How to Solo Over Chord Changes (Part 6)

how to improvise over chord changes on guitar

In Part 6, we look at the mysterious world of 11 and #11 chords and how to simplify the process of soloing over them. If you missed any of the previous parts, here are the the links:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5


The 11 gives you the same note as the 4, and there are three basic (diatonic) types of 11 chords:

The dominant 11th chord: 1 – 3 – 5 – b7 – 9 – 11
The minor 11th chord: 1 – b3 – 5 – b7 – 9 – 11
The major 11th chord: 1 – 3 – 5 – 7 – 9 – 11

Here’s our base sequence for a dominant chord with the location of the all the 11s within reach. You should be able to find the other intervals yourself. Remember, don’t worry if you forget where they are because the process of finding them is far more valuable at this point, so don’t worry about how long it takes.

Remember, it’s called an 11 because of the distance from the root. The 11s on the high and low E strings are technically 11s because they comply with this distance. The other 11s are technically 4s but when you’re looking for intervals to play over chords, you’ll inevitably be looking for 11s not 4s, which is why I refer to them this way.

Task: Load up your looper with an A11 chord and try playing over it with above diagram plus all the other intervals you can find. Next, repeat the procedure with minor and major 11 chords. Your base diagrams will be as follows:

Minor 11 chord: 1 – b3 – 5 – b7 – 9 – 11

Major 11 chord: 1 – 3 – 5 – 7 – 9 – 11
The #11
The #11 (or #4) can be found right next to the 11. What I’d like you to do here is work out how to play over the following chords using the process we’ve practicing throughout this series. I’ll give you the chords and their interval spellings, then it’s up to you to select the right base sequence, then add in the relevant intervals.

A9#11: 1, 3, 5, b7, 9, #11

A11b9 1, 3, 5, b7, b9, 11
In Part 7, we consolidate what we’ve already learned and consider a few fretboard anomalies you’ll come across.
About Graham Tippett 300 Articles
Compulsive guitar blogger and writer of many innovative guitar books.

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