Bm Chord (Made Easy): 5 Ways To Play on Guitar + Killer Tips

How to play the B minor guitar chord the PROPER way & the easy beginner-friendly way

bm chord minor guitar barre chord hard how to play easy cheat open beginner shape diagram pdf header

Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links which means as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases (at no extra cost to you) that helps us keep this site going. Learn more

best guitar music theory book for beginners easy peasy guitar theory book

B minor; this cheeky chappy of a guitar chord seems to pop up frequently in songs you want to learn.

Seen as you've found your way here (hi!), you're either a beginner guitar player who's never come across the Bm chord, or you've tried playing the full Bm barre chord shape and you find it annoyingly awkward.

Whichever box you tick, I have some good news; there are easier ways to play the Bm chord I call stepping stone shapes.

Stepping stone shapes are simplified chord shapes that are easier to learn than barre chords. As a result, they help you build up the finger strength and muscle memory needed to boss the barre eventually.

Let's start by looking at the four most common ways you'll see a B minor chord written out to banish any confusion you may have lurking.

B minor Chord Notations

B Minor | Bm | B min | B Minor triad

B minor Chord Theory Facts x 5

  1. The B minor chord contains the notes: B - D - F#. These notes repeat all over the guitar fretboard (below the 12th fret, there are 7 of each note alone!) We can therefore play Bm using a variety of different shapes and voicings.
  2. The B minor chord is made up of notes taken from the B minor scale. Notably, the 1st (root), flat third (b3) and 5th (perfect fifth).
  3. The B minor chord formula is: 1 - b3 - 5.
  4. If we describe a song as being "in the key of B minor", the first chord (aka the tonic) in the key signature is Bm. 
  5. B minor is one of those must-know chords because it pops up in a fair few of the keys your favourite songs are written in; G Major, D Major, and A Major, for instance.

Good to know: I show the best fingerings in the finger position circles in the chord diagrams below. The chord notes are shown below the boxes with the B root highlighted in blue.

Shape 1 - The Proper Bm Chord: The "E Shape"

First up, we have the full Bm barre chord shape. 

We call this B minor chord variation the "E shape" because we base the shape around an open E minor chord form ('form' is just another way of saying 'shape'):

Bm minor barre chord full guitar open shape easy beginner tips

B Minor Barre Chord - "E shape"

The B root note is on the 7th fret of the low E (6th) string. Like all minor chords, songwriters use the Bm chord to evoke feelings from sadness to nostalgia to heartbreak.

Here are the correct finger positions:

  • First (index) finger - 7th fret of the low E (6th) string and barre across all six strings (6-1)
  • Third (ring) finger - 9th fret of the A (5th) string
  • Pinky (fourth) finger - 9th fret of the D (4th) string

Top Tip: This shape can feel tricky to play cleanly. As always, elbow grease and daily practise is the solution. 

A trick I show my pupils with this minor barre chord shape is to squash your unused 2nd finger down on top of your barring index finger. This extra pressure makes it easier to get the chord to ring out cleanly. 

However, most important of all is your thumb position on your fretting hand. Drop it down to the middle of the back of the neck positioned under fret 8.

Don't be disheartened if you feel you're fighting a losing battle with this shape; you're not. You'll get it eventually once you've built up your finger strength and muscle memory.

Shape 2 - The Proper Bm Chord: The "A Shape"

Here's the most widely used Bm chord shape by guitarists. It's based on an open A minor chord shape per the CAGED System I talk about in my beginner music theory book Easy Peasy Guitar Music Theory:

Bm minor barre chord A Shape movable full guitar open shape easy beginner tips

B Minor Barre Chord - "A shape"

Here are the finger positions:

  • First (index) finger - 2nd fret of the A (5th) string & barre across all five strings (5-1)
  • Second (middle) finger - 3rd fret of the B (2nd) string
  • Third (ring) finger - 4th fret of the D (4th) string
  • Pinky (fourth) finger - 4th fret of the G (3rd) string

Top Tip: This barre chord requires you to form a bar with your index finger across five strings only. Do not make the common blunder of pressing down on the low E string too.

The B root note is on the 2nd fret of the A string, so your finger should sit below the 6th string. This is also a handy technique to help you mute string 6 with your fingertip.

Check out the practice tips coming up near the end of the post, they'll help you if you're having trouble paying this shape cleanly.

Shape 3 - Easier Bm Chord Variation (4-fingers)

This simpler Bm chord is our first stepping stone shape. Bear in mind, broken down chords should never long-term substitute the full shapes, but they're brilliant for building up your finger strength and confidence.

Not only that, guitarists also used these chord voicings in their own right to add interest and flavour to their playing.

If you have a look, this is a variation on the full barred A Shape. We're just sending the barre packing and placing our index finger on the 2nd fret of the 1st string. Have a look:

Bm minor barre chord A Shape movable full guitar open shape easy beginner tips 4 fingers

Easier 4-Note Bm Chord (With No Bar)

We call this chord an inversion since the 5th note (F#) is in the bass position rather than the B root.

It still sounds quite rich, despite it losing the bottom end you get from the 5th string B note you get in the previous barred shape.

