How to Build Major 6th Chords

In today’s theory lesson we’ll be looking at how you build Maj6 chords, as well as 8 commonly used fingerings for these chords that you can take into the practice and bring into your playing and songwriting.

The Maj6 chord comes from the Ionian mode, as it uses the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 6th notes of the ionian mode in it’s construction.

Here is how you would build a C6 chord from the C ionian mode.

Notice how the numbers of the C ionian mode are used to spell the numbers of the C6 chord, 1-3-5-6, as this is the interval pattern needed to build any 6 chord, regardless of key.

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So, the Maj6 chord is built by taking the Root, 3rd, 5th and 6th of the related Ionian Mode.

Test Your Theory Knowledge

To help get this formula under your fingers and into your theory chops, you can write out all 12 different Maj6 chords, such as C E G A for C6, and post them in the comments section of this thread.

I’ll be glad to check your work and help with any questions you have regarding this lesson on building Maj6 chords.

Maj6 Chord Shapes

To keep things practical as well as theoretical, here are 8 different shapes for C6 that you can take into your guitar playing.

Each of these shapes is commonly used and if you have even a few of them under your fingers will allow you to easily bring these sounds into your playing regardless of the style or musical situation.

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Check out Maj6 chords from both a construction and practical application.

These chords will pop up from time to time, or a lot if you play blues, jazz or fusion, and so it’s a good idea to have a mental and physical understanding of these common chords.