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Drop 2 Chords


Drop 2 chords have been used by many of the great jazz guitarists including Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery and Ed Bickert during their careers.

Chances are you are already using drop 2 chords in your guitar playing. Having a good understanding of drop 2 voicings can be a valuable tool for players of any experience level when comping or improvising a chord solo.

 

 

By understanding how drop 2 chords are built we can quickly learn to play them over the entire neck, and begin to use them to comp or solo over our favorite tunes.

 

Related: Drop 2 Chord Chart + Examples

How to Build a Drop 2 Chord

   A drop 2 chord is built by dropping the second highest note of a chord to the bass...

Here's a theoretic example:

Drop 2 Chords

The first chord you see is the root position for Cmaj7: C E G B
To make a drop 2 chord out of this root position, all we need to do is drop the second highest note (the G) to the bass: G C E B

 

Back to the guitar:

Drop 2 chords are built across adjacent strings (6543, 5432 and 4321) and have the following intervals:

  • Type 1: R 5 7 3  or  C G B E (derived from the 2nd inversion of a chord)
  • Type 2: 3 7 R 5  or  E B C G (derived from the 3rd inversion of a chord)
  • Type 3: 5 R 3 7  or  G C E B (derived from a root position chord)
  • Type 4: 7 3 5 R  or  B E G C (derived from the 1st inversion of a chord)

Note how R & 5 and 3 & 7, are always stacked next to each other. This intervallic arrangement helps give the drop 2 its signature sound.

 

Fig. 1 shows these four inversions written out in the key of C across the three different string groups.

Drop 2 Voicings

 

How to Build Common Drop 2 Voicings

Once we have learned to play the different inversions of Maj7 drop 2 chords across the three string sets, we can begin to check out the other “common” drop 2 chord types. Learning these different chords can seem like a daunting task, but with a few simple steps we can play all of these chords with relative ease. Instead of treating each of these different chords as separate fingerings, we can look at them as variations of the Maj7 chord we already know.

Start by holding the root position CMaj7 chord that we learned in Fig. 1. Now, by moving only one finger we will turn it into four different types of chords: 

  • By moving the 5th down a fret you'll have a Cmaj7#11.
  • Move the same note, the 5th, up a fret and you get a Cmaj7#5.
  • Move the 7th down by a fret and you get a C7.
  • If you lower the 3rd by one fret, you'll get a Cm/maj7.

        Drop 2 chord voicings

 

Follow this same pattern to produce the chord types listed below. A good way to start is to learn the four “Maj7” based chords (Maj7, Maj7#11, Maj7#5, mMaj7), then move onto the 7th and m7 families.

  • Maj7:          R 3 5 7
  • Maj7#11:   R 3 #11 7
  • Maj7#5:     R 3 #5 7
  • 7:                R 3 5 b7
  • 7#11:         R 3 #11 b7
  • 7#5:           R 3 #5 b7
  • m7:            R b3 5 b7
  • m11:          R b3 11 b7
  • mMaj7:      R b3 5 7
  • m7b5:        R b3 b5 b7

 

Fig. 2, which you can download in this .pdf here, shows 4 examples, one for each inversion, for these "common" chord types.

Notice that once you know the 7 voicings, all you need to do to learn the m7 chord is lower the 3rd, then just lower the 5th and you can now play the m7b5 chords.

After you can play these different chords in root position, try adjusting the intervals of the different inversions in the same manner to build all of these chords types over the entire neck.


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