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Diminished Chords

Updated: May 13, 2020

From The Paul Franklin Method Facebook Group:  

Student: I was taking another look at your diminished chords lesson and I found that I can get another diminished chord option. For example, barring the 1st fret and playing strings 7, 6 and 5 with the A pedal halfway, you get the C diminished triad. From here if you hit the fourth string you get the diminished 7th. What is your opinion on this option Paul?

Also I loved the chord you played in this lesson on the 11th fret, strings 9, 6 and 5 and then hitting the A pedal. I can’t work out what chord this is. Can you put me out of my misery please?



Paul: Great question!  I urge everyone to do as you have and apply your interval knowledge and theory formulas to help find various voicings for everything, everywhere.


Not giving extended interval options in that lesson example was intentional on my part. Since the ‘80’s I have been under a “production microscope”, working with the greatest and most talented ears one could ever encounter. One of the points I try to drive home is how I have survived in the most critical conditions playing diminished chords that sound in tune when there are several chording instruments in the band.

I love the 7 6 5 half-pedal position…but all of the producers I work for would bust me for tuning on that particular way to play it!  That voicing with, or without the 4th string, would sound great and I would probably use it if I was in a Jazz quartet setting with steel, acoustic piano, acoustic bass, and drums. Sonically there would not be another electric instrument to deal with the tuning differences.


As far as naming the chord at the 11th fret: The band would be playing 1 to 1#dim then probably follow it with a 2 minor. The chord is played over the bar of 1#dim, so the 9th string is the root (C#), the 6th string is the diminished note (b5) and the 5th string without the A pedal is a (bb7 or a 6). Raising it with the pedal gives me a passing chromatic tone of C (a natural 7).

I would not view that as an individual chord because the band is not acknowledging what I play as the chord. They are playing the 1#dim and I am coloring it as basically a C major triad over C#, bottom to top (3 5 & 1 or group 2) over a 1# bass note. If I wanted the band to play the chord, I would write it on a chart as C over C#.


Here’s why: By viewing it this way (over a 1# bass note) I can take that same C Major triad which is group 2 no pedals, and I can move that same voicing every three frets forward or backward and it all sounds ultra cool and Jazzy over a 1# diminished chord. The voicing in the video is what I call a partial voicing of a C over C# ….From the bottom up I played these three intervals over the C# diminished (low to high out of C#) 1(C#) b5(G) 7(C)


Sometimes over-analyzing a passing chord’s many possible names can “cloud the sky”. Just know that the voicing as I played it on the video works well over a 1#dim… or if you wish to play something Jazzier, what I just showed with the C over C# works. That’s really all the theory you need to know to utilize these very cool moves.

So to restate the major triad part: Over a C# bass note, play all of these group 2 descending major chords…..C / A / F# …or these ascending group 2 major chords of C / Eb. I like the sound of the descending triads best.

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