How to Play a G-D Progression | Chord by Chord


Welcome to the latest installment of Chord by Chord, a series designed to build your fretboard familiarity and understanding of harmony. In the previous lesson, I showed you various ways of connecting C and G chords. This time I’ll do the same thing with G and D chords.


The Work

Example 1 shows how to play a G–D progression with open chords. Note that I play the G chord with my third finger on the second string and keep it held in place for the D chord. That makes for a smoother transition between the two shapes.

guitar notation for the G-D chord progression

Example 2 depicts a common way to move between G and D barre chords. It might take some time to be able to switch between these two chords cleanly, so be patient with yourself in working on this figure. If Ex. 2 is too difficult to play at this point, try Example 3a, which features compact voicings on the top three strings. For the D chord, you could also use a shape lower on the neck—which you’ll recognize as the top three notes of the open D chord—as shown in Example 3b.

Examples 4a–b demonstrate less common ways of play the G–D progression, staying in seventh position (Ex. 4a) or up (4b) to grab the D chord. Note that in the interest of smooth movement between these shapes, in Ex. 4a the lowest note in the D chord is the third (F#) and in Ex. 4b it’s the fifth (A).

Example 5a takes things further up the neck to tenth position. Keep your first finger barred across all six strings at fret 10 when playing this figure, and try Example 5b as an alternative to the barre chords in this position.

The Result

As you’ve done with the previous lessons, take the time to practice switching between all of these chord shapes using as little finger movement as needed, and making sure that you can clearly hear all of the notes in each chord. For examples of the G–D progression in action check out “A Beginning Song” by the Decemberists and “A Lot of Moving” by the Avett Brothers. That’s it for this lesson. Stay tuned for next time, when I’ll introduce you to your first minor chord, Am.

Kate Koenig
Kate Koenig

Kate Koenig is a singer-songwriter, music teacher, and music journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. They have been a regular contributor to Acoustic Guitar since 2017.

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