Finger placements:

  • First (index) finger - 2nd fret of the E (1st) string
  • Second (middle) finger - 3rd fret of the B (2nd) string
  • Third (ring) finger - 4th fret of the D (4th) string
  • Pinky (fourth) - 4th fret of the G (3rd) string

Beginner Guitar Chords Digital Download Poster

Struggle to remember chord shapes? Get yourself our downloadable essential chords poster: music prints that make your time learning guitar easier.

Beginner guitar chords chart download
  • C h o r d s - F e a t u r e d:
  • Major (C, A, G, E, D, B, F)
  • Minor (Cm, Am, Gm, Em, Dm, Bm, Fm)
  • Seventh (C7, A7, G7, E7, D7, B7, F7)
  • Major seventh (CMaj7, AMaj7, GMaj7, EMaj7, DMaj7, BMaj7, FMaj7)
  • Minor seventh (Cm7, Am7, Gm7, Em7, Dm7, Bm7, Fm7)
  • Easy open chords + full barre chords
  • CAGED guitar chords 

Coming soon:
Physical poster prints. Join the mailing list to keep updated.

Shape 4 - Easy Bm Chord Variation (3-fingers)

This next Bm chord variation is the simplest of the lot. It's also a valuable shape to know even if/when you can play the full B barred shapes.

We describe this as a triad because it contains three notes. The diagram below shows this shape played on the top three strings (E, B and G); however, you can also include the open D (4th) string; bonus points if you know why this is (answer below).

Bm minor barre chord A Shape movable full guitar open shape easy beginner tips 3 fingers

Easy 3-Note B Chord Variation (With No Bar)

Did you know the answer? It's because the Bm chord contains the notes B, D and F#; as a result, it won't make a difference to the quality (type) of the chord if you include the open D string.

It'll change the voicing. In other words, the B root note will no longer be in the bass position, but the chord will still be B minor; just with an extra D note. The fingerings:

  • First (index) finger - 2nd fret of the E (1st) string
  • Second (middle) finger - 3rd fret of the B (2nd) string
  • Third (ring) - 4th fret of the G (3rd) string

Shape 5 - B Chord Wildcard: "D-Shape"

If you want to add some interest to your playing and do something a bit different, you can't go wrong with this way of playing a B minor chord:

Bm minor barre chord D CAGED Shape movable full guitar open shape easy beginner tips 3 fingers

Bm Chord - "D Shape"

There's not a sniff of a barre with this final Bm chord voicing. Based on the open D minor chord shape, this is quite a stretch, so may need some practise but if you get your strategy right and break it down, you'll be fine.

Finger placements:

  • First (index) finger - 9th fret of the D (4th) string
  • Second (middle) finger - 10th fret of the top E (1st) string
  • Third (ring) finger - 11th fret of the top G (3rd) string
  • Pinky (fourth) - 12th fret of the B (2nd) string

3 Tips To Help You Master the Bm Chord

The following tips and tricks will help you improve how the Bm sounds on your guitar. The great thing is you can apply these tips to all chords you are learning.

1. Thumb position

If you find the Bm barre chord shapes tricky to play, my number one tip is get your fretting hand thumb position correct.

The rule of thumb (terrible pun intended) is you should drop your thumb down to the middle of the back of the neck, mirroring where your 2nd finger is (or would be) on the fretboard .

Taking the E shape Bm chord as an example, position your thumb underneath fret 3. The lower your thumb, the easier you'll find it to stretch your fingers out across the fretboard.

2. Curve it

If you know your chords aren't up to scratch, the thought of playing your guitar in front of others can make you feel nervous. Your confidence will soar once you know your chords sound crystal clear.

One tip to get the B minor clean is to make sure you press your barring index finger down as firmly as you can so it has no curve. It's usually the B and top E strings that mute on the Bm barre, and 90% of the time a curved first finger is the culprit.

Keep in mind you also have to find the sweet spot with the angle of your first finger, which we'll cover in upcoming videos.

3. Try these chord changes

Here are three common chord progressions you'll find the Bm chord nestled in. Practise them slowly, starting by playing one strum per shape. Add on a strumming pattern when you're closer to the stage of getting all notes clean and mute free:

1) Key: G Major
 I - vi - iii - V | G - Em - Bm - D

2) Key: B minor
i - VI - III - VII | Bm - G - D - A

2) Key: D Major
I – V – vi – IV | D - A - Bm - G

7 Songs With The B minor Chord

If you've just learned the Bm chord or you want to polish it up, below are seven popular songs with the B minor chord in.

If some of the chord progressions seem like they're played at a fast tempo, break the songs down. Practice a few chords at a time. Your chord changes will eventually become clean and quick; it takes dedication and perseverance.

  1. "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond
  2. "Hotel California" by The Eagles
  3. "Just The Way You Are" by Bruno Mars
  4. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" by The Beatles
  5. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" by U2
  6. "Fake Plastic Trees" by Radiohead
  7. "Fallin'" by Alicia Keys

Take it slowly and have fun. You'll get there eventually. Keep the faith and have a blast.

Over and out, amigo.

Best music theory book for beginner guitar players

New Book Release!

Easy Peasy Guitar Music Theory: For Beginners

This Music Theory Book Will Help You Feel more confident and complete as a guitar player.

Do you want to be able to pick up the guitar and play anything you fancy? Are you looking for an easy-to-understand book that walks you through the music theory basics at a steady pace? If so, you’ve found it! Easy Peasy Guitar Music Theory: For Beginners out now.

Similar Posts You May Like

(2) comments

Add Your Reply