ChordBank, How to Play Chords on Guitar
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Helping millions play guitar better, since 2010.

HOW TO PLAY

E Minor

The Em chord is one of the first minor chords you'll learn on the guitar—in the video above, I'll show you two ways to play, but they'll both sound the same. The difference is which fingers you'll use to play it.

When you're just starting out, you'll probably want to use your first two fingers, like this:

12

If you want to, and this will also get you ready for when we'll learn our E Major chord, you can use your second and third fingers instead—sometimes that can give you a little more room to maneuver and change to whatever chord you're planning to move to next.

STEP BY STEP

How to play a E Minor chord on the guitar

  1. Put your first finger on the second fret of the fifth string.
  2. Put your second finger on the second fret of the fourth string.
  3. Play all six strings.

THEORY

E Minor is a minor triad, three notes stacked on top of one another. The root, a minor third, and a perfect fifth:

In addition to being the root of E Minor, it is also the vi chord of G Major.

Here are those notes on a piano keyboard:

Here is how those notes are actually distributed across your fretboard in this version of E Minor:

EBEGBE

HOW IT’S USED

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

G
D
Em
C

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

Em
C
G
D

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

F#dim7
Bm
Em

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

F#m7b5
Bm
Em

You might also see a i-iv-VII:

Em
Am
D

SEE ALSO

Chords that frequently accompany Em in the key of G Major:

HOW TO PLAY
G Major
HOW TO PLAY
D Major

More important chords in the key of E Minor:

HOW TO PLAY
C Major
HOW TO PLAY
A Minor
HOW TO PLAY
B Minor
HOW TO PLAY
F# Minor