How to play the Bm guitar chord

Yousician team 7 min read

Even if you’ve mastered a handful of basic open guitar chords, also known as cowboy chords, you’ll eventually need to try your hand at more challenging chords. One of the most common intermediate chords is the B minor guitar chord or simply Bm. Read more and learn how to play this minor barre chord on guitar.

How to play the B minor guitar chord?

The Bm guitar chord is one of the so-called barre chords (or bar chords) that require you to use one of your fingers to “barre” multiple strings simultaneously. To play the Bm chord, you need to use your index finger to bar all strings other than the low E string. The E string isn’t played at all. The other fingers of your fretting hand are used to play the D, G, and B strings.

Here’s how to position your fingers:

  • First finger (index finger): Lay your index finger across all strings on the second fret except the low E string.
  • Second finger (middle finger): Press down the third fret of the B string.
  • Third finger (ring finger): Press down the fourth fret of the D string.
  • Fourth finger (pinky finger): Press down the fourth fret of the G string.

B minor chord

The biggest challenge with barre chords, such as the B minor, is to fret all strings well enough with your index finger. If your hand position is a bit off, some of the strings will sound muted. In order to create enough pressure to press down all strings, try positioning your index finger close but not directly on top of the fret. You can also try using the harder side of your index finger to bar the string instead of the softer flat side of the finger.

What is the difference between minor and major chords?

As you learn how to play the guitar, you’ll soon find that there are two primary types of guitar chords: major and minor chords. You can distinguish between minor and major chords based on how they sound and feel. Major chords have a bright and happy sound to them, whereas minor chords sound sad and dark in comparison. Major chords, such as A, D, and B major, are usually referred to with only the root note that the chord is built on. While major chords contain a major third, minor chords have a minor third in them.

You can recognize minor chords from the letter “m” in their name, such as the Am, Dm, and Bm chords. Different chord types aren’t limited to just these two, but we’ll get to the others, such as diminished and augmented chords, at another time.

In case you’re already familiar with the B major chord, you might have noticed that the two chord shapes are very similar. In fact, there’s a difference of only a single fret. Just like the Bm chord, the B major is a barre chord that requires you to bar the five strings from A to high E with your index finger. Use the other three fingers to play the fourth fret of the D, G, and B strings. Alternatively, if your finger dexterity allows, you can barre these three strings as well with your ring finger.

B chord

Both the Bm and B guitar chords are great additions to your arsenal of chords, although both can be difficult and sometimes painful to learn. Once you’ve established the basic chord shape of a barre chord, such as the Bm chord, it’s easy to transition from one bar chord to another. Either you only have to move up and down on the guitar fretboard or make very small changes to the chord shape you’re using.

B minor chord variations

Although the Bm chord is usually played on guitar as a barre chord, there’s a way to make it easier by playing only a single string with one finger. Although this way of playing the Bm chord leaves out the three lowest strings altogether, it’s a great alternative if barre chords feel too difficult to play.

For an easier version of the B minor guitar chord, you need your index, middle, and ring fingers to play the high E, G, and B strings. From here, it’s easy to progress to a bit more challenging alternative just by adding in your pinky and using it to play the fourth fret of the B string while your ring finger moves over to play the D string. Now you’re almost playing the full barre chord version of Bm.

B simplified chord

Songs on guitar using Bm

The only way to learn how to master new chords is by practicing. Try playing these songs with chords to learn B major on guitar.

  • “Hotel California” by Eagles
  • “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by The Beatles
  • “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down
  • “Fortune Faded” by Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • “Burning Love“ by Elvis Presley

Songs without barre chords

Barre chords can be tricky and even painful if your fingers aren’t used to forming barre chord shapes. And it’s not just beginners who may struggle with barre chords — even many more advanced players would much rather play open chords. In case you find it difficult or uncomfortable to play barre chords such as the B minor, here’s a list of songs that use only basic open chords.

Learn the Bm chord and more on guitar with Yousician

The Bm chord is just one of many minor chords all guitarists should learn. You can find Bm and more in Yousician’s full guitar chord library. If you haven’t already, make sure to also read our beginner’s guide to guitar chords to improve your guitar-playing skills.

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