Buzz, buzz, buzz… Hmm, what’s that noise? Aha, yes! It’s a B!
Sorry, that was literally terrible. But I don’t regret it!
Today we return to another episode on the forgotten B chords – the B Minor chord – and how you can play both its open position and bar chord shapes on guitar.
I’ll let you know my favourites, as well as some extra info on how bar chords work along the way.
So without further ado, let’s roll.
The B Minor Open Chord Shape
I’m gonna be straight with you. Most people just use the B minor bar chord shape.
But not everyone is a bar chord player yet – although I’ll still teach you how to become one in this post – so I’ve crafted a couple of open position shapes for y’all to use.
Here’s the first one:
Alright, I lied. That’s technically not an open position shape because there’s no open strings being played.
But do you know what? It’s pretty darn close to where all the other open chords are, so that’s good enough for me.
Plus, you don’t have to bar anything, which is nice.
And if you really want a proper open chord B minor shape, then feel free to just lift and shift a finger or two and play this one instead:
But I much prefer the first one because it’s easier to mute the strings you don’t want, and you don’t have to choke that D string when you want to change to a different chord.
Plus, by lifting your finger off the 4th fret in the second shape, you are replacing one of the 5ths in the B minor chord with another minor 3rd.
And chords always sound better with two 5ths in them rather than two minor 3rds.
Also …um… there’s a final shape that you can use if all else fails, but it ain’t pretty:
Meh. You’ll have to mute that string in the middle by lightly tapping it with your index finger or something.
And when you’re vigorously strumming and belting out the lyrics to The Emoji Movie at 2 o’clock in the morning despite living in a shared apartment, you’re gonna end up accidentally pressing down that G-string and it’ll ruin your étude.
Trust me, I learnt that the hard way.
The B Minor Bar Chord – A Shape
Time for the fun stuff. This is the one that you’ll see people use the most, and even if you’ve never even tried to play a bar chord before, here’s a great place to start!
It’s called the A shape because we build it off the Am shape. To see what I mean, start by playing an Am chord like this:
You’ll notice that the root A note is (on) the A string.
That means that if we shift this entire shape two frets up and use the B note on the 2nd fret of the A string as our root note instead, we make a B minor chord!
This is the exact same shape as the Am shape, except we use our index finger to “bar” down what would normally be the open strings.
To bar, all you need to do is flatten and press down the underside edge of your index finger across the top five strings on the second fret.
You don’t have to press too hard, just so that the lowest note (on the A string) and the highest note (on the high E string) can be heard.
If you don’t know which notes and numbers correlate to which strings, then click here to view my post on that, it’ll make communicating with other guitarists much easier.
And you can use this concept to play ANY minor bar chord using its A string root note.
For example, the note on the 6th fret of the A string is an Eb. That means that if we slide this exact bar shape all the way up to the 6th fret and use this Eb as our root note, we make an Eb minor chord.
Woohoo! Bet you never though you could ever do that, huh?
And that’s it. You play this shape on the second fret of the guitar, you’ve got yourself a B minor chord.
The B Minor Bar Chord – E Shape
So you know the first B minor bar chord shape and that’s great.
But knowing a second shape is sooo useful when playing progressions with other bar chords in.
Picture this… You’re strumming a progression, and you play the E minor bar chord using the 7th fret of the A string as your root note. All is fine and well as you dilly-dally there for a while, until…
Shiver me timbers! The next chord is B minor! And that’s an entire galaxy away down on the 2nd fret. Oh, boy! What should I do?
Aha! That’s where the E shape comes in.
What if I told you that there was a B note on the 7th fret of the low E string too…
And that, using this note, we can construct a different bar chord shape to play B minor higher up the fretboard.
That way, we wouldn’t even have to leave the 7th fret to switch from E minor to B minor.
So to find it, start by playing an Em chord like this:
You’ll notice that the root note is on the E string this time.
From here, slide the shape up 7 frets so that your 3rd and 4th fingers are on the 9th fret.
Then flatten your index finger down across the 7th fret to bar down all the remaining strings that would normally be left open.
And this would be great… If this shape wasn’t practically impossible to play.
You’d need super human strength to be able to press down all 4 of those strings cleanly.
So instead, most of us just ditch the note on the low E string which makes barring all the more difficult, and play the shape like this instead:
Or if you’re a minimalist and like to have as few notes in your life as possible, then there’s always this one too:
Yes, we are technically not using the B note on the 7th fret of the low E string as our bass note on these two…
But we are imagining that it’s there and sacrificing it for the greater good of a clean sounding chord progression.
Like with the A shape, we can shift this E shape to different frets to use different root notes and make different chords.
Just this time, we use an E string note (theoretically) as our bass note instead.
Wrapping It Up
B minor ain’t an easy chord to play on guitar, but resist its inherently evil intentions and send it back to hell where it belongs!
Plus, by learning the B minor shapes you’re basically learning to play bar chords too.
And that’s also pretty cool, am I right?
I mean, you didn’t even come here to learn that. But I dragged you into it without asking, so you didn’t really have a choice…
But anyway, enjoy having a play around with those Bs and life will feel that little bit better.
I’ve been Sam Olverson,