How To Play The D Chord

I mini barre the A when doing rock songs, but yeah, acoustic stuff with chord decorations is 3 fingers.

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I have memorized the A, D and E chords and the D chord is still giving me trouble.

No matter what I do, the bottom string is always muted. Even if the bottom string rings out while pressed alone, as soon as I put my other two fingers carefully in place so as not to touch that string, that string still becomes muted. I have watched the video on the D chord repeatedly and have even cut my nails practically to the quick!

I am also playing a ‘mini’ guitar, so I’m wondering if this might be an issue–I don’t have fat fingers, but maybe playing a larger guitar might make a difference.

Any tips or advice would be appreciated. I don’t want to move on to the third beginner module until I can play a D chord without that awful pluck sound.

Thanks!

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Getting the chord to ring out clearly is quite fundamental. If it won’t ring out clearly when you have all the time in the world to place your fingers, it’s not going to improve when changing quickly.

If you’ve analysed your finger placement, then yeah, it could be that guitar. Try a normal sized one.

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Hi Colleen @Colleenfs, welcome to the community! I don’t have advice to offer, aside from “keep practicing”. I think it would be helpful if you could post a photo of your D chord…that might help more seasoned players offer guidance. Also, what mini guitar are you playing?

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It’s surprising how much difference a small change in nut width can make.

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Are you easing off the pressure on the bottom string when you add the two above? If you are quite sure you aren’t touching the e string with the finger above then that’s all I can suggest.

I very much doubt it’s to do with the guitar size.

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I picture of your fingers in place will help a lot.

It may be the way your hand is rotated, the softness of your fingertips, etc. It is really just guessing without seeing a good picture of your fingers trying to perform the chord.

I did have some trouble with D early on. I wondered if I would ever get it clean, and now I don’t have a clue why it was difficult. :slight_smile:

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I assume by “bottom sting that’s always muted”, you mean the A note played on the G sting?
The bottom string of a D chord is the open D string.
Perhaps @oztelemann is onto something with the easing off the pressure of playing that A note on the G string?
Sounds like your placing your fingers one at a time starting with the A note on the G string, then adding the D on the B sting and then the F#. Maybe go the other way around. Play the F# by itself, then add the D note on the B string, then add that A on the G string?
Or try playing a barre with your index finger across the top three stings (this is a Dmaj7 chord and sounds real good in itself). Get that to ring out and then add in the D note on the B string. Preferably using the middle finger as opposed to using the ring finger to fret that D note. Either or finger is fine. Which ever works best for you.

Keep working on this D chord. That D shape is pretty often used.

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​​​​​Hi Colleen @Colleenfs, welcome to the forum! I think I had the same problem when starting out . In my case, the problem was that my third finger always muted the first string (the lowest in relation to the ground, so the e-string). This was caused by 1) my 3rd finger lying too flat en 2) my finger tip tending to ‘squash out’ (i.e., the finger tip being too soft).

What worked in my case, was:

  1. making sure my thumb stayed behind the neck, to creat more space
  2. keeping my palm close to the bottom of the neck by sliding my hand further forward under the neck, creating more moving space for my fingers
  3. trying to make sure not to mute that lower string by curling my third finger and carefully placing the finger tip as perpendicular to the fretboard as possible (there will always be a slant, but the key is to avoid touching that lower string)
  4. making sure to put my finger close to the fret t minimise the pressure needed for that second string to ring out, and at the same time minimising the risk of muting the first string
  5. keeping my exercise limited to 20 min sessions (in total, not all on the D-chord), as my finger tips tended to flatten the more I played, making it even more difficult then it already was

It took me some time to figure out what the exact problem was and how to remedy it. Try to evaluate each aspect of the position of your hand, make small adjustments and reassess to evaluate their effect. It worked for me, it will work for you too. Keep on going, you’ll get there!

