May 29th, 2007
Chances are that if you play any 4 or more note chords on your guitar, you are using a drop 2 guitar voicing—you just may not know it. Drop two guitar voicings are altered chord formations that make it easier to play 4 or more note chords on guitar. Drop 2 chord voicings are used almost all the time for 4+ note chords and their inversions.
So what is a drop 2 chords voicing you ask? Simple. As the name suggest, a drop-2 chord voicing on guitar is when you take the second note of the chord you are playing and drop it to the bottom, so it becomes the last note in the chord.
When you play a standard 4 note chord on piano the chord tones are typically played in order from low to high. So the notes go in order starting from the lower piano keys and move up. So the lowest note in the chord is the 1 (tonic), then the 3, then 5, and the 7.
The problem is that due to the nature of the guitar, you can’t play notes in order on a string because you can only play one note per string (the most notes you’ll ever be able to play on guitar at one time is 6). And your hands aren’t big enough to play the necessary notes in order while skipping guitar strings. In order to play the notes of a 4 note chord in order from low to high your fingers would have to play this (Numbers in dots represent scale degrees):
(notes in red can’t both be played b/c they are on the same guitar string)
So if we take the notes of D major 7: D, F#, A, C# and we take the 2nd note and “drop” it to the end we have : D, A, C#, F# or 1, 5, 7, 3. So now you can easily play the D major 7 chord on guitar:
(Numbers in dots represent finger numbers)
So next time you are trying to spell out a 4+ note chord and you can’t figure out how to apply that chord to the guitar, try using the drop-2 chord voicing, you will find that playing that chord will become a lot easier.
Tip: Drop two chord voicings on guitar can also be applied to chord inversions. I will discuss what chord inversions are and how to use them at a later date so stay tuned!