Drop 2 Chords

Drop 2 Chords

Drop 2 chord voicings are formed by taking a chord and then dropping the next to the highest note, or voice, to the lowest note of the chord. Similarly, there are drop 1, drop 3, drop 2 & 4, etc. Drop 2 voicings are important because most of these chords are easy for a guitarist to play on 4 adjacent strings.

Drop 2 is just a name for how the chords were derived from another chord. This is only important for naming the voicings. I will describe how they are derived then I will show you the voicings.

The example below shows four C Major 7 chords and their drop 2 voicings in standard notation. The important thing to realize is which note is dropped to the lowest note.

C Major 7 Drop 2 Voicings

Drop 2 Example

Let’s explore the theory behind the example. C Major 7 consists of four notes: C, E, G, B. There is a root chord and 3 inversions for any 4-note chord. The table below shows the chord intervals and the notes that create the chords. First, it shows the note intervals for the base chord. Second, it shows the note intervals for the drop 2 chord. Third, it shows the notes of the base chord (lowest to highest). Last, it shows the notes for the drop 2 chord (lowest to highest).

Drop 2 Intervals and Notes

Voicing Intervals Drop 2 Intervals Notes for C Major 7 Drop 2 Degrees
Root 1-3-5-7 5-1-3-7 C-E-G-B G-C-E-B
1st Inversion 3-5-7-1 7-3-5-1 E-G-B-C B-E-G-C
2nd Inversion 5-7-1-3 1-5-7-3 G-B-C-E C-G-B-E
3rd Inversion 7-1-3-5 3-7-1-5 B-C-E-G E-B-C-G

Practical Uses and Tips

The theory of drop 2 voicings is dry, but the chords they produce are fantastic because they form compact and playable voicings. They don’t stretch your fingers too much and they don’t repeat any notes.

To use these voicings, I recommend learning the highest note interval and the lowest note interval for each drop 2 voicing. For example the 2nd Inversion drop 2 has the 1st, or root, as the lowest note and the 3rd as the highest note. You can use this to form a bass line as you change chords or as a melody on the highest note. This is effective in writing chord progressions.

If you’re interested in jazz, you’ll also notice that the color notes (3rd and 7th) are the two highest voices in the chord. If the bass player is playing the root, you can forego playing the root and play only the color notes to create the chord.

As you play more and more, you’ll probably notice that the drop 2 chords on strings 1-4 and 2-5 are the most useful. If you need to lessen your practice, I would start with these string groupings first.

C Major 7 Drop 2 Voicings

Each line below contains four drop 2 chords for a string set. The four chords are derived in order from the Root Position, 1st Inversion, 2nd Inversion, and 3rd Inversion. For example, measure 3 of line 2 is the 2nd inversion drop 2 C Major 7 chord on strings 2 – 5.
C Major 7 Drop 2 Chords

C7 Drop 2 Voicings

C Minor 7 Drop 2 Voicings

Below are the drop 2 patterns for the F chords. The ordering is different in these patterns. See if you can identify how they are organized.

F Major 7 Drop 2 Patterns

Drop 2 Fmaj7

F7 Drop 2 Patterns

Drop 2 F7

F Minor 7 Drop 2 Patterns

Drop 2 Fmin7

ii V I Chord Progressions with Drop 2 Voicings

Now let us practice using some of these voicings in ii-V-I chord progressions. This is a very common Jazz chord progression. Practice these chord grips then try taking out the root note and optionally the 5th of each chord as if a bass player was playing the root note. This will keep the focus of your playing on the color notes (3rd and 7th) that determine the type of chord that is played (major 7, minor 7, dominant 7, etc). One tip is to remove the lowest two notes from the drop 2 chords that have the root as their lowest notes. These ones do not have a slash next to the chord name. The 3rd and 4th lines below show progressions using only voicings with the root as the lowest note.

Subscribe for Free Content, Tips, and More!

