In some of my lessons and videos I incorporate a few Drop 3 chords. In this lesson we will cover and define drop three chord as well as learn some of the popular shapes and inversions. What are drop 3 chords? The name Drop 3 comes from the fact that in order to build these chord shapes, you take a closed position chord, 1-3-5-7, and “drop” the 3rd note from the top down an octave, forming the interval pattern 3-1-5-7. This however doesn’t mean the 3rd note is always on top and used as the bass not. Here is an example of converting the closed Cmaj7 chord to a drop 3 chord.


Closed Chord CMaj7 to Drop 3:



Drop 3 chords most often use the 5th or 6th string as the bass note, skip the next string, then play the other three notes on lower strings. They are primarily played on 2 different string sets;

  • 6th (skip mute 5th) 4-3-2
  • 5th (skip mute 4th) 3-2-1

By lower the 3rd note of any closed-position chord by an octave, you will then produce these four interval patterns for each inversion.

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

Now that we know the definition of drop 3 chords, how can we use them? Drop 3 are used primarily in Jazz music but often heard in many other music genres. I primarily preform Country, Rock, and also Contemporary Christian music and I incorporate drop 3 chords while preforming all of them. Here is a couple factors drop 3 chords will help you.

With a strong sense of bass in each chord (the lowest notes are always on the 6th or 5th strings), drop 3 chords will give you that fat-bottom sound when covering the low end in a duo or trio setting with no bass guitarist.

Because there is a string skip in every shape, drop 3 chords are ideal for solo guitar playing, as they keep the bass notes involved in your voicings, but separate them from the rest of the chord, allowing the melody line to stand out at the same time.

Though you may find drop three chords to be useful, they can be very tricky and challenging to learn and master. The hardest thing for me was learning how to mute the skip string. It took me hours of practice to make them sound smooth and keep the muted string from ringing.


Example 2
The best way to start learning drop three chord is to start with a few and learn all the inversions. In this exercise we will learn G7 chord drop 3 on 6-4-3-2 string set and also its three inversions. Practice with metronome.


Drop 3 Inversions:



Example 3

I find that the drop 3 chords played from the 6th string easier to finger and play than the 5th string chords. Here are some drop 3 chords from the 5th string. You may find some of the fingerings more difficult than 6th string chords.  Here we have C major 7, C dominate 7, C minor and C minor flat 5. I use the c minor flat 5 as nine chords. The C minor flat 5 also spells A flat nine chord (Ab9).


Drop 3 Chords - 5th String:




Example 4
Here are some more drop 3 chords from the 6th string. I use these quite often.


Drop 3 Chords - 6th String:



Example 5
Sometimes less is more. Here are some three note drop three chords you may find very useful. This groove uses C, F, and G. They can add a twist to your rhythm chops.


3 Note Drop 3 Chords:




Exercise 1

In this exercise we will show use some popular drop 3 chord transitions combined with some drop 2 chords. These are the chords I used. Listen to it then practice it with the practice track. This is the Jazz Groove in the intro video.




Practice Exercise 1:


Exercise 2
After you smooth out some of your drop 3 chords here is the solo I played in the head video with the practice track provided. Have fun and enjoy!




Practice Exercise 2:


Click here to download the Jazz Grove Solo pdf