Diminished Guitar Chords

dim or º

There are a variety of diminished guitar chords. These include, diminished (dim or º), diminished 7th (dim 7 or о7), half diminished 7th (ø7 or m7b5), 7th diminished 5th (7 -5 or 7b5), 9th diminished 5th (9 -5 or 9b5)...

In this session, we will be looking at the 3-note diminished chord or triad. Many guitarists prefer to play a diminished 7th chord (4-note chord) instead of a diminished chord... the choice is yours, but they are handy to know.

The diminished chord is a dissonant or unstable chord and generally needs resolution, however, if used cleverly the tension can sound awesome.

  • A dim chord is a diminished triad consisting of 2 minor thirds above the root or tonic, therefore having a root, minor third & diminished 5th.
  • The chord formula for a diminished (dim) chord is 1 - ♭3 - ♭5
  • The symbol for a diminished chord is dim, º , or m♭5
  • The featured practice song for this session is Sound Of Music from The Sound Of Music

Example: Calculating C dim or Cº

  • Diminished Chords consist of a root, minor third & diminished 5th
  • Remember that a minor third is equal to 3 half steps or 3 semitones. If we move a minor third upwards from C, we get E♭... (C - C# - D - E♭). If we move another minor 3rd upwards from E♭, we get G♭... (E♭- E - F - G♭)
  • Chords can be calculated from the major scale of the root note of the chord, therefore 'C' chords can be calculated from the C major Scale which consists of no sharps or flats.
  • The C scale reads as follows: C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C
  • Chord formula for a diminished chord = 1 - ♭3 - ♭5
  • Substitute the notes of the scale into the formula: 1=C, ♭3=♭E, ♭5=♭G
  • C dim reads as follows: C - ♭E - ♭G
Diminished Chord Table (dim or º)
dim chord A B♭ B C C# D E♭ E F F# G A♭
Root A B♭ B C C# D E♭ E F F# G A♭
Minor 3rd C D♭ D E♭ E F G♭ G A♭ A B♭ C♭(B)
Diminished 5th E♭ F♭(E) F G♭ G A♭ B♭♭(A) B♭ C♭(B) C D♭ E♭♭(D)

Diminished Guitar Chords - RH / LH

If you know the basic shape of a diminished chord and know where the root note is located on the guitar fretboard, you can play diminished chords all over the fretboard. This is very handy if you have a favorite shape you like to play. You can play 1 shape and play all 12 keys by just moving up or down the fretboard... very handy!

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