Songs do not only include A, C, E, G, and D open chords. Some will also contain barre chords that can be tricky to master for the absolute newbie guitarist. Take the B guitar chord for instance. This chord requires some tricky fingering, a lot of effort, and extra finger strength. Playing B chord-containing songs can be challenging if you do not master this chord. The good news is that there are a few easy ways you can learn how to play the B chord.
The Traditional Way of Playing a B Guitar Chord
The B major is a barre chord that requires pressing all six strings simultaneously to shorten the nut and increase the pitch. Most guitarists use their index or first finger to create an artificial nut across the fretboard.
Playing the B chord can be tricky for people who do not have sufficient index finger strength. That is why it is always best to look for alternative chords that sound almost the same but are easier to play.
Before we look at the alternatives, let us examine the traditional shape of the B major chord.
The standard B major barre chord looks like an A chord with a bar two frets to the left or near the nut. If you already know how to play the A chord, learning how to play the B chord should be easy. You only need to move your second (middle), third (ring), and fourth (pinky) fingers from the A chord’s 2nd fret to the B chord’s 4th fret.
If you have long fingers, you may opt to create a bar for these three strings with your 3rd finger. You will also need to create a bar on the 2nd fret, using your 1st finger. To play it, the only string you will mute is the 6th string.
B Guitar Chord on the 7th Fret
If you already know how to play the F chord, you might want to perform the B chord on the 7th fret. For this technique, you only need the F chord with its bar placed on the 7th fret.
For those who are not familiar with the F chord, you can press your first finger on all six strings on the 7th fret. Position your second finger on the 3rd string on the 3rd fret. Place your ring finger on the 9th fret’s 5th string and your pinky on the same fret’s 4th string.
This B major guitar chord version is not easy, but it can provide your song with a sparkly or colorful sound.
An Easier Way to Play the B Guitar Chord
Let us be honest. Barre chords are not for everyone. So, how do you simplify the process of learning this chord?
An easy way is to retain the classic A-shape of the original without creating the bar on the 2nd fret. In this case, you only need your 1st finger pressing on the 1st string on the 2nd fret. You retain the original A chord shape on the 4th fret.
Originally, you would strum the strings from the A or 5th string. This alternate version calls for the muting of the 5th and 6th strings.
This B major chord version still sounds like the original, even without the bass note. You can play any song that has a B chord without missing a key note. Your song will still sound as beautiful as the original.
An Even Simpler, Three-Finger Version of the Easy B Guitar Chord
Some newbie guitarists may find pressing three consecutive strings on the same fret challenging.
Imagine clustering three fingers over three strings on the same fret and you know that this technique is hardly what you might call ‘easy’.
Some guitar-playing resources recommend using only either the ring finger or the pinky in forming the A chord shape for the B major chord. Do take note that such a technique requires exceptional finger flexibility and strength to push down on three strings simultaneously and with the same amount of pressure.
Not many beginners can accomplish that.
So, let us simplify it further without straying far away from the tonal characteristics of the original B guitar chord.
In this B major chord version, you only need to position your 1st finger on the 2nd fret’s 5th string. You also need your 2nd finger on the 4th fret’s 4th string and the 3rd finger on the same fret’s 3rd string. To play this version, strum from the 5th string to the 1st string.
This B major version sounds cool on the acoustic guitar. It should also sound great on an electric axe.
A Different Three-Note B Major Chord
Cannot extend your index finger to the 5th string? This technique should take care of that.
This B major chord shape is like a mirror of the three-finger B major guitar chord version we described above. Instead of placing your 1st finger on the 5th string, you will be putting it on the high E or 1st string on the 2nd fret.
As for the two additional notes, your 2nd finger will press on the 4th fret’s 3rd string, and the 3rd finger presses on the 2nd string of the same guitar fret.
If you noticed, the notes in this shape are low on the fretboard. You do not have to strain trying to stretch your short fingers to reach the notes high on the fretboard. This technique is perfect for people who may have shorter digits than most.
While easy to form, this B major chord alternative can be tricky to strum. Most beginner guitarists will have issues hitting only the 3rd string and carry it through the 1st string. You see, this chord requires the muting of the three uppermost strings. Hitting the 4th string will give the guitar chord a different sound.
There is another version of the three-note B guitar chord. It calls for the pressing of the 8th fret’s 3rd string and the 7th fret’s 1st and 2nd strings. You can use your 3rd finger to work the 7th fret, while your 2nd or 3rd finger can play the other note.
While the B guitar chord can be tricky to master, there are several ways you can simplify it. You might want to start with the easiest alternatives to help you develop and strengthen your finger dexterity. You should be able to play the original B major guitar chord in no time.