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5 Must Know 7#11 Licks for Jazz Guitar

When learning how to play jazz guitar, one of the sounds that will pop up on a regular basis is the 7#11 chord, and therefore it is always good to have a variety of 7#11 Licks that you can use over this common chord change.

The fourth mode of Melodic Minor, the Lydian Dominant Scale features a #11 interval in it’s construction, which makes it very similar to the Mixolydian Mode but with a bit of a “brighter” sound to it as the #11 gives it a distinct flavor compared to it’s Mixo cousin.

In today’s lesson, we’ll be learning, dissecting and performing 5 classic Lydian Dominant Scale licks that come from the jazz guitar vocabulary, and that will help you bring the Lydian Dominant sound into your solos in an organized and authentic fashion.

If you are new to this scale, check out my “Lydian Dominant Scale Fingerings for Guitar” page to help you get this important scale under your fingers and in your ears before you progress onto learning these 5 licks and phrases.



7#11 Licks Practice Tips


When learning this lines, it’s important to not only memorize them as written, but to take them into other musical situations to make sure you get the most out each and every phrase in this lesson.

Here are a few ways that I like to practice lines that can help you internalize, memorize and master these licks.


  • Learn each lick in 1 key at a variety of tempos with a metronome or backing track
  • Improvise with 1 lick in 1 key at different tempos, adding notes, changing rhythms and making the lick your own over time
  • Repeat the above two exercises in different keys around the neck
  • Find at least 1 other fingering and/or position for each lick in C, then repeat this in all other 11 keys
  • Sing the root of each chord while playing any lick
  • Sing any lick in this lesson in a number of keys while comping the chords on guitar
  • Apply any/all of these licks to tunes you know or are working on in the woodshed 



7#11 Licks 1


This first lick, written in the style of the great jazz guitarist Pat Martino, is played over a V7-Imaj7 cadence in the key of F major.

Starting on the 13th of the C7 chord, the line then progresses down in a scale-wise motion until is descends a GmMaj7 arpeggio, that then resolves to the tonic at the start of the next bar.

Since the Lydian Dominant Scale is the 4th mode of the Melodic Minor Scale, playing a GmMaj7 arpeggio over C7 is a great way to bring the 7#11 sound into your lines and solos.


Click to hear audio for the 7#11 Licks 1


7#11 Licks 1




7#11 Licks 2


Featuring a variation of the first lick, especially in the first bar with the scale-wise motion and GmMaj7 arpeggio, this phrase is then expanded to cover two bars of a C7#11 chord, both of which use the Lydian Dominant Scale.

The line in bar two features a common Bebop idea, where, instead of playing directly from the A to G to F#, you take a slight detour and use the E-F-F# chromatic notes to get you to your destination.

This little phrase may only be a few notes long, but it is worth pulling out of this longer lick and bringing it into you playing in other situations, over other chords and inserting it into other scales and modes.


Click to hear audio for the 7#11 Licks 2


7#11 Licks 2



7#11 Licks 3


Using more of an arpeggio feel throughout the first half of the phrase, this lick also brings in the Dominant Bebop Scale into the last few notes of the line.

Because the Mixolydian and Bebop Scale are only one-note different they are often used interchangeably when soloing over 7th chords in a jazz context.

And, because the Mixolydian and Lydian Dominant are only one-note apart, and are both used over 7th chords, you can bring in the “bebop major 7” interval to your 7#11 lines as well.

To do this, you simply play the Lydian Dominant Scale as you normally would, but then you add in the bebop note, raised 7, to bring that Bebop Scale flavor into the mix at the same time.

If you want to explore this idea further, check out my video lesson “Intro to the Lydian Dominant Bebop Scale” for more information on this fun and important melodic device.


Click to hear audio for the 7#11 Licks 3


7#11 Licks 3



7#11 Licks 4


In this lick, which is played over a short ii-V-I progression in the key of C major, I used an A7 arpeggio over the G7 chord to bring out the Lydian Dominant color over that section of the phrase.

This is a fun and important tool that you can use to build 7#11 lines without simply running around the Lydian Dominant Scale.

Playing a 7 chord one-step, 2-frets, higher than the chord you are on, such as playing A7 over G7, gives you the 9th, #11, 13th and Root of the underlying chord.

So, you get a lot of the juicy, colorful notes of the G7#11 chord, while stepping beyond the Lydian Dominant Scale at the same time.

This is a concept that is worth extracting from this lick and exploring further in your practice routine.


