Would anyone have a good guide to guitar cords in DADGAD or Dropped d, by Key with good cord progressions, alternative positions etc. Can only find the Michael Eskin one's online. Most guides don't do it for trad in the most popular Keys of D, G, Em, Am. Also don't want to be constrained by a capo, but most DADGAD players seem unable to operate without the capo.

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Oops. The ones I was suggesting are Michael Eskin's. My bad. I'll see what else I have.

I dont know of any free sites for Drop D chords. Perhaps I should put some up on my blog.


Its fairly old, but John Doyle's Celtic backup video on Homespun is fairly good. He goes over alot of the main chord shapes he uses for Drop D. His main D chord, from low strings to high, is 05423X  Leave the 4th string open if you don't want the third in the chord. A nice G is 550033  For A he uses 7X7655. Barre the top three strings at the fifth fret and you have an A minor. Slide a similar shape up two frets, 990777 for B minor. Barre that third string at the 8th fret for B major.


I find in Drop D alot of John's chords are big voicings that span all the strings. He will also use smaller voicings on the higher strings for a brighter emphasis sometimes, depending on the melody of the tune.


I find with this stuff that knowing a bit of music theory and how to construct chords goes a long way. Nothing to complicated, just knowledge of intervals and how to build chords using the root, third, and fifth. Then you can come up with your own chords based on the sound you like. I like a droney sound, with roots, and fifths and not always using the third.


Ill put up some drop D chords on my site sometime soon.


Anton Emery


Hi Tony,

I posted some Drop D chords on my site. You can check them out here.


Alot of them I learned from watching John Doyle's DVD, which is a good resource. I think for flatpicking melodies and playing rhythm Drop D is a good choice. Plus if someone hands you a guitar at a session to play you can just tune down the sixth string and pick.

Hope that helps.


Cheers Anton

I was looking online and couldn't find a lot. I would love to get them on a key by key basis with nice progressions etc. In main keys of D,G,Am,Em,A. It would be great if we could build up something good on this group as a reference for members

Thats a good idea Tony. If I have time perhaps I'll throw something together.

"I would love to get them on a key by key basis with nice progressions etc. In main keys of D,G,Am,Em,A."

I'm a little confused b this remark, Tony. To remind you, I play in standard tuning 98% of the time (Drop D 1.8% and DAD-eGADs! 0.2% and only when I am drunk.) "Key by key basis" has me wondering. The G chord you play in the key of G major is the same as it is in D major and C major and A Dorian, etc. The fingering and voicing of the chords doesn't change because you are in a different key. They will sound a little different from standard tuning because the altered tuning produces a different voicing for the chord, but that is the purpose of the altered tuning, or at least one of the purposes. Progressions don't have to change either. 

I'm certain there is something significant in your request, but I am missing it. Please help me understand. 

Sorry Bruce. Theory is not my strong point. What I was looking for was a way to make better use of the fret board by having a set of cords that flow better up and down the board in a linking, progression type of way. For example when playing in G your are mid way up the board anyway and can more naturally fall down through the various cords. However when in Am or A you are lower down the board and the flow and progressions don't flow as smoothly. It seems to work better in DADGAD where you see players flowing smoothly in a progression of two finger cords. There must be a way to view the main cords that occur in each key in alternate positions that work better for that particular key, with possibly a different starting position for the root cord of the key.

Ahh, that does make sense to me now. I don't have an immediate answer, but I understand the request. Let me ruminate on that one. 

That makes sense Tony. I think perhaps learning a bit of theory on how to construct simple chords in a few of the common celtic keys would be very beneficial to you. That way once you have a basic set of chords for a tune it will be easier to come up with variations on your own. I used this book in college and found it very accessible to work through.


For celtic music the theory does not have to be super in depth. For example its useful to know that the key of D major has two sharps, F sharp and C sharp. The notes of the D major scale are D E F# G A B C# D. If the tune stays in D major then the chords you have to work with are D major, E minor F#minor G, A Bminor, and C#dim. In how many positions can you play those chords on the neck? This is where knowledge of simple chord construction comes in handy. For example, the notes of the D chord are D, F#, and A. Now you can construct a D chord anywhere you can find those notes on the neck. When you are practicing at home you can try all these different chords and just see what sounds good.

Now you repeat the process for the keys of E minor, A minor, A major, etc. That nice thing is that 90% of celtic tunes are in three or four very similar keys, so what you learn in one will cross over to the other.

It can be a bit in depth at times but I found parts of this book by Chris Smith quite useful. http://www.amazon.com/Mel-Celtic-Back-Up-Chris-Smith/dp/0786640650/...

Sorry for my long winded and perhaps overly in depth reply. Having taught various people to backup celtic music over the years I find that learning a little bit of theory can go a long way.

Let me add an enthusiastic second to Anton's recommendation of learning a bit of theory. 

Thanks to Paul Brady Academy of music for highlighting these two sites with good DADGAD resources



Hi Tony, Was looking through the group sites and came across this request of yours from last year. When I first started trying to learn DADGAD I used to sit and watch trad guitar players to see if I could figure it out. I tuned my 6 string to DADGAD, but needed to have a visual reference for the "walking" that IT guitars do in the music. One player in particular told me about what he thought was an excellent resource: "The Irish DADGAD Guitar Book" by Sarah McQuaid (published by Ossian Publications, 1995). I picked it up, found it very helpful and still use it as a reference. It gave me a good start from basics to more complex chord progressions. Hope this will be helpful to you (better late than never). Cheers, Danny



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