D Guitar Chord: How to Play It Properly for Beginners

how to play d guitar chord

The D guitar chord is one of the easiest sets of notes that any beginner guitarist can learn. It is as easy as the other three-finger foundational guitar chords, such as the A major, C major, E major, and G major. It would be challenging for a beginning guitarist to play The Trogg’s Wild Thing, Demi Lovato’s Let It Go, or Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA without the D major chord. While the shape is simple, it would still be best if you learned how to play it properly. 

The Basic Shape of the D Major Chord

The D major is every beginner guitarist’s must-learn guitar chord. It is one of five guitar chords that form the foundation for playing the string instrument effectively. Learn it well along with the four other foundational guitar chords, and you can play almost any song on the book.

The D chord shape follows a classic triangle pattern, with the base near the nut and the apex or arrowhead pointing towards the guitar body. 

To form the D chord on your guitar, you need to place your index finger on the 3rd string on the 2nd fret. Your digit forms one of the bases for the chord. Next, press your middle digit over the 1st string, also on the second fret to complete the two-point base for the triangle.

Move your ring digit over the 3rd fret and press on the 2nd string to form the apex of the triangle.

You now have the basic D major chord shape. Three strings. Three points. Two frets. 

Potential Issues for Beginner Guitarists and How to Manage Them

This set of notes only requires three fingers – your index, middle, and ring fingers. While it sounds simple enough, some folks may consider it challenging to cluster all three fingers in a small section of the fretboard. As Fender acknowledged, this shape can be challenging for absolute beginners

You see, this guitar chord is unlike others that often have plenty of space between individual notes or points. Some newbie guitarists may have issues shaping their fingers to form the triangle. 

People with stubby fingers often find it demanding to press three strings tightly-packed in a square-inch or so of space. It can also be a real issue if your guitar has a small or narrow neck. 

Strumming only the four upper strings can also be a problem for first-time guitar players.

When we say ‘upper’, we mean the 1st to 4th strings starting from the fretboard’s lower edge. The term ‘upper’ here refers to the notes that the strings produce. The thick strings located high on the fretboard produce low notes. 

Beginning guitarists may find it difficult to land their fingers on the 4th string and continue towards the 1st or bottom string. They can create a different sound if they also hit either the 5th or 6th string on the downstroke.

The good news is that you can always practice. Some beginners can take a few weeks to master the D guitar chord stroke. Others may accomplish it in one session. 

What you can do is to do some finger exercises to make your digits more nimble. You might also want to play the G major and A major chords because they form the most common chord progression today. For example, you can strum four beats of the D chord and follow it up with four beats of the A or G chord. 

Repeating the cycle many times should help your fingers familiarize themselves with the shape of the D chord. 

Two-Finger D Chord Alternative

Constant practice will let you master the D chord on your guitar. If you are itching to play a song that has a D major chord, you might want to use a two-finger alternative.

The National Guitar Academy says newbies can use the Dsus2 chord shape to mimic the D major sound. 

Interestingly, this chord form looks a lot like the original D guitar chord. The difference? The Dsus2 chord does not have a second point to form the base. Technically, you will remove your middle finger from the 1st string on the 2nd fret, leaving only your ring digit on the 3rd fret’s 2nd string and your index finger on the 2nd fret’s 3rd string.

Playing this D chord form alternative is similar to the original. You strum from the 4th string until you get to the 1st string. Avoid hitting the 5th or 6th string as it produces an odd sound.

Many guitar instructors consider this D chord version as an invaluable accelerator. It allows newbie guitarists to become comfortable with the chord’s unique hand shape while building finger dexterity. It should be easy to add another finger after mastering this two-finger approach.

One-Finger Super Easy D Chord

This technique may sound absurd, but it sure can be helpful for some people. The one-finger D chord is perfect for young children and adults who may have finger deformities or other health conditions. 

The shape does not produce the classic D major chord sound. However, it should still provide a distinct tone that is almost similar to the original. 

Like the original and two-finger versions, this super easy D chord requires strumming four strings from the 4th to the 1st

The D Barre Chord for the Advanced Beginner

Suppose you are already a master of the D chord and you want to elevate your guitar-playing to a new level. This D chord alternative should provide you with the flexibility to play different chords along the fretboard. It is also an exciting form for performing guitar slides.

To play the D chord barre form, you need to position your index digit on the 5th fret’s 5th string. You will also extend your ring finger to cover the strings 2, 3, and 4 on the 7th fret. 

There are only two fingers in this shape, which should make it easy. What is tricky is getting your ring finger to cover three strings at once. You can cover the 1st string but you should always mute this. You also mute the 6th string. 

It is easy for beginners to learn how to play the D chord. You can start with the one-finger method before progressing to the two-finger style. Once you develop finger dexterity and strength, it should already be easy to play the D guitar chord. 

Also Read: Best Acoustic Guitars: Top Reviews & Buying Guide


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.