The D Major chord is one of the most common and popular chords on the guitar. The open D chord is one of the first chords that most guitarists learn, and it has been used in countless songs across many genres.
Some Quick D Chord Theory
- The D Major chord contains the notes D, F# and A.
- The D Major chord is produced by playing the 1st (root), 3rd and 5th notes of the D Major scale.
- The D Major chord (just like all Major chords) contains the following intervals (from the root note): Major 3rd, minor 3rd, Perfect 4th (back to the root note).
- The D Major chord is the first chord in the key of D Major. The seven chords in the key of D Major are: D, Em, F#, G, A, Bm, C# diminished.
10 Ways To Play The D Major Chord
If you’ve come to this page just to view some chord diagrams for D, here they are.
Easy D Chord Shape (Open D)
The easiest version of the D chord is the commonly played open D chord:
How to Play the D Major Chord (Step by Step)
- Place your first finger on the second fret of the third string
- Place your third finger on the third fret of the second string
- Place your second finger on the second fret of the first string
- Strum the first four strings of the guitar, without hitting the sixth string or the fifth string
The instructions above are step by step instructions for playing the most common D Major chord shape, which is the open chord D. These instructions can actually be super helpful when you feel like you’re interpreting the shape incorrectly. By going through the D chord instructions step by step, you can verify that you’re playing the chord correctly.
Barre Chord Shapes for D
The D chord can be played as a barre chord by playing a root 6 barre chord shape and starting on the 10th fret or by playing a root 5 barre chord Major shape and starting on the 5th fret:
D Major Triads
Most of the time, when we play the D chord, we play the standard shapes, such as the open position D and the barre chord shapes. However, learning the strict root position and inverted triads is a great way of exploring subtle and interesting variations that exist across the fretboard. The D Major triad can be voiced in the following three ways:
- D Major Triad (Root Position) – D, F#, A
- D Major Triad (1st Inversion) – F#, A, D
- D Major Triad (2nd Inversion) – A, D, F#
Here are six different ways to play the D Major triad (including inversions).
Which Keys Have The D chord in Them?
The D chord can be found in the following keys:
- The key of D Major (D, Em, F#m, G, A, Bm, C#dim)
- The key of A Major (A, Bm, C#m, D, E, F#m, G#dim)
- The key of G Major (G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em, F#dim)
- The key of B minor (Bm, C#dim, D, Em, F#m, G, A)
- The key of F# minor (F#m, G#dim, A, Bm, C#m, D, E)
- The key of E minor (Em, F#dim, G, Am, Bm, C, D)
Alternative But Useful D Chord Shapes
The following shapes are alternative ways of playing the D Major chord shape. They’re not the most common D shapes, but used enough to include here as interesting alternatives.
D Chord Substitutions
The D chord can often be substituted with the D sus 4 chord, the D sus 2 chord and the D add 9 chord. The D chord can also be used itself as a substitute for more complicated chords, such as the D Major 7 chord, the D7 chord, and other extension chords which have D as the root note (it can’t be used in place of minor chords though!).
Which Scales Can Be Played Over the D chord?
The most common and effective scales that can be used to solo/improvise over the D Major chord, or to create melodies for the purposes of song writing are:
- D Major pentatonic scale – This scale will almost always work over the D Major chord, in any context.
- D Major scale – This is the ‘default scale’ of the D chord.
- D Lydian mode – This scale can be used over the D chord in certain contexts to add a jazz flavour.
- D Major Blues – This scale is particularly useful in a Blues context.