Drop 2 Chord Inversions for Jazz Guitar

Along with their closely related cousins the Drop 3 Chords, Drop 2 Chord Inversions are some of the most popular and commonly used voicings in jazz guitar.

They are easy to play, don’t require a lot of stretches, and because of their “jazzy” sound, they’ve become favorite comping and chord soloing tools for players such as Joe Pass, Ed Bickert, Wes Montgomery and George Benson.

Drop 2 Chord Inversions are built by stacking four notes together, on adjacent strings, with the following interval patterns:

 

  • Root Position: R-5th-7th-3rd
  • 1st Inversion: 3rd-7th-Root-5th
  • 2nd Inversion: 5th-Root-3rd-7th
  • 3rd Inversion: 7th-3rd-5th-Root

 

Notice how the 3rd and 7th, as well as the Root and 5th, are always next to each other in these voicings.

This knowledge will help you memorize Drop 2 Chords, as well as understand the theory behind how they are built.

Feel free to use this page as a reference point for Drop 2 Chords, rather than memorize them all at once.

The following chord dictionary contains Drop 2 voicings for:

 

  • Major 7
  • Dominant 7
  • Minor 7
  • Half Diminished
  • Diminished
  • Minor Major 7

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Drop 2 Chord Inversions – Maj7

 

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Maj7 Drop 2 Chords

 

Drop 2 Chord Inversions Maj7

 

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Drop  2 Chord Inversions 7th

 

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7th Drop 2 Chords

 

Drop 2 Chord Inversions 7th

 

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Drop 2 Chord Inversions m7

 

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m7 Drop 2 Chords

 

 

Drop 2 Chord Inversions m7

 

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Drop 2 Chord Inversions m7b5

 

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m7b5 Drop 2 Chords

 

Drop 2 Chord Inversions m7b6

 

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Drop 2 Chord Inversions Dim7

 

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dim7 Drop 2 Chords

 

Drop 2 Chord Inversions Dim7

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Drop 2 Chord Inversions mMaj7

 

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mMaj7 Drop 2 Chords

Drop 2 Chord Inversions mMaj7

 

Do you have a question about Drop 2 Chord Inversions? Share it in the comments section below.

48 Responses to "Drop 2 Chord Inversions for Jazz Guitar"

  1. Badge says:

    Hi matt. These are great. Have you thought about including a PDF link to to the chord charts so it is ‘printer friendly’? That would be great!

  2. Matt Warnock says:

    Badge, I have a series of snooks coming out, in PDF form, that will have all of this info nd much more, stay tuned for the launch dates!

    1. Mark says:

      What are snooks?

      1. Matthew Warnock says:

        Mark, they are books when I type too fast and hit the wrong keys :)

        1. Mark says:

          Got it, thanks! Absolutely love the site! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge freely with the world.

          1. Matthew Warnock says:

            No problem thanks for checking out my site, much appreciated!

  3. richard v says:

    matt i am a little confused on the drop 2 chords. how do i know which note is the name of the chords- by reading the top note???? of each example.?

    1. Matt Warnock says:

      Hey Richard,
      Here is where the root is for each chord.

      Root Position = Root is lowest note

      1st Inversion = Root is 3rd note

      2nd Inversion = Root is 2nd note

      3rd Inversion = Root is 4th note

      Hope that helps!

  4. Michael Kapp says:

    Thank you Matt!

    1. Matt Warnock says:

      No problem Michael!

  5. Theo says:

    So ALL of these chords are C and the given quality?

    1. Matt Warnock says:

      Yes all of these examples are in the key of C, root C, then the quality of each chord.

  6. Alex says:

    Matt, the light finally came on. I have been struggling trying to understand inversions and not making any progress. Finally after studying the Drop 2 section it has become clear. It is all about the order. I knew for the first inversion that the 3rd becomes the bass note; however i never knew that it is followed by the 7th, Root, and then 5th. I kept trying to keep the orginal order of the chord i.e. R, 3rd, 5th, 7th even for inversions. Thanks for all the great information on your site.

    1. Matt Warnock says:

      Very cool Alex, you got it!.

