Drop 2 Chords

The Easy Guide to Jazz Guitar Chords


Drop 2 chords are the most popular chord voicings used in jazz guitar. They can be used for a wide variety of purposes, including comping, soloing, chord melody, etc.

On the following chord chart you will find major, dominant, minor, half diminished and diminished drop 2 chords and their inversions.

Drop 2 chords chart

These big chord charts are hard to print, that’s why I’m compiling them in an ebook for easy printing. I’ll let you know when the ebook is finished


Drop 2 ii V I Exercise

Here’s a good exercise that will help you memorize the drop 2 voicings. Play the drop 2 chords over a ii V I in C major. Start with the Dm7 voicing in root position on the 12th fret and descend down the neck, while making as little change possible between chord changes.

The exercise sounds a bit mechanical played like this, but is efffective for learning the positions of drop 2 chords on the fretboard.



Drop 2 chords ii V I exercise


Here’s the backing track:



Harmonizing Melodies

Drop 2 chords are often used for harmonizing melodies and chord solos. In the example below, the G major scale (the top note of the chords) is harmonized.

2 things you need to keep in mind when harmonizing melodies:

  • Chord tones (in this case G B D F#) are harmonized with major drop 2 voicings (inversions).
  • Non-chord tones (in this case A C E) are harmonized with diminished drop 2 voicings.


Harmonizing a scale with drop 2 chords


Variation In Chord Comping

You can use these drop 2 scales to harmonize melodies, do chord solos, but also bring variation in your chord accompaniment. Here’s an example on a ii V I in G major. All chords used are drop 2 chords, except the Gmaj7 in the 3th bar, that’s a 4-way close voicing.


To make the D7 chord in the 2nd bar a little more interesting, I made some modifications to the plain drop 2 chords.

Instead of just playing the normal D7/C drop 2 inversion, I exchanged D7’s 5th on the second string with the 13th:

D13 drop 2 chord


In the next voicing I exchanged D7’s root note with the 9th:

D9 drop 2 chord



Drop 2 chords comping example


More chord charts:

  1. DavidJun 10, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    Great stuff, Dirk…
    Many thanks !

  2. BillJun 10, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    Great lesson Dirk !!!!

  3. Earl AllenJun 10, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    How do you access the sound cloud for your examples?

  4. Earl AllenJun 10, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    Thanks Dirk….this info is eye-opening and very helpful.

  5. notepluckerJun 11, 2014 at 1:33 am

    Excellent. So much great info in one lesson. Thanks again.

  6. billyJun 11, 2014 at 5:06 am

    You’re the best. I am poor and have no money for anything; so thank you for the lessons.

  7. raulzJun 11, 2014 at 6:19 am

    Awesome lesson!
    thanks Dirk.

  8. AlexJun 11, 2014 at 7:07 am

    I’m confused on the “Variation In Chord Comping” example. Wouldn’t the Gmaj7 on beat 1 in the 3rd measure be the 4-way close voicing and the Gmaj on beat 1 in the 4th measure be a drop 2 chord?

    Beat 1 3rd measure:
    The notes are stacked G B D F# all in one octave.

    Beat 1 4th measure:
    The notes are stacked G D F# B. the 2nd highest note would have been G (since F# is below it and B is above it) but it has been brought down an octave and is on the bottom. Also on the graph “Major drop 2 chords & inversions” for the “Bass string on 4” diagrams, there is a chord shape that matches the aforemention Gmaj7 chord shape.

    Is that a mistake or am I analyzing this incorrectly?

    • Dirk LaukensJun 11, 2014 at 10:17 am

      You’re right Alex, that’s a mistake.
      I corrected it…

  9. MichelJun 11, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Great job, I can finally “see” and understand more with every of your lesson, Thanks again mate.

  10. AlexJun 11, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    very good lesson Dirk thanks a lot!

  11. BobJun 11, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Hi, I’m just learning about Jazz theory/chords and this is a fabulous resource! So glad I happened upon it, thanks!

    How do I access the soundcloud tracks?

  12. JoeJun 11, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Same question here as well. How do I access the soundcloud tracks?

    • BUDDYJun 11, 2014 at 4:33 pm

      try Google Chrome ( works fine ) I had problems with Internet Explorer. Hope this helps

      • JoeJun 11, 2014 at 11:45 pm

        Yep. That worked. Thanks Buddy.

    • mfodorJun 11, 2014 at 4:34 pm

      They might not show if you’re using adblockers, or Internet Explorer (any version older than 11).

  13. Mark RhodesJun 11, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Great lesson! It’s good to have the diagrams for easy reference—the guitar is such a visual instrument!

