I'm trying to play Gm and Dm as follows, which is described as "a typical reggae rhythm played on the offbeat".

enter image description here

The natural way for me to finger these are Gm with fingers 1 (bar) and 2/3 for Gm, and fingers 1, 2, 4 and 3 for Dm. But changing between these two feels pretty awkward. Is that something I should get used to, or is there a better way to finger for this change?


Actually the Dm (xx7765) are just the top 4 strings of a full barred Dm chord (557765), and the Gm is the same for the full figure (355333).

Use the 3rd finger to fret that 'G' note on the 4th string, 5th fret.

To transition to Dm, keep the barre and the 3rd finger, slide it 2 frets up the fretboard, and then add the 2nd finger on the 2nd string and the 4th finger on the 3rd string.

This seems to be the fingering that requires the least amount of movement, and it gets your ready for the changes when you play all 6 strings.

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  • Thank you, I didn't realise that's where the shape came from! I've done those changes a ton of times, I'll try that! – Anna Mar 17 at 13:37
  • Now Anna's question has been edited with the more usual way of writing chord fingering, it makes your answer confusing. Could you please swap the numbers (and add XX - as Dm as stated will confuse some!)? – Tim Mar 18 at 8:09
  • This is a good answer. Especially the fact that you are pointing out the similarity in fingering between the 2. – ggcg Mar 23 at 19:00

I've usually tended to finger all strings for both chords, so what I suggest is barre 3rd fret with index, and use ring and pinky on strings 5 and 4 for Gm. There's no need to actually play any more than the top four, though.

Then slide the barre up to fret 5, moving ring and pinky across to strings 4 and 3, leaving middle to drop onto the 2nd string.

The whole process is quite a common one, sometimes playing G major in place of Gm, which actually makes the three finger change all move together. For practice, try hammering all on each position in turn - the idea is all fingers arrive together, not in installments. But it's made easier with the gaps (rests) between changes.

And - chords are usually written 6th string > 1st, so XX5333, for example.

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  • Thank you, I didn't realise that's where the shape came from! I've done those changes a ton of times, I'll try that! – Anna Mar 17 at 13:37
  • +1 for chords written in the inline numerical format start with 6th string reading left to right - which gets very confusing when using that format along with tab which your brain naturally wants to read from top to bottom. But now the entire thread is confusing because original question was edited to correct the original mis ordering and mkorman's answer which conformed to original poster's reverse ordering now appears to be incorrect with no basis (although x-x-x format is a departure from XX5333 format). Perhaps you could deploy your diplomatic skills and suggest an edit to mkorman lol – Rockin Cowboy Mar 18 at 0:23
  • @RockinCowboy - done - but isn't it strange that the system actually goes backwards - 6th string to 1st? No wonder so many call the fat one the 1st string! – Tim Mar 18 at 8:10
  • I know ... right? I posted that as a question once on SE (music.stackexchange.com/q/42434/16897) – Rockin Cowboy Mar 31 at 4:52

What do you have against the easy Dm?

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  • I imagine thare's nothing wrong with that shape - except changing from and to barre Gm is worse than the posted shapes. – Tim Mar 17 at 12:52
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    If it's reagge, there might be some left-hand muting involved, and that's easier with barre chords than with open ones. – mkorman Mar 17 at 13:21
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    Yes, left-hand muting is an important part of reggae. Also it was a kind of general question, I could just as well have asked it for F#m and C#m – Anna Mar 17 at 13:36
  • I agree that muting with barre chords is very easy (especially for reggae!). But you can mute the strings with your flat hand in the same down beat when you strum them with your fingers. I understand that with a plectrum it is more difficult. Yes, and if you strum up, it will be more complicated to mute the strings. – Albrecht Hügli Mar 18 at 9:58
  • Probably voicing. Perhaps what is posted is what is written for that song. And it's what they want to hear. – ggcg Mar 23 at 18:59

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