      R 5 7 3

      3 7 R 5

      5 R 3 7

      7 3 5 R

      So the R and 5 are always together and the 3 and 7 are always together, so that helps me think of each inversion as well.

  7. Ivan Osborne says:

    Maybe I’m missing something, (a grey cell perhaps), I’m trying to apply logic but the maj7 examples with “B” in the form, these are 9ths?

    1. Matt Warnock says:

      Hey Ivan, the B is actually the major 7th interval.

      C = Root
      E = Third
      G = Fifth
      B = Seventh

      That’s it, no ninth in that chord. Thanks for checking out the site!

  8. richard says:

    mi matt- haveing a problem with terminology/ i see what you are doing w.notes but have a problem distinguishing a drop chord from an inversion. can you straighten me out???

    1. Matt Warnock says:

      Hey Richard,
      No worries, a Drop 2 chord is the name of a chord shape on the guitar, so

      R – 5 – 7 – 3 interval structure.

      Then, an inversion is just taking each of these notes and moving them to the next note in the chord.

      R becomes 3

      5 becomes 7

      7 becomes R

      3 becomes 5

      So the Root position of a Drop 2 chord is:

      R 5 7 3

      and the first inversion is

      3 7 R 5

      I hope that makes sense

  9. Ammo says:

    Interesting it’s called “Drop” 2 when in fact the second note of the chord is raised an octave. Now THAT would make sense (2nd inversion, standard -close- position is 5-7-R-3 but in Drop2, is 5-R-3-7).
    Thank you for publishing this; I have been puzzling over it for a long time.

    1. Matt Warnock says:

      Glad you dug it Ammo. That’s how I learned to think about then, raising the second note up an octave. But there is another way to think of it as well. Take a closed position chord, CEGB, the lower the second note from the top, G, an octave and you get GCEB, a drop 2 chord. Either way of thinking works, I like the first way like you mentioned, but other people like the second way. Whatever works!

      1. Ammo says:

        Hi Matt, I would like to rename the inversions. According to Wikipedia, under “Block chords”, Drop 2 – the second voice from the top is transposed one octave lower. This is what you say in your previous reply, but it is inconsistent with your naming.
        Root position, 1 3 5 7, becomes 5 1 3 7.
        1st inversion, 3 5 7 1, becomes 7 3 5 1.
        2nd inversion, 5 7 1 3, becomes 1 5 7 3.
        3rd inversion, 7 1 3 5, becomes 3 7 1 5.
        I had analyzed the chords from the way you named them, and mistakenly concluded the rule was to raise the second voice from the bottom by an octave.

        1. Matthew Warnock says:

          Yeah, I wouldn’t rename the inversions, only because Drop 2 does come from closed position, like you said, but they are their own entity. So, it might be confusing to relate the two, as far as the names of inversions are concerned. If you did that, then 5-R-3-7 would be the Root position of a drop 2 chord, since it is built from the root position of the closed position chord. But that’s kind of confusing, since the root is not in the bass. So I would stick to calling R-5-7-3 the root position of a drop 2 chord, and working the inversions up from there. It’s just common practice to call the chord root position when it has the root in the bass. That’s all.

  10. Ammo says:

    Oh! Also, you might explain that there are 3 fingerings for Drop2 voicings, because they are adjacent strings (6-5-4-3; 5-4-3-2; and 4-3-2-1. The Drop2 and Drop2&4 voicings have only 2 possible fingerings.
    It wasn’t until I went through the exercises that I realized you were providing ALL those fingerings.
    Thanks again.
    I intend to build a chord diagram library in Finale using these fingerings.

    1. Matthew Warnock says:

      Yeah, I have pages on Drop 3 and Drop 2 and 4 chords as well, so I just focused on the Drop 2 chords on this page. There are three string sets for drop 2, as you said, in the notation above, and on the drop 3 and drop 2 and 4 pages I wrote out the two string groups, 6th string and 5th string roots. Though when I play these chords, I usually use Drop 3 chords when I want a 6th string root, or sometimes a drop 2 and 4, I rarely play drop 2 chords on the 6th string root, just because I find the sound muddy, but if you have a brighter sounding guitar/amp you can use those chord shapes as well.

