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How-To

How to Play the B Flat Chord on Guitar

Roll up your sleeves, because while this one requires a little more effort to learn than other beginner chords, it's an essential one to get under your fingers.

This article examines how to play the Bb major chord on guitar. So roll up your sleeves, because while this one requires a little more effort to learn than other beginner chords because of how it's played, it's an essential one to get under your fingers.


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Songs that Use the Bb Chord

From classic rock standards to new wave hits, the Bb chord is featured in countless well-known songs.

Pop Songs

Listen for the Bb chord in pop oldies such as "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys or the soulful "Now That We Found Love" by the O'Jays.

It shows up in '80s new wave like the melodic "Don't Dream It's Over" by Crowded House and acoustic rock hits like "All I Want" by Toad the Wet Sprocket.

Rock Songs

Several chart-topping classics feature the Bb chord: The Yardbirds' "Heart Full of Soul" and "White Room" by Cream.

Also check out "Magic Man" by Heart or metal head bangers like "Holy Diver" by Dio.

How to Play the Bb chord

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These are the five stages a beginner guitarist goes through when learning how to play barre chords.

You may have been avoiding them until this point, but there's no getting around it now because the two most common ways to the play a Bb use barre chords. So before we can look at some easier variations, let's look at these two shapes. Once you get them under your fingers ,you'll wonder how you ever got along without them.

The first way to play the Bb Major chord is in the 6th position and uses the E shape, which looks like this:

  • - Index finger on the 6th fret of the low E (6th) string
  • - Index finger on the 6th fret of the B (2nd) string
  • - Index finger on the 6th fret of the high E (1st) string
  • - Middle finger on the 7th fret of the G (3rd) string
  • - Ring finger on the 8th fret of the A (5th) string
  • - Pinky finger on the 8th fret of the D (4th) string


BbChord-insert4


Strum all six strings down from the low E string.

The other common way to play this chord is in the 1st position and uses the A shape, like this:

  • - Index finger on the 1st fret of the A (5th) string
  • - Ring finger on the 3rd fret of the D (4th) string
  • - Ring finger on the 3rd fret of the G (3rd) string
  • - Ring finger on the 3rd fret of the B (2nd) string


BbChord-insert1


Strum four strings down from the A string. This one is a little more difficult because you have to fret the chord so close to the headstock, which requires more pressure to make it sound clean. To make it easier on your wrist and fingers you can substitute a Bb5 chord. To do that, just play the 5th, 4th, and 3rd strings of this shape using your index, ring and pinky fingers.

At this point, if you're still not loving barre chords, there's good news because there are easier versions.



Easier Alternatives

Here's an easier alternative version that takes the barre part out by removing your index finger from the 5th string so you're only playing the 1st four strings, like this:

  • - Index finger on the 1st fret of the high E (1st) string
  • - Middle finger on the 3rd fret of the D (4th) string
  • - Ring finger on the 3rd fret of the G (5th) string
  • - Pinky on the 3rd fret of the B (2nd) string


BbChord-insert2


Strum four strings down from the D string. This version removes some of the strain on your index finger but does add a little stretch from the 1st string and 4th string between your index and middle finger.

If this is still too much we can remove that stretch with an easier three-Finger version. Like this:

  • - Index finger on the 1st fret of the high E (1st) string
  • - Ring finger on the 3rd fret of the G (3rd) string
  • - Pinky finger on the 3rd fret of the B (2nd) string


BbChord-insert3


Strum three strings down from the G string.

Struggling with the Bb chord is perfectly normal. Because of the way the guitar is tuned, there is no fingering that you can use to take advantage of open strings, making barre chords a necessity. Take pride in the fact that your playing and knowledge is improving and now that you have barre chords resting comfortably in your tool shed you have many more musical options to explore.

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.

Also, if you're not a member yet, sign up for a free Fender Play trial!