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

The Db Major chord is one of the most common and popular chords on the guitar. None of the notes in the Db chord can be played on the open strings of the guitar, so bar chords are the most common way of playing the chord.

Some Quick D Flat Chord Theory

  • The Db Major chord contains the notes Db, F and Ab.
  • The Db Major chord is produced by playing the 1st (root), 3rd and 5th notes of the Db Major scale.
  • The Db 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).
  • In the key of Db, the following chords will compliment the Db chord: Db, Ebm, Fm, Gb, Ab, Bbm, C diminished.

10 Ways To Play The Db Major Chord

If you’ve come to this page just to view some chord diagrams for Db, here they are.

Db Major Chord - 10 Shapes

Standard Db Chord Shape

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

Db Chord Guitar

Easy Db Chord Shape

The easy version of the Db chord is played on the first three strings of the guitar. Learning this simplified shape can be a good way to start using the Db 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 down one fret.

Easy Db Chord Guitar

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

  • Place your first finger on the fourth fret of the fifth string.
  • Place your second finger on the sixth fret of the fourth string.
  • Place your third finger on the sixth fret of the third string.
  • Place your fourth finger on the sixth 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 Db Major chord shape. These instructions can actually be super helpful when you feel like you’re interpreting the shape incorrectly. By going through the Db chord instructions step by step, you can verify that you’re playing the chord correctly.

Barre Chord Shapes for D Flat

The Db chord can be played as a barre chord by playing a root 6 barre chord shape and starting on the 9th fret or by playing a root 5 barre chord Major shape and starting on the 4th fret:

Db Barre Chord Guitar

Db Major Triads

Playing the Db 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 flat Major triad can be voiced in the following three ways:

  • Db Major Triad (Root Position) – Db, F, Ab
  • Db Major Triad (1st Inversion) – F, Ab, Db
  • Db Major Triad (2nd Inversion) – Ab, Db, F

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

Db Major Triad Guitar

Which Keys Have The Db chord in Them?

The Db chord can be found in the following keys:

  • The key of Db Major (Db, Ebm, Fm, Gb, Ab, Bbm, Cdim)
  • The key of Ab Major (Ab, Bbm, Cm, Db, Eb, Fm, Gdim)
  • The key of Gb Major (Gb, Abm, Bbm, Cb, Db, Ebm, Fdim)
  • The key of Bb minor (Bbm, Cdim, Db, Ebm, Fm, Gb, Ab)
  • The key of F minor (Fm, Gdim, Ab, Bbm, Cm, Db, Eb)
  • The key of Eb minor (Ebm, Fdim, Gb, Abm, Bbm, Cb, Db)

Alternative But Useful D Flat Chord Shapes

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

Alternative Db Chord Shapes Guitar

Db Chord Substitutions

The Db chord can often be substituted with the Db sus 4 chord, the Db sus 2 chord and the Db add 9 chord. The Db chord can also be used itself as a substitute for more complicated chords, such as the Db Major 7 chord, the Db7 chord, and other extension chords which have Db as the root note (it can’t be used in place of minor chords though!).

Which Scales Can Be Played Over the Db chord?

The most common and effective scales that can be used to solo/improvise over the Db Major chord, or to create melodies for the purposes of song writing are:

  • Db Major pentatonic scale – This scale will almost always work over the Db Major chord, in any context.
  • Db Major scale – This is the ‘default scale’ of the Db chord.
  • Db Lydian mode – This scale can be used over the Db chord in certain contexts to add a jazz flavour.
  • Db Major Blues – This scale is particularly useful in a Blues context.

Further Reading

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