Drop D Chords for Celtic Backup

Anton Emeryceltic guitar1 Comment

There is a bit of discussion going on at the TradConnect forum on guitar backup, and someone asked for guitar chords in Drop D. I thought I would post some here so everyone can benefit.
Despite this being “celtic fingerstyle guitar” I also like to flatpick a bit, both backing up tunes and playing melodies. Orkney tuning is nice for backup but to me not so great for flatpicking. The lack of an open D note on the 4th string makes various passages in tunes difficult. D is a pivotal note in celtic music. The way the notes are laid out in Drop D or standard tuning makes flatpicking melodies easier. I guess what it comes down to is I will never be able to settle on one tuning.

Like many folks I was first attracted to Drop D for celtic backup listening to John Doyle’s playing. Thought its fairly old now his DVD on Homespun offers good insight into his chord shapes and right hand rhythms. I think Drop D gives a nice chunky sound with the opportunity for full chord voicings from the sixth string to the first string. Like John I use a thinner pick, a Dunlop Nylon .73mm. Its thick enough for flatpicking celtic tunes, but thin enough for the fast strumming and playing triplets.

Below are a handful of the basic chords I use in drop D. Alot of them I got from Doyle’s playing and the list is by no means complete. For those that are interested I created the images in the Guitar Toolkit app on my iPhone. Then I took a screenshot and transferred the images over to my computer. Pretty neat. Click on the thumbnail to view the full size image.

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