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The D guitar chord is one of the most important guitar chords that you’ll learn to play. You’ve probably already heard this chord used in many different songs. We’ll even show you some songs down below that use this chord.
After reading this article, you’ll know everything you need to know about this chord and how to play it.
What is the D chord?
The D chord, otherwise known as the D major chord, is an essential chord that guitarists of all levels should know. The open D chord has a higher-pitched, expansive sound and is used widely throughout songs like “Honky Tonk Women” by The Rolling Stones or in the song “Desire” by U2.
While there are several variations of this chord, we’ll start by teaching you the basic version and then dive into some other variations towards the end.
How to play the D chord
Now, this chord isn’t the easiest for beginners to learn as it can feel uncomfortable to have your fingers placed like this. But don’t fret; we’ll also include some tips to get you started.
D Chord Finger Positions
Now we’ll look at how to position your fingers on the strings for the most common version of the D major chord:
● You place your index finger on the second fret of the G string (third string).
● Then, you take your middle finger and place it on the 2nd fret of the E string (first string).
● Last, you place your ring finger on the third fret of the B string (second string).
The positioning may feel uncomfortable at first, but with a bit of practice, you’ll soon be playing this chord confidently.
Once you’ve placed your fingers, make sure every string is pressed down with enough pressure. To help you learn this chord quickly, you can practice transitions from the G major chord or the A major chord to the D major chord.
How to Strum the D Chord
Before we jump in and strum the whole chord, let’s check that your fingers are placed where they need to be.
You want to start by strumming each string individually and making sure the sound rings out clearly. If it doesn’t, check the placement of your finger again. Make sure that the tip of your finger is centered on the string and that you are pressing the string down hard.
Now that you’ve strummed each chord and the sound is heard clearly, let’s move on to playing them altogether. When you strum this chord, you won’t strum the 5th or 6th string; you’ll only strum the 1st through 4th strings. The 4th string is considered an open string. So you’ll play it with the rest. You’ll want to strum softly on these strings while you learn where to place your fingers.
And that’s it! You’ve successfully strummed the D chord.
Simple practice exercise: strumming the D chord for four beats, then switching to the G or A major chords for four beats. Repeat until you are more confident playing the chords.
Beginner Tips and Tricks for Playing the D Chord
Let’s move on to some tips to make this chord easier for you and get you on your way to playing it.
- Tips for positioning your fingers: As you play and transition into this chord, visualize where your fingers should be placed. Practice makes perfect. This chord may feel very odd at first, but as your fingers adjust to playing, eventually, you’ll play this chord with ease. But make sure none of your fingers accidentally touch the 4th string, as this is an open string and will sound muted while you play.
- Finger pain or soreness and how to get through it: Sore fingers are something every guitar player is familiar with. Daily practice is the best way to conquer this. Your fingers will build calluses, making it easier to play for longer periods.
- Thumb positioning: Be sure to let your thumb rest on the neck. This will eventually build essential muscles in your hand. If your thumb wraps around enough to touch the E string, you can dampen the sound to avoid playing it while you strum.
- Creating a practice schedule: Consistency is key when it comes to learning chords. Having weekly or daily practice sessions will have you well on your way to playing new chords by heart.
D Chord Variations
The D chord comes with many different variations. We’ll cover some of these down below.
Common Types of D Major Chords
There are many popular types of D major chords. We showed you one of these above. Now let’s jump into another one down below.
● First, place your third finger on the 5th fret of the A string. (5th string)
● Next, put your second finger on the 4th fret of the D string. (4th string)
● Then, place your first finger on the 3rd fret of the B string. (2nd string)
● Leave the G and high E open and play from the A string below.
Because of the open strings on this chord, you’ll notice the sound and flow of it are almost “dreamy”. This chord will feel a little uncomfortable to play at first, but it will eventually feel natural.
The Most Common Barred D Chords
You can also play the D chord as a barre chords. This means that you’ll use only one finger to fret multiple strings, rather than using several fingers, like on an open chord.
The D-Bar Chord in the 5th Position:
● You first place your index finger on the 5th fret of the A string (5th string).
● Then, you place your ring finger on the 7th fret of the D string (4th string).
● Next, you use your ring finger on the 7th fret of the G string (3rd string).
● Last, you use your ring finger on the 7th fret of the B string (2nd string).
● First, you’ll place your index finger over the 10th fret. (Place it over ALL the strings!)
● Place your ring finger on the 12th fret of the A string. (5th string)
● Place your pinky finger on the 12th fret of the D string. (4th string)
● Place your middle finger on the 11th fret of the G string. (3rd string)
Because the structure of this barred chord is based on an E chord, it is referred to as the “E shape.”
D Chord Progression
Now that you’ve not only learned to play the D Major chord, but also several variations. Let’s jump into how you can use these in progressions:
These progressions are great for new learners to practice with. There are many more out there but these are perfect to get you started!