  11. Henrique says:

    Hello Matt, I’m studying voicings (drop 2) right now and I can’t understand one thing, so here’s my doubt:

    Let me explain:

    When we have the inversions, we have:

    Root position – 1357
    1st inversion – 3571
    2nd inversion – 5713
    3rd inversion – 7135

    and then, when we’re working with drop 2, we have

    Root position – 5137
    1st inversion – 7351
    2nd inversion – 1573
    3rd inversion – 3715

    , because we transpose the second highest note from the top one octave lower, right??

    What I can’t understand is why you refer to the drop 2 chords, for example, in root position, 1573. ??? The correct form for drop 2 chords in root position is 5137, right?? So, why do you say that it is 1573?? I’ve understood all about this topic but I can’t clear my mind…

    I’m not English, I’m portuguese, so I’d be delighted if you could explain it to me in a lighter language, like, in a simple way, for me to understand it better.

    Waiting for your answer, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

    Henrique

    1. Matthew Warnock says:

      Oi Henrique,
      Eu acho que de “Drop 2″ acordes como uma forma na guitarra. Por isso eu continuo a Root como a nota mais baixa para a primeira posição. Todas as outras formas na guitarra tem a tônica como a nota mais baixa na posição de Root, e assim eu faço o mesmo para “drop 2.” O que você disse é correto, mas acho que funciona melhor para arranjar, mas na guitarra é mais prático para ver a Root como a nota mais baixa desde que é como vemos todos os outros acordes como “Drop 3.” Espero que ajude. ambos são boas abordagens, mas acho que este apenas se encaixa melhor na guitarra. Abraços

      Hi Henrique,
      I think of ‘Drop 2″ chords as a shape on the guitar. Therefore I keep the root as the lowest note for the first position. All of the other shapes on the guitar have the tonic as the lowest note in root position, and so I do the same for “Drop 2.” What you said is correct, but I think that works better for arranging, but on the guitar it is more practical to see the root as the lowest note since that is how we see all of the other chords like “Drop 3.” I hope that helps. They are both good approaches, but I think that this one just fits better on the guitar. Hugs

  12. bebop disciple says:

    Hi matt
    I’ve known about the inversion however not in the drop 2 form,my issue is coming up with a proper practice routine,hand stamina exercise and improvisation,I’m not into playing fast however I’d love to pick up some pace.

    1. Matthew Warnock says:

      for sure, practicing these chords can be tough at first. Here is an article that might help you, I’m also doing a series on how to practice these chords coming up next month that you might like.

      http://www.mattwarnockguitar.com/drop-2-chords-for-jazz-guitar

  13. ColinO says:

    Great stuff Matt. Thank you for all the work.

    Are there drop 2 voicings for extensions as well that are helpful – ie 9, #9, b9, 11, etc? And if so, at the risk of asking too much, do you have charts for those as well?

    Thanks.

    1. Matthew Warnock says:

      Hey,

      I usually use other chords, rootless voicings, instead of Drop 2 13th chords etc.

      So for a D13 chord I would play F#m11b5 instead, or for D9 I would play F#m7b5 instead.

      you can see more of that kind of playing in this article.

      http://www.mattwarnockguitar.com/increase-your-jazz-guitar-chord-vocabulary-300-with-ted-greene-chord-synonyms

  14. James Malone says:

    Hey Matt. If I were to add extensions to a drop two how would I voice the chord and it’s extensions? For example, would a root position minor nine be R-5th-7th-3rd-9th? Thanks.

    1. James Malone says:

      Sorry, I should’ve read the above comment!

  15. James Malone says:

    Okay, a better question: Can I use these chords when playing with a bass player, pianist or both?

    1. Matthew Warnock says:

      Yeah you can use these with all of those instruments, I would just watch the 6th string roots with a bass player as it might be too muddy, but the middle and top 4 string groups will work great.

  16. crimson says:

    Should we just memorize drop 2 inversion and leave the normal inversion aside so as not to confuse us?

    1. Matthew Warnock says:

      I would say start with Drop 2 and Drop 3 chords first then go from there.

