Diminished Whole Half Step Scale 2 Octaves

In this exercise you will learn a useful shape for playing a Diminished Whole Half Step Scale on the guitar.

In this first exercise of the guitar lesson you will learn a Diminished Whole Half Step Scale shape that takes advantage of symmetry on the fretboard, and you will also learn to understand the scale in terms of approach tones which helps you understand the relation between the Diminished Whole Half Step Scale and the Diminished 7 Chord.

Diminished Whole Half Step Scale 2 Octaves fretboard diagram

In the fretboard diagram there is one very important observation to make: Notice the symmetry across the D, G, B, and E strings. Use this to your advantage! Note how you can shift that pattern up by one and a half steps and still be playing the same scale. Pretty convenient! That symmetry falls apart a bit on the lower strings, but most of your soloing/improv will be on higher strings anyway.

Also, note how I don't label all the scale notes with an interval name. I just don't think that makes sense with Diminished Whole Half Step Scale. Instead I use the label AT for "Approach Tone" which are half step approach notes to each chord tone of the corresponding Diminished 7th Chord. And while I labeled the chord tones as Root, flat 3, flat 5, and double flat 7, this is just to show you the names of the intervals that make up a Diminished 7th arpeggio, but in reality, any chord tone can be the root.


I believe that a gradual approach on the guitar is a must. We will get to more diminished scale exercises in future lessons, but for now you should just walk away with an understanding of the symmetrical nature of the Diminished Whole Half Step Scale, how it relates to the Diminished7 Chord, and how you can use it to solo over Diminished 7 chords.

If you read the theory section of this guitar lesson you will understand that one way to think about the Diminished Whole Half Step Scale is as a Diminished 7 arpeggio where each arpeggio note is being approached a half step below. This is key to unlocking the diminished sound of the scale. In fact, if you play the approach notes of the scale on upbeats and chord tones on down beats you will find that it sounds more harmonically in step with the underlying Diminished 7 chord. The exercise is meant to reinforce this, since you will find that all down beats are chord tones.

If instead you play a lot of approach tones on downbeats you might find that it starts sounding a bit weird and doesn't give you as clear of a diminished sound. Weird doesn't mean bad! Just something to keep in mind if you want to solo/improvise over Diminished 7 chords.


Diminished Whole Half Step Scale 2 Octaves Guitar Pro tablature
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Note: To download and view exercise tab you need Guitar Pro

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Guitar Lesson Exercise Performance Tips

Performance Tips

In the tablature, you will notice two exercises. Ex. 1 is just to get you familiar with the Diminished Whole Half Step Scale. Ex. 2 has you playing the scale across 2 octaves. 

If you download the Guitar Pro file you will notice there is a track that is playing Diminished 7th chords. That track is alternating between C, Eb, Gb, and A Diminished 7 chords just to highlight that C, Eb, Gb, and A Diminished 7 are all really the same chord. Understanding this helps you realize that you don't have to think of separate scales when playing over these chords. Just learn that C Diminished Whole Half Step Scale shape and automatically it will also function as Eb, Gb, and A Diminished Whole Half Step Scale.

The other thing to notice in the tab is that I place Diminished 7 chord tones on down beats. This emphasizes the other scale tones as approach notes and if you get used to thinking of those other notes as approach tones it will make your solo lines sound more harmonically in agreement with the diminished 7 chord's sound.

Once you start getting comfortable with the C/Eb/Gb/A Diminished Whole Half Step Scale, move the shape up one half step which will then give you C#/E/G/Bb Diminished Whole Half Step Scale. Then move up yet another half step to end up with D/F/Ab/B Diminished Whole Half Step Scale. When doing so you will have to play over a different backing track, but the idea is to learn just 3 shapes, taking advantage of the symmetrical nature of the Diminished Chord and Scale world!

Criteria for Mastery: You can play both exercises cleanly at 150 BPM or faster and you understand the symmetrical nature of the Diminished Whole Half Step Scale.



In the theory section of this guitar lesson I covered the theory behind the Diminished Whole Half Step Scale. Please see the lesson's theory section for an overview. The key takeaway there is

C Diminished 7 = Eb Diminished 7 = Gb Diminished 7 = A Diminished 7

C# Diminished 7 = E Diminished 7 = G Diminished 7 = Bb Diminished 7

D Diminished 7 = F Diminished 7 = Ab Diminished 7 = B Diminished 7

So this also means

C Diminished Whole Half Step Scale = Eb Diminished Whole Half Step Scale = Gb Diminished Whole Half Step Scale = A Diminished Whole Half Step Scale

C# Diminished Whole Half Step Scale = E Diminished Whole Half Step Scale = G Diminished Whole Half Step Scale = Bb Diminished Whole Half Step Scale

D Diminished Whole Half Step Scale = F Diminished Whole Half Step Scale = Ab Diminished Whole Half Step Scale = B Diminished Whole Half Step Scale

When to use the Diminished Whole Half Step Scale?

Anytime you see a C dim7, Eb/D# dim7, Gb/F# dim 7, or A dim7, play the C Diminished Whole Half Scale.

Anytime you see a C#/Db dim7, E dim7, G dim 7, or Bb/A# dim7, play the C# Diminished Whole Half Scale.

Anytime you see a D dim7, F dim7, Ab/G# dim 7, or B dim7, just the C# Diminished Whole Half Scale.


There are other situations to use the Diminished Whole Half Step Scale but this is enough for now!