Diminished 7th and augmented chords on the ‘ukulele can be hard to remember because:
- They don’t get used much.
- They repeat themselves (the same shape works for more than one chord).
By the time you realize you are supposed to be playing one of these chords in a song, odds are it’s gone already. What you need is a fast way to figure these chords out, and here it is:
I’ll start with Diminished 7th chords. There is only one Diminished 7th chord shape, and it looks like this:
This shape repeats every three frets up. So you can play all the diminished chords you will ever need in the first three frets with one shape.
How do you remember what one is what though? Simple. Just slide the shape around so that it has the root note of the chord within it. Cdim7 is the only diminished 7 chord with a C note, Fdim is the only one with an F note, etc… This works anywhere on the fretboard. Since the dim shape repeats, you can slide it up 3 frets at a time and get the next voicing for that same chord. And again and again, until you run out of frets. You can play one strum on each voicing as you slide up and sound really slick.
People often get confused between diminished and diminished 7th chords. They are very closely related and the diminished 7th only has one more note than a diminished. That said, anytime I need a plain diminished, I always use a diminished 7th. It sounds close enough to fool 99% of people and it’s certainly easier to remember.
A full set of shapes for diminished chords can be found in my eBook, ʻUkulele Chord Shapes.
Augmented chords work on the same principles. The only difference is that aug chords repeat every four frets and there are two shapes. You will probably use augmented chords less than diminished chords. As long as you have the root note of the chord in the shape, it’s named after it. Ether of these shapes can be moved up four frets to find the next voicing.
For the ʻukulele chord building junkies out there, the formula for these two types of chords are:
Aug - 1 3 #5
Dim - 1 b3 b5