Diminished Triad Chords (dim) | Open and Closed Voicings with Guitar Shapes

What's a Diminished Triad?

A diminished triad is made up of a root (1), a minor third (b3) and a diminished fifth (b5). That is to say that it is a minor triad with a lowered fifth.

Here is a comparison with the Locrian mode, seventh mode of the major scale. By taking the first, minor third and the diminished fifth of this mode, we get a diminished triad.

B Locrian scale B C D E F G A
Formula 1 b2 (b9) b3 4 (11) b5 b6 (b13) b7
B diminished triad 1 X b3 X b5 X X

Where To Find Diminished Triads?

Diminished triads are also the backbone of other modes, here is a short list :

  • Locrian natural 6 (also known as Locrian 13 or Locrian #6 or harmonic natural mode 2). This the second mode of the harmonic minor scale.
  • Super Locrian bb7, the seventh mode of the harmonic minor scale. (also known as Ultra Locrian, Super Locrian Diminished).
  • Locrian natural 2 also referred to as Locrian #2, Locrian 2, Aeolian b5 or Semi Locrian. This is the sixth mode of the melodic minor scale.
  • Altered Scale, sometimes referred to as Super Locrian mode, Locrian b4 or Diminished Whole-tone. This is the seventh mode of the melodic minor scale. 
  • Dorian b5 also referred to as Dorian Diminished or Locrian Sharp 2 Sharp 6. This is the second mode of the harmonic major scale. 
  • Locrian bb7 mode also named Diminished Blues b9 is the seventh mode of the harmonic major scale.

Guitar Triads - Lesson With Shapes & Formulas (major, minor, diminished, augmented, suspended)

What Are The Other Main Types of Triads?

There are 3 other main types of triads :

  • Major : Interval pattern is 1 3 5
  • Minor : Interval pattern is 1 b3 5
  • Augmented : Interval pattern is 1 3 #5

Diminished Triad Chords in Close Positions

Root Positions and Inversions

Before starting to learn and play the diminished triad chords below, you need to know what is an inverted chord. This is simply a chord whose notes has been arranged in a different order. In other words, you will play the same notes as the root chord, but with the third or the fifth in the bass instead of the root.

How to Play Diminished Triads in Close Position?

The chart below shows you the closed diminished triad voicings.

Root position  R b3 b5
1st inversion (third in the bass) b3 b5 R
2nd inversion (fifth in the bass) b5 R b3


Closed guitar chords are those where the positions, fit within the space of one octave. The 4 diagrams below contains 12 triad chord shapes in close position divided into 4 categories :

  1. Triad chords with basses on the 6th string.
  2. Triad chords with basses on the 5th string.
  3. Triad chords basses on the 4th string.
  4. Triad chords basses on the 3rd string.

Open Voiced Diminished Triads

Now you know how to play diminished triads in close position on the guitar the time has now come to talk about open triads.

What Are Open Triads ?

The notes of an open triad are spread over more than an octave, unlike a closed triad that has its notes included in one octave.

How to Build Open Voiced Triads ?

You just have to drop the middle voice (so the second voice) up on octave. That's the reason why open triads are also commonly named "drop 2 triads".

For a better understanding, let's take an example with a B diminished triad. This type of triad is made up of a root (1), a minor third (b3) and a diminished fifth (b5). So, we get three notes : B, D and F respectively the root, the minor third and the diminished fifth when stacked together represent a B diminished closed voicing.

Drop the minor third (which is the middle voice of the close voicing) up an octave. We now get a new voicing : B, F and D.

You can even mix these tones to get two other diminished voicings. (check out the chart and the guitar diagrams below).

Root position (root in the bass)  R b5 b3
1st inversion (minor third in the bass in the bass) b3 R b5
2nd inversion (diminished fifth in the bass) b5 b3 R


Chord / Minor Triad Relationships

The chart below show what notes are highlighted when a diminished triad is stacked on a specific chord tone. Let's take as an example the first row for a better understanding.

When playing a diminished triad starting on the #4 of a major chord, you bring out the augmented eleventh (#11), the thirteenth (13) and the root (1) of this chord. Meaning that if you play F#dim over C major your get F# (#11), A (13) and C (1).

Maj #4 #11 13 1  C F#dim
Maj7#5 #5 #5  7  9  Cmaj7#5 G#dim
min 6 13  1  b3 Cm Adim
min7 13  1  b3 Cm7 Adim
7 3 3  5  7   C7 Edim
7 #4 #11  13  1 C7#9 F#dim
7b9 b2 b9  3  5 C7b9 C#dim
7b9 5 5  7  b9 C7b9 Gdim
7b9 7 7  b9  3 C7b9 Bbdim
7#9 b3 #9  #11  13 C7#9 D#dim
7#9 6 13  1  #9 C7#9 Adim
7alt 1 1  #9  #11 C7alt Cdim
m7b5 1 1  b3  b5 cm7b5 Cdim


Upper-Structure Diminished Triads

Here below you see what notes stand out when stacking the twelve diminished triads over the same bass note (C in the example).

Upper structure diminished triads

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Last edited: 2024-01-18

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