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

The D flat minor chord is enharmonically the same as the C sharp minor chord. Db minor is an interesting chord. It is the relative minor of F flat. Because Fb is a rarely used key, Dbm is not super common.

The Dbm chord contains an F flat note (same note as E), so it can technically be played as an open chord (see the first shape in the image below). However, it is more often played as a bar chord.

Some Quick Dbm Chord Theory

  • The Db minor chord contains the notes Db, Fb and Ab.
  • The Db minor chord is produced by playing the 1st (root), flat 3rd and 5th notes of the Db Major scale.
  • The Db minor chord (just like all minor chords) contains the following intervals (from the root note): minor 3rd, Major 3rd, Perfect 4th (back to the root note).
  • Db minor is the relative minor of Fb Major.
  • Db minor is the first chord in the key of D flat minor. The seven chords in the key of Db minor are: Dbm, Eb diminished, Fb, Gbm, Ab, Bbb, C diminished

10 Ways To Play The Db Minor Chord

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

Db Minor Chord - 10 Shapes

Standard Dbm Chord Shape

The most common way to play the Dbm chord is by playing the root-5 minor chord, starting on the fourth fret. Most guitarist are familiar with the Bm chord, starting in the second fret, as this is one of the first barre chords that guitarist usually play. The Dbm chord is the same shape as the Bm barre chord (root-5), but up two frets.

Db Minor Chord Guitar

Easy Dbm Chord Shape

The ‘easy’ or ‘mini’ version of the D flat minor chord is achieved by playing the fourth fret, fifth fret and sixth fret, on the first string, second string and third string respectively. This is essentially the first three strings of the more common barre chord (pictured above). Playing the easy version of the chord can be a good way to start using Dbm, if you find the barre chord version a little difficult.

Easy Db Minor Chord Guitar

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

  • Place your first finger on the fourth fret of the fifth string and barre the first five strings.
  • Place your third finger on the sixth fret of the fourth string.
  • Place your fourth finger on the sixth fret of the third string.
  • Place your second finger on the fifth fret of the second string.
  • Strum the first five strings.

The instructions above are step by step instructions for playing the common Db minor chord shape. Forming the chord through step by step instructions is a great way of ensuring that you are interpreting the chord diagram correctly.

Db Minor Barre Chord Shapes

The Dbm 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:

Dbm Barre Chord

Db Minor Triads

Playing triads is a great way of exploring the minor chord and the guitar fretboard more generally. By arranging the notes of the chord systematically using permutations (root position, first inversion, second inversion), interesting and unique shapes and voicings are created. The three different voicings for the D flat minor triad are:

  • Db minor Triad (Root Position) – Db, Fb, Ab
  • Db minor Triad (1st Inversion) – Fb, Ab, Db
  • Db minor Triad (2nd Inversion) – Ab, Db, Fb

By playing these triads on two different groups of three strings, we can produce six different shapes.

Db Minor Triad

Which Keys Have The Dbm chord in Them?

The Dbm chord can be found in the following keys:

  • The key of Db minor (Dbm, Ebdim, Fb, Gbm, Abm, Bbb, Cb)
  • The key of Gb minor (Gbm, Abdim, Bbb, Cb, Dbm, Ebb, Fb)
  • The key of Ab minor (Abm, Bbdim, Cb, Dbm, Ebm, Fb, Gb)

Alternative But Useful Dbm Chord Shapes

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

Alternative Db Minor Chords Guitar

Dbm Chord Substitutions

Most Db minor chords with extensions can be used as a substitute for the Db minor chord. For example, Dbm9, Dbm11 and Dbm6 can often be used to add colour and emotion to the Db minor chord.

The Dbm7 chord is quite often used interchangeably with the Dbm chord.

For more interesting substitutions, playing variations of the E chord (which is the relative Major of D flat minor), such as E6, E69, Emaj9 etc. can be used effectively as a substitute for the Db minor chord. It should be noted that technically, the relative Major of D flat minor is Fb, but Fb is rarely used, and is enharmonically the same as E, so it makes more sense to simply refer to the key as E Major.

Which Scales Can Be Played Over the Db Minor Chord?

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

  • Db natural minor scale – This scale (also called Db aeolian) is the most commonly used scale for this chord.
  • Db minor pentatonic scale – This is probably the easiest scale to learn and get started on when improvising over the Db minor chord.
  • Db minor blues scale – This scale can be used over the Dbm chord to add a Blues flavour. 
  • Db dorian mode – This scale can be used to add a slightly brighter sound to the Db minor chord.
  • Db phrygian mode – This scale can be used to add a darker sound to the D flat minor chord.

Further Reading

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