How To Play The D Chord

Are there any JustinGuitar pictures or videos of the D chord finger placement looking down the neck of the guitar. I would like to better see the thumb, the curl of the fingers, the wrist and the space between the palm and the guitar.

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Here’s my advice for what it’s worth. Do a basic exercise to visualize something first. Fold all the fingers of your left hand at the top two joints, with the base of the fingers pointing straight up, and touch the top of your palm with your finger tips. On the guitar go to the fret board an do the same while putting your index down on the the G (3rd) string. Focus on bending the 2nd and 3rd fingers in. Rotate your hand slightly clockwise until your third finger in on the B string (2nd). This will give you a feel for how far back your second finger must be pulled in to sit on the E (1st) . You have to make a concerted effort to draw that finger back and in to the first finger. You can practice that with just your hand. With fingers pointing up and bent at both joints practice moving the second finger back and forth independently of all others. I had to develop that stretch before I ever was able to move into a D position naturally and smoothly. This chord, for me, requires that I make an effort to present my hand so the fingers are all equally as close to the neck (palm face parallel to neck). With many other chords you hand is more open, and it can sometimes be required to be much more open. I consider this chord to be scrunch as opposed to a stretch. Don’t give up. I think you are asked to start with this one because it’s demanding of focus at a time when a student is most eager to be focused.


Thanks @LunaC. I am trying it.

@Rcorso59 re: your request for pictures. I don’t think Justin has any on the site butI have these:

Hope that helps.

Cheers :smiley:

| Richard_close2u | Community Moderator, Official Guide, JustinGuitar Approved Teacher


Hi Richard!

Thanks for the pictures. To be honest, I struggle a lot with this after the first week. Most of the time, my hand looks more like on the lower pictures, especially with the thumb more running parallel to the neck than pointing upwards.
I know I’m probably rotating my hand “over the neck” too far. But with only the A and D chords in the first module, I don’t really know how to play them with the “correct placement” as shown on the top pictures. Especially with the D chord, I don’t really know how to get the 3rd finger on the 3rd fret without rotating the hand quite far (and with the A chord, how to get all three fingers on the 2nd fret without rotating the hand). How can this be “learned”, especially since I’m trying to play “blind” (i.e. not looking at my hands).

But if I’m looking at this picture of Justin, his hand is also rotated quite far (but still not as far as mine sometimes is :see_no_evil:):


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Hi Oliver,

Honestly, after a week I wouldn’t be bothered about not being able to play “blind”. Like, not even the slightest bit.

Try to place the knuckle of your thumb roughly on the midline of the neck “opposite” fingers 1 and 2, then place finger 3 on the B string. Unlike with the open C or barre chords, you don’t need to rotate your fretting hand upwards very much to play the open D.

As for the screenshot from Justin’s video, you should bear in mind that educational videos like this are filmed from a certain angle for several reasons. Here, I think the emphasis was on which strings need to be fretted and how far the fingertips should be from the frets.


Hi Jozsef,

thanks for your reply!

I have been playing the piano for 35 years. And there I don’t have to look at the keys at all, regardless of what I’m playing (well, almost :wink: ). And I know that being able to play the piano “blind” has opened up my playing to a completely new level. That’s why I tried to practice this with the guitar right from the beginning. So that I don’t have to learn that from scratch at some later point.
And a second thing is that I have quite some problems with back and neck pain already. And sitting bent over the guitar all the time looking at my fingers is really not good for my back and neck. That’s why I also tried to avoid it.

Regarding the “rotated” hand: I didn’t mean rotated upwards, but rotated sideways, with the fingers pointing more towards the guitar body. But then the thumb is still pointing more up the neck, in the opposite direction. Yeah, it’s really strange :see_no_evil:



I just took some pictures while I was practicing. This way my D chord works quite well, actually. But the finger position is probably completely wrong :joy:

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Hi Jozsef,

I tried this for quite some time now, and I notice that my wrist is angled pretty strongly when I try to do it the “right” way. I just can’t lower my wrist below the neck without bending it. This simply seems to be anatomically impossible. :joy:
And this made my wrist hurt quite badly after some time. I tried it for 2 1/2 hours now (yes, I know, probably much too long :see_no_evil:) but the D chord didn’t really work. The only way I got it kind of right was to place the third finger before the second finger. If I take my time and check after each placed finger that all strings still sound clean, then after 10 seconds I have (most of the time) a clean D chord. :wink:

It just baffles me how long it takes to learn something as (musically) banal as one or two chords on the guitar. On the piano, I can teach you two chords in five minutes, even if you’ve never sat in front of one.



Hi Oliver based on photos I would suggest slightly pushing your wrist forward so tips of your fingers are pushing strings down to fretboard, this should also help make your chord less angled - at the moment there is a lot of tension in your wrist in this position hence you can’t straight it out and your fingers are a bit flat so bottom of each fingertip might be blocking off the sound of string below especially the ring finger. Let me know if it works, focus on Perfect Chord excercise first until you get the D chord clear most of times. Only then jump to OMC :slight_smile:


Hi and thanks for your reply!

