How To Play The D Chord

The Oliver Junior has a slightly narrower nut width of 43mm

Spec here.

2 mm does not sound like much, but IME tiny differences in guitar dimensions can mean big differences in playability.

More experienced players can change their technique to compensate, but this is lot more difficult for beginners.

Might be well worthwhile to try some guitars with wider necks at a local guitar shop, and see if that helps with the problem.

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Found this one difficult for a 56 year old beginner, I know what I have to do but the fingers just keep touching the adjacent strings giving dud note. so frustrating and I think that’s what always stops me progressing or enjoying learning.


@Gmeister don’t give up Gerry the D chord can be tricky to begin with but persevere it will soon be one of the easier chords for you to play - honest! Practice forming the chord and strumming each of the strings in turn when you get it sounding clean lift the fingers off then reform and repeat, 5 min practice per day will soon make a huge difference.


Hi Gerry and welcome to the community firstly!

This is all very recognisable for everyone so please don’t get too frustrated, we genuinely have all been there and fully understand!

My own suggestion is to really focus on Justin’s chord perfect exercise / principle. Slow everything right down, get your fingers placed, strum each string, and adjust as needed. We’ve all had chords that don’t “work” right at first, but perseverance really does get results. It’s all about developing muscle memory and D is quite a cramped up chord. How are you finding A and E?

If needed feel free to try and take a picture of your fretting for D and folks here can look and offer advice, could be wrist angle or something else but you’ll never be short of help here. Above all do keep at it and trust that it will come.


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Hi guys,

As a total beginner I’m also struggling with the D chord for few days now. Most of the times the 1st (thinnest) E string doesn’t sound well because my 3rd finger is too close to it. It’s not totally muted, but when I strum it buzzes a bit because when fluctuating, it lightly touches my 3rd finger.

I noticed that I can slightly “push” the 2nd string up with my 3rd finger to move it slightly away from the 1st string, to give it more space to vibrate, and then it doesn’t buzz. But I wonder if that’s not “cheating”, and may be a bad practice to get used to… And if I should only press the strings directly towards the fret board without pushing them sideways…


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Hi Koby @kobygold, welcome to the community! When you get a chance, we’d love to learn a bit about what brought you to this fun place…

So - fellow beginner here, finishing up Grade 2. Your experience is typical, so don’t let it frustrate you. Taking your last question first…pushing (bending) the string as you describe is indeed a bad habit. It causes the note sounded to be out of tune. You definitely want to avoid pushing the strings sideways (at least until you learn to bend on purpose - which I think is an intermediate skill)!

If you can, it would be helpful to post a photograph of your hand forming the D chord. But here some thoughts based on my experience. First: be mindful of depressing the string with the very tips of your fingers, rather than the pads. Obviously this means your nails cannot be too long. Second: it’s possible you’re pressing the strings too hard, causing your fingertip to make too much contact with the fret board, and thereby getting in the way of other strings. (All beginners do this, I still do when I’m working on a new or challenging grip!) To get a feel for the “right” amount of pressure, practice fretting a note with as little pressure as possible to make the note ring clearly. Try to keep this in mind when fretting entire chords, too. Finally, as your callouses harden, your fingers won’t “flatten” out as much. This will happen naturally over time!

I’m sure others will have additional suggestions. Please keep us posted on your progress!


Hi Judi,

thank you very much for the quick answer!

I’ve encountered the concept of “bending” on my harmonica playing, I didn’t know it existed on
guitar as well :slight_smile: Thank you very much, I’ll avoid using that. Good thing I’ve asked before getting used to that :slight_smile:

I will try your other suggestions, and will post a photo if I continue to struggle!
Thanks a lot!

p.s.: I added a “a bit about myself” here:

Thanks again,

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Hooray, one habit you won’t have to unlearn! One of my own biggest challenges in learning guitar is the vast distance between my mind understanding techniques and theory, and my body executing the understanding. I laugh at that every day. :smile:

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Thanks Judi!
My biggest concern is getting used to bad habits which are much harder to get rid of later.
And indeed the distance between theory and practice can be big :rofl: .

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it is cheating a little, but still ok for small amounts. The thing to avoid is detuning the note you are pushing. Watch close-ups of Justin’s fingers in his lessons, he does a little scooting of strings, especially to mute one above a string he is fretting.

I had trouble with D as well, but now I wonder how I could ever have had trouble! Two things that will probably change for you:

  1. Fiddle a little with wrist rotation. I prefer my little finger to be rotated up toward strings more than I initially started with. This presented more of the thin portion of the fingertip to the adjacent strings so it fit better. See what works for you.
  2. If you are very new, your fingertips will harden a bit and you won’t mash so flat and squish larger on the strings after a couple months. This just takes daily regular practice and patience for your body to adjust to a new task.
  3. And of course, don’t push too hard. you just need enough to hold the string on the fret. This will help with mashing your finger too much as well.
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Thanks sequences!
I will try your suggestions!
and will take a look again on Justin’s fingers in his lesson.

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This is a very common beginner issue.

Many beginners press too hard, their soft finger tips (no callouses developed yet) flatten and the flesh splays out, interfering with adjacent strings.

Reduce the tightness of your grip, try to press only as much as needed to make the notes ring. Have patience while callouses build.
Also, try to ensure you bend the fingers and approach the strings from an upright, not flat, position.
I hope that helps. Cheers :smiley: | Richard | JustinGuitar Approved Teacher, Official Guide & Moderator

Hello, there! I’d like to ask if it’s ok to keep my pinky lifted up while I’m doing the D chord. It kinda raises up together with my ring finger and I have this sense that I’m doing it wrong. Could this make it harder to learn another chord in the future? Thanks in advance.

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Hello Leticia.
Don’t worry about your pinky at this stage. You don’t want it to be pointing up in the air but if it’s curled along side your third finger then that’s okay. Make sure it’s not touching and muting any strings.
You’ll be doing exercises that strengthen the pinky and develop finger independence as you progress through the course.

Welcome to the community. Lots to see when you have a look round.


I love how instead of just showing us how to play the chord and where the fingers go, Justin shows us common culprits of “dead notes,” string buzzing, etc. It’s really helpful to the budding guitarist. I was surprised how easily I could play the D major chord after his helpful explanation.

Welcome to the community, Cormac @lieleaf! Yes, there is so much goodness in Justin’s lessons, all supported by the fine folks here. If you have a minute, maybe tell us a bit about yourself over here. :smiling_face: