Tips & Techniques

How to stretch your pinky on D-major

Lesson #167

Video Overview

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How to master difficult pinky stretches with D-major

It is relatively common, when using a D-major chord, to have a song require you to put a finger down on the 4th fret of either the 3rd or 4th string. In this lesson, I’ll explain how to go about practicing this technique - because it isn’t easy at first!

Understanding the chord shapes

First, let us start with the normal D-chord which you probably know. Even when you later on add your pinky, it’s important to know - the 3 fingers shown here should always stay in these positions!

E –––2–––  <-- left middle finger
B –––3–––  <-- left ring finger
G –––2–––  <-- left index finger
D –––0–––
A –––––––
E –––––––
     D   

From here, let’s look at the first modification - that of adding your left pinky finger to the 4th fret of the 3rd string:

E –––2–––  
B –––3–––  
G –––4–––  <-- left pinky finger
D –––0–––  
A –––––––
E –––––––
     D   

And then there’s this other modification, of adding your left pinky to the 4th fret of the 4th string.

E –––2–––  
B –––3–––  
G –––2–––  
D –––4–––  <-- left pinky finger
A –––––––
E –––––––
     D   

How to approach learning and practicing this

See my video for the 7 tips I offer in being able to play these chord shapes fluidly. It won’t come to you immediately, but given some dedicated practice it can be added to your bag of tricks faster than you may think (even if it feels impossibly awkward at first).

Example of a practice riff using these positions

Here’s the riff I play in my video lesson. This riff combines the D-major chord with an A-major chord, but running through it all is a melody line built on these D-shapes. You can strum as much or as little as you like when practicing this (based on your comfort). Switching to the A-major creates a good real-world situation - because you’re never going to stay on D-major for the entire song.

E –––2–––––2–––––2–––––––––––
B –––3–––––3–––––3–––––2–––––
G –––2––4––2–––––2–––––2–––––
D –––0–––––0––4––0––4––2––4––
A –––––––––––––––––––––0–––––
E –––––––––––––––––––––––––––
     D                 A

Also, note the A-major shown above will likely need to be played with your index finger barring across all three strings. I made a video lesson for that here:

Example of song riffs that use these positions:

Norwegian Wood by the Beatles (view my lesson):

e ––––2–2–2––––––––––––2–2–2–––––––––2–2–2–––––––––––0h2–2–2—–2–2–2––
B ––––3–3–3––3–3–3–––––3–3–3–––––––––3–3–3–––––––––––3–––3–3—–3–3–3––
G ––––2–2–2––4–2–0–(2)–2–2–2–––0–––2–2–2–2–––––0–––––2–––2–2—–2–2–2––
D –(0)––––––––––––––4––––––––2–––4–0–––––––––2–––––0–––––––––––––––––
A ––0––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––0–3–––2–0–––––––––––––––––
E –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Rocky Mountain High by John Denver (view my lesson)

E ––––––2–2–––––2–2––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
B ––––––3–3–––––3–3––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
G ––––––2–2–2h4–2–2–2–––––––2–––––––––––––––0–––0–0–0–––0–0–0–––0–0––
D ––––––––––––––––––––––0h4–––––4–––2–0–––––x–––x–x–x–––x–x–x–––x–x––
A ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––2–––2–2–5–––5–5–7–––7–7––
D ––0–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––0h2–2–––2–2–5–––5–5–7–––7–7––
    D                               Em              G       A        

Feathered Indians by Tyler Childers (view my lesson)

E ––2––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––|––3––––––––––––––––|––3––––––––––––––––
B ––3––––––––––––––––|––0h2––––––––––––––|––3––––––––––––––––|––3––––––––––––––––
G ––0h2–2––4–2––2p0––|––0h2––––––––––––––|––0––––––––––––––––|––0––––––––––––––––
D ––0––––––––––––––––|––0h2–2––4–2––2p0––|––0–––––0h2–4––2–0–|––0–––––0h2–4––2–0–
A –––––––––––––––––––|––0––––––––––––––––|––0h2–2––––––––––––|––2h2–2––––––––––––
E –––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––|––3––––––––––––––––|––3––––––––––––––––
    D                   A                   G                   G                

Also, there’s Hotel California by The Eagles - though I’m not going to show the full tab for it here, as it’s quite a long intro and this D-section is simply one note within. You can view my Hotel California lesson if you want to watch it for yourself.

Good luck!

Once you have this worked out, you’ll be able to tackle the riffs shown above. Good luck!

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