Click to hear audio for the 7#11 Licks 4


7#11 Licks 4



7#11 Licks 5


The last line in this lesson returns to the A7 shape over G7, to create a G7#11 sound. But, this time it is part of a descending sequence that runs a G triad, to an A triad before resolving to a Cmaj6 arpeggio in the last bar of the phrase.

Using the #11 note as a passing tone between the 5th of G7, D, and the root of Cmaj7, C, is a common way to bring a sense of chromaticism to your lines as you solo with the Lydian Dominant Scale.


Click to hear audio for the 7#11 Licks 5


7#11 Licks 5



As jazz guitarists, we know that the 7#11 sound is something we need to have under our fingers and in our ears, but learning this scale and turning it into music can sometimes be two different things all together.

By studying licks and patterns taken from the jazz repertoire, such as the 5 laid out in this lesson, you will not only learn to apply the Lydian Dominant sound to your solos, but you will do so with an authentic sounding and convincing fashion at the same time.


After checking out these licks in the woodshed, head on over to the Matt Warnock Guitar Facebook Page and share your thoughts on this lesson or ask any questions you may have regarding the Altered Scale, or anything jazz guitar for that matter.


You can also post a question or comment in about these 7#11 Licks in the comments section below.

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  1. Ed, February 3, 2013:

    Great article. The only thing I don’t get is the use of the lydian dominant as a V chord rather than the typical use of it being a non-dominant function chord.
    Regardless, still useful. I’ve been waiting for something like this with a bunch of lydian dominant licks. Thanks!

  2. Matthew Warnock, February 3, 2013:

    Hey Ed,

    Thanks for checking out the lesson. You can use Lydian Dominant over any 7th chord if you want to. If you resolve it properly it fits nicely over a V7-I progression, the key is to resolve the tensions. Try it out, fun sound to explore!

  3. David Tardio, September 30, 2014:

    Hey Matt,
    Looking at example 4, if I want to do a tritone sub for G7(Db7 #11) should I play an Eb7 arpeggio?

  4. Matt Warnock, October 1, 2014:

    Hey. That’s it exactly, works great over that chord.

  5. eminy, November 11, 2014:

    nice one matt

  6. Mike C., March 9, 2015:

    Looking at your dominant soloing examples, which include your great lessons on Bebop scales, etc., it seems as though you’ve got a preference to Lydian Dominant over a V–>I progression, where Emily Remler tends to have a preference for Altered Dominant sounds for V–>I. I understand that to make your examples work, one could just move then up or down a tritone and they will be altered dominant phrases. Can you talk a little about the difference in preferences between your approach and someone like Ms. Remler? It’s quite obvious that you’re both into Wes and have similar influences.

  7. Matt Warnock, March 9, 2015:

    I can’t speak for Emily, but for me they are all just colors that you can use over 7th chords, altered, dim, WT, 7#11, 7b9, etc. So it’s up to the soloist to decide which they want to use. So if altered is red and 7#11 is green then it would be up to the player to decide which color they wanted to paint with. That’s how I see it.

  8. Mike C., July 19, 2015:


    Considering example #4’s citation of using the dominant arpeggio a whole step higher than the V chord, how about doing a chord shaped line of whole step moves? It seems to me that one could outline the G7 notes with the notes Terri frets higher than reach chord tone. The licks could be changed up by using different chord grips. For example, G7 might use


    This could also be extended to the triton sub for altered sounds. Over G7, we could superimpose the Db7 or Db9 chord tones and the notes a while step above the chord tones, i.e. Ab-Bb-Db-Eb-F-G-Cb-Db-Eb-F-Ab-Bb, from 6th string to 1st.

    Would this technique of whole step note pairs on each string be of any useful value, or am I just reinventing the wheel?

  9. Matt Warnock, July 19, 2015:

    Hi Mike. Yes you can think of it that way, works great. Whatever you can do to mix the chords together on the fretboard is cool. When you do it this way you’re hiding the arpeggio sound a bit, but you’re creating a new, quasi-mode, sound that you can play with. So all good.

  10. Mike C., July 19, 2015:

    Sorry about the typos. I was typing on the tablet. I was thinking that this “two notes per string” idea was a bit more geared toward students that are pentatonic scale-oriented. I noticed that guys like Robben Ford and Larry Carlton like to work out the fingerings for different arps in the melodic minor scale, but it seems to me that simplifying this and just using the arps for the appropriate dom. 7 chord and the “whole step above” method seems to realize all the notes of the melodic minor/lydian dominant scale. Doing this with each Dom. 7th grip of the CAGED method seems to come up with some nice “money note” licks.



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