HomeBlogMastering The Fretboard: Diminished 7th Chords

Mastering The Fretboard: Diminished 7th Chords

In our last Mastering The Fretboard lesson we went over Half Diminished Chords in all positions and sets of strings.  Before going on to this lesson I would highly suggest looking back at half diminished chords.

This time we are talking about Diminished 7th Chords. One thing to keep in mind is there is only a one note difference between a diminished 7th chord and a Half Diminished chord: the flat 7 is flatted again. Let’s look into this further:

The formula for a Diminished 7th chord:

Formula: Root-b3-b5-bb7

We are going to continue to use the key of G as an example, so using this formula the notes in a Gdim7 would be: G-Bb-Db-E.

Let’s take a look at what a Gdim7 looks like notated in root position, 1st inversion, 2nd inversion and 3rd inversion:


G diminished 7

My method for mastering Diminished 7th chords:

As it has been for all of these lessons, my method is: play the root position voicing and both the 1st, 2nd and 3rd inversions on all possible sets of strings.

So what are the possible sets of strings? The first set is E (low)-A-D-G. The second set is A-D-G-B. The third set is D-G-B-E (high).

Let’s see what this looks like on the first set of strings:

Gdim7 EADG


Notice how easy diminished 7th chords are to memorize! The shape is exactly the same just moved up a minor 3rd each time.  The notes will automatically repeat themselves if you follow that formula.  Let’s take a look at the next set of strings:

Gdim7 ADGB


Again, just one shape moved up in minor 3rds. Pretty easy right? If you were to take Diminished 7th chords into all 12 keys you would realize that there really are only 3 different diminished chords. You could call them by their root name, but really they are just inversions of other diminished 7th chords. Make sense? Let’s take a look at the last set of strings:

Gdim7 DGBE


How to practice these:

  • Practice the shapes on each set of strings slowly and make sure you can play them forwards and backwards.
  • Once you feel comfortable with one set of strings move onto the next.
  • Repetition is key and be able to play all sets of strings consecutively forwards and backwards.
  • Ultimately, if you want to master these Diminished 7th chords you need to take them through all 12 keys. For these chords it’s not as hard as it sounds because there really are only 3 types of diminished chords. Learning how they relate to each other is the biggest task.

At this point we’ve covered all of the basic types of chords.  The next lessons will go over common alterations of these chords that you will most certainly come across. The next lesson will be Major7(b5). Watch the blog often!


Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstrahttp://www.brentvaartstra.com
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for learnjazzstandards.com which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publication "Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar." He's also the host of the music entrepreneurship podcast "Passive Income Musician."

Follow Us

Get Our Free Guide

LJS Smart Way Ad Home

Join the LJS Inner Circle Membership

I want to...