The E flat diminished chord has a bizarre, almost dreadful sound when played alone. And if you’ve never heard it before, you might be unsure of how to use it. However, when used properly (it’s most at home in the key of E), it can add just the right amount of tension. Let’s dive into E flat diminished!
What’s a Diminished Chord?
Diminished and flat diminished chords like Eb diminished sound a bit different from other guitar chords. They are often described as sounding “scary” or”unstable.” (Check out the audio demonstration of the E flat diminished chord below to see what we mean!)
An Eb diminished chord includes three notes: a root, a minor (flattened) third, and a diminished (flattened) fifth. A basic Eb diminished chord can also be used to build two Eb dim chord variations: E flat diminished seventh and a half-diminished version of Eb dim.
What’s an Eb Diminished Chord?
We saw above that a diminished chord includes a root note, minor third, and diminished fifth. So to find these notes and create the Eb diminished chord for guitar, piano, or ukulele, we first need the Eb major scale:
Eb – F – G – Ab – Bb – C – D
Root notes are the first notes in a scale, so our root note for this chord is of course Eb. We see that the third degree of the scale is G. To make it a minor third, we lower it by a half step (you may also hear half steps called “semitones”) to get Gb.
Gb can also be written as F#. But in the context of Eb dim or another diminished chord, writing it as “Gb” does a better job of conveying that it’s a flattened third.
To complete E flat diminished, we now just need a diminished fifth. The fifth degree of the scale is Bb. If you flatten Bb, you get A. However, to make it clear that E flat diminished includes a diminished/flattened fifth, this last note in the triad (three-note chord) is typically going to be written as “Bbb” instead of A.
Therefore, the Ebdim chord contains the notes Eb, Gb, and Bbb. The video below offers a useful audio demonstration of an E flat diminished chord (also written as “Eb dim”).
How Do You Play an E Flat Diminished Chord?
Just like with other guitar chords, you can play an Eb diminished chord in a number of ways. Though we can’t fit all the positions for playing an E flat diminished chord here, here are two (along with suggested finger positions and note names):
Of all the positions you can use to play E flat diminished, this one might be the easiest. But unlike many open guitar chords, this chord version asks you to mute (or at least skip) the fifth and sixth strings as you play. Here are the suggested finger positions:
- Place your index finger on the fourth string at the first fret (Eb).
- Place your middle finger on the third string at the second fret (Bbb, or A).
- Place your ring finger on the first string at the second fret (Gb).
- Place your pinky on the second string at the fourth fret (Eb).
- Don’t play the fifth and sixth strings.
This version of the E flat diminished chord is a little more difficult. Here are the suggested finger positions and note names for this chord version:
- Place your first finger on the fourth string at the first fret (Eb).
- Place your middle finger on the sixth string at the second fret (Gb).
- Place your ring finger on the third string at the second fret (Bbb, or A).
- Place your pinky on the first string at the second fret (Gb).
- Mute or skip the second string.
More Chord Exploration
Keep in mind that you can use the formula above with other root notes to discover how to play an E flat diminished chord and other diminished chords on the guitar, ukulele, and other instruments. Don’t forget that diminished chords are best used sparingly, but in the right context, they can really add depth to a song.
FAQ of The E Flat Diminished Chord
Still have some questions on the E flat diminished chord? Here are some answers.
A diminished chord contains three notes: a root note, a minor third, and a diminished fifth. A minor third is the third degree of the relevant scale lowered by a half step. A diminished fifth is the fifth scale degree lowered by a half step.
To create a diminished chord, you follow the pattern above for Eb and other root notes. However, for an Edim chord, you use the E major scale. For an Ebdim chord, you use the Eb major scale.