The Db chord may not be one of the most often played chords, but it frequently appears in jazz standards. If you are interested in playing jazz, funk, or rock guitar, you’ll want to learn D flat major. Below are a few different techniques to play the Db chord.
What Is D Flat Major?
The Db chord is a major chord composed of a trio of notes: Db, F, and Ab. It is a triad utilizing the root, major third, and perfect fifth, and you will usually find it in a progression from Db to Gb to Ab. Sometimes it also appears with Bbm and Fm.
D flat major is enharmonic with the C# major guitar chord, which means that they are essentially the same chord and produce the same sound. The only difference is that the Db major chord annotates the notes with flats, while the C# chord uses sharps (Db, F, and Ab become C#, E#/F, and G#).
How to Play the Db Chord
There are many different ways to play the D flat major guitar chord. You can use the standard method, E shape barre, A shape barre, and simplified fingerings.
Standard Db Guitar Chord
The standard technique has many similarities to D major with its open position. You strum the first five strings, avoiding the sixth.
- Index finger: barre the 1st (E), 2nd (B), and 3rd (G) strings, fret 1
- Middle finger: place on the 2nd (B) string, fret 2
- Ring finger: press the 4th (D) string, fret 3
- Pinky finger: set on the 5th (A) string, fret 4
This method requires coordination to use all fretting fingers. It has a half barre on the first fret, and then you stretch the rest of your fingers to reach the other strings further down on the fretboard. You may have to practice this strategy for a while before you can accurately play it. Until then, you can experiment with the barre variations and simpler shapes.
E-Shape Guitar Chord
The second technique to play D flat major has you strum every string. It is a barre chord and requires you to use every finger.
- Index finger: barre over every string, fret 9
- Middle finger: put on the 3rd (G) string, fret 10
- Ring finger: set on the 5th (A) string, fret 11
- Pinky finger: place on the 4th (D) string, fret 11
A-Shape Guitar Chord
The third method is also a barre chord in the standard A shape. You strum all of the strings to play it.
- Index finger: barre from the 5th (A) string to the 1st (E) string at fret 4
- Middle finger: place on the 4th (D) string, fret 6
- Ring finger: put on the 3rd (G) string, fret 6
- Pinky finger: press the 2nd (B) string, fret 6
First Easy Alternative
If you don’t have the finger strength to perform a barre chord, you can use your fretboard’s upper portion. This first alternative has you strum the strings open.
- Index finger: place on the 5th (A) string, fret 8
- Middle finger: put on the 6th (low E) string, fret 9
- Ring finger: set on the 2nd (B) string, fret 9
- Pinky finger: press the 1st (E) string, fret 9
While this fingering should not present too many issues if you have decent experience with guitar, it still requires the use of four fingers, so it’s certainly not one of the easiest guitar chords there are!
Second Easy Alternative
This method only requires you to use your first three fretting fingers. You will have to mute the 1st (E), 5th (A), and 6th (low E) strings. Try to strum only the inside strings.
- Index finger: press the 2nd (B) string, fret 9
- Middle finger: set on the 3rd (G) string, fret 10
- Ring finger: place on the 4th (D) string, fret 11
It will take practice to avoid the outer strings, but once you get a hold of it, this voicing should seem far less troublesome than most Db chords.
Third Easy Alternative
The third alternative requires three fingers to play. You strum from the 3rd (G) string.
- Index finger: place on the 3rd (G) string, fret 1
- Middle finger: put on the 2nd (B) string, fret 2
- Ring finger: set on the 1st (E) string, fret 1
The trickiest part of this technique is avoiding the 4th (D), 5th (A), and 6th (low E) strings. However, it is one of the simplest ways to play D flat major.
Two Finger Alternative
The easiest way to play the Db guitar chord is like Dsus2 moved to the first fret. Try to strum only the 3rd (G) and 2nd (B) strings, bypassing the rest. Also, try and pay special attention to avoiding the 1st (E) string since it muddles the sound.
- Index finger: press the 3rd (G) string, fret 1
- Middle finger: place on the 2nd (B) string, fret 2
Popular Songs Written in the Db Major Key
The Db chord was most popular during the Romantic era and regained traction in contemporary rock. You will not find many instances in the Classical and Baroque periods, but the experimental and rebellious natures of Romantic composers led them to explore the black keys (the sharps and flats) more. It is used in many classic love songs as well.
Below are some songs you may recognize written in D flat major.
- “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses
- “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers
- “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran
- “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” by Bryan Adams
- “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John
- “Broken Strings” by Jim Morrison
- “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2
- “Jesus of Suburbia” by Green Day
- “Thnks fr th Mmrs” by Fall Out Boy
We’ve covered a handful of ways to play the D flat major guitar chord that work for novice and advanced guitar players alike. While not the most often used chord, it exists in plenty of popular songs, so be sure to practice these fingerings!
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As the Head Editor at Music Grotto, Liam edits content produced from over 30 professional music/media journalists and contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.