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Diminished Guitar Chords


Though not as commonly used as their major and minor based cousins, m7b5 and dim7 chords are essential tools in the harmonic vocabulary of any jazz guitarist.

 

 

 

 

You will often see m7b5 chords as the iim7b5 chord in a minor key ii-V-I, and though dim7 chords are rare on their own, you will see this chord being used to sound 7b9 chords when played a half-step higher than the root of the underlying chord.

Each of these chords and their inversions will be presented as both Drop 2 and Drop 3 chords in this lesson, which will give you the strong foundation you will need to move on to more advanced chord shapes in your studies.

Diminished Based Jazz Chords - 6th String

To begin our study of diminished based chords, here are the intervallic formulas for four inversions of m7b5 Drop 3 chords that you can memorize and study.

 

Drop 3 m7b5 Root Position R b7 b3 b5
Drop 3 m7b5 1st Inversion b3 R b5 b7
Drop 3 m7b5 2nd Inversion b5 b3 b7 R
Drop 3 m7b5 3rd Inversion b7 b5 R b3

 

 

Here are those four inversions on the fretboard in the key of C, which you can start with before moving to the other 11 keys in the woodshed.

 

Guitar Chord Chart : Drop 2 m7b5

 

Here are the formulas for each Dim7 Drop 3 chords that you can study from a theoretical level.

When you take these inversions to the fretbaord, what you will notice is that the interval order changes for each inversion, but the shape on the fretboard is the same for each inversion.

This is a characteristic of all dim7 chords on the fretboard.

 

Drop 3 dim7 Root Position R bb7 b3 b5
Drop 3 dim7 1st Inversion b3 R b5 bb7
Drop 3 dim7 2nd Inversion b5 b3 bb7 R
Drop 3 dim7 3rd Inversion bb7 b5 R b3

 

 

Here are those four inversions of Cdim7 Drop 3 chords on the 6th string that you can practice and apply to your comping ideas in a jam situation.

 

Guitar Chord Chart : Drop 3 dim7

 

When you have both of these chord groups under your fingers, try putting on a Cm7b5-Cdim7 backing track and comp over those two changes with any/all of the grips you have learned to this point in the lesson.

Diminished Based Jazz Chords - 5th String

You are now ready to move on to the 5th-string group for each of these Drop 3 and Drop 2 chords.

Because the interval structure is the same for every Drop 3 m7b5 and dim7 chords, you can dive right in to applying these shapes to the fretbaord in your practice routine.

 

Guitar Chord Chart : Drop 3 m7b5 2

 

Here are four inversions of Drop 3 Cdim7 chords with the lowest note on the 5th string that you can learn in the woodshed.

 

Guitar Chord Chart : Drop 3 dim7 2

 

After you have learned both sets of Drop 3 m7b5 and dim7 chords on the fretbaord, practice moving between each string set for these shapes as you apply them to a musical situation in the practice room.

 

Drop 2 m7b5 Root Position R b5 b7 b3
Drop 2 m7b5 1st Inversion b3 b7 R b5
Drop 2 m7b5 2nd Inversion b5 R b3 b7
Drop 2 m7b5 3rd Inversion b7 b3 b5 R

 

 

After learning how to build Drop 2 m7b5 chords from an intervallic standpoint, you are ready to learn all four of these inversions on the fretbaord.

 

Guitar Chord Chart : Drop 2 m7b5

 

Here is the intervallic formula for Drop 2 dim7 chords. As you can see, the intervals change order for each inversion, but when you apply them to the fretboard in the next section each grip is the same for all four inversions on the fretboard.

 

Drop 2 dim7 Root Position R b5 bb7 b3
Drop 2 dim7 1st Inversion b3 bb7 R b5
Drop 2 dim7 2nd Inversion b5 R b3 bb7
Drop 2 dim7 3rd Inversion bb7 b3 b5 R

 

 

Now that you know how to build the intervals for all four inversions of Drop 2 dim7 chords, here are those four shapes on the fretboard for you to practice in the woodshed.

 

Guitar Chord Chart : Drop 2 dim7

 

With both Drop 3 and Drop 2 dim7 chords under your fingers try putting on a Cdim7 backing track and move between these various shapes to hear how they sound the same and subtly different in a musical situaiton.

Diminished Based Jazz Chords - 4th String

Since the interval formula for m7b5 and dim7 Drop 2 chords is the same no matter what string set you are on, you are ready to tackle Drop 2 m7b5 chords on the top four strings in your woodshedding.

Once you have learned these four m7b5 chords, put on a Cm7b5 backing track and comp over that chord using any/all shapes for m7b5 chords you have learned in this lesson.

 

Guitar Chord Chart : Drop 2 m7b5 2

 

You can now learn to play four inversions of Drop 2 dim7 chords on the top four strings, which have the same fingering for each grip as you saw with the other dim7 chords learned in this lesson.

 

Guitar Chord Chart : Drop 2 dim 7 2

 

With all of the dim7 chords under your fingers, put on a Cdim7 backing track and comping over that change using any/all of the shapes you've learned in this lesson. From there you can work that same exercise in all 12 keys around the fretboard.

 


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