Diminished Chords - How to Use Them on the Guitar

Published on 26 January 2016
If you would like to gain full access to all our Guitar Teaching Materials please visit the Secret Guitar Teacher Site and take a free tour: http://secretguitarteacher.com/youtube/ssb/Advanced/uzMXDqunW78/128357290-how-do-i-use-diminished-chords-1.php Here is the abridged transcript of the video: In the last couple of SoundBites we have taken a little look at how to make diminished seventh chords. Now let’s start looking at ways they can be used. This is quite a big subject, but we’ll start with a simple chord substitution idea that connects directly to the last soundbites where I hinted that a diminished 7th chord makes a useful substitute for a chord rooted one semitone or half step lower. This seems to work particularly well with non-diatonic chords. Remember that these are chords that introduce notes from outside the key. Let’s look at a couple of examples. A A7 D Dm A E A A That’s a sequence you often hear used in blues turnarounds. Here’s how the sequence looks with the two non-diatonic chords circled in red. As a reference I have listed the basic diatonic series for the key of A major underneath. So you can see that A7 and Dm are not included in this series - hence we can describe them as non-diatonic chords. So let’s listen to what happens when we replace our two non-diatonic chords with diminished seventh chords rooted a semitone higher. Here’s the original sequence, Now we are changing A7 to A#dim7 and we’re changing Dm to D#dim7 . You should be able to hear that the basic function of the chords in terms of tension and resolution is only subtly altered by these substitutions. And that the effect is one of making the sequence a little less ordinary - perhaps a bit less bland. If you’d like to try that, here’s a reminder of the shapes I am using for the diminished seventh chords. So A#dim7 is just A7 with the root raised one fret and D#dim7 is D7 with the root raised one fret .Ok, now here’s another sequence often used in blues-based progressions We’re sticking to the key if A to keep things simple . This one has three non-diatonic chords. Again we have circled them in red and you can use the diatonic series of A major to confirm that these are indeed non-diatonic chords. If we apply our simple substitution principle to all three of these chords we would change the sequence to this. The Dm has changed to D# dim 7; the F#7 has changed to Gdim7 and the B7 has changed to C dim 7. So now instead of …I hope you can hear that that just about works OK and makes the sequence a bit more interesting whilst retaining the basic function of the chords in terms of tension and resolution. Here are the chord shapes I am using for the G dim 7 and C dim 7. Notice that the G dim 7 is a slight variation on the E string rooted chord I showed you in the last soundbite. I am using the same principle of taking an E7 shape and sharping the root however, playing this on the bottom four strings produces rather a muddy sound , so I have shifted the top three notes across a string. It’s really this seventh shape that we use a lot in jazz , but with the root raised one fret to turn it into a diminished shape. Okay so as I say, that just about works, however, as a songwriter I would feel I wanted to improve on it. In the next soundbite I’ll show you a great trick to help us with that. If you found this little video useful, please click on the ‘Like’ button, if there is one, and do feel free to share the video with your friends. And if you’d like to gain full access to all our guitar teaching materials please visit the Secret Guitar Teacher website and take a free look round at what’s available there. See you again soon!