3 Reasons to Subscribe to the GLW Newsletter:

  1. Free Stuff! You'll get free content that is exclusive to my newsletter subscribers!
  2. Content tailored to you. Over time, I'll get to learn more about you and deliver content that motivates you to learn, play and be inspired!
  3. No spam. Just real content that's meant to make a difference in your playing

Enter your name and email, and you're on your way!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit
Hello again! You're already subscribed to the GLW newsletter. Thank you for being a part of the GLW community. If you have a question, just send an email using my contact page. I'd be happy to help!

7 Comments on Drop 2 Chords

  1. This is great stuff I’ve been struggling to understand the reasoning and application behind building and playing drop 2 voicings and this is the most well constructed lesson I have found thus far. I am working on a project and presentation on the guitar style of Chet Atkins for my Music degree and one of the passages I am playing he used Drop 2 voicings. I Know the shapes but haven’t been able to clearly explain their significance and construction until now. Thanks for your hard work I look forward to exploring your site further.

    Matthew Wirtz

  2. The best explanation I’ve seen so far. Most others don’t mention anything about all the inversions, so they mix and match chord examples which create huge inconsistencies with the provided basic definition of Drop 2. Without also mentioning to which inversion it (the Drop 2 explanation) applies to, the definition doesn’t make sense… Thanks. Should I assume then that the Drop 3 explanation will be similar to the Drop 2, but this time the note that is dropped an octave is the 3rd note from the top… for each of the applicable inversions?

  3. Thank you! If I now understand drop 2 voicings correctly you start with a closed chord (4 notes), a M/m7 0r dom 7 which cam be written R357 (M7) drop the second from the top to get 5R37. Now to get inversions DO NOT use the drop 2 just done but use the closed chord and invert that once, twice, thrice and then do the drop 2 on each inversion. Thank you

  4. Excellent, practical stuff. Was recently working on some Wes Montgomery stuff and so many of his chord choices are basically Drop 2 voicing’s. I don’t perform a lot of jazz, but am the only chordal instrument in a trio w/singer cover band. So knowing a lot of 3 and 4 note chord substitutes really helps, especially when I may need to cover things like horn lines or an essential melody line to a song. Thanks for the post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


how to learn guitar notes for beginners  guitar chord shortcuts  what is the hole in a guitar called  reading sheet music symbols  guitar string tabs  what a difference a day makes chords  how to tell what key a song is written in  different guitar chords  best sounding guitar chords  going away to college chords  what does b mean in tab  harmonics on guitar  4 string bass guitar chords for beginners  chord guitar d#  how to create a chord progression  proper finger names  d 5 chord  bar cords  note names on treble clef  d# cord  you are good guitar tutorial  definition of pentatonic  key of g scale guitar  learn guitar arpeggios  guitar lead songs  the dominant in the scale of b major is  learn all guitar scales  how to play d in guitar  guitar string pattern  in a chord  let it be guitar solo lesson  circle of flats  1 4 5 chords  guitar notes and how to play them  g scale guitar chords  playing lead guitar  picture of guiter  guitar chord h  a blues pentatonic scale  how to play an c chord on guitar  mean guitar chords no capo  e dorian guitar scale  play greensleeves  best guitar for your money  guitar tuning lesson  slow guitar blues  am 7 chord  online guiter  guitar progressions pdf  how to play the notes on a guitar  learning sheet music for guitar  interval music theory  g major 7th chord  jimi hendrix scale  description of guitar parts  easy guitar music notes  guitar notes quiz  g major bar chord  chord progressions for guitar pdf  what musical notes mean  how to ring guitar  a minor chord progression guitar  c m chord progression  12 bar blues bass tab  guitar lessos  how to play c in guitar  beginning guitar theory  guitar starting lesson  12 note scale  e flat chord for guitar  natural harmonics on guitar  guitar string notes sounds  c minor 7 guitar chord  guitar nicknames  diminished 7  more than words plucking tutorial  how to guitar for beginners  resolving dominant 7th chords  lick tagalog  riffs and licks  grow old with you guitar cover  e flat dim 7  diminished guitar licks  how to play e major chord on guitar  1 guitar  how to play for no one on guitar  six string guitar lessons  octaves on guitar  picture of guitar neck  playing guitar by ear  how to read and write sheet music  guitar scales to practice  guitar main chords chart