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

The B minor chord is one of the most common and popular chords on the guitar. It is probably the most popular bar chord, and usually the first bar chord that guitarists learn. This is largely because the B minor chord is found in common keys, such as G and D.

The B minor chord contains the note B (root note) which can be played on the open string (2nd string), but there are not really any practical ways of playing the Bm chord as an open chord.

Some Quick Bm Chord Theory

  • The B minor chord contains the notes B, D and F#.
  • The B minor chord is produced by playing the 1st (root), flat 3rd and 5th notes of the B Major scale.
  • The B 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 minor is the relative minor of C Major.
  • B minor is the first chord in the key of B minor. The seven chords in the key of B minor are: Bm, C# diminished, D+, Em, F#, G, A# diminished

10 Ways To Play The B Minor Chord

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

B Minor Chord - 10 Shapes

Standard Bm Chord Shape

The standard Bm chord shape is the root-5 minor barre chord, starting on the second fret. For many guitarists, this chord is the first barre chord that they learn (as well as F Major). The B minor chord is found in many common keys that use open chords, such as the key of G, the key of A and the key of D. Therefore, it is a very commonly used chord, but more technically challenging than the chords that it is often used with.

Bm Chord Guitar

Easy Bm Chord Shape

The easy version of the Bm chord uses only the first three strings and the first three fingers. By playing the easier version of the B minor chord, it makes it possible to start using it in songs, especially when you’re finding the barre chord version difficult.

Easy B Minor Chord Guitar

How to Play the Bm Chord (Step by Step)

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

The instructions above are step by step instructions for playing the common B 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.

B Minor Barre Chord Shapes

The Bm chord can be played as a barre chord by playing a root 6 barre chord shape and starting on the 7th fret or by playing a root 5 barre chord Major shape and starting on the 2nd fret:

Bm Barre Chord

B 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 minor triad are:

  • B minor Triad (Root Position) – B, D, F#
  • B minor Triad (1st Inversion) – D, F#, B
  • B minor Triad (2nd Inversion) – F#, B, D

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

B Minor Triad Guitar

Which Keys Have The Bm chord in Them?

The Bm chord can be found in the following keys:

  • The key of B minor (Bm, C#dim, D, Em, F#m, G, A)
  • The key of E minor (Em, F#dim, G, Am, Bm, C, D)
  • The key of F# minor (F#, G#dim, A, Bm, C#m, D, E)
  • The key of D Major (D, Em, F#m, G, A, Bm, C#dim)
  • The key of G Major (G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em, F#dim)
  • The key of A Major (A, Bm, C#m, D, E, F#m, G#dim)

Alternative But Useful Bm Chord Shapes

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

Alterative B Minor Chords Guitar

Bm Chord Substitutions

Most B minor chords with extensions can be used as a substitute for the B minor chord. For example, Bm9, Bm11 and Bm6 can often be used to add colour and emotion to the B minor chord.

The Bm7 chord is quite often used interchangeably with the Bm chord.

For more interesting substitutions, playing variations of the D chord (which is the relative Major of B minor), such as D6, D69, Dmaj9 etc. can be used effectively as a substitute for the B minor chord.

Which Scales Can Be Played Over the B Minor Chord?

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

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

Further Reading

Get Guitar Chords Galore eBook