's impractical to play and has way too many notes to make a decent sounding chord. As with most of these, it's important to figure out which notes to play and which ones to skip.

The primary feature of the 13 chord is the tension (major 7) between the dominant seven and the 13. In this case Eb and D. These are keepers. You also need to have a 3 (to make sure it's major and not a minor). On the guitar it's often played as F Eb A D (adding the root on the bottom). This is has the nice side effect that it's relatively easy to fret.

  • A F13 chord has a #11, not a 11 (ie e B not a Bb) Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 7:38
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    @gurneyalex: I don't think this is a 100% truth. First, the 11th is often omitted anyway (the 11th either raised or not, changes the color so much...). Then, wikipedia (I know, wikipedia is not always right, but still) does not agree: "A thirteenth chord does not imply the quality of the ninth or eleventh scale degrees." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirteenth The same article says also: "The underlying harmony during a thirteenth chord is usually Mixolydian or Lydian dominant", which differ only in their natural/raised fourth.
    – Gauthier
    Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 19:16
  • @Gauthier well, if you want to play a 11 on a 13 chord with the 3rd, you're going to have problems making it sound correct. Either you have a sus4, in when case I agree you won't have a #11, or you're playing the 3rd, in which case you either omit the 11, or play a #11. The 4th is very tricky in a Mixolydian mode because the 3rd is such a strong note, and the potential for a b9 is very high. Better be on the safe side and omit the 11 or raise it IMO (at least in a jazz context). Maybe not 100% true, but certainly 98%. Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 8:45
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    I do agree that the natural 11 is more awkward than the #11. But the #11 changes the sonority of the 13 chord very much, so I'd say that the #11 is omitted in most cases (more often than played). Maybe not the case whe you play the chords, and it's just fine. As a soloist I often play the fourth of a dominant chord as a passing note. If the chord instrument plays a #11 that would sound kind of strange, wouldn't it?
    – Gauthier
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 9:29
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    (i.e. the soloist assumes mixolydian while the chord instrument assumes lydian dominant. Plus that if F13 is the dominant chord, the soloist is likely to play in Bb major, thus Bb. If the tonality is C minor (with major 6th and 7th), then B is better.)
    – Gauthier
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 9:34

F13. F-A-C-D ... is a 6th, not a 13. (Actually, it could also be a dmin7 in 1st inversion depending on what's being played in the bass). It doesnt matter what inversion or where you place it. F-A-C-D-Eb ... IS in fact a 13th (though I wouldnt voice it quite like that). A 6th scale degree without a dominant 7th scale degree is merely a 6th scale degree. The magic "13th" requires the dominant 7th.

  • 1
    This could be re-phrased to great advantage.
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 10:13
  • @tim especially since for a 9th or something, the 7th isn't really that important, whereas to me for a 13th the clash of the presence of both a 7 and a 6 is kinda... the point
    – Some_Guy
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 15:01
  • actually having said that, what does this add to the Hilmar and Ulf Åkerstedt answers from 4 years ago?
    – Some_Guy
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 15:02
  • @Some_Guy - for any of the 9ths - dom, maj, min, the 7th is absolute. Without it, we have 'add9', which is a different beast altogether. I agree with 13th working well as a b7 and a 6th, and 1,3,5 as well. To me that's one of the better sounding 13th chords on guitar.
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 15:34
  • @tim I am of course, talking absolute rubbish and you are right. Still, this answer, unless I'm mistaken, seems not to add much to some answers above. But we've already established I'm not on form today, so I could well be missing something.
    – Some_Guy
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 15:40

The simple answer is, count as if the "8" is "1" (because they are the same, an octave apart). Thus, the 13th is actually a 6th. The high number basically infers it's a melody note overtop a simpler chord. That isn't a hard and fast rule, it merely means that the 13th note is included. It could be the lowest note in the chord... or somewhere in the middle of other notes being played - where it 'should' be is purely a matter of how you are playing the overarching melody.


The simple answer is to play 9th, 11th, or 13th "CHORDS", you need the base chord, PLUS the b7, PLUS the 9th, 11th, or 13th note. If you DON'T play the b7 and add the 9th, 11th, or 13th note, it is an "add chord" (Example: a "Cadd9" is C-E-G-D (1-3-5-9), whereas a "C9" is C-E-G-Bb-D (1-3-5-b7-9). Again, the 9th chord MUST have the b7. The same rule applies to 11th, 13th chords... hence, 11th chord: 1-(3)-5-b7-11, 13th chord: 1-3-5-b7-13. Yes, in the 11th chord, the third will clash. (just try a C11 chord to see for yourself: play a open C7 chord (C with adding the Bb on the 3rd string) and then barre the F on the first string, now test with playing with the 4th string "E" played and then muted and you will hear the difference from a true 11th to an omitted third 11th). As far as variations, you can do whatever to divide the note duties among musicians but you generally need all but the 5th to do the chord justice or you might as well call it another chord name.


A simple inversion of a 13th chord is playing it as, for example, C 6/7 , hence the notes C E G A Bb ...so Root, third, fifth , sixth and seventh..this applies to any major chord.

  • A simple version of a 13th chord, or a simple inversion?
    – Richard
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 19:55

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