My Favorite Guitar Chord

My favorite guitar chord is D (add9, add11) played with the G and E strings open. It sounds like a complicated chord, but really, it’s incredibly simple, and perhaps that’s why I like it so much. For those who know basic, open guitar chords: The chord is simply an open C shape pushed up two frets higher to make it a D. The open strings cause the chord to be augmented from being a normal D chord.

Top-down view of the chord.

The tablature version of this chord is:


Most of the beauty in this chord comes from the dissonant sound of the F# played on the D string blending with the open G string. It sounds good strummed normally, or arpeggiated. I quite enjoy strumming random notes within the chord as well.

The first time I messed around with this chord was sometime around 2008. I was playing with some chorus effects and just strummed that chord wide open, and it was a thing of beauty. Since then, I’ve included it in several songs I’ve written (including some variations involving capos).

I’ve noticed Sam Beam of Iron and Wine uses this chord quite a bit. For example, the Iron and Wine song “Sodom, South Georgia” uses the chord prominently (and Beam seems to love that dissonant sound, as he builds lots of chords in his songs around that idea).

When I first discovered the chord, I treated it like a cheat code. I wanted to keep it close to the vest, and only have people discover it in songs I had written. As I listened to more interesting music using that specific chord, I realized how dumb this was. It’s such a beautiful chord, especially on a 12-string acoustic guitar, and lots of songwriters should have it in their arsenal.

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