And as a last point: yes, having a basic chord like D ringing out clearly is fundamental in your guitar journey, but when you get bored of hanging around in the same lesson because of one aspect you haven’t fully mastered yet, move on to the next, but do incorporate specific practice items for the D-chord in your practice routine and go on working on it. It’s better to move on and take something with you to further work on and keep motivated, then to get bored and throw the guitar out the window.

Hope this helps!

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Hi Jim @HappyCat, you make a lot of useful contributions on the forum from which I already have taken more than one interesting point, thanks for that! I just think when answering to someone who is right at the beginning of is/her journey, it would probably more helpful to use the language they know at that moment. Someone learning the D chord is literally at his very first lesson on Justing Guitar, which means they have no clue about notes on the fretboard, they have no idea what a barre is and they will generally use ‘lower string’ to indicate the first string. I also think, at least at this stage in the journey, it’s best to keep to the fingering taught by Justin. There’s a reason he teaches it this way, so it might be best not to confuse beginners by advising different fingerings. I hope you don’t take this too negatively, I just think your contributions could be easier to understand for beginners and therefore more valuable by taking these things into account.

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Els, no offense taken. I shall consider your insight.

And for sure, listen to Justin, he’s a teacher, I am not.

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I’m playing the Oliver model from Orangewood Guitars! It’s beautiful with a great sound and so affordable.

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Thank you so much for this! I am still working on not muting the string below whatever string my finger is on. I think some of the problem is having any sort of fingernail length at all. I also think that I’m resisting any finger placement that feels unnatural because my hand and fingers seem to need to be hyperextended.

I never thought about my finger tips becoming flatter the more I played making it that much more difficult. I can get obsessive about trying to solve this problem and my fingers take a beating.

I am also going to heed your advice to move on even if I haven’t figured out how to keep a finger from muting the string beneath it. It’s so frustrating because I’m doing great otherwise, but I don’t this frustration to keep me from enjoying this journey.

This really did help!

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I just found this great site and this is my first post. I’m working on the D chord and feel like this is going to be impossible ! ( of course I know it’s not ! ) But # 2 finger is struggling. Anyway… this is a great site !! :slight_smile:

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@Hmm114

Welcome Holly. Feel free to introduce yourself here and tell us all a bit about your musical interests. It’s a great community too with lots of members supporting and encouraging each other through the learning journey.

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Hello Holly, and welcome to this community :hugs:.
I know, at the beginning all these chords are sooo difficult to play. For your fingers, all this is totally new. But over time, they’ll get used to it. Just keep in practicing - slowly, but steadily - and you’ll definitely progress :smiley::+1:.
I wish you lots of fun along your guitar journey :guitar::star_struck:.

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I … have even cut my nails practically to the quick!

Any tips or advice would be appreciated. I don’t want to move on to the third beginner module until I can play a D chord without that awful pluck sound.

Your fingers need to approach the strings from an upright position with plenty of curl in each finger in all of their joints. You need to ensure that the thin E string is not being accidentally touched by the underside of your hand as it curls around the bottom of the guitar neck. Also, as you practice more and your fingertips develop even the first small callouses, the fleshy tip of your fingers will spread out less. It is this fleshy-spread that can interfere with clean notes by slightly touching against adjacent strings. It does improve through playing the chords more and more.

I am also playing a ‘mini’ guitar, so I’m wondering if this might be an issue–I don’t have fat fingers, but maybe playing a larger guitar might make a difference.

The size of the guitar body makes no difference to chord formation. Nut width can. Nut width is usually measured in inches, usually as a fractional measurement e.g. 1 3/4“. It is sometimes shown in decimals e.g. 1.750“ or millimeters e.g. 44.5mm

1 3/4“ = 1.750” = 45mm (approx.)

Your nut width is 44mm (speccifications here). That is fine and similar to many well-known and larger bodied guitars by Martic, Taylor and mnay others.

Just an (off-topic) FYI: that is not a mini-guitar, it’s full-size, 25.5 inch scale length.

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It is the mini guitar in the Oliver line called Oliver Jr.

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Thank you–this was helpful.

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