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Lesson: Playing the B Minor Scale on Guitar

Learning the B minor scale is an excellent way to expand your range as a guitarist. This scale is the relative minor of D major, which means you will see the same notes in both of these scales, albeit in a different order. You can listen for the B minor scale to make an appearance in a wide range of musical styles and genres.

Studying minor scales is a great way to train your ear. Minor scales differ from major scales in one key way: the third interval. In a minor scale, the third is a half-step lower or “flat” from the third in a major scale. This difference of a single note gives the minor scale its distinctive, sorrowful sound.

In this lesson, we’ll go over the notes in the B minor scale, how to play the B minor scale, and how to practice playing this scale. Grab your guitar and let’s get started.

Notes in the B Minor Scale

There are seven notes in the B minor scale:

  • B

  • C#

  • D

  • E

  • F#

  • G

  • A

The first note, B, is the root note of the scale. If you were building a B minor chord, you would combine the root note B with the minor third D and the perfect fifth F#.

There are many different ways you can play a B minor scale on your guitar. However, no matter where on the fretboard you start, this scale will always contain only these seven notes.

Now, let’s take a look at how to play one version of the scale, as well as the finger placements you’ll need to learn in order to play the B minor scale on the guitar.

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B Minor Scale Positions

When learning the B minor scale, diagrams can help you learn which notes correspond to each fret. These diagrams represent the fretboard of your guitar. In the diagrams below, each dot shows you the note you’ll play on a specific fret and string. If you see a dot with a note above the string, play the string in an open position. The yellow dots indicate the root note of the scale. In this case, that root note is B. Follow the diagram exactly to properly play the scale.

B Minor Scale - 7th Position

To play the B minor scale in 7th position, place your index finger on the 7th fret of your low E string. You’ll use your middle finger for notes on the 8th fret, your ring finger for notes on the 9th, and your pinky for notes on the 10th fret.

However, when you reach the G string, you’ll need to shift your hand up one fret to reach the 6th fret with your index finger to play the C# note. Then, be ready to slide your index finger back down to the 7th fret of your G string to fret a D note.

B Minor Scale Tabs

Now that you’ve learned to play the B minor scale in the 7th position using a diagram, we’ll look at the same scale using another method of notation. Guitar tabs contain all the same information that diagrams do, plus they show you the exact order in which to play each note.

As you continue studying guitar, you might find that you’d rather use diagrams than tabs, or vice versa. Although most guitarists do have a preference, you should learn to read both. Tabs and diagrams will show up commonly on your guitar journey, so learning both will ensure you’re not limited by notation as you continue to learn.

With that said, let’s take a look at the guitar tab for the version of the B minor scale we just studied.

B Minor Scale - 7th Position Tablature

The B minor scale in 7th position begins with your index finger on the 7th fret of the E string. Don’t forget to shift your hand position down one fret when you reach the G string so you can reach the sixth fret with your index finger.

B Minor Scale Exercises

Now that you know the basics of playing the B minor scale, the next step is to practice, practice, practice! When you’re getting started, take your time and make sure to fret each note clearly with the proper finger placement. As this scale grows more familiar and you build strength in your fingers, you can start playing a little faster. At this stage, playing with a metronome is an excellent way to train yourself to play in time.

Try playing the B minor scale both ascending and descending. Pay attention to the differences in pitch as you play the same scale on different parts of your fretboard.

When you’re playing this scale with ease, focus on your picking hand. Scale practice is a great time to practice alternate picking. Keep practicing your scales on a regular basis, and you’re sure to improve in your dexterity and strength, plus you’ll be training your ears too. Keep playing and keep practicing with a free trial of Fender Play.