  14. ray millerJun 11, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Your lessons are eye openers to the simplicity of chord forms and their relationships. All it takes is a modicum of understanding and a bunch of thoughtful practice. Have you ever thought of yourself as a ‘hero’?

  15. GrayJun 11, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Thanks Dirk. Very good study and helped to clarify the Drop 2 concept.

  16. GuillermoJun 12, 2014 at 3:52 am

    Great lesson. Period.

  17. Ray BrightJun 12, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Nice. Thanks. Learned all these inversions, but what now? The ‘how to use’ link is not active and all my attempts to type it in let to ‘page not found’. Where is – goo.gl/VJCshJ ??????

  18. Jim SacraJun 12, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Thanks Dirk! I have been struggling with the chord group 5432 (strings) and this was a great help. In addition the charts for the m7b5 chords were really helpful. Great lesson. jim

  19. Daniel PascaudJul 6, 2014 at 12:08 am

    Very clear and useful.Thanks

  20. David BaronJul 14, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    Excellent lesson.

  21. Ray BrightJul 17, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    I appreciate the Drop2 lessons, and have done everyone, but I have no idea what’s up here. I think that: from any 4 note cord, I am to take the 2nd highest note from it, then invert the following cord with that 2nd highest note as the lowest note in that following cord. But example 251 indicates something else. I don’t usually have much trouble with your theory lessons, but Drop2 has me baffled. Thanks anyway. I love this site.

    • Dirk LaukensJul 17, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      Hi Ray, it’s not from any 4-note chord, only from 4-way close chords and inversions. For example C E G B (on strings 1, 2, 3 and 4) becomes G C E B, a drop 2 voicing of Cmaj7 in the second inversion.

      • Ray BrightJul 17, 2014 at 4:19 pm

        Ahhh, What’s a 4-way close chord?

        • Dirk LaukensJul 18, 2014 at 10:31 am

          4-way close is a voicing in which all chord tones are within 1 octave.
          For example:


  22. ArdyAug 22, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Dirk, I would be grateful if you could clarify what is the difference in function between shell voicings, drop 2, and drop 4 chords. Thanks, Ardy

  23. Bryan DunnAug 26, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Drop 2s have been been my Achilles heel being that, I want to learn them but have NOT devoted the time and effort, however your site is lighting a fire under my Bum, in a good way. With your clear cut examples and no nonsense approach without the over the top theoretical explanations , you make it VERY easy to learn and stay focus. I’m truly diggin’ this site, its locked into my Favorites for life.

  24. peteSep 21, 2014 at 1:38 am

    The best lesson yet! Well done! The best explanation of this “theory”yet. A million thanks

  25. Sharon Kathleen JohnsonOct 7, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Since most of these chords are seventh, could you also think of it as dropping the seventh note?

  26. OJBJun 4, 2015 at 3:31 am

    I’m noticing on the exercise there is no A note anywhere on any of the A7(b9) passing chords. Is there a theoretical explanation why?
    I suppose I’m seeking a different answer besides:
    That’s what the bass player would play; or
    It functions as a “6 dominant” to get back to the next ii V I; or
    It’s a dim chord and all four of those voicings are used.

    • AlexJun 4, 2015 at 8:43 pm

      The A is actually not that important, the 3rd and 7th are better at defining the chord rather than the root itself. The tension in the chord is in the 3rd and 7th and what makes its defining sound. Consider this question:

      What is the difference between an A Major and A Minor chord?
      Major: A C# E
      Minor: A C E

      The only difference is the 3rd. If we simply played the root and 5th, there would be no way to define it as a major or minor. Let ask the same question and add the 7ths:

      What is the difference between an Am7 and A7?
      Am7: A C E G
      A7: A C# E G

      You can see that the 7ths are the same here as well. What defines the A7 chord is the tri-tone interval between the 3rd and the 7th. At this point, the root tone A, does not have a large role in the functionality of the chord.

      This is also why the vii chord is really just a V7 chord, it is merely the top of a V7 chord with the tri-tone that create all the tension.

      Key of D:
      vii: C# E G
      V7: A C# E G

  27. OJBJun 6, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Thanks Alex (and Dirk). That’s more food for thought – thinking/seeing/hearing tri-tones, and what they do.

    Is there a “better” fingering habit to develop (fingertips vs bar) for the first chord Dm7 (12th fret)?
    fingertips 1 4 2 3 vs 1 3 2-2

    Also, the Cmaj7 with maj7 in the bass (9th+8th fret)?
    fingertips 3 4 1 2 vs 2 3 1-1 (both are comfortable)

    maybe the answer is sometimes “depends where you are up and down the fingerboard” or “depends who you ask” 🙂

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