What The Heck Are Drop 2 Chords, And What Are They For?

From time to time you might hear a bunch of jazz guitarists sitting around cafes chatting about “Drop 2 chords this” and “Drop 3 chords that” and you might wonder to yourself, “What the heck are those guys talking about?!”

In this article I’m going to explain what Drop 2 chords are. You’ve most likely played them already, even if you didn’t call them that. If you’ve played an A-based major 7 bar chord, then you’ve played a Drop 2 chord.

Here’s how it works:

Lets take a Cmaj7 Root inversion chord with the root on the 5th string:

Cmaj7 Open Pos

This is called a “close position” chord, or a block chord, because all the notes of the chord are as close together as they can possibly be. The Root Third Fifth and Seventh, (C E G and B) are all together in a block.

 

Now, I’ll explain how to transform it into a Drop 2 chord. First though, you should know that the name “Drop 2” is the dumbest name for a type of chord ever invented! “Drop” actually means in this case “jump up an octave”! And the number 2 refers to the second note of the chord, NOT the second note of the scale like it usually does (as in a Csus2 or C9 chord)!

 

So, to “drop” the “2nd” note of the chord (the third):

 

  1. The 2nd fret on the D string becomes the 5th fret on the B string (red arrow).
  2. Next the other 2 notes, the fifth and the seventh, switch on to different strings to make the chord playable.
  3. The fifth moves from the 5th fret G string to the 10th fret D string (blue arrow)
  4. The Seventh moves from the 5th fret B string to the 9th fret G string (green arrow).

Cmaj7 open to drop 2 with arrows

It has now become a Drop 2 Root 5 chord (it’s still in Root position, but it’s a different voicing).

In this case the “second” note of the chord was transferred to the 5th fret on the B string, which is an E note. E is the third note in the scale of C major, so it’s often (correctly) referred to as the third in the chord of C major (NOT the second!). The only time when this note is referred to as a 2 is when talking about Drop 2 chord voicings. Which is not very often… only the odd time when you’re sitting around cafes with jazz guitarists yapping about chord voicings!

After clearing up that confusing mess, next we will look at the really great possible applications of the Drop 2 chords. We’ll look at maj7, min7 and 7 shapes and all their inversions. There are bound to be some interesting shapes you have not yet come across! Stay tuned 🙂

 

About the author: Daniel Jacobson is the director of Ultimate School of Music in Dublin, Ireland. He has been playing for 25 years and teaching for 20. If you are interested in improving your guitar playing, fill out the form to tell me about your experience with the guitar, and apply to get the best guitar lessons in Dublin.