How to play

How to play the Ab11 chord on guitar

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The Ab11 chord

The Ab11 chord, pronounced "A flat eleventh," is a sophisticated and jazzy chord that adds depth and complexity to your guitar playing. It's built on the foundation of an Ab major triad, with the addition of the 7th, 9th, and 11th notes. This chord is commonly used in jazz, funk, and R&B genres to create smooth and intriguing progressions.

There are many ways to play a chord. Here's a diagram for the most common Ab11 chord. We've also included other versions below.

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Finger placement for Ab11 chord

The most popular way to play the Ab11 chord on guitar is as a barre chord on the 4th fret.

Follow these finger positions to play a Ab11 chord on your guitar:

  1. Place your index finger on the 4th fret of the 5th (A), 4th (D), 3rd (G), 2nd (B), and 1st (E) strings, forming a barre.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 5th fret of the 4th (D) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 6th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 6th fret of the 2nd (B) string.

To strum this chord, start by strumming down from the 5th (A) string to the 1st (E) string. You can then strum up and down as desired to create your preferred rhythm pattern.

How to play an easy Ab11 chord on guitar

If you're a beginner looking to play a simpler version of the Ab11 chord, try playing an Ab major chord instead. Place your first finger on the 4th fret of the E string, your second finger on the 5th fret of the B string, and your third finger on the 6th fret of the G string.

How to play a Ab11 bar chord

The Ab11 chord is more commonly played in an open voicing rather than as a barre chord. I don't feel confident providing instructions on how to play an Ab11 barre chord shape.

Common Ab11 chord progressions

The Ab11 chord adds a jazzy, sophisticated flavor to progressions, often creating a dreamy or wistful emotional atmosphere. Some common chord progressions featuring Ab11 include:

  • ii11 - V7 - Imaj7 (Bbm11 - Eb7 - Abmaj7)
  • Imaj7 - iii7 - vi7 - ii7 - V7 - Imaj7 (Abmaj7 - Cm7 - Fm7 - Bbm7 - Eb7 - Abmaj7)
  • Imaj7 - IV7 - vii7 - iii7 - vi7 - ii7 - V7 (Abmaj7 - Db7 - Gm7 - Cm7 - Fm7 - Bbm7 - Eb7)
  • Imaj7 - V7/vi - vi7 - V7/ii - ii7 - V7 (Abmaj7 - B7 - Fm7 - F7 - Bbm7 - Eb7)
  • ii11 - V7sus4 - Imaj7 (Bbm11 - Eb7sus4 - Abmaj7) Used in "Still Crazy After All These Years" and "Mirrors"

Drills to master the Ab11 chord

To master the Ab11 chord, try playing the individual notes (Ab, Eb, Gb, Bb, Db) one at a time, focusing on clean fretting and crisp sound. Once comfortable, practice transitioning smoothly between each note in various patterns.

Next, work on strumming the full Ab11 chord, aiming for even pressure and consistent tone across all notes. Incorporate the chord into progressions you know, or create your own, to develop muscle memory and familiarity with the shape. Regular practice will help you seamlessly integrate this rich, jazzy chord into your playing.

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Songs that feature the Ab11 chord

Here are 10 popular songs you can play with the Ab11 chord.

  1. Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder (Chords: B, D7, E, Ab11, Fm7, Bb7, Eb)
  2. I Wish by Stevie Wonder (Chords: Ab11, Bb7, Cm7, Fm7, Bb7, Eb)
  3. Isn't She Lovely by Stevie Wonder (Chords: Ab11, Db/Ab, Ab7, Dbmaj7, Bbm7, Eb7)
  4. Golden Lady by Stevie Wonder (Chords: Cm7, Gm7, C7, Fm7, Ab11, Bb7, Eb)
  5. Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You) by Stevie Wonder (Chords: Gmaj7, G7, Cm7, Ab11, Fm7, Bb7)
  6. Creepin' by Stevie Wonder (Chords: Cm7, Ab11, Bb7, Ebmaj7)
  7. You Haven't Done Nothin' by Stevie Wonder (Chords: Ab11, Bb7, Cm7, Fm7)
  8. Too High by Stevie Wonder (Chords: Ebmaj7, Cm7, Fm7, Bb7, Ab11)
  9. Knocks Me Off My Feet by Stevie Wonder (Chords: Gmaj7, Bm7, E7, Amaj7, C#m7, F#7, Bmaj7, Ebm7, Ab11)
  10. Pastime Paradise by Stevie Wonder (Chords: Cm7, Fm7, Ab11, Bb7, Eb)

How a guitar teacher can help

If you feel stuck in your playing, it might help to take personalized guitar lessons with an expert guitarist. Taking lessons with a pro gives you access to the skills, feedback, and motivation to reach your goals.

You can find expert guitar teachers to support you in the journey. Thousands of people have turned to online guitar lessons on Til, instead of traditional in-person lessons, because Til gives you access to the best teachers in the world from the comfort of home. And with flexible scheduling, secure payments, lesson recordings, and a private chat with your teacher–there’s never been a better way to learn guitar.

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