8. Intro to Open Chords – D Major (BC-102)

D:1[D Major]

Chord Spelling: D – F# – A
Scale Intervals: 1 – 3 – 5
Name Variations: D – D Major – Dmaj

The D Major chord is made up of the notes D, F# and A. The chord diagram shows the D Major chord in the open position (again, near the guitar nut) and uses the top four strings on the guitar; the fifth (A) and sixth (low E) strings are not played.

To fret the chord, place your index finger on the second fret of the G string to fret the A (in orange). Counting up two frets from the open G (G#, A) helps us to work out this is an A. Again, the grey notes are to illustrate counting up from the open string to the fretted note, and are not included in the chord.

fretboard option width=825 option height=240 show fret=1 string=3 text=G# fill-color=#cccccc show fret=2 string=3 text=A fill-color=#dd9933

Next, place your ring finger on the third fret of the B string to play the D note. Again, counting up three frets from the open B (C, C#, D) string tells us this is a D.

fretboard option width=825 option height=240 show fret=2 string=3 text=A fill-color=#dd9933 show fret=1 string=2 text=C fill-color=#cccccc show fret=2 string=2 text=C# fill-color=#cccccc show fret=3 string=2 text=D fill-color=#dd9933

Finally, count up two frets from the top E string (F, F#) and place your middle finger on the second fret to play the F# note:

fretboard option width=825 option height=240 show fret=2 string=3 text=A fill-color=#dd9933 show fret=3 string=2 text=D fill-color=#dd9933 show fret=1 string=1 text=F fill-color=#cccccc show fret=2 string=1 text=F# fill-color=#dd9933

The D major chord also has an open string (the D string), so the final chord looks as follows on our fretboard diagram:

fretboard option width=825 option height=240 show fret=0 string=6 text=X fill-color=#000000 show fret=0 string=5 text=X fill-color=#000000 show fret=0 string=4 text=D fill-color=#dd9933 show fret=2 string=3 text=A fill-color=#dd9933 show fret=3 string=2 text=D fill-color=#dd9933 show fret=2 string=1 text=F# fill-color=#dd9933

You may notice that there are two D notes in this chord – it is quite common for notes to feature more than once, especially with open chords. In this case we have the open D string and the D note on the B string. If you play the open D string, then the D note on the second string, you will notice the open D sounds lower in pitch than the one on the second string. They are the same note, but they are an octave apart, so one will sound higher than the other. You don’t need to worry about octaves at the moment – we will cover these later in the course.

The image below shows how to fret the D Major chord. Note this time that the thumb is resting on the back of the fretboard rather than pressing on it. Depending on how comfortable you feel with the chord, you may try experimenting with shifting your thumb position to give you more leverage when fretting the chord.  Now, to strum the chord, place your pick next to the D string (remember we do not play the low E and A strings) and strum the top four strings. Again, if there something doesn’t sound right, ensure you are properly pressing the strings and you are not accidentally touching the open D string with your fingers.

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