Even a Beginner Can Learn Open D Tuning Barre Chords

If you are newly acquainted with open d tuning you may be wondering, “where do I start?”.  Those who have never played in open tunings may find it difficult to pick up new chord shapes and patterns in the first place, let alone get them stored away in your “muscle memory”. With this in consideration, let’s get you started on a path of actually playing so that you can put away the mental aspect of this for now and actually have some fun!

Lets begin with one of the most basic chord progressions known. Even if you know nothing about music, you have heard the I-IV-V chord progression probably thousands of times.

This is a very common progression for blues especially, but even songs you wouldn’t consider “bluesy” (such as the original “Batman” theme song).  I-IV-V simply refers to the notes in a scale. As you are aware (hopefully), there are seven whole notes:

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G

The number that corresponds to the note will actually change depending on what key you are playing in. This means shift the numbering system by moving the number “1” to your root note. Let’s use the key of D for our example:

  1. D
  2. E
  3. F
  4. G
  5. A
  6. B
  7. C

Since open d tuning is very friendly to the key of D we will use this as our scale. Now using the diagram from our previous post “Understanding the neck for Beginners“, you can play a simple I-IV-V progression with only one finger!

Open D Neck Diagram

Note that by using the open chord of D as “I” (one), you can easily find the fourth (IV) whole note is an G on the fifth fret. By simply reaching your finger across all the strings parallel to the 5th fret, you can create a very easy barre chord. Now find that your fifth (V) whole note from D is an A on the seventh fret. Again, stretch that finger across on the 7th fret and strum.

How do I actually play a song with this?

The key to turning this progression into something that you want to play -and others want to hear- is giving it a rhythmic structure.  The example below should help you understand this. This is an easy blues progression. The large letter above represents the chord you are playing and the numbers below are separated into a strumming pattern. Every four strums is a “beat” or “measure”.
It is recommended that you use a metronome to help you keep time as you strum. Set it to a slow 4/4, maybe 60bpm if you are just beginning, and work your way up from there.

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