The D chord on the guitar has several different variations that a good guitarist should be aware of. I’ll go through them all here in as much detail as necessary, while making sure that you get to the fretboard quickly.
The first thing to keep in mind is that in a standard tuning the third string played open (without a fret pressed down) is your “open D”. Keep that in mind going forward.
The D Chord
The term “D Chord” simply means that you’re playing a chord in the key of D, having a D as the root note.
This means that there are a number of D chords, some of which are more typical than others. A more modern pop/rock guitarist will see certain variations of the D chord more than others, so those are the ones I want to focus on.
1. Simplified Major Chord
This is the most typical form of a D that you will play. Make sure you mute the 6th string, as it’s omission actually makes for a cleaner sounding chord. The top two strings are muted as well.
2. Tenth Fret Form Power Chord
It’s a barre chord, but it’s more useful than many of the other D chord variations you’ll find. Very simple and also typically utilized, especially in the realm of hard rock. Mute the four high strings.
You might be familiar with this already, but if not, no worries. It’s just one extra note added to the simplified D Major.
4. Open Drop D
This might be a little strange, but if you want to get into rock and roll, you’ve got to get cozy with the drop D tuning and be able to switch back and forth between drop D and a standard tuning pretty quickly. For a tutorial on the tuning itself (if you’re not already familiar with it), you can check out this quick write-up on the drop-D tuning.
The chord itself is wonderfully simple and you have two different options. I’ll just call these options, “full” and “heavy”.
The full version of the open drop D chord is the following diagram. The top five strings are all incorporated, basically adding the low A and low D to a simplified D major chord:
The heavy version is worth noting because of its thick low end sound and ease of playing. The only difference? Just the top three open strings.
None of this is difficult, it just helps to know what to do and what’s important. Of course there are many other more complex chords, which will be covered in future lessons, but for now (and for a lot of what you’ll play on the guitar in the future), these are staples that you need to be aware of.