Diminished Seventh Arpeggios | Guitar Lesson with Shapes, Fingerings and Licks

What's an arpeggio

An arpeggio is a chord whose notes are played one at a time, it is a chord played like a scale. Arpeggios are quite easy to learn and mostly played in jazz and western music. It helps you create fluid and clear phrases over specific chords. 

Diminished 7th arpeggio formula:

  • Root
  • Minor third (b3)
  • Diminished fifth (b5)
  • Diminished seventh (bb7)
Cdim7 chord C Eb Gb A
Cdim7 arpeggio C Eb Gb A
Formula 1 b3 b5 bb7

 

The basic application of diminished 7th arpeggios is to play them over diminished 7th chords. For example, playing a G°7 arpeggio over a G°7 chord. However, you can play them over dominant b9 chords. The notes of a diminished arpeggio are identical to the notes of a dominant b9 chord a semitone lower.

Example :

G7b9 chord is made up of : G-B-D-F-Ab

Ab diminished 7th arpeggio is made up of : Ab-B-D-F

A diminished 7th arpeggio is built with minor third intervals, it is symmetrical. A minor third interval is made up of 3 semitones (3 frets on a guitar). It means that you can move any diminished 7th arpeggio positions up or down three frets and you will still find the same notes.

You can play four diminished 7th arpeggios over a G7b9 chord :

  • Ab diminished 7th arpeggio
  • B diminished 7th arpeggio
  • D diminished 7th arpeggio
  • F diminished 7th arpeggio

Related diminished scales

We find the diminished seventh arpeggios in diminished scales. These scales are the diminished scale and the dominant diminished scale.

C dominant diminished scale (half-whole) C Db Eb E F# G A Bb
C diminished scale (whole-half) C D Eb F Gb Ab A B

 

Arpeggios in the dominant diminished scale (half-whole)

The C dominant diminished scale contains eight diminished seventh arpeggios starting from each note of this scale :

  • C, Eb, F#, A = C diminished 7th arpeggio / Cº7 chord
  • Db, E, G, B = D diminished 7th arpeggio / Dbº7
  • Eb, F#, A, C  = Eb diminished 7th arpeggio / Eb7
  • E, G, Bb, Db = F diminished 7th arpeggio / Eº7
  • F#, A, Db, E = F# diminished 7th arpeggio / F#º7
  • G, Bb, Db, E = G diminished 7th arpeggio / Gº7
  • A, Db, E, G = A diminished 7th arpeggio / Aº7
  • Bb, Db, E, G = Bb diminished 7th arpeggio / Bbº7

Arpeggios in the diminished scale (whole-half)

The C diminished scale contains 8 diminished seventh arpeggios starting from each note of this scale :

  • C, Eb, Gb, A = C diminished 7th arpeggio / Cº7 chord
  • D, F, Ab, B = D diminished 7th arpeggio / Dº7
  • Eb, Gb, A, C  = Eb diminished 7th arpeggio / Eb7
  • F, Ab, B, D = F diminished 7th arpeggio / Fº7
  • Gb, A, C, Eb = Gb diminished 7th arpeggio / Gbº7
  • Ab, B, D, F = Ab diminished 7th arpeggio / Abº7
  • A, C, Eb, Gb = A diminished 7th arpeggio / Aº7
  • B, D, F, Ab = B diminished 7th arpeggio / Bº7

Diminished 7th arpeggio | Diagram 1 and fingerings

Here is a first guitar diagram with fingerings.

It is recommended to play it by starting with the lowest root by ascending and descending movement.

To play the A diminished 7th arpeggio starting on the lower root you must put your first finger on the sixth string at the fifth fret.

This diagram contains three roots (R), three minor thirds (b3), two diminished fifths (b5) and two diminished sevenths.

Pattern 1 w/intervals. Roots on the sixth, fourth and first string.

Diminished 7th guitar arpeggio pattern 1

Pattern 1 w/fingerings

Diminished 7th guitar arpeggio pattern 1 fingering

Diminished 7th arpeggio | Diagram 2 and fingerings

This second guitar fretboard diagram has two roots (R), two minor thirds (b3), three diminished fifths (b5) and three diminished seventh (bb7).

For example, to play the D diminished 7th arpeggio using these diagrams and starting with the lowest root, you have to put your first finger on the fifth string at the fifth fret.

It is recommended to play these arpeggios by starting with the root "R". This way you will hear them correctly.

Playing the corresponding chord after or before these arpeggios is a nice way to bring them together.

 

Pattern 2 w/intervals. Roots on the fifth and third string.

Diminished 7th guitar arpeggio pattern 2 fingering 1

 

Pattern 2 w/fingerings

Diminished 7th guitar arpeggio pattern 2

Diminished 7th arpeggio | Diagram 3 and fingerings | Diagonal playing

Here is a third shape using the diagonal playing.

To play the A diminished 7th arpeggio starting on the lower root (R) you must put your first finger on the sixth string at the fifth fret.

This position is easy to remember because of the symmetrical fingering. This way it's possible to exploit three octaves.

Pattern 3 w/intervals. Roots on the sixth, fourn and second string. Diagonal playing.

Diminished 7th guitar arpeggio pattern 3

Pattern 3 w/fingerings

Diminished 7th guitar arpeggio pattern 3 fingering

Minor II-V-I lick | A diminished 7th arpeggio

Here is a minor II-V-I sequence using the B diminished 7th arpeggio. This is a common chord progression very used in jazz music. In this line the B diminished arpeggio starts on the third of G7b9. It is a basic used of the diminished arpeggio.

  • Bar one : D descending Locrian mode (D-Eb-F-G-Ab-Bb-C) with a passing tone (A).
  • Bar two : B diminished 7th arpeggio (B-D-F-Ab) and chromatic line (F-F#-G)
  • Bar three : Fifth and b3 of Cm.

Dim7 arpeggio jazz guitar lick

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Last edited: 26/09/2018