Basics of 6th Chords and Blues Shuffles on the Guitar
On the guitar, a 6th chord is some combination of 1-3-5-6. If a 6th extends beyond the 7th, it’s still called a 6th unless a 7th is also present in the chord, in which case it’s called a major 13th.
The following songs feature 6th chords:
Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Brass in Pocket by The Pretenders
Laughing by The Guess Who
Lenny by Stevie Ray Vaughan
Lie in Our Graves by Dave Matthews Band
By far the most common use of 6ths on guitar is when guitarists play the so-called blues shuffle or boogie-woogie that accompanies many rock ’n’ roll, rockabilly, and blues songs. In a blues shuffle, a root and 5th are alternated with a root and 6th. Here, the progression is A-D-E-A, I-IV-V-I in A major. On these major scale degrees, 6ths occur naturally.
You can see an example at Blues Shuffle with 6ths.
The following songs are all good examples of using a blues shuffle with 6ths:
Glory Days by Bruce Springsteen
Jet Airliner by Steve Miller Band
Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry
Keep Your Hands to Yourself by Georgia Satellites
Love Struck Baby by Stevie Ray Vaughan
Life By the Drop by Stevie Ray Vaughan
Red House by Jimi Hendrix (bass)
Rocky Mountain Way by Joe Walsh
Taking Care of Business by Bachman-Turner Overdrive
Truckin’ by Grateful Dead