How To Play Diminished & Half-Diminished Chords

Welcome to your quick and easy online guide to playing half diminished and diminished chords on jazz guitar.

Free lessonsI have selected the most practical and useful chord voicings and collated them into my free eBook, #1 Jazz Guitar Chord Chart. What you see below is a section of this eBook so feel free to download the whole thing for reference. Other jazz guitar websites methodically go through each and every possible chord shape. In the real world, many of those shapes aren’t practical to play so I decided to focus on the most colorful, useful and widely used chord shapes. If you can think of any good ones I missed feel free to comment below.

Thanks for stopping by, let’s get to the chords! A white circle is the chords root note (bass note). Easily move this shape up or down the fretboard, just center the white circle on your root note. Numbers indicate what finger to use.

Half Diminished Chords

Half diminished or m7b5 chords have a root, b3, b5, and b7. These guys are mostly used as ii chords in a minor key – e.g in Cmin you often play a Dm7b5. You can use the Locrian Mode with these scales.

half diminished


These chords have an 11th added for color.



These chords use a 9th which comes from the Locrian #2 scale. They have a very modern, hip sound to them. Very sophisticated, maybe grab a cigar and a cognac when playing these chords. #fancy #whereismycigar

locrian #2

Diminished Chords

Diminished chords are AWESOME. Why? Well, I like maths and diminished chords are symmetrical. This means they repeat each up minor thirds (like looking in a mirror). This repetitive quality opens up HEAPS of harmonic possibilities which I am still exploring. Formula: R, b3, b5, bb7 (yes that is a double flat 7).

diminished chord

Further Learning

If you enjoyed this little lesson I recommend you check out the following:

Chord Formulas

Here is a handy pdf excerpt of the most common chord formulas so you can create any chord you want. This is a free PDF download, enjoy! [wpdm_file id=2]
Thanks for checking out this lesson, please feel free to leave a comment below with any suggestions or questions you may have.

~ Sam Blakelock |

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