Drop 2 chords are commonly used by jazz guitarists and are essential to learn when developing good comping skills. Knowing how to play the different types across the guitar neck is important, so in this lesson I will be explaining how to play drop 2 chords.

Terms like drop 2 and drop 3 are associated with horn voicings, but the formula works great on guitar too. Before we take a look at drop 2 chords, let’s just remind ourselves the notes from a C major 7th chord which are C, E, G, and B. The example below shows a closed position C major 7th chord voicing, built from the root upwards.

 

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This type of chord is referred to as a close-position voicing because all the notes are as close together as they can be which is stacked in diatonic thirds to form a c major 7th chord.

Although close-position voicings work well on the piano, some of the inversions are stretchy and tough to grab quickly on the guitar which is why drop 2 and 3 chords are used more frequently.

To turn a close-position voicing into a drop 2 chord, take the second note from the top of the chord and drop it to the bottom.

 

 

This example shows how this technique applied, but notice the new fingering isn’t too practical, so I’ve used a drop 2 voicing on the top four strings.

There are four inversions for each drop 2 chord:

 

7, 3, 5, R

R, 5, 7, 3

3, 7, R, 5

5, R, 3, 7

 

A useful way to visualise drop 2 chords across the fretboard is seeing that the top note of the chord is an arpeggio note of the chord in context.

For each drop 2 inversion, there are two fingerings, one on strings 1234 and one on strings 2345. This means that there are four drop 2 inversions that can be played on two adjacent string sets resulting in 8 chords all together.

For notated and tabbed images of drop 2 chords across the different string sets, visit my resource section.

 

How to Practice Drop 2 Chords

 

  • Play through a tune while keeping your hand in one area of the neck so that you are forced to use all the different inversions instead of jumping and down the neck.
  • Play one type of chord such as a C major 7 in all 12 keys but instead of jumping across move the root up a fret or semi-tone each time and form your chord from that. You practice this exercise ascending and descending, so instead of going up a position each time, go down a few frets.
  • Play each inversion across all string sets like in the examples above.

 

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