Diminished Scale Picking Patterns

Workout both fretting and picking hands with these diminished scale picking patterns. Lesson includes the two basic shapes and three custom ones.

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The diminished scale is another very interesting scale. It's a neverending repeating pattern of whole tone, half tone, whole tone, half tone etc.

For this reason there are only two main scale positions, as opposed to the 5 positions of the pentatonic scale or the 7 positions of the major scale. It also sounds terrifying in a heavy metal solo and is great for working all 4 fretting fingers as you will see.

I will now take you through the 2 main scale positions, and then I will show you 3 of my favorite diagonal shapes.

Whole-Half Diminished Scale

Starting on the 7th fret, try out the whole-half diminished scale. It's called this because from the root note, in this case B, we play a whole step ahead (2 frets) followed by a half step (1 fret) after that. This pattern repeats endlessly.

Half-Whole Diminished Scale

This is the second position and therefore starts on the second note of the first scale shape, the C#. This is the same idea as before but flipped around so that we begin with the root note, followed by a half step, followed by a whole step, and so on.

Whole-Half Diagonal

Because of the repetitive nature of the diminished scale, you can arrange your fingerings into really interesting diagonal shapes like this. This one is exclusively the "whole-half" fingering.

Half-Whole Diagonal

This one is exactly the same as before except instead of using the "whole-half" fingering on the B (7th fret), we will be using the "half-whole" fingering on the C# (9th fret).

Wide 2-Note-Per-String Custom Diagonal

Here is a custom, wide, diagonal position which is a favorite of mine. It begins on the B (7th fret), skips the whole step and the half step to land on the fourth note. I then shift this pattern up and across diagonally. Wow what a sound!

Be sure to bust out these evil scales next time you encounter a heavy open E riffing breakdown!

Check out the video lesson below for the playthrough:

By Alfred Potter www.AlfredPotter.com

25 comments sorted by best / new / date

Alfred potter most underated guitar player on the internet
Wow thanks. Lol now I feel way overrated :p
As a diminished scale lover I already knew most of these, but dude, the last pattern is really great. It has a really dramatic feel to it. I think I heard it used in some Symphony X songs actually !
Cool! Yes I love them, mostly their old stuff though when they were operatic and classical. I must have subconsciously nicked the dim scale pattern from them :p
Awesome lesson! This one and the one on Japanese scales have lead to a lot of fun improv! Alfred's backing tracks are also def worth checking out on his youtube channel!
Thank you, so kind! I am glad you enjoyed the Japanese lesson too. I think it will be the next article I submit to UG.com.
This is awesome, thanks!!!
I enjoy making these. Be sure to check out my other video lessons
Didn't understand diminished scale before I read this. And its so easy! Paganini uses half step-whole step several times in capriccio no. 24. And in cappriccio no. 5. Love your diagonal custom shape, it sounds like something out of a horror movie.
Made me laugh! Out of a horror movie, I know just what you mean. Yes that custom shape certainly stands out. The scale is easy isn't it? I love using it for exercises too as is exercises all 4 fingers. Thanks for the comment.
this is just perfect for the new death-metal project I'm into. thanks dude!
Yes! Hey thanks for checking this out.
Dude I watched your other videos, you are a wicked lead player. Keep it up thanks for the licks and ideas.
Thank you so much. Yeah I will keep them coming!
Thanks for the no frills low chat lesson. Will watch your other videos now, cheers!
Dude that is what I am about! Practice time is precious and I haaate it when people talk and talk. Thanks very much for checking out my stuff.
As with previous articles I feel you're barely skimming the surface here. It's clear that you can do more, so let's dive in a bit deeper next time.
I love this, checked out a few more of your vids and subscribed, this is the kind of stuff I love to expand my playing in unique and fun ways.
Thanks man. Glad to have you aboard. I'm happy that you appreciate my style of videos! I always try to keep them interesting and short yet full of info.