I'm a guitar player with relatively few theoretical background.
I just like to play the guitar.
In my guitar book I find expressions like D/A (or better d, under it a horizontal line and then a), or E/G#, and so on.

I found the following question concerning D/A What is a D/A Chord?

But it is way to complex for me. I just need to know, if the second part after the slash can be skipped if you are only one guitar player or not.

Thanks alot in advance


4 Answers 4


As a guitar player, you're mostly playing the inversion that makes sense for the chord shapes/fingerings that are familiar to you.

Ideally, playing the correct inversion is going to create the intended sound.

However, if you don't want to worry about it, then don't. If it sounds strange, then try another shape for the same chord.

Incidentally D/A can easily be played with a standard open chord D and just strumming the highest 3 strings.

  • 11
    D/A can also be played with a standard open chord D by strumming the upper 5 strings.
    – supercat
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 21:52
  • 3
    This is also a good time to note that you might be able to wrap your thumb around to get at /F, /F#, and /G on the first string, and maybe /A# and /B on the second string. Or you can selectively mute strings to change the base note of a standard chord, although as you mute more strings the chord might become too quiet, if technically correct as written. Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 1:34
  • 2
    @GGMG - that first string you mention is usually called the bottom string - the fat one - the low E - the sixth.
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 5:18
  • You have a typo - "Hiowever". Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 10:42
  • @Tim Guitar isn't my main instrument.. I was thinking in terms of pitch instead of location. Thanks for clarifying
    – Greg
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 12:58

The first letter is the name of the chord to be played. The second after the slash is supposed to be the lowest note heard in that chord. So, in D/A you could play an open D chord and use the open A string as the lowest note.

It's not so important, though, if there's a bass player around, as he can play the A note involved.

But even if there isn't, when you play any version (or inversion) of a Dmajor chord, it will not sound wrong. just not as right as the guy who wrote it wanted it to sound.

To get it exactly right, you need to play the exact chord (1st letter) with the second letter name note underneath that chord.

  • idk why this is not the answer Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 18:00
  • @GibralterTop - I don't understand your comment.
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 18:25
  • Sorry, I should've said "idk (i don't know) why this is not the accepted answer" Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 12:21
  • @GibralterTop - possibly because the accepted answer was accepted before this one appeared. But thanks anyway...
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 12:44

We need to separate three cases here:

  • Classical-style inversions. In classical music, it's generally voices that come first (chords are only a secondary phenomenon created through counterpoint between these voices). Perhaps the most common manifestation of this in rock/pop are descending bass lines through a chord sequence. Omitting such a bass will definitely lose a lot of the piece's character, however the harmonies themselves will work just fine.
  • “I just played this voicing because I liked the sound” – rock guitarists are often quite inconsistent in how they play chords. In particular, something like D/A and second inversions in general (i.e. fifth in the bass) is likely not result of careful compositional consideration but just of leaving the A-string ringing though it's not normally supposed to.
    Such a bass note is clearly optional then.
  • Chord-foreign bass notes. These can substantially change the character towards the Jazzy, so if you want to keep the character you should also keep the bass notes. However it's actually often possible to substitute such chords with related ones if you find them difficult to finger.

In the end, it's up to you: let your ears decide! There's never really an objective right or wrong in music, just always make sure that you give every possible option a try and don't just accustom to something not so optimal.

  • A chord notated as D/A should certainly be played that way if possible, and is certainly not the result of #2.
    – user207421
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 12:42
  • 1
    @EJP - where the heck did #2 come into the equation?
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 16:58

Uh, especially as a single guitar player, the bass note over which something is played is important.

A typical accompaniment is to pick the bass note on the first beat of a measure or half-measure, then strum the chord strings back and forth on the rest. Or pick the bass note first (in that case, think of the note behind the slash as your "thumb note") and then fingerpick a pattern on the higher-sounding strings.

For that kind of accompaniment pattern, the bass notes are often arranged in a way where they form a run (or rather walk) of their own, and not following that pattern when it is important enough to get written down tends to make the music less interesting.

  • For 'a typical accompaniment', the root note is far more often the bass note played. It sounds odd using a 5 as the bass note, then strumming the chord.
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 17:01

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