The D major guitar chord is a critical chord to master. You will make use of this specific chord in many songs, so perfecting it is vital if you'd like to play songs on the instrument.
In this post, I will teach you a few ways to learn the D major chord in case you're a new guitar student. You'll also discover tougher variations of the D major guitar chord towards the end of the post, along with the barre chord version.
We will start out with some simple music theory relating to the D major guitar chord.
Chords consist of three musical notes, implying you need to play 3 notes in order to make the D major chord. These notes are derived from the D major scale.
You will find several chord charts in this lesson. The numbers on the dots will show you which finger goes where:
- The 1st finger is your index finger
- The 2nd finger will be the middle finger
- The 3rd finger is your ring finger
- The 4th finger is your little finger
If you are not acquainted with reading chord charts as of yet, learn about them first.
How To hold down the D major chord on guitar
Here are several ways to play the D major chord on the guitar.
Quick tip: an easy way to learn a new guitar chord is to use the chord-on/chord-off system. You just need to play the chord, strum the strings, release, and start over.
Play each variation loads, and you will definitely master all of them very soon.
Simplest D major chord for beginner guitar players
This is the simplest way to form the D major guitar chord. It seems odd at first, but this finger position is actually a very natural way to hold the fingers. You should be able to play this chord shape in no time at all.
Very simple D major chord fingering
Here's how to play the D major chord:
- The D string will be played open (D is the root note after all)
- Place your 1st finger on string G at fret 2.
- Your 2nd finger goes to the high E string at fret 2
- And finally, your 3rd finger frets string B at fret 3.
Now pick each string in the chord, making certain that all of the notes are ringing cleanly.
Good job, you played a D major chord! This is the most commonly used chord fingering of the D major guitar chord.
Anytime you hear someone exclaim "Play the D major chord", this is almost certainly the fingering that they are referring to.
D major chord lower sounding alternate
This alternative of the D major chord is slightly harder, but it sounds far nicer. If you're able to form the easy voicing above, you may want to begin discovering this particular version as well.
D major chord alternate fingering
Here is how to hold down the full version of the D major chord:
- Put your first finger on string D at fret 7.
- Put the second finger on string A on fret 9.
- Now your third finger goes onto string E on fret 10.
- The other strings are not played.
Pluck each string in the chord and ensure that all of the notes are ringing cleanly.
This is a much lower sounding voicing of the D major, you can use it in heavy metal or rock songs.
D chord variation
Here is another voicing of the D major chord, this is a common one as well. It is actually derived from the barre chord shape, which you will learn a bit lower in the article.
D chord alternate voicing
Below are the finger positions to this variation of the D major.
- Place your index finger on string B at fret 10.
- Place the middle finger on string G at fret 11.
- Your ring finger will go to string D on fret 12.
- Strings E, A, and E are not played with this chord shape, you have to either mute them or not pluck them at all.
Now pluck each string in the chord and make certain the chord rings out clearly.
At this point you know 3 different ways to play the D major, well done!
More versions of the D major guitar chord
There are actually countless voicings of this chord, you have already taught yourself the most popular variants.
Below are the chord charts to numerous other versions of the D major chord.
When will you use which? It will depend on a couple of things:
- You normally opt for a voicing which is close to where you are on the guitar fretboard already.
- The style of music might also affect the place where you form the chord. To illustrate, you play lower pitch versions in heavy metal and rock, whereas in funk music, you play higher ones.
Video guitar lesson for beginners on the D major chord
Seeing that music is an audible art, here's a terrific YouTube guitar tutorial on precisely how to finger the D major chord.
Take note of the guitar teacher's fingers and wrist position.
The D major barre chord
Barre chords are hard, so if you have just started learning guitar, stay with the simpler and easier variations for the time being.
If you have been playing for a while already and want to learn the right way to hold down the barre chord variation of the D major, here you go.
We can start off with the D major's E shape barre chord voicing, rooting on the 6th string.
This is the way to play the D major barre chord rooting on the low E string:
- Lay your 1st finger over every string at fret 10.
- Now go ahead and line up the rest of your fingers to form an E shape barre chord. This starts with placing your middle finger on string G at fret 11.
- Your 3rd finger moves to fret 12 on the A string.
- And lastly your pinky on fret 12 on the D string.
And as always, strum the chord, and make certain the chord is ringing clearly. You don't want to hear any muted notes or buzzing strings.
Bar chords are difficult, you must practice them often.
Another popular version of the D major chord makes use of the A shape barre chord.
This is the way to fret the D major barre chord rooting on the 5th string:
- First, use your index finger to form a barre over strings 1-5 at fret 5.
- Now go ahead and arrange your other fingers to fret a regular A shape barre chord by placing your 3rd finger onto fret 7 on strings D, G, and B.
- The low E string is not played, it's best to mute it with the tip of your index finger.
Now strum the chord and ensure the chord is ringing clearly. As I said, barre chords are hard. You shouldn't expect to learn them too quickly.
Practice regularly and you'll be able to play the D major barre chord very soon.