How To Play The D Chord

The D Chord is the first grip we learn in the Beginner Course! Are you ready? :)

View the full lesson at How To Play The D Chord | JustinGuitar

I struggled with this cord for a couple days. I trimmed my nails hoping that would help, but it did not. I then struggled some more before noticing that my nails were still hitting the fretboard. I trimmed again as close as I could without hurting myself … and there it was - the D chord. Just something for others to keep in mind. Trim your nails as tight as you can.


Hi @MikexLee, good to see you here in the community.
As far as the nail trimming, that indeed sounds a bit familiar. However take some notice to the force/presssure you are using when getting the chord down. If your nails are a true obstacle, maybe you press down too hard as well. Or the setup of your guitar could be better.

In other words, D chord is doable with some nail on the fingers. Try to release pressure when chord rings out and feel at what pressure it fails.

Just my two cents. Hope it helps in some way.

BR Milifax


Hi this may be a dumb question, but I was wondering how do I know if the chord sounds correct? I don’t want to move on without it being correct and I can’t tell if it sounds how it’s supposed to. I try to match it but it’s a little hard and I am playing acoustic which also sounds different. Thanks

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This is especially necessary before you develop callouses as the softer finger-tip skin tends to squish out and offers no resistance from a nail making contact with the string.
Cheers :blush:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide & Moderator

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Hi @allie23
There are no dumb questions, and people are here to help.

First, make sure you are in tune: Stream justinguitar | Listen to Guitar Tuning Notes playlist online for free on SoundCloud

Then check your chords against the video or against these audio samples: Stream justinguitar | Listen to Justin's Beginner Guitar Course - Examples playlist online for free on SoundCloud

Cheers :blush:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide & Moderator

Hi @allie23 I’m also a beginner, but what I’ve been doing with the chord perfect exercises is strum the chord first, then play each string individually, if it’s buzzy or muted then something is wrong and I adjust, if it produces a pure sound and guitar is tuned, then I assume it’s all good. I strum it again after this to train my ear how it should sound. I think after a while your ears will learn it and you’ll be able to tell if something is wrong straight away.

Thank you @mikexlee trimming down my nails really did help!

NP - I think @Richard_close2u 's comment is also helpful. Over time it seems like your fingertips harden and you don’t have to press so hard that your nails come into play

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It’s reassuring to see how quickly I’m improving my D. By ensuring that I slowed down and struck each string individually to identify any buzzing I was able to identify that my 3rd finger was regularly leaning onto the 2nd finger string and dulling / stopping that note. The way we’re taught to slow down and intentionally listen to the component parts of a chord is so obvious and so helpful.

It allowed me to isolate that as my only issue with the chord and I have been practising being very deliberate with my finger placement on the fret board and how my fingers arch away from the fret board, and even in a matter of minutes I seem to have established the right sort of positioning and shape to eradicate the issue. Now I just need to be able to string together the transition to and from other chords and make sure this technique doesn’t weaken.


Thanks and good vibes @CharlieHutcheson

The strum-pick-strum is invaluable in the early stages.

Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide

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I am an absolute newbie, working my way through Justin’s beginner course. I have been trying the D chord for 5 days and I canNOT figure out how to keep finger 3 from muting String 1. My fingers are raw from trying. I have clipped my nails, repositioned my thumb, my wrist, my hand. I have curled my fingers differently and I still can’t get it. I am beyond frustrated. Any other tips or advice before I give up?

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What if you try to fret only the 2nd string, with your 3rd finger, leaving strings 1 and 3 open? Can you get all 3 strings to ring out cleanly?

It’s the fiddliest part of the chord but you’ll get there with perseverance. It sounds like you’re doing the right things so stick with it and you’ll get there.

I found that once I knew the finger placement that my focus had to become how I arched my fingers down onto the frets, rather than lazily coming onto the frets from the side. Once you get that nailed then the 3rd finger stops being an issue.

Hi, I am also a 100% beginner but this is one of the easiest chords for me so far. I think the trick lies in lowering your wrist as much as you can behind the neck of the guitar.

Look at how low his wrist is.

Forget fret two for now, just hold the B string at the 3rd fret with your 3rd finger alone. Now strum the E string, you must hear a clean tone.

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I have been unable to get String 1t o ring cleanly even just playing string 2 in the 3rd fret…ever. Gonna try lowering the wrist. My instinctive move has been to raise the wrist and twist “under”.
I did get string 1 to ring clean once but I had my thumb well over the top and my palm against the neck. I know that’s wrong so I kept trying. Very frustrating.

@Rcorso59 I think Charlie has identified the most likely issue with your D chord. I have two mental images that help remind me of the proper shape for my fingers on the open chords. First image is of placing a tennis ball in the palm of my hand and closing my fingers around it. Second image is really the same, just remove the tennis ball — my fingers form a distinctly rounded letter “C” when you take that ball away. When you play the D chord, does your fretting hand make a rounded C shape, or is it a little more like the shape you would get if you were to grasp a thickish book, with your fingers almost parallel with your thumb - both extended to hold the book? You need that round shape so that your fingers are coming pretty close to straight down on the fretboard.

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Thanks all. Continuing to try at least one more day. Will try a lower wrist and a rounded-C grip, straight-to-the-fret finger 3. Not working so far but at least I have some new things to try. Thanks again! (I canNOT imagine this being easy to any other beginner. Kudos to you @victorious :+1:)

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Hi BC it is entirely acceptable to do so, and if you use 2nd instead of 3rd finger you are getting extra capabilities to add some embellishments, whereas in your existing shape second finger has not got many places to go :slight_smile: just food for thought. All the best.

Finger a D chord like that isn’t a problem until you want to play a Dsus2, D7 or Dm chord
or play finger style.
I play the D using the mini barre when playing blues but I use the second finger not the ring
so i can add the F# note on the D string
So if you want to become an all round guitar player I’d recommend learning the D chord
as taught in the lesson.
Sometime easiest isn’t the best.