How to Play The D Chord On The Guitar ( With Alternative Technique )

D-major chord

The D chord is an extremely useful chord that sounds great, and it’s probably one of the easiest chord for beginners to play. But don’t panic if you are having some issues with this chord. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I had the worst nightmares with this chord, too. It took me a while to get the dexterity and strength to keep my fingers in the correct shape.

If you are willing to put some effort and time into practicing this chord, you will become its master before you even know it.


First things first, so take a good look at how this chord looks like.

D-major chord

As you can see above, the chord uses only 3 fingers. And for our purposes, we are going to be using the index, middle, and ring fingers. Obviously, this is the easiest way.  However, as you continue reading,  I will be showing you a different way to play the D-major, or one that sounds just like it.

Depending on your level and finger strength and flexibility, the ‘alternative’ chord may be harder or easier than the actual one. But we’ll get to that later.

The D-major chord.

  • Let’s start out by placing your middle finger on the second fret of the high E string or the first string.
  • Then, place your ring finger on the third fret on the second string. Hold that one right there, we’re almost done.
  • Lastly, press the second fret of the third string.

When you get those steps managed, go ahead and strum those strings, leaving the low E and A out. A heavenly sound, huh?

Oh, and REMEMBER, on the tips of your fingers, please. Always keep that in mind. I mean, always. I’m pretty sure no one likes to hear that ugly, muted noise that results from making this simple and silly mistake.

Now, if your chord still doesn’t sound right, go back to your finger positioning and check if they are positioned correctly. Also, play each string individually to see if any of them is muted. You won’t master this string instantly, so don’t worry if you are not getting it right now. It’s a natural process of transitioning into a great guitarist.

What is the alternative chord of which you have spoken about?

A D-major alternative you might want to try is the D-major barre chord. Yeah not much of a “name” difference and sound, but the chord pattern itself is entirely different. Again, this one might be easier or harder. But it never hurts to try, right?

D-major barre chord

After taking a look at this chord, let us apply what it’s showing us.

The D-major barre chord

  • First off, cover the first 5 strings of the 5th fret. Make sure you’re not leaving any of the 5 strings out.
  • Next, barre the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th strings of the 7th fret. Don’t worry if you can’t help but cover the first string, too. We won’t be even using it. This is good news for you, but, at least, try not to include it. This, in the long run, will give a better finger flexibility.

Last but not least, strum! Leave the high E out, though. Tell me, how does it sound? Exactly the same, right? Now, if you still haven’t reached the ‘barre’ technique, this alternative may be a bit difficult. But it doesn’t hurt to practice it, too. It will be very useful in your future lessons.

Something even… easier?

Sure there is. It may not be super fancy, but you can try pressing just the 3rd fret of the second string  (B string). From there, walk your way to the full D-major chord (or D chord). When you start feeling comfortable pressing just the 3rd fret, add the 2nd fret of the first string to the shape, and finally the 2nd fret of the 3rd string. The process will be slower, but it will get you there, anyway. And that’s the point.

Just don’t get discouraged. Everybody is different, so see what works best for you and that will do.


Happy playin’!

Don’t  forget to keep us up to date with your progress!

See Also: Playing The Infamous C-major Chord On The Guitar

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