On the photo my wrist was actually pretty straight and it felt quite “natural”. Yesterday I tried to move the wrist forward, but then I have to angle it more, of course, to get the fingers anywhere near the fretboard.
I’m not sure how to describe it better. But the more I tried to get into a “good” position with the wrist more forward and more below the neck rather than behind it, the more I had to angle the wrist.

A colleague at work has been playing the guitar for quite a long time and she basically gave me the same tip. I tried around a bit yesterday (okay, “a bit” means for about 2 1/2 hours :see_no_evil:), and found out that it works better when I place the 3rd finger before I place the 2nd finger. As Justin usually places the fingers in the “normal” order (1st, 2nd, 3rd), I always did it this way. And this didn’t really work at all.

What if you try to place your thumb more in the middle of the neck at the back rather than at the top? This would push your wrist enough forward to allow you to fret with your fingertips, at the moment as per photo you attached your fingers are bit too flat and definitely the ring finger is muting your e string.

If you have a colleague who knows how to play perhaps a quick session with her to guide your wrist into appropriate position could be an option? As I am sure she will try to bring it forward a bit.

I would say don’t do OM changes until you get this nailed down first as there is no point in changing chords if they don’t ring out as they should. Perfect Chord Change is your friend at the moment, keep at it :slight_smile:

Your fingers strength and fingertips not being tough enough yet is also a factor why it might not ring out. Patience and perseverance is key here :wink:

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Hello Oliver,
35 years of piano :sunglasses: :sunglasses:
I also expect to see quite a bit of you on the guitar in the foreseeable future :smiley:… sorry, no pressure on my part, I’m just a little jealous on such a background, but in a good way, :innocent:
I don’t really see the problem if you first put your 3rd finger in front of your 2nd place, the joint memory of the 2nd is thus automatically tricked enough to jump into the right form quickly enough to do it at the same time or even earlier than your 3nd finger later on …but I would love to be corrected by Richard, Lieven or someone else with much more experience / understanding,
Greetings and i wish you a lot of fun,


If you do such long sessions, take a break in between, eh…And if you practice perfectly with such days, it’s a matter of patience that it suddenly “goes by itself” … I promise you that :sunglasses:

Actually, that’s what I tried. But the lower I move the thumb, the more I have to angle my wrist and the more “unnatural” it feels. If I just take the guitar out of the stand, the thumb “naturally” goes more to the top of the neck.

I’ve also sent her the pictures yesterday and she tried to give me a lot of tips via WhatsApp. I’ve already asked her if it is okay if I just bring my guitar to her and we look at it in person some day – to which she agreed. But to be honest, at this stage I’m far too embarrassed by my “non-ability” for that. :confused:

Yeah, would have been better, I know. At the end I noticed that I hadn’t drunk a drop of water during the whole time. :see_no_evil:
Originally, I wanted to practice for half an hour. But every time I put the guitar into the stand I thought “Well, it can’t be possible that this does not work!” and took it out of the stand again. :wink:

Well, with this attitude and enough training work it is more a matter of days than weeks before this goes well…but take your day of of practice on this event quite in time…practice something else, maybe something more complicated and then come again back to this…who knows…
And as for embarrassment towards your colleague… DON’T … Hey, we have to start somewhere, and the fastest learners are those who ask for explanations at the beginning…
Have Fun,… :smiley:

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I think getting help from your friend face to face will be a huge bonus, if I was learning you face to face I would try to navigate your fingers and hand around to make it workable. Nothing to be ashamed about we all have been there and so was your colleague, I am sure she will be a good help to your struggles :slight_smile:

To be honest, I feel as if with this attitude it is more a matter of days than weeks before I give up because it frustrates me too much :see_no_evil:
But I don’t want to flood this thread only with my problems :wink: … I will just give it a try again this evening and see how it goes.

No no,…take it easy…drink a cup of tea…will be fine :sunglasses:, and it is ready for me here too…
roger out :wavy_dash: :wheelchair:

It looks like you have long fingers and if playing the D chord feel natural then that’s the way to
do it. You don’t want your wrist bent and in the picture it looks nice and straight.
If you can play each note clean the way your doing it keep doing it.

The only drawback I can see is with your thumb at the angle that it is you won’t be strengthening
the it for playing barre chord latter on but that’s not a big deal.

Yes, I guess I have quite long fingers. My middle finger is about 9,5 centimeters, but I don’t know how this compares to other middle fingers :grin:
I noticed, though, that when I look at close-up photos or videos of the left hand of people playing the guitar, I often wonder “Ahem, and where’s the rest of your fingers? My hand looks completely different – there’s much more of my fingers” :joy:

Regarding just doing what works: I know from experience that it is pretty easy to teach yourself “wrong” things. And that it is much harder to “unlearn” those things again. That’s why I wanted to learn everything “right” from the beginning. On the piano, there are “good” finger positions and “bad” finger positions. And they are commonly considered “good” and “bad” for good reasons. I assume it is the same with the hand and finger positions on the guitar.