I'm working through Mickey Baker's jazz guitar book (Vol. 1) and one of the chords is D13b5b9. I'm having no trouble playing this chord, but I don't really understand it The problem is since there is no D in the chord. Since the root note is not in the chord, I don't know how to move this chord around the fretboard.
I've played piano for 5 years and guitar for 1, so I know a decent amount of music theory, but this is kinda out of my depth. The fingering of the chord from low E to high e is :46x577 . The notes are Ab, Eb, C, F#, B .
Eh, it's rootless; the bass would handle the root.

There's F#-Ab-C-Eb-B otherwise.
It sounds like an Ab7#9 without the root, though.

Overall, the guitar is just one instrument, and it's the overall context that dictates the overarching harmony.
NeoMvsEu So how would I go about moving it to like a C13b5b9, for example? Much of my problem is, because the chord is rootless, I don't know how to transpose the shape to the right pitch to continues the progression.
Move the whole shape down two frets.

But now it just sounds like F#7#9
]mdc Got it. So I use the interval rather than the root. Thanks a lot! It's a kinda complex chord to me and Baker doesn't really explain how to use it.
No problem. Big chords like that aren't as practical on guitar unlike the piano.

Sometimes it's worth sacrificing some chord tones, and just voice the ones that you think will bring out the most flavour of the chord.

If you take the 13, b5 and b9 of your D13b5b9 chord, you'll see that they spell out a minor triad. More so if you label them enharmonically.

So in a band context, you could just play some inversions of a minor triad on the top 3 strings. Hoping that the other players will be taking care of some roots and guide tones in the meantime.
Last edited by mdc at Jul 3, 2016,
sebasn...the baker book is a good start to basic jazz..it has some mistakes but it is a good primer..he will show you how to use all of the 26 chords at the beginning of the book..if your serious about learning jazz guitar..follow his instructions-one lesson a week- then transpose the lessone into all the other keys..if you do this you will have a solid base for advanced studies..

rip apart each chord..use manuscript paper-write the chords out and name each note and the degree of the chord--D7=D F# A C-1 3 5 b7 etc ..in a short time you will begin to see patterns and at the same time develop a strong knowledge of the fretboard in ALL positions..this will help you ALOT with solo work...
play well

Last edited by wolflen at Jul 3, 2016,
As that chord stands, it's actually Ab7#9, if played by itself.

The idea being used is called "tritone substitution" ... but that particular voicing is questionable (the D wouldn't really sound as the root ... the Ab would)

"Tritone" is the term for an interval of 6 semitones (e.g. Ab to D), aka b5. The idea of tritone substiution is finding a pair of 7 chords that share common pitches that are a b5 apart. This usually involves the maj3 and the b7 of either of the chords in the pair. The distance between the roots of this pair is also tritone.

So, for example, look at this progression in the key of G major: Am7, D7, G,

x x x
5 3 3
5 5 4
5 4 5
x 5 x
5 x 3

Above. the tritone is found on the 4th and 3rd strings of the D7 (F# and C, the maj3 and b7 of the chord)

We can keep this exact same tritone in Ab ...


Now, here the F# (strictly speakig Gb) is the b7 of the Ab7 chord, and the C is the maj3 of the Ab7. (Remember, in a dominant chord, the maj3 and the b7 provide the main intervals) ... so the role of these pitches in the D7 has switched in the Ab7.


x x x
5 4 3
5 5 4
5 4 5
x x x
5 4 3

This is very common is jazz.
Quote by sebasn10
]mdc Got it. So I use the interval rather than the root. Thanks a lot! It's a kinda complex chord to me and Baker doesn't really explain how to use it.
With respect to Mr Baker, I don't think it's a very usable shape for a 13b5b9 at all. If I wanted a D13b5b9 (rootless) - and I'm not sure I ever would, in full - I'd probably use this: x-11-10-11-12-11. It still looks like Ab7#9, but in that register it would sit better over a D bass, IMO. (You can actually add a D bass on 6th string with your thumb, to hear how the whole chord sounds: 10-11-10-11-12-11.)

It's a HW dim chord (with the bass, contains 6 notes of the 8-note D HW dim scale), so could resolve in a few ways. It could go to G or Db (major or minor), but also to E or Bb.

But for more usable alternatives I'd lose one of those alterations, and go for a 4-string shape:
x-x-4-5-4-7 = D13b9, Ab7#9. (Also a partial F7b5b9 or B7b9, but lacking either 3rd or 7th.)
x-x-10-11-12-11 = ditto
x-x-4-5-4-4 = D7b5b9 (Ab7)
x-x-10-11-9-11 = "
x-x-6-5-7-7, x-11-10-11-12-x = D13b5, D13#11 (Ab7#9)

Some of these might imply other scales, with more limited resolution options. D13#11, eg, would usually go only to Db (or C#m) or Emaj.
Last edited by jongtr at Jul 5, 2016,