Diminished Scale Exercises

A diminished scale is a 8 tone scale that has intervals that alternate between whole-steps and half-steps.  For instance a diminished scale interval map would be W H W H W H W H.  This scale is great for using in finger exercises because it is symetrical.  I’ll go over a couple today.

The Scale

Much like diminished 7th chords, there are only 3 different diminished scales (subject to enharmonic changes).  They are as follows:

Eb or F#/Gb or A or C diminished scale: [ Eb, F, F#, G#, A, B, C, D, Db ]

D or F or Ab or B diminished scale: [ D, E, F, G, Ab, Bb, B, C#, D ]

Db or E or G or Bb diminished scale: [ Db, Eb, E, F#, G, A, Bb, C, Db ]

If you can’t see what I mean by there are only 3 different diminished scales, let me explain. Lets look at the first scale.  If we start on the Eb we get an Eb diminished scale [ Eb, F, F#, G#, A, B, C, D, Db ]. But if we start on the A, we get an A diminished scale [ A, B, C, D, Db, Eb, F, F#, G#, A ].  Therefore the same set of notes can give us multiple diminished scales.

Here is one pattern that can be used to play the scale on guitar:


Exercise 1

The first exercise plays the scale linearally across one string.


Exercise 2

The next exercise is from the Dream Theater song Octavarium.  The exercise starts at 1:08 into the video.

Octavarium- Dream Theater

(click to enlarge)

If you have any questions or comments, please email them to me at mdguitarteacher@gmail.com.


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5 Responses

  1. how do i know if it is true?

  2. i have question about the diminished scale. Common use of this scale is playing it to a dominant 7th chords. Just like to know if it works on minor chords as well? what’s best fit on a minor chord? shall i use whole half or half whole say on an Aminor7th?

    • i think diminished sounds good like, when f.ex. its an E minor chord, you play the Eb diminished, or when you have an A minor chord, you play Ab diminished. you only go one half step down.

    • Experiment and do what sounds good to you. I personally use the diminished scale over diminished chords because I think that is where it fits best, goes without saying. However you should try the scale over many chords to see how it fits over them. You should pick what sounds best to you. If it sounds good, do it.

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