How to Play the B Chord on Guitar

Posted on January 31, 2023

You’re trying to learn the chords to one of your favorite songs on the guitar, and then you run into the B major chord (or simply the B chord). Depending on the chord diagrams you use as a reference point, the B chord can be quite daunting, especially for beginners. However, it’s a fairly common guitar chord that pops up in many songs, so it’s worth the effort to learn how to play it. If playing the B major chord feels like a painful experience, don’t worry. There are some ways to make it easier to play and get used to.

How to play the B major guitar chord?

There are a number of ways to play the B chord depending on which version you choose to follow. Unlike most open chords beginners tend to learn first, the B major guitar chord is a so-called barre or bar chord. This means that you have to use your index finger to “barre” multiple strings so there are no open strings. Fortunately, there are easy versions that don’t require barring the strings.

One way to play the B guitar chord looks like this:

  • First finger (index finger): Press down all strings from A to high E on the second fret. In guitar chord charts, this is displayed as a solid line across the strings.
  • Second finger (middle finger): Press down the D string on the fourth fret.
  • Third finger (ring finger): Press down the G string on the fourth fret.
  • Fourth finger (pinky finger): Press down the B string on the fourth fret.

Optionally, you can use your ring finger to press down the D, G, and B strings simultaneously while leaving your middle and pinky fingers free. Whichever way you choose to play the B chord, don’t play the low E string with your strumming hand. Try both of these two variations of the B major barre chord and see which one feels and sounds better to you.

How to make playing barre chords easier?

The B major barre chord is only one of many similar guitar chords that make many guitarists’ fingers ache just thinking about them. In addition to the discomfort you might feel in your barring finger when playing a barre chord, there’s also the challenge of getting it to sound clean and free of unwanted buzzing.

To play bar chords, try these things:

  • Pay attention to how much pressure you’re applying to the strings. If you’re not pressing the strings all the way down against the fretboard, the strings will remain muted.
  • Use the side of your index finger instead of the soft part. This part of your finger is harder, and using it makes it easier to apply enough pressure on all the strings. You can try establishing the correct angle for your index finger by placing it first on the fret with your palm facing down and then rolling the finger over to its harder side.
  • Position your index finger close to the fret but not directly on top of it.
  • Curve your fingers more if you notice them accidentally stopping other strings from ringing.
  • One good reason to learn how to play barre chords is the ease with which you can change between different chords. To transition from one barre chord to another, all you need to do is move up and down the fretboard while keeping the chord shape the same.

Read more about barre chords in our full guide.

B chord variations

If barre chords make your fingers ache or you’re having trouble playing the full barre chord, there are other easier ways to play the B major chord as well. One way to do this is by leaving out either the high E or A string from the full B chord shape. In this case, you finger the remaining string on the second fret and play the other three strings on the fourth fret with your middle, index, and pinky fingers. This way each finger is used to play only a single string. Just make sure not to let the remaining strings play openly or you’ll get some unwanted open strings added to the chord.

If you want to simplify things even further, you can try a three-finger version of the B major chord like this:

  • Don’t play the low E, A, and D strings.
  • On the G string, position your ring finger on the fourth fret.
  • Position your pinky finger on the fourth fret of the B string.
  • Use your index finger to press down the second fret of the high E string.

Learn the B major chord and more on guitar with Yousician

The B guitar chord is just one of many that you’re going to need on your journey to mastering the acoustic or electric guitar. Make learning major and minor chords on the guitar fun with Yousician’s interactive online guitar lessons. Check out Yousician’s full song and chord libraries to start learning.

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