How to Play the B Diminished Chord on Guitar?

Published Categorized as Chords

If you’re like many guitarists, you want to learn to play as many chord types as possible. Today, we’ll be looking at the dark and mysterious B diminished chord, a chord that can add incredible tension to any guitar or piano piece.

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What Is a Diminished Chord?

If you’ve ever heard a diminished chord played by itself, you might wonder why (or how!) anyone could ever work this chord type into a piece of music. After all, a diminished chord (or diminished triad) sounds scary, dark, and even sour.

However, when used in the right context, diminished chords can add the perfect amount of tension to a song. This audio demonstration lets you hear more than one example of a diminished chord.

The diminished chord type we’ll be looking at today is a diminished triad. This chord type is notated with a degree sign or with a “dim.” So a B diminished chord is often written as B dim.

A diminished triad includes a root note, a minor third (a note that is three semitones/half-steps higher than the root note), and a diminished fifth (a note that is six half-steps above the root note).

A diminished fifth is also called a “flattened fifth,” as it is a perfect fifth lowered by a half-step (or one semitone). Likewise, a “minor third” is a third lowered by a half-step.

The diminished triad, much like a major triad, can be a building block for other guitar chords. Diminished triads can be used to build both diminished seventh and half-diminished chords.

What’s the B Diminished Chord?

Now that you know the relevant theory behind the diminished chord, we’ll take a closer look at B diminished.

To get the three note names in our B dim chord, we first need the B major scale. Here it is:

B – C# – D# – E – F# – G# – A# – B

The B diminished chord of course starts with B, our root note. Root notes are always the first notes in their respective scales.

Next, we will need the next note: a minor third. Our third (the third degree on the B major scale) is D#.

If you already know some of the theory behind other guitar chords, you may remember that a minor third is a third scale degree lowered by a half step. So our minor third is D.

The last note we need for a B diminished chord is a diminished fifth. The fifth note on the scale is F#. To get a diminished fifth, we lower it by a half step to get F.

To recap, the B diminished chord contains three notes: B, D, and F.

How to Play the B Diminished Chord

There are two main ways to play B diminished (you can view the chord diagrams here). Here are both B dim variations, along with the suggested finger positions:

Version 1

This is the easier of the two B dim positions. But since the suggested finger positions are on the first three strings, you may find that it doesn’t sound heavy enough for your purposes. Here are the fingerings and note names you need:

  • Place your index finger on the first string at the first fret (F).
  • Place your ring finger on the second string at the third fret (D).
  • Place your pinky finger on the third string at the fourth fret (B).
  • Mute or skip the fourth, fifth, and sixth strings.

Version 2

This version might give you a fuller sound. However, as one of the chord positions requiring you to mute both the high E and low E strings, it can pose a bit of a challenge. Here are the suggested finger positions:

  • Place your index finger on the fifth string at the second fret (B).
  • Place your middle finger on the fourth string at the third fret (F).
  • Place your ring finger on the second string at the third fret (D).
  • Place your pinky on the third string at the fourth fret (B).

Keep Discovering the Fretboard!

The B dim chord and other diminished chords don’t show up in every song. But if you’re serious about guitar, learning to play diminished chords and other unusual chord types and voicings can make you stand out from the rest!

FAQ on B Diminished Chord

Still have some questions on B diminished and other diminished guitar chords? Here are some answers:

What key is B diminished?

You probably already know that each key includes multiple major and minor chords. But did you know that every musical key only includes one diminished chord? The chord B diminished is part of the key of C.

What does B diminished mean?

As long as you know your root notes for each chord, you will be able to form diminished chords. You need a root note, a minor third, and a diminished fifth. So a B diminished chord (also written as B dim) includes B, D, and F.

By Nate Pallesen

Nate is just your average (above average) guitar player. He's no Joe Satriani, Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page - wait this site is about acoustic guitars (sorry) He's no Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, or Michael Hedges, wait? who!? He's no Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton or Ben Harper - more familiar? Anyway you get the point :-)

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