A favorite of jazz guitarists such as Joe Pass, who used these shapes to perfection in his solo guitar performances, drop 3 chords are ideal to use when playing in a solo or duo setting. While they might take a bit of time to get under your fingers, having a strong understanding of drop 3 chords will greatly expand your Jazz guitar comping, chord soloing, and chord melody playing. Experiment with the fingerings for these chords as different hand sizes will use different fingerings.
Here’s why drop 3 chords are so popular:
- With a strong sense of bass in each chord (the lowest notes are always on the 6th or 5th strings), drop 3 chords will give you that fat-bottom sound when covering the low end in a bassless duo or trio setting.
- Because there is a string skip in every shape, drop 3 chords are ideal for solo guitar playing, as they keep the bass notes involved in your voicings, but separate them from the rest of the chord, allowing the melody line to stand out at the same time.
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Drop 3 Guitar Chords Chart
Practicing Drop 3 Chords
When practicing drop 3 chords, there are two main ways to get these chords under your fingers, before taking them to your favorite Jazz standard and applying them to tunes in your studies:
1. The first way to practice drop 3 chords is to learn each inversion on one string set:
- Take Cmaj7 on the 6432 string set and play all four inversions of that chord from memory.
- Move on to Cmaj7 on the 5321 string set and play all four inversions of that chord from memory.
- From there, play all 8 Cmaj7 drop 3 chords to cover the entire fretboard.
Here is an example of that exercise on the 6th string with Cmaj7.
Listen & Play Along
2. The second way to practice drop 3 chords is to work on inversions across all chord types:
- Play the root position, 6432 string set, for Cmaj7, C7, Cm7, Cm7b5, and Cdim7 chords.
- From there, play the 1st inversion, 6432 string set, for Cmaj7, C7, Cm7, Cm7b5, and Gdim7 chords.
- When you can do the 1st inversion, move onto the 2nd, and 3rd inversions for the 6432 string set, before repeating the exercise on the 5321 string set.
Here is an example of that exercise on the 6th string with each chord type in root position.
Listen & Play Along
More chord charts: