Bbm Chord on the Guitar (B Flat Minor) – 10 Ways to Play (and Some Tips/Theory)

The B flat minor chord (Bbm) is most often played as a bar chord. None of the notes in the Bbm chord (Bb, Db, F) can be played on the open strings of the guitar. Therefore, the chord cannot be played as an open chord.

The Bbm chord is enharmonically the same as the A#m chord.

Some Quick Bbm Chord Theory

  • The B flat minor chord contains the notes Bb, Db and F.
  • The Bbm chord is produced by playing the 1st (root), flat 3rd and 5th notes of the Bb minor scale.
  • The B flat minor chord (just like all minor chords) contains the following intervals (from the root note): minor 3rd, Major 3rd, Perfect 4th (back to the root note).
  • B flat minor is the relative minor of D flat Major.
  • Bbm is the first chord in the key of B flat minor. The seven chords in the key of B flat minor are: Bbm, C diminished, Db+, Ebm, F, Gb, A diminished

10 Ways To Play The Bb Minor Chord

If you’ve come to this page just to view some chord diagrams for Bbm, here they are.

Bb Minor Chord - 10 Shapes

Standard Bbm Chord Shape

The most common way to play the Bbm chord is by playing the root-5 minor chord, starting on the first fret. Most guitarist are familiar with the Bm chord, starting in the second fret, as this is one of the first barre chords that guitarist usually play. The Bbm chord is the same shape as the Bm barre chord (root-5), but down one fret.

Bbm Chord Guitar

Easy Bbm Chord Shape

The ‘easy’ or ‘mini’ version of the B flat minor chord is achieved by playing the first fret, second fret and third fret, on the first string, second string and third string respectively. This is essentially the first three strings of the more common barre chord (pictured above). Playing the easy version of the chord can be a good way to start using Bbm, if you find the barre chord version a little difficult.

Easy Bbm Chord Guitar

How to Play the B Flat Minor Chord (Step by Step)

  • Place your first finger on the first fret of the fifth string and barre the first five strings.
  • Place your third finger on the third fret of the fourth string.
  • Place your fourth finger on the third fret of the third string.
  • Place your second finger on the second fret of the second string.
  • Strum the first five strings.

The instructions above are step by step instructions for playing the common Bb minor chord shape. Forming the chord through step by step instructions is a great way of ensuring that you are interpreting the chord diagram correctly.

Bb Minor Barre Chord Shapes

The Bbm chord can be played as a barre chord by playing a root 6 barre chord shape and starting on the 6th fret or by playing a root 5 barre chord Major shape and starting on the 1st fret:

Bb Minor Triad

Bb Minor Triads

Playing triads is a great way of exploring the minor chord and the guitar fretboard more generally. By arranging the notes of the chord systematically using permutations (root position, first inversion, second inversion), interesting and unique shapes and voicings are created. The three different voicings for the B flat minor triad are:

  • Bb minor Triad (Root Position) – Bb, Db, F
  • Bb minor Triad (1st Inversion) – Db, F, Bb
  • Bb minor Triad (2nd Inversion) – F, Bb, Db

By playing these triads on two different groups of three strings, we can produce six different shapes.

Bb Minor Triad

Which Keys Have The Bbm chord in Them?

The Bbm chord can be found in the following keys:

  • The key of Bb minor (Bbm, Cdim, Db, Ebm, Fm, Gb, Ab)
  • The key of Eb minor (Ebm, Fdim, Gb, Abm, Bbm, Cb, Db)
  • The key of F minor (Fm, Gdim, Ab, Bbm, Cm, Db, Eb)
  • The key of Db Major (Db, Ebm, Fm, Gb, Ab, Bbm, Cdim)
  • The key of Gb Major (Gb, Abm, Bbm, Cb, Db, Ebm, Fdim)
  • The key of Ab Major (Ab, Bbm, Cm, Db, Eb, Fm, Gdim)

Alternative But Useful Bbm Chord Shapes

The following shapes are alternative ways of playing the B flat minor chord shape. They’re not the most common Bbm shapes, but used enough to include here as interesting alternatives.

Alternative Bb Minor Chords Guitar

Bbm Chord Substitutions

Most Bb minor chords with extensions can be used as a substitute for the Bb minor chord. For example, Bbm9, Bbm11 and Bbm6 can often be used to add colour and emotion to the Bb minor chord.

The Bbm7 chord is quite often used interchangeably with the Bbm chord.

For more interesting substitutions, playing variations of the Db chord (which is the relative Major of B flat minor), such as Db6, Db69, Dbmaj9 etc. can be used effectively as a substitute for the G# minor chord.

Which Scales Can Be Played Over the Bb Minor Chord?

The most common and effective scales that can be used to solo/improvise over the Bb minor chord, or to create melodies for the purposes of song writing are:

  • Bb natural minor scale – This scale (also called Bb aeolian) is the most commonly used scale for this chord.
  • Bb minor pentatonic scale – This is probably the easiest scale to learn and get started on when improvising over the Bb minor chord.
  • Bb minor blues scale – This scale can be used over the Bbm chord to add a Blues flavour. 
  • Bb dorian mode – This scale can be used to add a slightly brighter sound to the Bb minor chord.
  • Bb phrygian mode – This scale can be used to add a darker sound to the B flat minor chord.

Further Reading

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