How to play

How to play the C#11 chord on guitar

Unleash the jazzy sounds of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" and more with this essential chord.

The C#11 chord

The C#11 chord, pronounced "C sharp eleventh," is a sophisticated and jazzy chord that adds depth and complexity to harmony. Notable for its inclusion of the 11th scale degree, this chord is commonly used in jazz, fusion, and R&B music to create a sense of tension and release. The C#11 chord can be heard in songs like "Maiden Voyage" by Herbie Hancock.

There are many ways to play a chord. Here's a diagram for the most common C#11 chord. We've also included other versions below.

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Finger placement for C#11 chord

The most common way to play the C#11 chord on guitar is as a barre chord on the 4th fret.

Follow these finger positions to play a C#11 chord on your guitar:

  1. Use your index finger to barre the strings at the 4th fret, covering the 5th (A), 4th (D), 3rd (G), 2nd (B), and 1st (E) strings.
  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, use your pick or thumb to play from the 5th (A) string down to the 1st (E) string in a single, fluid motion.

How to play an easy C#11 chord on guitar

If you're a beginner looking to play a simpler version of the C#11 chord, try playing a basic C# major chord instead. Place your index finger on the 4th fret of the 5th string, middle finger on the 6th fret of the 3rd string, and ring finger on the 6th fret of the 2nd string. Strum from the 5th string.

How to play a C#11 bar chord

The C#11 chord is typically played as an open chord, but learning the barre chord version can be useful for playing it higher up the neck or transitioning between other barre chords.

Here's how to play a C#11 barre chord:

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

Common C#11 chord progressions

The C#11 chord can add a jazzy, sophisticated flavor to chord progressions, often used to create tension and release or convey complex emotions. Some common progressions featuring the C#11 chord include:

  • I - C#11 - vi - V7 (C# - C#11 - A#m - G#7) Used in "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin
  • ii - V7 - I - C#11 (D#m - G#7 - C# - C#11)
  • C#11 - vi - ii - V7 (C#11 - A#m - D#m - G#7)
  • I - vi - C#11 - V7 (C# - A#m - C#11 - G#7) Used in "Girl from Ipanema" by Antônio Carlos Jobim
  • C#11 - iii7 - vi7 - ii7 (C#11 - E#7 - A#m7 - D#m7)

Drills to master the C#11 chord

To master the C#11 chord, try playing each note individually, focusing on clarity and tone. Once comfortable, practice transitioning between the notes in different orders, gradually increasing your speed. Incorporate the chord into simple progressions to develop muscle memory and familiarity.

Alternatively, try playing arpeggios using the notes of the C#11 chord. Start slowly, ensuring each note rings out clearly. As you improve, experiment with different rhythmic patterns and fingerpicking techniques to add variety and challenge yourself.

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Songs that feature the C#11 chord

Here are 10 popular songs you can play with the C#11 chord.

  1. I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston (C#11, F#m7, G#, G#7, C#)
  2. Purple Rain by Prince (C#11, G#, F#, B)
  3. Nothing Else Matters by Metallica (C#11, B, F#, G#)
  4. Neon by John Mayer (C#11, G#m7, F#m7, A#m7)
  5. Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin (C#11, A#m, F#, G#)
  6. All Along the Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix (C#11, G#, F#)
  7. Creep by Radiohead (C#11, G#, A#m)
  8. Little Wing by Jimi Hendrix (C#11, G#, F#, A#m)
  9. Bold as Love by Jimi Hendrix (C#11, F#, G#)
  10. The Wind Cries Mary by Jimi Hendrix (C#11, G#, F#)

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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