If you’re reading this now, I’m going to assume you either have little or no experience with barre chords.
You may have learned the stacked triad version of the F chord, which is challenging enough for beginners. But even that’s technically not a full barre chord.
The Bm chord, on the other hand, could certainly be considered a full barre chord.
Are you ready for the challenge?
Then let’s look at how to play Bm even if you’re a beginner.
What Does Bm Stand For In Guitar
Bm is short for the ‘B Minor’ chord. That’s what it means. 🙂
Two Ways To Play Bm
Most people learn B minor as a barre chord before discovering other ways of playing it.
But the reality is that we can also play Bm as a triad, which does not involve barring.
In case you end up struggling with the barred version of Bm, I still want you to walk away with a way to play the chord, so in addition to barre chords, we’ll be exploring a few simple triad shapes.
Let’s get into it.
Playing Bm As A Triad
Going back to the basics, there are only 12 notes in music. The average guitar has six strings and 20 frets. 6 x 20 = 120.
There are 120 playable notes on a typical guitar, meaning each note repeats 10 times (some at the same octave, some at different octaves).
A Bm chord is made up of the notes B, D and F#. So, as you can imagine, we can play it in a variety of configurations.
I’m not going to get into all of them here, as we could be here all day. What I’ll do is introduce you to some of the more common Bm triad shapes that are quite usable.
The first involves placing your index finger on the second fret of the first string, your middle finger on the third fret of the second string and your ring finger on the fourth fret of the third string.
I find this to be an effective Bm triad using this string grouping (first, second and third strings). And, I find even beginners can play it relatively easily.
But there is another triad shape with this string grouping that’s worth learning.
The next Bm triad involves barring, but most students find this simple because you can play it with just one finger.
Fret the first, second and third strings at the seventh fret using your index finger and try strumming it.
If you can’t get it sounding right, then ensure that your finger is close to the fret and that you’re applying enough pressure.
Now, let’s move onto the next string grouping (second, third and fourth strings).
The first shape requires you to place your index finger on the third fret of the second string, your middle finger on the fourth fret of the fourth string, and your ring finger on the fourth fret of the third string.
This is basically an Am shape, only moved up two frets. Unlike an Am chord, however, you shouldn’t strum the first and fifth strings.
Although it creates an intriguing sounding chord when you strum all five strings, it ceases to be a Bm when you do.
Let’s look at one more Bm triad shape using the same string grouping.
This triad shape also involves a bit of barring but is relatively easy because you don’t need to barre across the entire fretboard.
Barre the second and third strings at the seventh fret using your index finger. Then, with your ring finger, fret the ninth fret on the fourth string.
All the triad shapes I’ve introduced you to are legit Bm chords and can easily stand in for barred versions of the same chord.
Playing Bm As A Barre Chord
I know, I know. This is what you came here for.
And, I’ll be honest – there’s no way to make this easy. Barre chords take work, no matter how you approach them.
If you’ve played barre chords before and you’ve been successful at it, this shouldn’t be much of a challenge. But if this is your first barre chord that’s a different story entirely.
Anyway, let’s start with a Bm barre chord at the second fret.
First, this involves placing your index finger flat across the fretboard at the second fret.
The sixth string is entirely optional. You can fret an extra F# note on the second fret of the sixth string if you want, but it can be hard enough barring five strings let alone six.
As noted earlier, a Bm chord is made up of the notes B, D and F#, so an extra F# doesn’t hurt.
Anyway, fortunately, the rest of the chord is relatively simple. It’s basically just an Am chord shifted two frets up.
So, place your middle finger on the third fret of the second string, your ring finger on the fourth fret of the fourth string and your pinky on the fourth fret of the third string.
If you strum the entire chord and not all notes are ringing out clearly, you should be aware that there are a few things that can go wrong.
First, you may need to adjust the finger you’re barring with. Getting that finger flat across the fretboard can be tricky and you need to ensure your finger is hugging the fret, applying a decent amount of pressure.
Second, if you can’t get all the notes to ring out, your middle, ring and pinky fingers may not be arched enough. This can be an issue no matter what chord you’re playing.
And, it takes some getting used to combined with barring.
But if you pay attention to these areas and keep working at it, you should be able to get the hang of it.
As a bonus, I’ll explain how you can play a Bm chord on the seventh fret.
First, you’ll want to barre all six strings with your index finger at the seventh fret. Get this finger right and the rest will fall into place. Until then, it could be a battle.
Next, place your ring finger on the ninth fret of the fifth string, and your pinky on the ninth fret of the fourth string.
That’s it – no more fingers required.
This Bm can be handy if you’re already playing other barre chords around the same area of the fretboard.
Easy Way To Play The B Minor Chord, Final Thoughts
When I first started learning barre chords, I remember spending hours in my basement just playing “Wild Thing” over and over.
Although “Wild Thing” can be played just as easily with power chords, because I was working on barre chords, I used those instead.
The point is this. If you want to get good at barre chords, it’s going to require some practice. Don’t be afraid to go to school on this.