Beginner guitar: Learning how to play the B chord on guitar is one of the trickier shapes to master on the instrument. Most beginners start by playing open chords (chords in the first four frets with at least one open string), and there’s no easy way to play B.
Perhaps because of that, there aren’t that many guitar classics in the key of B, although Coldplay’s Yellow, AC/DC’s Thunderstruck, and Ray Parker Jr’s Ghostbusters theme prove it’s got plenty of potential.
So, without further ado, let's get started with some easy B guitar chord shapes.
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How to play the B chord on guitar: easy B chords
There’s no open B major chord on guitar, but there is an open B7. To play it, put your first finger on the D string, fret 1. Your second finger takes the A string, fret 2. Third finger goes on the G string, fret 2, and your fourth finger goes on the high E string, also fret 2. This chord comes up commonly in any blues in the key of E (it’s the V chord in the blues), so it’s a useful one to know.
Partial B major chord shapes
The next step is to learn part of a B major barre chord. Start by placing your first finger on the high E string, second fret. You then need to fret the B and G strings, both on fret 4. We’d recommend third and fourth fingers for this, but you can try second and third fingers as well.
If that’s comfortable, try adding an extra note. Now you’ll have your first finger still on the high E string second fret. Second finger is on the D string, fourth fret. Third finger goes on the G string, fourth fret, and fourth finger lands on the B string, fourth fret. When that’s working, you’re ready to try the full A-shape barre chord.
You can also play a B using what some people call the ‘F shape’, because it is the first partial barre shape that many players use to learn an F major. For B major, we’ll play it at the seventh fret.
Barre the high E and B strings with the pad of your first finger. Third finger goes on the D string, ninth fret, and your second finger goes on the G string, eighth fret.
How to play the B chord on guitar: B major barre chords
The E-shape B major barre chord is played at fret 7. Barre the seventh fret with your first finger, and then make the E shape: second finger will be on the G string, eighth fret. Third finger is on the A string, ninth fret, and fourth finger is on the D string, ninth fret.
The A-shape B major barre is played at fret 2. You already learned how to do most of this in the section above. Now you just need to barre with your first finger across the second fret. Then add your second finger to the D string, fourth fret, third finger to the G string, fourth fret, and fourth finger to the B string, fourth fret.
How to play the B chord on guitar: B minor 7
Although there’s no open B major chord, you can play an open B minor 7 (Bm7). We prefer to finger this with our second, third, and fourth fingers: second finger on the A string, second fret; third finger on the G string, second fret; and fourth finger on the B string, third fret.
You can also play Bm7 as a barre chord. Barre the 7th fret all the way across, then add your third finger on the 9th fret of the A string. It’s the simplest full barre shape on the guitar.
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