How to Play a D Major Chord on Guitar


    D Major Chord: Introduction

    D Major is one of the four most common guitar chords. It’s also one of the easiest chords to learn, as a guitarist only needs to use three fingers to play it.

    You’ll find D Major chords in a wide array of songs and genres including rock, country, pop, blues, gospel, and more.

    What songs use a D Major chord?

    Some songs that use a D Major chord in its various shapes include:

    What notes are in a D Major chord?

    A D Major chord is a basic triad made up of three notes: D, F#, and A. When you play a D Major chord in open position (the most common way of playing it, at the top of the fretboard), you’ll play the following notes, from top to bottom:

    A, D, A, D, F#

    There are only five notes since the top string isn’t typically fretted or strummed.

    How to play a D Major chord on guitar (variations)

    There are several common ways to play a D Major chord on guitar. Let’s look at the chord diagrams for these variations.

    D Major Chord: Open

    D Major guitar chord diagram open position

    It’s easy to play a D Major. Simply fret the second-fret high E string with your middle finger. Use your pointer finger to press down the second-fret G string, and your ring finger for the third fret B string.

    Alternatively, you can barre the bottom three strings of the second fret; your ring finger still frets the third-fret B string.

    D/F# Chord: Open

    D/F# Chord

    For a fuller sound, you can play the same chord shown above, but use the bass string rather than omit it. The easiest way to do this is to use your thumb to fret the second-fret low E string (this creates a pitch of F#).

    Since this chord features an F# in the bass, this chord is sometimes referred to as D/F# (pronounced “D over F sharp“), but it’s technically just a variation of the D Major chord.

    D Major Chord: A-Shape Barre

    D Major 5th Fret Barre Chord A-Shape

    Alternatively, you can play D Major as an A-shape barre chord. To do this, barre the entire fifth fret with your index finger and use your third, fourth, and pinky fingers to fret the 7th-fret D, G, and B strings, respectively.

    For an easier shape that sounds virtually the same (the bottom string is the only one affected), try a double barre shape, barring the 5th fret with your index finger and the seventh fret up the D string with your ring finger.

    Another modification that some guitarists find easier is a thumb-barre: use your thumb to fret the top two strings of the fifth fret. This allows for greater flexibility, since your index finger only has to cover one string (high E).

    D Major Chord: E-Shape Barre

    D Major E-Shape barre chord diagram

    Lastly, D Major can be played as an E-shape barre chord. To play this, barre the entire 10th fret. Fret the 11th-fret G string with your middle finger, and the 12th-fret A and D strings with your ring and pinky fingers.

    As with the previous chord shape, use a thumb-barre at your discretion if you find it to be easier than a full index-finger barre chord.