[Acoustic Guitar Chords] > How to Play the Ddim Chord on Guitar (Theory, Tips, Exercises)
The Ddim chord is a slightly unusual guitar chord to have up your sleeve.
While it’s not really a beginner guitar chord, it can still be very useful especially as you progress.
At first listen, you might think it would be hard to apply to your regular guitar playing. However, this unusual chord actually appears in quite a few popular songs across countless genres – from pop to classical.
Like any chord, the most important element is how you use it and how well you play it.
So if you want to start taking things up a notch and explore some of the more complex chords, the Ddim chord is a good one to start with.
Intrigued? Then let’s get started!
What Is the Ddim Chord?
The Ddim chord is also known as the D diminished chord and is often written as D°.
Despite its name, it has a very different sound from the D chord or Dm chord.
Diminished chords often add an element of drama or suspense to music. Their unusual sound is largely due to the flattened 5th at the end – but we’ll get to that later.
This sound lends itself well to eerie or darker pieces. When paired with other chords, it can create quite a playful piece of music.
When you break down the structure of the Ddim chord, you can see that it’s a dissonant sound with the notes D, F, and Ab.
It can be played by taking the first note, the flat third note, and the flat fifth note of the D major scale.
The flattened fifth at the end of this chord brings about a need for resolution. Which is why it’s often good to follow up with a consonant chord.
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Dissonant vs Consonant Chords
In case the terms dissonant and consonant are new to you, let’s have a quick look at their definitions:
- Consonant chord: A chord made of notes that sound harmonious or pleasant when played together
- Dissonant chord: A chord made up of notes that can sound jarring or unpleasant when played together.
Ddim Chord Guitar Finger Positioning
As with all chords, there are multiple ways to play the Ddim chord, including a barre version.
When learning how to play chords, I often see guitar learners going wrong in the same place – their fingers press down on the wrong strings because the finger positioning is challenging.
This isn’t good for many reasons, one of which is that chords and notes can come out sounding flat and toneless.
Here are a few tips to ensure correct finger positioning:
- Relax your hand. Let your hand sit naturally and try to shake off any tension or rigidity.
- Arch your fingers. Gently arch your fingers to avoid pressing down on the surrounding strings.
- Don’t apply too much pressure. Press down with enough pressure to avoid fret buzz but not so much to cause a tense, rigid hand.
How to Play the Ddim Chord on the Guitar
Now that we’ve covered the dreaded theory, let’s get down to learning how to play the Ddim chord.
Ddim Chord Standard Version
The Ddim chord can actually be played at a few different places on the neck, but I’m going to show you the version that starts on the 5th fret.
How to Place Your Fingers for the Standard Ddim Chord:
- Index finger on the 5th fret of the A string
- Middle finger on the 6th fret of the D string
- Ring finger on the 6th fret of the B string
- Small finger on the 7th fret of the G string
- Strum all strings except the high and low E
Boom – you’ve got yourself a Ddim chord!
Ddim Chord Barre Version
If you want to try something slightly more difficult, try this barre version.
Barre chords are usually more difficult and are more demanding on your index finger as you have to hold down multiple strings across a single fret.
In case you need a quick refresh on what a barre chord is and the top tips to help you play flawlessly, check out my guide here.
To play the Ddim chord barre version, place your fingers in the following positions:
- Barre your index finger across the low E, A, and D strings on the 10th fret
- Middle finger on the 11th fret of the A string
- Ring finger on the 12th fret of the D string
Play all strings except the B string and the high E string and you’re good to go.
Ddim Chord Exercises
If you really want to get the hang of a chord, I recommend drilling the position a couple of times until your muscle memory begins to take hold. Here’s how:
- Using your fretting hand, form a Ddim chord
- Strum down four times
- Release the chord
- Strum down four more times
- Rinse and repeat
Another great exercise that’s particularly helpful for familiarizing yourself with the sound of the diminished chord, is to switch between it and a major chord. Experiment a bit with this and you’ll hear the mix between suspense and resolve in the sound.
Many variations of the D diminished chord require the pinky finger. To keep your pinky strong, make sure to practice chord variations involving it regularly.
Moving on From the Ddim Chord
Working your way through guitar chords is a key part of your guitar-playing journey. If you haven’t done so yet, I recommend checking out my other chord guides, such as the B7 chord or the Am chord.
You should also check out my guitar workshop, Tony’s Acoustic Challenge.
It’s full of guitar tips and exercises that will keep you having fun on your guitar journey regardless of what level you’re at.
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