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Advanced Jazz Guitar Chords: Diminished


Though not as commonly used as their dom7, m7 and maj7 counterparts, advanced fingerings for m7b5 and dim7 chords can add new levels of interest to your comping and chord soloing ideas when applied to a musical situation.

 

 

 

 

In this lesson, you will learn advanced grips for both m7b5 and dim7 chords, both based on the diminished triad sound in their construction.

You will be exploring Drop 2 and 4 chord shapes for each of these chord qualities, and if you are not familiar with these shapes note to worry, we will begin our study with a review of these uncommon, but cool-sounding, chord shapes.

Check this link out for background on the basic diminished shapes: Basic Diminished Guitar Chords

What Are Drop 2 and 4 Chords

To begin our study of these advanced diminished chords, let’s look at what Drop 2 and 4 shapes are, and how they are fingered on the guitar, making it easier for you to quickly apply these shapes to the fretboard later in this lesson.

Drop 2 and 4 chords are built by taking a closed position chord, where the intervals are all in note order 1-3-5-7, and “dropping” the 2nd and 4th notes by one octave.

Here is an example of how to build Drop 2 and 4 chords with a Cmaj7 chord shape, just used as an example as the closed position is easier to play on guitar than any diminished based chord.

Here is a Cmaj7 closed position chord, followed by a Cmaj7 Drop 2 as you can see the first note being dropped an octave.

 

Guitar Chord Chart : Drop 2 and 4

 

And here is a Cmaj7 Drop 2 chord followed by a Cmaj7 Drop 2 and 4 chord as you drop the 4th note from the top by an octave to form the new shape.

 

Guitar Chord Chart : Drop 2 and 4 Shape 2

 

As you can see, the 5th and root of the original closed position chord have been dropped by an octave. From here, you can work out the other 3 inversions of this chord in your studies, which you will see in the next section of this lesson.

Lastly, notice that there is always a string skip between the 2nd and 3rd notes of any Drop 2 and 4 chord. This means that it might be better to use a hybrid picking approach, rather than a strumming approach, when playing these chords on the guitar.

Advanced Diminished Jazz Guitar Chords - 6th String Root

To begin, let’s take a look at the interval structure for the four inversions of Drop 2 and 4 m7b5 chords.

Remember that for these shapes, and all Drop 2 and 4 chords, there is a string skip between the 2nd and 3rd note.

This will help you visualize these shapes on the guitar even if you don’t have a guitar in hand when studying these chords in your routine.

 

Drop 2 and 4 m7b5 Root Position R b5 b3 b7
Drop 2 and 4 m7b5 1st Inversion b3 b7 b5 R
Drop 2 and 4 m7b5 2nd Inversion b5 R b7 b3
Drop 2 and 4 m7b5 3rd inversion b7 b3 R 5

 

 

Here are those same four inversions on the fretboard, written out over a Cm7b5 chord.

After you have these four shapes under your fingers, try working them in all 12 keys, as well as taking these shapes to your jazz guitar standard tune comping ideas.

 

Guitar Chord Chart : Drop 2 and 4 m75

 

We will know take a look at the interval structure for the four inversions of Drop 2 and 4 dim7 chords.

You will notice that the intervals are all in the same order, except that the dim7 chords have a bb7 (diminished 7th) interval, compared to the b7 (minor 7) interval in the m7b5 chords.

You can use this knowledge to quickly learn these new shapes and their intervals, by simply lowering the b7 by a half-step compared to the m7b5 chords you just learned.

 

Drop 2 and 4 dim7 Root Position R b5 b3 bb7
Drop 2 and 4 dim7 1st Inversion b3 bb7 b5 R
Drop 2 and 4 dim7 2nd Inversion b5 R bb7 b3
Drop 2 and 4 dim7 3rd inversion b7 b3 R b5

 

 

With the Drop 2 and 4 interval structures memorized, you can now apply that knowledge to the fretboard as you learn these shapes for a Cdim7 chord.

Make sure to take these inversions to all 12 keys, and apply them to standard tunes, in order to take them further in your studies.

 

Guitar Chord Chart : Drop 2 and 4 dim7

 

With both of these chords under your fingers, try putting on a backing track that features 4 bars of Cm7b5 and 4 bars of Cdim7, then comp over those changes using any/all of the inversions that you have learned for these chords up to this point in the lesson.

Advanced Diminished Jazz Guitar Chords - 5th String Root

As the formula for any inversion is the same for each string set, for both dim7 and m7b5 chords, you are ready to apply these shapes to the 5th string root as you explore them further in the woodshed.

Here are four inversions for a Cm7b5 Drop 2 and 4 chord with the lowest note of each inversion on the 5th string.

 

Guitar Chord Chart : Drop 2 and 4 m7b5 2

 

Here are four inversions for Cdim7 Drop 2 and 4 shapes that you can work in this key, and then in all 12 keys, around the fretboard.

 

Guitar Chord Chart : Drop 2 and 4 dim7 2

 

With both of these shapes under your fingers, as well as the 8 shapes with a 6th-string root, try putting on a backing track, starting with Cdim7 and Cm7b5 first, and comping over that track using any/all of the chord shapes in this lesson.

As you can see, these shapes may be a bit tougher than more tradition shapes to get under your fingers, but they have a unique sound that can add a new level of harmonic interest to your dim7 and m7b5 comping and chord-soloing ideas.

 


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