[Acoustic Guitar Chords] > How to Play the D7 Chord (Tips, Position, Variations and Exercises)
When it comes to guitar chords, learning how to play the D7 chord opens up a lot of possibilities.
Why do I recommend it?
To start with, it’s fairly easy to learn and only contains four notes: D, F#, A and C. It also sounds great, and it’s useful for adding a sense of tension or movement to a song.
As a seasoned guitarist, I use the D7 chord in a lot of my songwriting and practice, and you’ll find that most guitarists – veterans and beginners – do the same.
To get you on the path to playing songs from some of the greats, I’ve broken down the D7 chord in detail below. I’ve also included a few helpful exercises to help you nail it.
What Is the D7 chord?
The D7 chord is a straightforward chord found in a variety of country, slow rock, and even folk music – think Pearl Jam and Otis Reading.
It lends an uplifting quality to your chord progression and provides a bit of levity to some more wistful-sounding songs, which is why it makes a great addition to your guitar toolkit.
As with many chords, it goes by various names such as the “D dominant seventh chord”, D dom7, and D dominant 7, because it’s the dominant chord in the key of G. (Different from the D diminished, or Ddim chord.)
One important thing to note is that the D7 differs from the Dm7 chord. While they share many of the same notes, the D7 chord uses F# instead of F.
Before we move on to actually playing the D7 chord, I recommend checking out this article I wrote on chord diagrams so that you’ll be able to follow along with this guide.
How to Play the D7 Chord on the Guitar
The first version we’re going to look at is the open position variant – this means that one or more strings are unfretted.
Using the above D7 chord diagram, here’s how you position your fingers:
- Index finger on the 1st fret of the B string.
- Middle finger on the 2nd fret of the G string.
- Ring finger on the 2nd fret of the high E string.
Strum down from the D string (don’t play the low E and A strings) and there you have it!
If this doesn’t feel completely right or comfortable right away, don’t sweat. It’ll take a while for your fingers to get used to this shape, but with some practice, you’ll get there.
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D7 Chord Guitar Finger Position
With the D7 chord, finger positioning is key.
Many guitar learners go wrong in the same place – their middle finger often falls flat on the G string, resulting in a muted string. While this isn’t the end of the world, it does mean that the sound isn’t as crisp as it could be.
Here are a few things you can look out for to ensure that your chord sounds clear and crisp:
- Finger position: Make sure your fingers are in the right position. Correct positioning – placing your fingers right behind the fret – will ensure the best possible sound.
- Relaxed hand: Let your hand sit naturally and try to shake off any tension or rigidity.
- Arched fingers: Gently arch your fingers to avoid pressing down on any wrong strings.
- Just enough pressure: Press down with enough pressure to avoid fret buzz.
The above tips can be applied to learning all guitar chords. So the more chords you learn, the more practiced you’ll be at acing your finger positioning!
D7 Chord Variations
There are many different ways to play the D7 chord. The basic open chord I talked about above is one of the most popular for beginners, but there are a number of other variations that might suit you better.
D7 Chord Barre Versions
Next, we move on to the infamous barre versions of the D7 chord.
If you’ve been making your way through a few of these chord guides, you probably already know that the barre chords are usually a bit more difficult to get the hang of. But once you learn them, you can use the same chord shapes up and down the neck to play any 7th chord.
This takes a very similar shape to the E7 except that you barre your index finger.
To play this chord, place your fingers as follows:
- Barre your index finger across all of the strings on the 10th fret
- Ring finger on the 12th fret of the A string
- Middle finger on the 11th fret of the G string
Finally, strum all the strings for a nice, full-sounding chord.
The other barre version of this chord is played as follows:
- Barre your index finger across the 5th fret except for the low E string
- Ring finger on the 7th fret of the D string
- Pinky finger on the 7th fret of the B string
This variation requires a bit of strength in your pinky finger, so don’t worry if you can’t form the chord immediately. Keep practicing and you’ll get it in no time!
D7 Chord Exercises
Now that you know what the D7 chord is all about and how to play a couple of its most popular variations, let’s have a look at how to practice it.
As with all chords, I often recommend drilling the position a couple of times until your muscle memory begins to take over. Here’s how:
- Using your fretting hand, form a D7 chord
- Strum down four times
- Release the chord
- Strum down four more times on the open the strings
- Rinse and repeat
Another useful trick is to practice moving from a different chord into the D7 chord. Choose a chord you’re quite comfortable with, strum a couple of times, and then move into the D7.
Repeat this a few times and start working on making the transition even faster. If you need more help, check out my guide on chord transition tips.
What’s Next After Learning the D7 Chord?
Working your way through guitar chords is a necessary – and satisfying – step in your guitar-playing journey. So if you haven’t done so yet, I’d recommend going through a few of my other chord guides such as the F chord and G chord guides. It’s also worth exploring some alternative tunings, such as open D tuning, drop D tuning or open C tuning.
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