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The Best Way to Play the Open D Major Chord

Updated on September 14, 2011

The open D Major chord seems to be the most confusing for Beginners on guitar. I'm convinced it has something to do with its triangular shape (note-wise on the fretboard). And let's not even mention D7. But that's more of a neurological topic, although it's certainly interesting. Practical hub that this is, let's get started on playing the thing--open D Major, that is.

Open D Major chord, Step 1
Open D Major chord, Step 1
...Step 2.
...Step 2.

The Play-by-Play

The first move a player needs to make towards the formation and eventual acquisition of open D Major is the placement of one's first finger on the 2nd fret of the G string. This is the note A.

Next--and I think the confusion, if any, starts here--put your THIRD finger on the 3rd fret of the B string, resulting in the note D.

Finally, the SECOND finger must be placed on the 2nd fret on the high E string. This is F# (F sharp)...and you're done. Just don't nudge the open D string with your first finger; it needs to be arched (perpendicular or near perp to the fretboard). Also, strum the chord from the A string to the high E, omitting the low E.

Please Read This:

Having been a guitar instructor for quite some time, I have encountered the following regarding the open D Major chord which, of necessity, needs to be shared, and with warning:

There are those students, who, having been predisposed to a stubborn and rebellious disposition, argue that the better method of finger placement for the open D Major chord is to put one's second finger on the A note (2nd fret, G string), mandating that one's first finger go to the F# (2nd fret of the high E). They are in agreement with me, their humble instructor, as to the placement of the third finger on D (3rd fret, B string) simply because physical limitations dictate that such placement is the sole position available for that digit.

Now, in my patient countering of such fellows, I endeavor to show that such a placement--as previously described--while seeming to be effective in open position, will certainly prove disastrous in any other positions as this 'fingering shape' is moved 'upstream' (ie.: towards the Bridge of the instrument). But, as rebelliousness is often short-sighted, such fellows typically stare blankly at such logic, wondering perhaps why I have attempted to stifle their genius. Perhaps it would be in their best interest--and mine--if I were to present the ill-fated course first, leaving them to 'discover' the correct way to play this simple, yet hotly debated, chord.

In other words, stick to the traditional fingering. It's good for you.

Brief Theoretical Considerations

The notes of any D Major chord are D F# and A. The notes of this particular chord--open D--are, from A to high E: A D A D F#.

By the way, go here if you'd like your D chord to have an F# in the bass. By the way, let me know how quickly you acquired open D.


Take The Open D Major Chord Quiz

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      Miah Moore 3 years ago

      This was really helpful. I've been teaching myself guitar for about 3 weeks now (with the exception of a 25 minute 'lesson' from my talented music instructor, who I am so grateful for).

      As far as how long it took me to get this chord, instantly. This page explained it perfectly and I was able to incorporate it into many of the songs that I've been playing including house of the rising sun by the animals.

      Thanks so much!

      MIAH Moore