Diminished Chords On Guitar – Only One Useful Extension

On The Guitar Diminished Chords can be difficult to use and really get into your playing and it is tricky to add extensions and make melodies with them. This video will go over how to add extensions, play the chords and some examples of using them in a melodic way in your playing.

Suprisingly the Diminshed Chords Guitar voicings really only have one good extension, but as you will see in the video you can do really a lot with it.

A Very Common Diminished chord

The Diminished chord that I want to focus on are the one found on the bIII of a major scale. These are very common in jazz and appear in a progression like this:

Am7 Abdim Gm7 C7 Fmaj7

A way to play them in could be something li

ke this:

Another way of playing this higher on the neck is:

Finding a Scale and adding extensions

If you want some more freedom and possibilities when comping it is useful to also figure out what extensions can be added. To figure this out you need to place the chord in a scale related to this key.

The example is in F major: 

F G A Bb C D E F

The Dim chord is: Ab B D F

If you want to fit that into the scale then you need to can alter the F major scale like this:

F G# A B C D E F

Which is the same as A harmonic minor.

The Single Important Extension

The way to find extensions on a chord is to have a scale that the chord belongs to and then take away the chord tones. This leaves the rest as possible extensions to try out.

If you do this for this diminished chord and the scale we split the A harmonic minor in:

G# B D F as chord tones and A C E as extension options

Taking a closer look at those options: A and C both are not suited  as extensions because they create a b9 above a chord tone.

This leaves the E, the b6 as our only extension.

You can do a lot with one extension

But there is a lot of great melodies to be made with this extra note as you can hear if you play the example below:

Some other ways to add this note to chord voicings are shown in the example here under:

The other Scale and an Extra Extension

But if you really want more extensions then that is possible. You can use a different scale.

In the first example the A harmonic minor was reached by making the G a G#, but it is also possible to make the A and Ab:

F major:

F G A Bb C D E F

The Dim chord is: Ab B D F

If you want to fit that into the scale then it is possibel to alter the F major scale like this:

F G Ab B C D E F

Which is the same as C harmonic major: C D E F G Ab B C

If you split this scale in Chord tones and extensions we have:

Ab B D F and C E G.

The C is still not a great extension, but the E and G are both viable options.

More voicings and ideas with the Maj7

You can add this extension to the voicings like this:

And the top note melodies that you can make using these two extensions with rootless voicings is shown in example 9:

A more solo guitar take on that is shown in example 10

Melodies and comping

One of the main ways that I developed my comping was by harmonizing a lot of melodies. Working with chords in combination with melody is a very strong way to develop an ear for both. One way of working on this is to work on chord melody which you can check out via this lesson:

Chord Melody Survival Kit

Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Diminished Chords on Guitar – Useful Extensions and Voicings

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