How to play

How to play the D major chord on guitar

Learn to play songs like "Free Fallin'" and "Sweet Home Alabama" with this essential chord.

The D major chord

The D chord, pronounced "D major," is a bright and cheerful chord that is widely used in popular music. It's a fairly easy chord to play on guitar, requiring only three fingers on the second, third, and first strings. The D chord is commonly found in folk, country, and rock songs, and it's a staple in many beginner guitar lessons.

There are many ways to play a chord. Here's a diagram for the most common D major chord. We've also included other versions below.

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Finger placement for D major chord

The most common way to play a D major chord on guitar is in the open position, with the index finger on the 2nd fret.

Follow these finger positions to play a D major chord on your guitar:

  1. Place your index finger on the 2nd fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  2. Place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 1st (E) string.
  3. Place your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the 2nd (B) string.

Strum the bottom four strings (D, G, B, and E) together to play the D major chord. Avoid playing the top two strings (low E and A) when strumming this chord.

How to play an easy D major chord on guitar

If you're a beginner looking to play a simpler version of the D major chord, try playing an open D chord. Place your index finger on the 2nd fret of the 3rd (G) string, your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the 1st (high E) string, and your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the 2nd (B) string. Strum only the top four strings.

How to play a D major bar chord

The D major barre chord is a great alternative to the open D chord, as it allows you to play the chord in different positions up and down the neck, giving you more versatility in your playing.

Here's how to play a D major barre chord:

  1. Place your index finger across all six strings at the 5th fret, forming a barre.
  2. Place your ring finger on the 7th fret of the 4th (D) string.
  3. Place your pinky finger on the 7th fret of the 3rd (G) string.
  4. Place your middle finger on the 6th fret of the 2nd (B) string.
  5. Strum all six strings from the 5th fret and down.

Common D major chord progressions

The D major chord is often used in progressions that evoke feelings of joy, triumph, and resolution. These progressions frequently appear in popular music across various genres. Some common D major chord progressions include:

  • I - V - vi - IV (D - A - Bm - G): Used in "Let It Be" by The Beatles and "No Woman, No Cry" by Bob Marley
  • I - IV - V (D - G - A): Used in "Twist and Shout" by The Beatles and "La Bamba" by Ritchie Valens
  • I - vi - IV - V (D - Bm - G - A): Used in "Stand By Me" by Ben E. King and "With or Without You" by U2
  • I - iii - IV - V (D - F#m - G - A): Used in "Unchained Melody" by The Righteous Brothers and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" by Elton John
  • I - V - IV - V (D - A - G - A): Used in "Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison and "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Drills to master the D major chord

Mastering the D major guitar chord is crucial for any aspiring guitarist. One effective drill is to strum the chord repeatedly, focusing on producing a clear and crisp sound. Start slowly and gradually increase your speed as you become more comfortable with the chord.

Another valuable exercise is to transition smoothly between the D chord and other common chords, such as A and G. Practice switching between these chords in various progressions, ensuring that each transition is seamless and precise. With consistent practice, you'll soon find yourself playing the D major chord with ease and confidence.

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Songs that feature the D major chord

Here are 10 popular songs you can play with the D major chord:

  1. Let It Be by The Beatles (D, G, A)
  2. Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd (D, C, G)
  3. Knockin' on Heaven's Door by Bob Dylan (G, D, Am)
  4. Stand By Me by Ben E. King (A, F#m, D, E)
  5. Free Fallin' by Tom Petty (D, G, A, Asus4)
  6. Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival (D, A, G)
  7. Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus (A, E, D)
  8. The Joker by Steve Miller Band (G, C, D)
  9. Peaceful Easy Feeling by Eagles (E, D, A)
  10. Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett (D, G, A)

How a guitar teacher can help

If you feel stuck in your playing, it might help to take personalized guitar lessons with an expert guitarist. Taking lessons with a pro gives you access to the skills, feedback, and motivation to reach your goals.

You can find expert guitar teachers to support you in the journey. Thousands of people have turned to online guitar lessons on Til, instead of traditional in-person lessons, because Til gives you access to the best teachers in the world from the comfort of home. And with flexible scheduling, secure payments, lesson recordings, and a private chat with your teacher–there’s never been a better way to learn guitar.

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