How to Play Diminished Chords on a Pedal Steel Guitar

Learn how to play diminished chords in this Howcast video about how to play a pedal steel guitar.

Okay, diminished chords. Now, as you probably know already, a diminished chord occurs when you’ve got a minor chord where the fifths have been also flatted and a dominant seventh has also been flatted. Right there you’ve got four notes. You’ve got three picks. You probably may or may not to actually even play four notes but you can certainty make an elude to that sound without any problem.

The main issue is first to get, at the very least, the root, the minor third and the flatted five which is a half-diminished chord. That’s going to convey a lot of what you need. In a sense, if you’re talking about a diminished chord it’s almost like it’s been sort of compressed, because you’ve got the minor interval for the third. Normally you’d have a major interval between the third and the fifth. But, that’s been compressed too. So the distance between the root and the fifth is smaller. Sort of a diminished sized chord, if you like.

One of the easier ways to do it is to raise the E if you’re in a G position. The typical feel of a diminished chord that would be likely to be heard would be a situation where you have a G chord, a G sharp diminished, an A minor chord and then a D seventh chord. It’s just going to sound like this. [plays guitar]

A very classic kind of of jazzy-ish progression. And all I did there to achieve the G sharp diminished chord was raise the G note a half-step with my F lever. You’ve got G sharp and still you have B and D. That is well on the way toward a diminished chord, and if everybody else is doing their job it will sound just fine.

So, again, that little passage just for fun, because it is fun. That’s an A minor cord I’m doing with the information provided earlier. Lowering the G. Lowering the six string, the G sharp string a whole step and then splitting it by putting the D pedal down. That gives you an A minor. Then you go back to the D seven that you would get by having the D pedal down and the E lower.

You can play that forever and ever. It’s the foundation for hundreds and hundreds of songs.

Another version of the diminished on the other principle of the form you’re going to use is the A and B pedals down. What do you need? You need a minor. We’ve already discussed the split available with the B vertical lever, which we’re going to lower. Now what’s left? We need to lower that E. Well, how do we lower the E? We lower it with an E lever. It’s slightly awkward but you’ve got A and B down. You’re pressing against the D lower vertical. In other words your knee is going straight up. And in addition to going straight up, it’s going a little to the right so that you can lower the E.

Now in this case, if you want a G sharp and do the same progression that we did before, you’re going to go up a fret because that’s the G sharp fret. And so you go. Here’s a minor that you’re doing which is just lowering the E on the F 13 fret. Then you go up to the G fret and you still have your E lowered and you engage the B pedal to make a D seventh.

There you go. That’s uses and creation of a diminished chord.