How to play

How to play the Bb11 chord on guitar

Spice up your playing with this jazzy chord, used in hits like "Lenny" by SRV.

The Bb11 chord

The Bb11 chord, pronounced B-flat eleventh, is a sophisticated and jazzy chord that adds a touch of complexity to any musical arrangement. Notable for its rich harmonic structure, the Bb11 chord is commonly used in jazz, R&B, and neo-soul genres. Its unique voicing, which includes the 7th and 11th scale degrees, creates a lush and slightly dissonant sound that resolves beautifully when used strategically.

There are many ways to play a chord. Here's a diagram for the most common Bb11 chord. We've also included other versions below.

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Finger placement for Bb11 chord

The most popular way to play a Bb11 chord on guitar is as a barre chord on the 6th fret.

Follow these finger positions to play a Bb11 chord on your guitar:

  1. Place your index finger across all six strings at the 6th fret to form a barre.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 7th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 8th fret of the 5th (A) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 8th fret of the 4th (D) string.

To strum the Bb11 chord, use your pick or thumb to play downstrokes, hitting all six strings. Alternatively, you can fingerpick the individual notes of the chord.

How to play an easy Bb11 chord on guitar

If you're a beginner looking to play a simpler version of the Bb11 chord, try this:

  1. Place your index finger on the 1st fret of the 4th (D) string.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 3rd fret of the 2nd (B) string.
  3. Play only the 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st strings, strumming down from the 4th string.

How to play a Bb11 bar chord

Playing the Bb11 chord as a barre chord can be a great way to add a full, rich sound to your guitar playing, especially when transitioning between other barre chords.

Here's how to play a Bb11 barre chord:

  1. Place your index finger across the 6th fret, covering all six strings.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 7th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 8th fret of the 5th (A) string.
  4. Place your pinky finger on the 8th fret of the 4th (D) string.
  5. Strum down from the 5th (A) string.

Common Bb11 chord progressions

The B♭11 chord is often used in jazz, funk, and R&B progressions to add a sophisticated, dreamy, or slightly melancholic flavor. Some common chord progressions featuring B♭11 include:

  • I - III7 - VI7 - II7 (B♭maj7 - Dmin7 - Gmin7 - Cmin7)
  • I - II7 - V7 - I (B♭maj7 - Cmin7 - F7 - B♭maj7)
  • I - VI7 - II7 - V7 (B♭maj7 - Gmin7 - Cmin7 - F7)
  • I - VII7 - III7 - VI7 (B♭maj7 - A♭7 - Dmin7 - Gmin7)
  • II7 - V7 - I - VI7 (Cmin7 - F7 - B♭maj7 - Gmin7) Used in "Living for the City" by Stevie Wonder

Drills to master the Bb11 chord

To master the Bb11 chord, start by practicing the chord transition from a simpler chord like Bb major. Focus on smoothly switching between the two chords, maintaining a steady rhythm. Gradually increase the tempo as you become more comfortable.

Another effective drill is to arpeggiate the chord, playing each note separately in ascending and descending order. This exercise helps develop finger independence and familiarizes you with the chord's sound. Concentrate on clarity and evenness of tone. With consistent practice, you'll find the Bb11 chord becoming more natural and intuitive.

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Songs that feature the Bb11 chord

Here are 10 popular songs you can play with the Bb11 chord.

  1. Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder (Bb11, Eb7, Bb7, Fm7, Bb7, Eb7, Cm7, F7)
  2. Isn't She Lovely by Stevie Wonder (F, Dm, Gm, C)
  3. Superstition by Stevie Wonder (Eb7, Bb11, Eb7, Cm7, Fm7, Bb7, Eb7)
  4. I Wish by Stevie Wonder (F, Em7, Dm7, G11)
  5. Boogie On Reggae Woman by Stevie Wonder (Eb, Gm, F, Bb)
  6. As by Stevie Wonder (Cmaj7, Bm7, Bbm7, Am7)
  7. Living for the City by Stevie Wonder (F, Bb, Gm, C, F7)
  8. Overjoyed by Stevie Wonder (Db, Ebm, Gb, B)
  9. Knocks Me Off My Feet by Stevie Wonder (Gmaj7, Em7, Am7, D7)
  10. Pastime Paradise by Stevie Wonder (Cm7, Fm7, Bb11, Eb7)

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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