The D chord on the guitar

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How to play the open position D chord and CAGED D shape

The D chord may seem like the final video in the series as we are spelling out CAGED and we’ve done C, A, G, and E already but we’re not there yet.

We’re also going to look at the F chord and the B chord, and then we also have all the minor CAGED chords to explore as well.

Saying that, in many ways, this is the last chord, hopefully, you’ll soon see why this is the case.

Let’s start with the easy stuff, the open position D chord, and also, as a D shape, starting on fret 12. Here it’s displayed as a Chordacus image.

Open position D chord/shape

D chord extensions

The D chord is the easiest to understand when we extend it due to its compact layout and therefore fewer options.

You have two notes to manipulate, the root on string 2 and the 3rd on string 1.

These are the potential extensions for a D-shaped chord. If you can see all intervals around the D shape, you can play all these chords.

  • D major chord (root, 5th, root, 3rd)
  • Dsus2 (root, 5, root, 2)
  • Dsus4 (root, 5, root, 4)
  • D7sus4 (root, 5, b7, 4)
  • Dmaj7 (root, 5, 7, 3)
  • D7 (root, 5, b7, 3)
  • D6 (root, 5, 6, 3)
  • D6/9 (root, 3, 6, 9)
  • Dmaj9 (root, 5, 7, 9)
  • D9 (root, 3, b7, 9)
  • D7#9 (root, 3, b7, #9)
  • D7b9 (root, 3, b7, b9)

As with all chords, you can’t just practice these in isolation and memorize them, instead, you must experience them in real songs.

You must move around the neck and build guitar parts, using the CAGED system.

Here are some songs from the beginner and intermediate acoustic courses that use a D chord, or a D-shaped chord.

Redemption Song, Rewind (2nd guitar), Robin Hood, Talking About A Revolution, Time Of Your Life, Wonderwall, Hey There Delilah, Mad World, Blowin’ In The Wind, Babylon, Whistle For The Choir.

Perhaps the best song for D shape practice is Soul Man, from the intermediate electric course.

Building scales and arpeggios around the D chord/shape

There are more things you can do to this D shape. Just like with all CAGED shapes, we can turn it into a maj7 arpeggio, a dom7 arpeggio, a Major Pentatonic, Ionian (the major scale), Lydian, and Mixolydian.

Below are all the intervals used to build these arpeggios and scales around the D-shaped chord.

If you can see all the intervals around the chord shape, you can play all these arpeggios and scales.

All possible major arpeggio and scale intervals using the CAGED system

The D Chord | Related Pages

Guitar chords

You can learn how to build all minor and major guitar chords using the so-called CAGED system.

This is the foundation upon which we learn to extend chords and build arpeggios and modes as well.

The Dm chord

Open position Dm chord, barre chord shape and extensions

As the smallest of all minor CAGED chords, the open-position Dm chord is very easy to fret and understand.

Even as a barre chord shape, it’s all very clear how to build any chord, arpeggio, or mode using a Dm shape.

Beginner Acoustic

Beginner Acoustic Songs

This collection of beginner acoustic tunes will teach you how to arrange for one acoustic guitar, as well as how to create a supporting part.

Playing songs will help you with switching between open-position chords and give you the context you need to understand how music works theoretically.

About me

Dan Lundholm wrote this article about the D chord.

This article on the D chord was written by Dan Lundholm. Discover more about him and how learning guitar with Spytunes has evolved.

Most importantly, find out why you should learn guitar through playing tunes, not practising scales, and studying theory in isolation.


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