ChordBank, How to Play Chords on Guitar
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HOW TO PLAY

Bm Chord

The Bm chord is one of the very few chords that is both very, very common, and very, very difficult for beginners to play.

By the time you've finished reading this page, you will learn:

Why the B minor chord is so hard

B minor is one of the first chords that, when you look it up in a chord book, usually the first result that you see is this difficult chord with what's called a barre shape in it. With a big rectangle across it. Like this:

The more advanced barre chord diagram of an Bm chord on guitar

And if you're just starting out, and you see this rectangle, you might not even know what it means. You'll google around, you'll find out that it's called a barre chord, whatever that is, and you'll try to figure out how to stretch your hands into that position for a while before giving up, putting your guitar back in the closet, and saying "this isn't fun anymore, I'll pick it up again tomorrow."

What is a barre chord?

Most of the common chords you've learned—chords like D, chords like G, chords like A, they're very easy to play. They only need three fingers, they have a lot of open strings.

And, with each of these easier chords, each finger is fretting one single note. So, in the D, G, and A chords you already know, each of your fingers is touching a single string.

With a barre, though, you are taking one finger, and instead of putting your fingertip on the string, you're flattening out your knuckle, and laying your finger straight across more than one string at a time.

“With a barre, you are taking one finger, and instead of putting your fingertip on the string, you're flattening out your knuckle, and laying your whole finger straight across more than one string at a time.

If that weren't hard enough, while you're doing that, you also have to put some combination of the rest of your fingers on the rest of the strings.

Which is often too difficult a thing for a beginner guitarist to learn

So there's three different versions of Bm that you should learn, and they all come from the difficult one. But they're made a little bit less difficult one, each time.

The best B minor chord for beginners

Don't worry—there is a version of B minor that you can learn right now, that is as easy to play as the other beginner chords you learned. Here it is:

The easiest b minor chord to play on guitar

Why is this easier?

It's likely that if you're looking up how to play a B minor chord, it's not the very first chord you're trying to learn. You probably have learned a few other chords. Chords like D, and G, and you probably can play those with no problem. And you probably are trying to play a song that those chords in it, but it also has this Bm.

So why is B minor so hard?

Well, D and G, these are each using three fingers.

What I recommend, is that for the first version of B minor that you learn also uses those three fingers. And it's also just as easy to play as D or G is.

Start by taking your first finger, put it on the first string, at the second fret. Take your second finger, put it on the second string, at the third fret, and your third finger goes on the third string goes on the third string. And we're only going to play those three strings you've got your fingers on.

That is a B minor chord. Now get off your computer and go back to whatever song you were trying to learn.

It's a real chord, it has all three notes. It's a perfectly valid way to play B minor, especially when you're just starting out.

Four finger version

The next version of B minor you should learn has a little fuller sound. We're going to start with the beginner version we already learned, and we're going to add a finger, so it's going to use all four fingers.

You might not be used to using your pinky, and it can be hard to get that finger to do what you want to, but most people can learn this version within five to ten minutes.

You're going to basically add another note on the fourth string, right on the fourth fret, where your third finger was already. But we're going to flip our third and our fourth fingers.

An easier way to play B minor guitar chord, using four fingers.

Tip: When two fingers are playing on the same fret, the thicker finger usually goes on the thicker string.

Make sure you only strum the highest four strings.

This version should last you a while—go ahead and start playing this version in your songs, begin learning other chords, and come back to learn the barre version later.

Barre Version

When you're ready, it's time to start to learn how to actually make the barre.

The more advanced barre chord diagram of an B minor chord on guitar

To do that, take your first finger, and put the tip on the fifth string, just behind the second fret.

Then, flatten out your knuckle.

Now that the barre is in place, we're actually going to put the rest of our fingers in the same places that we did for the easy version.

The only difference is that, instead of fretting just the first fret like our easy version was, our first finger is now fretting all the way across the highest five strings.

The other fingers, they're just doing their thing like they were before. Put your second finger on the second string just behind the third fret, your third finger on the fourth string just behind the fourth fret, and your littlest finger right underneath it, on the third string, just behind the fourth fret.

Play the top five strings.

Congratulations on what may be your very first barre chord.

This can get a little buzzy, but don’t give up. Practice makes perfect, here.

And, whatever you do, don't stop playing guitar because you're having trouble with the barre. Just play the easier version until you're ready to move to this one.

Or, don't move to this one, if you don't want to. This guitar lesson is ungraded.

HOW IT’S USED

You’ll frequently encounter Bm as the vi chord of D Major. Here is that classic I-V-vi-IV:

D
A
Bm
G

In the key of B Minor itself, with a little respelling, those chords become the III, VII, i, and VI. You might see them arranged like so:

Bm
G
D
A

Let’s get rid of those major chords, though. Moving from the diminished ii°, to the v, and back to the i:

C#dim7
F#m
Bm

You can also play the dimished chord as ‘half-diminished’ seventh—a little gentler:

C#m7b5
F#m
Bm

You might also see a i-iv-VII:

Bm
Em
A

SEE ALSO

Chords that frequently accompany Bm in the key of D Major:

HOW TO PLAY
D Major
HOW TO PLAY
A Major

More important chords in the key of B Minor:

HOW TO PLAY
G Major
HOW TO PLAY
E Minor
HOW TO PLAY
F# Minor
4567
HOW TO PLAY
C# Minor