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Guitar Lesson: Diminished Scale Concepts

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Guitar Jar contributor and jazz guitarist Warren Greig expands on his previous diminished guitar scale lesson by expanding deeper into diminished scale concepts.

The diminished scale (whole step – half step) has four names but can also be applied to four 7b9 chords.
In the chart below the diminished scales are noted that can be applied to Db dim 7th, E dim 7th, Gdim 7th and Bbdim 7th. If you refer to the second line you will see that this same scale can be applied to C7b9, Eb7b9, Gb7b9 and A7b9. The rules of the diminished are different than major and minor and there are no real avoid notes which opens up a lot of possibilities.

In terms of organizing these eight note scales and designing a practise routine it is helpful if you can spell a diminished 7th arpeggio of any of the 12 notes in the chromatic scale. As you can see each of the rows below spell out a diminished 7th arpeggio if you read left to right. So if you are playing a Db diminished scale and want to apply to the four 7b9 applications go a semi tone below any of the four chord tones of Db diminished 7 and spell a diminished 7th arpeggio. ( answer C dim 7) Each of the chord tones of this arpeggio will give you the names of the four 7b9 applications.

Remember each of the diminished chords invert perfectly so it could be any of the columns that provide the name of the diminished 7th chord. E diminished 7th is the same scale as it was for Db diminished.

A Practise Routine for 24 Diminished Applications for Two Different Contexts:

Db dim E dim G dim Bb dim
C7 b9 Eb7b9 Gb7b9 A7b9
D dim F dim Ab dim B dim
Db7b9 E7b9 G7b9 Bb7b9
Eb dim Gb dim A dim C dim
D7b9 F7b9 Ab7b9 B7b9

The above noted chart provides a practise routine for 24 diminished applications for two different contexts, playing over a diminished 7th chord and playing over a 7b9 chord. The 7b9 applications usually resolve to a major chord not minor.

All content © Warren Greig – For more information about Warren Greig, please visit:

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About the author:

Canada based Warren Greig is is a guitarist and composer who has performed in Quebec, Vancouver, Toronto and Michigan. Aside from performing in his own group he has appeared as a sideman in small groups and big bands performing at various jazz festivals and engagements.

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