Em Guitar Chord – How to Properly Play It?

how to play em guitar chord

The Em guitar chord is one of several chords that every beginner guitarist should learn. Stemming from the E major chord, this minor set of musical notes provides a very interesting musical quality to your guitar-playing. It helps that the chord only uses two fingers to create two notes that work in harmony. You can only do that if you know how to play the Em chord properly.

The Most Common Way to Play the Em Chord

As mentioned, the Em chord is one of several guitar chords that will never require too much effort from your fingers or digits. The only potential issue with this chord relates to its shape.

Two fingers on two spaced strings or cords, either on the same fret or a different fret, is easy. Cramming two digits on two adjoining strings on the same fret is another matter. The issue is more profound in guitarists who have stubby fingers. Their digits may press on the other strings unintentionally.

Guitarists always play the E minor chord in the open position. It is not a barre chord that can worry you. There are also no fancy fingering techniques to muddle the mind. As long as you can place your second and third fingers in their respective positions, you should be okay.

Locate your guitar’s second fret. Position your second (middle) digit on the fifth cord and your third (ring) digit on the fourth cord. This shape is the most common for the Em guitar chord.

The four remaining cords are all open strings. You get to strum them to deliver a fuller sound to your guitar-playing. 

Start the downstroke from the uppermost string or the sixth cord. Strum all six cords until you reach the first string at the lower edge of the guitar neck.

It is so easy to learn how to play the Em chord. You only need the two fingers on the two correct cords. Strum all cords and you are done.

A Finger-less E Minor Chord

If you think the two-finger method for playing the E minor chord is easy, this technique will never make you sweat.

The cords 1, 2, and 3 represent the notes E, B, and G, respectively. Hence, if you strum only these three cords, you will get a passable Em chord sound. 

It is the lazy guitarist’s method of producing an E minor sound. It requires no fretting and no fingering. The technique’s only crucial aspect is the strumming of only the three lower cords. If you strum the fourth, fifth, or sixth cords, you will not get the acceptable Em chord sound.

The Barre Chord Version of the E Minor Chord

Most people have no idea that the Em guitar chord has a barre chord version. It is understandable, considering the two-finger shape is easy enough that even a young guitarist can execute without problems. So, why complicate it?

You should know that there are songs with chords played high on the fretboard or close to the guitar body. Rock and roll songs, heavy metal pieces, and other music genres have plenty of these high-fretboard chords. It would be best to play these songs with a barre chord anchored on the tenth fret and up.

The barre chord version of the E minor is nothing more than moving the original Em shape on the second fret to the 14th fret. Since the original chord has the nut as its base, you will also have to create a temporary nut on the 12th fret.

You will need to press all the cords on the 12th fret with your first digit. You can then press the fourth string on the 14th fret with your fourth digit and the fifth string on the same fret with your third digit.

It is like the original Em chord; only on a different location in the fretboard.

The beauty of this Em form is that you can transition to other barre chords a lot easier. For example, sliding your fingers towards the fifth fret will produce the barre chord version of the Am guitar chord. Slide it further down to the third fret and you get a G minor chord.

You can move across these guitar chords without changing your fingers’ position. You retain the shape of the chord. What is different is the placement of the barre.

There is another reason why this Em chord version is a must-learn. Pressing on all strings simultaneously can strengthen finger muscles. Moving across different barre chords with the same shape also improves your sliding technique. Throw in other guitar chords and you can have one of the best finger exercises on the planet.

The Em7 Version of the E Minor Chord

Seasoned guitarists love the E minor seven. It retains the E minor chord’s classic form and adds a similar two-note shape on the third fret’s first and second strings.

Position your first finger on the second fret’s fifth string and your second finger on the same fret’s fourth string. Extend your pinky to press the first string on the third fret, while your ring finger covers the string above it.

Like the E minor’s barre chord version, using the E minor seven can provide you with a few advantages.

This E minor chord alternate is great for playing songs that have the chords Cadd9 and G. It makes transitioning from G to Em and from Em to Cadd9 easier. It is also important to understand that most guitarists prefer using Cadd9 than the C major chord. 

It is also easier to improve your finger’s flexibility without causing too much stress on the joints. You only need to change the position of one or two fingers to make the transition. It is an exercise that all newbie guitarists should try.

The Em guitar chord is one of the easiest guitar chords you can learn in the shortest time possible. There is even a no-finger, no-fret version of the E minor chord. If you like to elevate your guitar-playing skills, you might want to learn how to play the alternate versions of the E minor guitar chord.

Also Read: Best Acoustic Guitars: Top Reviews & Buying Guide


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