This week’s Guitar Chord Of The Week is a nice, big, open-sounding, minor 11th chord. It has quite an ambiguous sound, and is very effective in slow moving chord progressions.
‘Big’ Minor 11th Chord Diagram
Try the chord to hear how it sounds, then continue reading to learn more about it. An example chord progression is included, so you can hear the chord in context…
You’ll recognise the sound of the bottom 5 strings: they’re the rising fourths that we hear every time we tune a guitar. The note on the high E string provides a 9th, which makes the chord sound less like the open strings of a guitar.
This chord is a movable shape. Move the root note (shown in blue) up and down the fretboard to determine which minor 11th chord you’re playing.
You can play this chord in open position to make an Em11 chord; the only note you’ll have to hold down is the F sharp at the 2nd fret of the top E string. Give it a try!
Playing the ‘big’ minor 11th chord
This chord shape takes a bit of left hand stamina to play. It’s much easier on an electric guitar than on an acoustic.
However, it’s not a challenging chord to finger, and once your hands are used to playing barre chords you’ll find it one of the easier chords to play.
I like to refer to this chord as an 11th chord, but theory purists may argue that it is in fact a minor ninth sus4 chord. They may well be right! The sus4 note is the same as the 11th note, so I think that both parties are correct.
Minor 9th Chord
If you add the fifth tone on the 5th string, by playing the chord below, then you’ve got a nice way of playing a ninth chord.
As usual, if you find any of these terms confusing, please refer to our Guitar Chord Theory articles. You’ll soon be referring to ‘ninths’ and ‘sus chords’ as if you’ve been playing them for years!
The ninth chord has a clearer sound. The 11th / sus4 chord has a muddier, more ambiguous sound that I like.
Example Chord Progression
Learn all of the individual chords at first. Then play the whole progression at a nice slow tempo. Give it a nice Pink Floyd vibe!
Once you can play this chord comfortably, it’s time to use it in your own songs. Try using it in place of normal minor chords to give standard progressions a bit more interest. You could also try building riffs or intros using it. It’s your call!
I hope that you’ve enjoyed learning and experimenting with this minor 11 chord. Please subscribe to Guitar Command to receive a free email newsletter. It contains guitar news, tips and lessons – not to mention more Guitar Chords Of The Week!