The Dm guitar chord is a really cool chord to know, but my students find it hard to play because it requires a different hand position to a standard D chord. Let’s look at how we can make this easier!
In this free lesson you will learn:
- How to play the Dm guitar chord correctly
- Two easy 2-finger alternatives for the Dm guitar chord
- A dark and moody version of the Dm guitar chord
The standard way to play the Dm guitar chord
In its standard form, the D minor guitar chord (usually written as “Dm”) looks like this:
(If you don’t understand this image please read our article “Learn How To Read Chordboxes In 60 Seconds”. It will make everything clear!)
As you can see the Dm guitar chord is a 3-finger chord which needs you to play across 3 different frets. This makes it hard for beginner guitarists who are making the step up from easy chords like Em, Cmaj7 and Asus.
All of my students find the Dm guitar chord tough to play when they first encounter it, so don’t worry if you struggle with it too! It’s worth persevering with because it’s a chord that crops up often. It’s good to get it under your belt near the start of your guitar journey if possible.
An easy 2-finger alternative for the D minor guitar chord
An easy alternative to the Dm guitar chord is to play Dsus which looks like this:
NOTE: Dsus is a very useful chord to know as it will often sound ok in the place of any D chord.
As you can see Dsus2 (the ‘sus’ is an abbreviated way of saying ‘suspended’) only requires two fingers to play and the hand shape is easier to form than a full Dm chord.
Our goal is for you to be able to play the Dm guitar chord in its full form as soon as possible. However in the early days of your guitar journey (under 30 hours of practice) you will find it too challenging so we’re going to use Dsus2 as a stepping stone to get you to the full Dm guitar chord.
Does that make sense? I hope so!
An important point
You must use fingers 2 and 3 when using Dsus2 as an alternative to the Dm guitar chord. This will ensure you get used to having finger 1 free which you will need to if you want to play a proper Dm.
Can you see what we’re doing here? We’re ‘training’ your hand to get accustomed to the Dm shape in stages.
After a few weeks of playing Dsus2 with fingers 2 and 3, you will find it fairly easy to add finger 1 on and turn this into a full Dm chord, like this:
I hope you can see the logic in this and can resist the temptation to play Dsus2 with fingers 1 and 2 which will be your natural urge! You have more control over fingers 1 and 2, so it’s understandable that you’ll want to use them – my students do it all the time!
It’s important for you to resist that urge if you want to have good long-term technique. By following my instructions in using the correct fingers you will be planting seeds now for a better future as a guitarist.
A straightforward alternative to the Dm guitar chord
A very simple alternative to the D minor guitar chord is to simply use a standard D chord. It’s not ideal, but it’s a quick-fix that’s passable. Unlike other major/minor variants, you can actually use a D major in place of D minor without too much damage to the song.
Give it a try. Sure, it doesn’t sound ideal, but while you’re developing your guitar skills to a level where you can play a standard Dm, it can do a decent job.
An interesting 2-finger version of the Dm guitar chord
This unusual D voicing (it’s called “Dadd4″) gives you an open sounding alternative to the Dm guitar chord and as you can see, it will also train your hand to keep finger 2 free.
You can add finger 2 on to make this a full D minor guitar chord after a few weeks’ practice.
As you can see this is also a 2-finger chord but it has a different personality to Dsus2. Try them both. Can you hear the difference?
A dark & moody version of the Dm guitar chord
This bass-heavy version of Dm sounds very dark. Unlike some of the other alternatives here, this is actually a pure Dm guitar chord. It sounds very muddy compared to the standard form of the Dm guitar chord, but it IS a D minor and would work well for dark metal sounds and heavier genres. Dm works well in most rock jams too.
Are there other ways to play the Dm guitar chord?
Yes, there’s lots but most of them are beyond the skill of a beginner guitarist so we won’t look at them here. I hope you’ve enjoyed this free lesson and have fun exploring these different types of Dm guitar chord.