Memorizing All Drop 2 and Drop 3 Chords | Hub Guitar

Memorizing All Drop 2 and Drop 3 Chords

By far the most useful four-part chord structures on the guitar are from the drop 2 family and the drop 3 family.

While there are other noteworthy structures, such as drop 2&4 and drop 2&3, mastering the drop 2 and the drop 3 chords alone is perfectly sufficient to be an excellent accompanist, and this is a good place to focus your efforts.

Drop 2 Chords

Drop 2 chords can be played on any set of four adjacent strings: 6543, 5432, or 4321. The configuration for a root position Drop 2 chord is: Root, 5, 7, 3.

Here is a drop 2 on the lowest four strings.

Strings 6 5 4 3 2 1
Drop 2 R 5 7 3 x x

Drop 3 Chords

Drop 3 chords can be played on any set of five adjacent strings: 6x432x or x5x321. When compared to the drop 2 chords, the drop 3 structure spans a larger range. The configuration for a root position Drop 3 chord is: Root, 7, 3, 5.

Strings 6 5 4 3 2 1
Drop 3 R x 7 3 5 x

Comparing the structures

Starting with a drop 2 structure, we can expand it into a drop 3 structure by taking the second note from the bottom (for example, the 5th in the case of a root position chord) and moving it up an octave. When we do this on the guitar, the result is that the chord now spans 5 strings instead of four, and that the second lowest string is not played.

Strings 6 5 4 3 2 1
Drop 2 R 5 7 3 x x
Drop 3 R x 7 3 5 x

Starting Drop 2 Cmaj7

If we take the “G” from this structure and move it up an octave to the 2nd string, it becomes a drop 3 chord instead. And we can do this with any drop 2 chord on the lower four strings.

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c natural
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e natural
b natural
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g natural
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Result: Drop 3 Cmaj7

The new chord spans a broader range, and excludes the 5th string entirely.

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g natural
c natural
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e natural
b natural
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From Drop 2 On the Middle Four Strings

This works also on the drop 2 chords played on the middle four strings.

Starting Drop 2 Cmaj7

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c natural
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b natural
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e natural
g natural
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Result: Drop 3 Cmaj7

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g natural
c natural
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b natural
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e natural
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The Upper Four Strings

Of course, this doesn’t work for the drop 2 on the upper four strings, because there are only 6 strings on the guitar.

Other Uses

This comparison can be applied to any drop 2 chord on the bottom four or middle four strings. The chord can be of any quality: major7, dom7, min7, etc. It can also be any of the inversions.

Putting it Into Practice

Play through all of the drop 2 chords you know on the bottom four and middle four strings, including all of the chord qualities and inversions. Practice visualizing and turning these chords into drop 3 chords. In time you will be able to see both voicings as two slightly-different versions of the same chord, reducing the number of individual chord forms you need to remember and speeding up your recall of all of the chord forms.

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