How to play half diminished arpeggios on guitar (with application examples)

Last updated on March 25th, 2024


If you want to take your improvisation skills to the next level, it’s important to have a solid understanding of half diminished arpeggios (also known as minor 7 b5 arpeggios). Arpeggios are so effective because they highlight the important notes of a chord.

If you’re familiar with diminished triads, this concept goes one step further to include another note in the chord structure.

In this lesson, we’ll specifically look at how to play minor 7 b5 arpeggios shapes on guitar and application examples over different chords. Grab your guitar and let’s start learning!

Understanding half diminished arpeggios

Before learning to play arpeggios, it’s important to understand what half diminished and how they are built. Every half diminished chord (minor 7 b5 chord) is built upon the following four chord tones: 1, b3, b5, and b7. These chord tones can also be thought of as the scale degrees related to a diminished scale.

For example, the C minor 7 b5 chord has the chord tones C, Eb, Gb, and Bb. This is essentially a C diminished triad chord with an added flat 7th chord tone. As a side note, a fully diminished chord has the chord tones 1, b3, b5, and 6.

Here is the formula for minor 7 b5 chords below.

half diminished arpeggio formula



If you don’t know how to play these chords, see this lesson on minor 7 b5 chords on guitar.

Now that you know what notes belong to the minor 7 b5 chord structure, let’s look at how to read the chord charts.

How to read the chord charts

For the chord charts below:

  • The top horizontal line of the chord chart represents the high E string and the bottom horizontal line represents the low E string. 
  • The vertical lines separate each fret. 
  • The green dots represent the root note.

You can check this link for more on how to read guitar notation symbols.

Minor 7 b5 arpeggio shape 1

Here is the first shape with the root note starting on the 6th string. You can use any root note to play these examples but we’ll cover application examples later in this lesson.

For the following charts, the left side shows you the suggested fingering for an arpeggio and the right side shows you what chord tones you are playing.

half diminished arpeggio shape 1


Minor 7 b5 arpeggio shape 2

half diminished arpeggio shape 2


Minor 7 b5 arpeggio shape 3

Now, here is the minor 7 arpeggio shape with the root note starting on the 5th string.

half diminished arpeggio shape 3


Minor 7 b5 arpeggio shape 4

Here is another way you can play the arpeggio with the root note on the 5th string.

half diminished arpeggio shape 4


Minor 7 b5 arpeggio shape 5

half diminished arpeggio shape 5


All arpeggio shapes on the fretboard

To help you connect all the shapes we learned, here are all the arpeggio shapes on the fretboard using an A minor 7 b5 chord arpeggio.

A half diminished arpeggios

A half diminished arpeggio shapes on guitar


B half diminished arpeggios

Here are all the arpeggio shapes on the fretboard using a B minor 7 b5 chord arpeggio.

B half diminished arpeggio shapes on guitar


E half diminished arpeggios

Here are all the arpeggio shapes on the fretboard using an E minor 7 b5 chord arpeggio.

E half diminished arpeggio shapes on guitar


Minor 7 b5 arpeggio application examples

At this point, we’ve covered how to play half diminished arpeggios on the guitar but now we’ll go over examples of how to apply them over a half diminished chord, specifically a C minor 7 b5 chord.

You can listen each example below the notation with tabs to help you learn these phrases.

Application example 1

This first example uses an ascending four note pattern using only the C minor 7 b5 chord tones: C, Eb, G, and Bb.

Half diminished arpeggio example 1


Application example 2

Next, we have a descending arpeggio pattern that skips one note after every chord tone.

Half diminished arpeggio example 2


Application example 3

Example 3 incorporates the half diminished arpeggio with other scale and chromatic notes.

Half diminished arpeggio example 3


Application example 4

Example 4 also includes arpeggio note skipping and scale notes from the C Locrian scale).

Half diminished arpeggio example 4


Application example 5

Lastly, example 5 incorporates the half diminished arpeggio with added chromatic notes which gives it a hint of the blues scale. The notes in the 2nd measure outline an Eb minor blues scale with a 6th degree instead of b7.

Half diminished arpeggio example 5


Wrapping up

Arpeggios are a foundational part of improvisation because they highlight the important notes of a chord. If you practice this concept, you’ll find that your solos have much more clarity over the chords you’re playing over.

As you become more comfortable playing arpeggios over a specific chord, also try incorporating other scale notes or try different rhythmic ideas to make your ideas sound more musical. You can also challenge yourself to play arpeggios examples or ideas over different chords.

Check out these other lessons to learn how to play Major 7 arpeggios, Dominant 7 arpeggios, or minor 7 arpeggios on guitar.

I hope this helps you to create more interesting ideas when improvising. Happy practicing!

📘 Get the free guitar practice guide here!

Best, 

JG Music Lessons

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