Learn why you should know this frequently used chord and how to play the two most commonly used versions, as well as an easy alternative.
By Dan Macy
In this article we're going to look at the B minor chord, which you'll see in tab and sheet music abbreviated as "Bm." You will learn why you should know this frequently used chord and how to play the two most commonly used versions, as well as an easy alternative.
The main reason you need to know how to play the Bm chord is because it shows up constantly in chord progressions that are in the key of D and G. Both of which are commonly used in guitar playing.
The other reason to learn this chord is because of how often it's used. How often, you ask? It's everywhere, from classic rock to contemporary pop and everything in between.
The B minor chord can be heard in some of the biggest hits in rock history. Listen for it in Warrant's glam metal '80s staple, "Heaven", or in one of the biggest power ballads from the '90s, "Love Song by Tesla.
Several country classics use a B minor, including the Grammy-nominated "All My Ex's Live in Texas" by George Strait. "Always on My Mind" by Willie Nelson is another chart topper that heavily features this chord.
For something more recent, try "Never Come Back Again" by Austin Plaine.
Rewind to the beach anthem "California Girls" by the Beach Boys or "Daydream Believer" by the Monkees for some pop classics that use the B minor. Contemporary examples include "1,2,3,4" by Plain White T's and "Another Love" by Tom Odell.
Before we work our way up to the commonly used barre chord versions, let's take a look at an easier form that doesn't require laying your index finger across several frets.
It's played like this:
Strum three strings down from the G string. This version uses three fingers and is great for beginners.
Unlike some other commonly used minor chords (like Em or Am), the B minor chord doesn't use any open strings. For this one you must use one finger to fret multiple strings in what is called a "barre chord." Your index finger rests across every string but the low E.
Strum five strings down from the A string. When you hear about the B minor chord, this is the version players typically think of so it should be considered a must-know way to play this chord.
If you know how to play an Am in the open position this shape should look familiar.
It's the same shape just moved up two frets. The tricky part about playing this version is keeping the B note in the bass on the 5th string and muting the low E string.
Here's how to do this: fret the chord so the tip of your index finger touches the side of the low E string just enough to mute it. That way you can strum full force without worrying about that low E string changing the sound of the chord.
When learning this version you might hear some buzzing from all the strings not being fretted cleanly enough, but don't worry, that will go away with practice and increased finger and wrist strength.
It's helpful to have another form in your arsenal in case you want a slightly different sound, so here's one other barred version played in the 7th position:
The benefit to playing this one over the other barred version is this one is far enough up the neck that the frets are a little closer together and the pressure required to press down on all the strings isn't as great, so overall it's physically easier to play.
The Bm chord presents some new challenges for beginners, but it's a required building block on your guitar-playing journey. Whether you're a fan of pop, rock, folk, blues, or country, it's worth spending the time to get this chord under your fingers.
If you'd like to learn how to play even more chords, browse Fender Play's chord library, learn about chord types, and find tips on how to master them.
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