  17. Steven Weiss says:

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for the great lessons. I just started practicing drop 2 and 3 voicings, and I do the two methods you recommended: horizontal and vertical. But there is a third way to practice them that I think is the most beneficial.

    I choose one root note and then play all qualities around that one note. So for example, if I’m playing a C on the 8th fret of the 6th string, I’ll play major 7, dominant 7, minor 7, minor major 7, half diminished 7, diminished 7, and even major augmented 7 and augmented 7. I do this for drop 2 and 3 voicings, and then do the same for different inversions. Doing this systematically allows me to see where each chord tone is, and how changing each note changes the quality of the chord.

    Is there anything you would add to this third method?

    Thanks a heap,
    Steven

    1. Matt Warnock says:

      Hey Steven, glad you are digging these chords and the lessons. I agree with the 3rd way, it’s something that I teach as well, and use it for learning arpeggios in one position as well as any chord. The other thing you could do is run a whole tune in one position, using all different inversions to keep your hand within say 4 frets as you comp through a whole tune. Great way to work on tunes and learn chords at the same time.

      1. Steven Weiss says:

        Thanks Matt!

        Great advice. I often stumble when trying to think of ways to take technical practice into tunes. Any suggestions on some first standards to try this with?

        Steven

        1. Matt Warnock says:

          Hey, try Summertime, the blues in any key, take the a train and satin doll to start. Great tunes for this stuff.

  18. Pete says:

    Matt –

    You are a true saint for providing this remarkable material to the public. The work and care you have put into this is astounding. This world would be a much different place if everyone had a heart like yours. You know…..the governing law of the universe is that people reap what they sow – so I can assure you that you will reap great things…. either in this life or the next.

    Thank you.

    Pete

  19. Pierre says:

    Hi Matt.
    Thank You for the vast array of support for your teaching. Its a very impressive.
    I am a beginner, and i cant seem to find the TABS for the fingering positions of chords for the videos you are showing for the Drop 2 Inversion.
    Please advise options?????

    Thanks Pierre

    1. Matt Warnock says:

      Thanks Pierre, glad you dig the site. All of the tabs for the Drop 2 chords from those videos are right on this page, you can see them right next to each video. Cheers.

  20. ROB says:

    Nice lesson MATT. I really like your four chord lesson .I can really put that lesson and the info to solo with and comp

    thanks Rob !

  21. Jimmy says:

    Matt,

    Thanks for the lesson. These are great. As a self-taught jazz guitarist, I long ago mastered all the typical voicings in each position with roots on each of the four lowest strings, but still I’ve felt something was missing. It never occurred to me that this intervalic concept you call drop 2 could be a way to get that certain sound, and explain those unusual fingerings I often see guys using on gigs. As a matter of fact, in the pursuit of this sound, I have spent fair amount of time working with chord voicings built from fourth intervals, but have never been very satisfied with how they work unless used in place of a minor 7th chord. So, I really look forward to getting these under my fingers and seeing how far they can take me. For the time being I plan to skip the voicings on the lowest four strings, with your permission of course ;) –there are only so many hours in a day. But I do have a request for you: along with the video lessons you’ve posted here for each chord type, would you please post a video of these voicings being used in music? Maybe yourself accompanying another instrument, or playing a chord-melody style piece with using drop 2 voicings. That would be so helfpful. Thanks.

    1. Matt Warnock says:

      Hi Jimmy, thanks for checking out the article, glad you dig it. You can see examples of these chords used in musical situations in other articles on my site, check these out as they should be helpful.

      http://www.mattwarnockguitar.com/beginners-guide-to-jazz-guitar

      http://www.mattwarnockguitar.com/category/jazz-guitar-chords

  22. Lee says:

    Drop2 chords. When annotating a C9 , C,E,G,bB D in root position, R,5,7,3 what note of the C9 chord do you drop to make a four-note drop2 chord? Love your site. Lee Ramirez.

    1. Matt Warnock says:

      Hey Lee, thanks for checking out the site. I usually drop the root and replace it with the 9th when playing drop 2 chords. Try that out and see how it fits your hands and ears.


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