Have you got what it takes to play a B chord?
Hmmm, I dunno. You look kinda suspicious.
But hey, we’ll carry on anyway.
Today I’ll show you an easy open position B chord shape as well as the two other ultra-useful bar chord shapes that you can play on guitar.
I know right, aren’t I great?
So let’s get started with the open one.
The Open Position B Chord Shape
I’m gonna be honest, the reason no one ever teaches you how to play an easy B chord on guitar, is because no one ever uses the open shape.
I literally had to invent one this morning after I realized I’ve never seen one before.
But I don’t know why, it’s still a B major, has the notes of a B major, and sounds like a B major.
So you can use this to your heart’s content if playing bar chords isn’t an option for you:
I think the reason people don’t use this chord is because they can’t find a B chord note that’s easy to play on the G string of the guitar…
So just get rid of it! Snip it off! Throw it in the trash! Burn it! Shred it! Blend it!
*Please do not do any of those things.
All you actually need to do is lean your index finger back a bit so that it gently touches the G string and then it’s muted.
Also make sure you either don’t play the low E string, or mute it with your thumb/middle finger too.
And BAM! You’ve got yourself an easy to play B major guitar chord – no catch.
But you’ll see most people playing a B major chord as a bar chord shape, so it’s important you’re able to recognize what these look like too…
The B Major Bar Chord – A Shape
What the heck? How can a B chord be an A shape? Dude, that makes no sense…
Aha! Well, let me show you…
Start by playing a regular A major chord, but play it like this:
Now, slide everything up two frets. Your 2nd, 3rd and 4th finger will slide up to the 4th fret and the open strings (technically on the 0th fret) will slide up to the 2nd fret.
That leaves you with a shape looking like this:
But in order to play the notes on the lowest and highest strings, we have to flatten our finger across the strings to reach them.
So that results in:
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the B bar chord in the A shape.
Why the A shape bit? Because it’s an A chord slid up so that B is the root note.
And you could also play it like this if it feels easier:
Fun(-ish) fact: you can use this B major bar chord shape to make any major chord in existence…
All you have to do is slide it up to a different fret/root note on the A string.
For example, there’s an Eb note on the 6th fret of the A string. If you slide this shape up to the 6th fret so that this Eb is your root note instead…
BOOM! You’ve made yourself an Eb major chord.
And that’s how bar chords work, in a nutshell.
If you want to learn more about how to play bar chords on guitar so that you can play any chord progression under the sun, click here to view my post on that.
So using this logic, let’s build the second – and equally useful – B bar chord shape together…
The B Bar Chord – E Shape
Knowing not just one, but two bar chords shapes will make your guitar playing life as easy as falling off a log.
The problem is that if you have chords like Eb in your progression, your only option to play them is as a bar chord.
And Eb is way up on the 6th fret, which is miles away from all the B shapes we know on the 2nd fret.
Large, leaping chord changes like this always leads to stuff getting messy.
But Sam, what if we used the B note on the 7th fret of the E string as our root note to build a chord instead?
That would mean we only have to move 1 fret to get to the Eb chord.
Oh my, you’re a genius! That’s exactly what I was going to say.
Yeah, I promise I didn’t read your script…
You what? Anyway, the whole point of knowing the E shape too is to keep chords nice and close to each other.
So to find it, start by playing an E major chord like this:
Then shift it up 7 frets so that your 3rd and 4th fingers are on the 9th fret, and the B on the 7th fret of the E string becomes your root note.
And because we don’t have three index fingers (MAN that would be cool), we’ll bar all of them down like this:
Bish bash bosh, there’s the second way that you can play B as a bar chord.
It’s called the E shape this time because it’s built off the E major chord.
(Pretty radical, I know)
Wrapping It Up
Now that you’ve got not one, not two, but three ways to play a B chord under your belt, you probably feel like you can take on the world…
Meh, not really.
And that you could maybe even conquer Mars if you wanted.
And that you could create a device that could take us all to a new planet for Earth’s population to inhabit.
Anyway, hopefully this post has been helpful to you, and you aren’t too fed up of Bs by now.
Now go brag to your friends that you know how to play a B chord, and especially that you can play a B chord in open position.
That’s sure to stump them.
I’ve been Sam Olverson,
See you later!
P.S. If you want to learn more about how to play bar chords on guitar so that you can play any chord progression ever, click here to view my post on that.