D# Chord on the Guitar (D Sharp Major) – 10 Ways to Play (and Some Tips/Theory)

The D# chord (D sharp Major) is enharmonically the same as the Eb Major chord. The Eb chord gets referred to more often than the D# sharp chord, partly because the notes in the key of D# are a bit confusing. For example, the D# chord contains the notes D#, Fx (F double sharp) and A#.

The Fx in the D# chord is the same as the note G. Since G can be played as an open string on the guitar, it might seem like the chord itself could be played as an open chord. However, there are no practical or useful ways of playing D# as an open chord. Instead, the most common way to play D# is as a root 5 bar chord, starting on the 6th fret.

Some Quick D# Chord Theory

  • The D# Major chord contains the notes D#, Fx and A#.
  • The D# chord is produced by playing the 1st (root), 3rd and 5th notes of the D# Major scale.
  • The D# 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# chord is the first chord in the key of D# Major. The seven chords in the key of D# Major are: D#, E#m, Fxm, G#, A#, B#m, Cx 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.

D# Major Chord - 10 Shapes

Standard D# Chord Shape

The most common way to play the D# chord essentially the root-5 D# barre chord, played on the first fret. Often, as in the example below, the first finger does not actually form a barre, but instead simply plays the root note.

D Sharp Chord Guitar

Easy D# Chord Shape

The easy version of the D# chord is played on the first three strings of the guitar. Learning this simplified shape can be a good way to start using the D# chord if you find the barre chord versions too challenging. It is the same shape as the standard open D chord shape (without the open string) and moved up one fret.

Easy D Sharp Chord Guitar

How to Play the D Sharp Major Chord (Step by Step)

  • Place your first finger on the sixth fret of the fifth string.
  • Place your second finger on the eighth fret of the fourth string.
  • Place your third finger on the eighth fret of the third string.
  • Place your fourth finger on the eighth fret of the second string.
  • Without strumming the sixth string, strum the first five strings.

The instructions above are step by step instructions for playing the most common D# Major chord shape. 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 Sharp

The D# chord can be played as a barre chord by playing a root 6 barre chord shape and starting on the 11th fret or by playing a root 5 barre chord Major shape and starting on the 6th fret:

D Sharp Barre Chord Guitar

D# Major Triads

Playing the D# chord using barre chord shapes is the most common way of playing the chord. However, it is also useful to explore the chord using triads (including inversions). The D sharp Major triad can be voiced in the following three ways:

  • D# Major Triad (Root Position) – D#, Fx, A#
  • D# Major Triad (1st Inversion) – Fx, A#, D#
  • D# Major Triad (2nd Inversion) – A#, D#, Fx

Here are six different ways to play the D# Major triad (including inversions).

D Sharp Major Triad Guitar

Which Keys Have The D# chord in Them?

The D# chord can be found in the following keys:

  • The key of D# Major (D#, E#m, Fxm, G#, A#, B#, Cxdim)
  • The key of A# Major (A#, B#m, Cxm, D#, E#, Fxm, Gxdim)
  • The key of G# Major (G#, A#m, B#m, C#, D#, E#m, Fxdim)

Alternative But Useful D Sharp Chord Shapes

The following shapes are alternative ways of playing the D sharp Major chord shape. They’re not the most common D# shapes, but used enough to include here as interesting alternatives.

Alternative D Sharp Chord Shapes Guitar

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 D#7 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.

Further Reading

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