Tony Oreshko jazz and gypsy jazz guitar


by Tony Oreshko
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Jazz Soloing: Lesson 4

Diminished 7th Arpeggios

The first three soloing lessons looked at using m7b5 arpeggios in jazz soloing. We saw that we could use a Bm7b5 arpeggio to do three different jobs:
  • solo over a Bm7b5 chord to create a Bm7b5 sound
  • solo over a G7 chord to create a G9 sound
  • solo over a D minor chord to create a Dm6 sound
We're now going to look at a new arpeggio: the diminished 7th.

Diminished 7th Arpeggio Fingering Pattern

Here's a common diminished 7th chord shape, and then a fingering diagram for a matching diminished 7th arpeggio. Click on the diagrams below to hear how the chord (left) and the arpeggio (right) sound:

E Diminished Chord and Arpeggio

             E Diminished chord diagram              E Diminished arpeggio diagram              

Four Different Names

There are quite a few interesting things about this arpeggio. First of all, it can take it's name from any one of the four different notes that make up the arpeggio. This means that the arpeggio above is called E diminished, but can also be called G, Bb or C# diminished - four arpeggios for the price of one!

You may find this puzzling, as the arpeggio seems to have six notes rather than four. But if you work out all the names of the notes you'll see that two of them are repeated at a higher octave, so it only has four different notes.

Pattern Repeats Every Three Frets

The next interesting thing is that the fingering pattern produces the same arpeggio every time you go up three frets on the guitar neck. This means you can play an E diminished (alias G, Bb or C# diminished) starting on either the 2nd fret or the 5th, 8th, 11th or 14th frets.

Listen to the example below:

E diminished arpeggio pattern repeated every three frets   E diminished arpeggio pattern repeated every three frets

With one simple fingering pattern you end up with a movable pattern that covers the guitar fingerboard from top to bottom.

Soloing with the Diminished 7th Arpeggio

As with the m7b5 arpeggio, we can use the diminished 7th arpeggio to solo over its matching chord, one on one. This means if someone plays an E diminished chord you can play an E diminished arpeggio over it.

However, this arpeggio can also be used in a more imaginative way, as a substitute over dominant 7th chords. We'll look at this use in the next lesson.


In this short lesson we've learnt a fingering pattern for a diminished 7th arpeggio. We've seen that every diminished 7th arpeggio takes its name from any note in the arpeggio, and it ends up having four possible names.

We've also seen that every time we move the fingering pattern up three frets we end up back with the same arpeggio!

So far we know that a diminished arpeggio will sound good when played against a diminished chord with the same name. In the next lesson we'll learn how to use diminished 7th arpeggios to solo over dominant 7th chords. We'll eventually be able to combine this knowledge with our minor 6th sounds from lesson 3, and solo over an entire minor blues progression.

Tony Oreshko

Go to Jazz Soloing Lesson 5

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