Guitar Fills in D Major

I love improvising – just noodling around in a given key and having a generally good time jamming away on the guitar. A big part of that is in creating fills or riffs in between chords… So today’s lesson is purely to give you a few ideas that you can use to get started creating your own fills. In this video I’ve only looked at D major, and even as is, it’s a bit on the longer side.

Remember, the chords in D major are D, G, A (the I IV V major chords), and the relative minor chords: Bm, Em, F#m.

If you don’t understand where this came from, I’d recommend checking out my Unlocking I IV V lesson as in that lesson I explain how and why chords work together, which is a critical foundation for doing stuff like the improvising and fills we’re talking about today.

So once you’ve got your chords down for the key you’re working in, take one of them and have a look at the scale that it comes out of. In this case, the relative minor of D major is B, and because we’re using open chords, the B minor scale with its root on the 5th string (2nd fret) is ideal. Again – I go over this in a lot more detail in my Guitar Scale Patterns lesson.

Now that you know what chords you’ve got, and what scale is nearby, simply start trying notes or interval combinations from within that scale, and see what you come up with!

Here are a few that I enjoy using:

Watch Guitar Fills in D Major on Youtube

For More Riffs Like This One, Click Here

Leave a Reply 13 comments

Frank - April 8, 2011 Reply

Hi Jonathan.
Great to see you back with as usual an informative lesson.Hope to see you again soon.

Walt Peters - April 10, 2011 Reply

Thank You JON…Your`e a Good Man…the same chord all
the way up the Neck…Good lesson…Thank You…..
Where`s Ninja.???


Nick108 - April 10, 2011 Reply

Thanks Jon, those D chord shapes up and down the neck, like the C Maj, listen to Neil Young, Don’t Be Denied, hey thats a nice way of using it. Just that simplest of chord changes makes that whole song stand out. Or in Tangled up in Blue, Bob Dylan, just that one change from A maj to A maj sus 4 makes the whole piece stand out, as Keith Richards would say, “Perfection in simplicity”. Some of the best things aren’t so complicated after all.

    Robert Ibarra - April 16, 2011 Reply

    The A to Bm7 sound a lot like rifs from the Doobie Bros.

      Nick108 aka Nandalal108 - February 2, 2012 Reply

      do you know what that name means? a Doobie is what? You don’t need that to relax, just follow what the guitar is teaching you and you will find it inside anyway. Play from the heart, not from the mind, this is the best musicians in the world. From the heart. But you have to start with the mind, this finger here, that one there, crawl before you walk, walk before you run and run before you sprint, but then it comes from the heart and that is when you know you are well on the way. And your neighbours won’t bang on the door to say turn it down, they will bang on the door to say ‘this sounds absolutely divine’, please turn it up louder. Have a great day and thanks John for your offerings, How can I ever repay you for this?

Tom Hamilton - April 17, 2011 Reply

Cood stuff – thanks Jonathan, knowing these fills really helps round out things musically. There’s a fill set for every key/fingering via hammer on’s or pulls – I’m glad to see you share your experience. I’ve spent much of the last 50 years exploring the guitar and learning these things – thanks for pulling it together in these tight lessons

Joanne - April 20, 2011 Reply

hey this is great…thanks heaps.

Tom - April 24, 2011 Reply

Its solved my problem thanks for sharing

Michael - May 3, 2011 Reply

Hey Jonathan, Always a pleasure watching your lessons, tips and tricks. I’ve only been playing for a few years, as my sons are all musicians and guitarists, but I’m sure glad I’m subscribed to getting more information from you. Keep the the good work (fun?).

mark - June 4, 2011 Reply

Great stuff thanks alot for all the great lessons. been playing for 1 year next week. Oh Yeah!

Tom - July 7, 2011 Reply

Good stuff as always, Jonathan! Have you tried “End of the Line” by the Traveling Wilburys? From a D shape on the 7th fret down to an open D, up to the 7th, then 9th, 7th, 9th, F triplet on 10, F triplet on 12, then D on the octave on 14. Just a scream! Give it a go!

    Jonathan Boettcher - July 8, 2011 Reply

    Hi Tom, I’m not familiar with that particular song, but I use those chords all the time. The D on the 7th fret is actually a G chord, on the 9th fret it is an A, and 14th is a D again (octave).

    If the F triplet your referring to is the same one I’m thinking of (top half of a major bar chord), then on the 10th fret, that is a D major, and 12th fret is an E major.

ozzy - February 2, 2012 Reply

Thanks Jon…I love lil quick tips such as this. Amazing how such small adjustments can add so much color to your sound isn’t it? Good info…thanks again.

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