UD#36 Chameleon Chord: Diminished 7th Chords part II

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UD#36  Chameleon Chord: Diminished Chords Part II
(The coolest thing you can do with dim7 chords)

from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek

The coolest thing you can do with diminished chords…in my opinion…

NOTE: For simplicity I will refer to diminished 7th chords as DIMINISHED CHORDS in this lesson.

ALSO NOTE: If you don’t feel like reading there is a video at the bottom of the page.

Try this experiment

Take a diminished chord like this one:

Lower one of the notes in the chord by one fret. Let’s lower the note on the G string. What does this mean? We take the note on the G string and lower it by one fret (move it one fret towards the headstock of the uke) which makes it into an open G note. Here’s what happens:


You’ll notice that you now have a seventh chord. A G7. So what? Read on…

Do the same with the note on the C string. Lower it by one fret.

You may recognize the shape on the right as being a seventh chord. It is a C#7 chord. What’s this all about? Read on…

Lower the note on the E string one fret. Now you have an E7 chord! Take a look.


Lower the note on the A string by one fret. Now you have a B-flat seven chord.


Hey, I think we’re on to something!

If you lower any of the notes in a diminished chord by one fret (one semi-tone) you get a seventh chord.

So if we lower any note in this chord by one fret:

We get one of these 4 seventh chord shapes.

(Notice that these are the 4 Seventh Chord shapes that we studied in our lesson on the G7 chord.)

Very interesting how do we apply this new knowledge…

Substituting Diminished Chords for Seventh Chords:

Here is a simple chord progression that’s very popular in jazz:

Jazzy Progression: OPEN VERSION

Play the progression through a few times with two beats on each chord.

Here’s the same progression using inversions of the chords found up the neck of ukulele. A challenge for those who are interested.

Jazzy Progression: UP THE NECK.

We can create a very cool effect by replacing the seventh chords in this progression with diminished shapes which most closely resemble the shapes of the seventh chords. Here is the open version of the progression with the seventh chords swapped out for diminished chords:

Jazzy Progression: OPEN VERSION w/ Diminished Chords instead of 7th chords.

Cool Eh! This creates a very cool angular effect. Here is the up the neck version.

Jazzy Progression: UP THE NECK VERSION w/ Diminished Chords instead of 7th chords.

This diminished chord substitution is very useful for creating interest in chord melodies and solo ukulele arrangements.

A WARNING: Be a little careful when you’re playing with other people. If everyone else is playing a seventh chord and you are playing a diminished chord substitution there will be some clashing because one of the notes in the chord won’t match. So in ensembles if you choose to replace one of the seventh chords with a diminished chord it has to be decided that everybody’s going to do that.

I often use this type of diminished chord effect when I’m playing introductions on my own or if I’m doing a solo arrangement. Use your ears to tell you if the diminished substitution is a good idea or not. Experiment. Have fun.

ONE LAST THING: As you might remember from last lesson, diminished chords repeat every three frets. You can use this to “stitch together” progressions at different parts of the uke.  Please watch the video to see how this is done. Here’s the video. Enjoy!

Hope you enjoyed this weeks newsletter. I’ll be sending out another newsletter in two weeks, the subject of which is yet to be determined. All the best in your playing.


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