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

The E flat minor chord is most commonly played as a root-5 bar chord, starting on the 6th fret. It is enharmonically the same as the D sharp minor chord, but Ebm is the most common version of the two.

None of the notes in the Ebm chord can be played on the open strings of the guitar, so Ebm can not be played as an open chord,

Some Quick Ebm Chord Theory

  • The E flat minor chord contains the notes Eb, Gb and Eb.
  • The Eb minor chord is produced by playing the 1st (root), flat 3rd and 5th notes of the Eb Major scale.
  • The Eb 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).
  • Eb minor is the relative minor of Gb Major.
  • Ebm is the first chord in the key of Eb minor. The seven chords in the key of Eb minor are: Ebm, F diminished, Gb+, Abm, Bb, Cb, D diminished

10 Ways To Play The Eb Minor Chord

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

Eb Minor Chord - 10 Shapes

Standard Ebm Chord Shape

The most common way to play the Ebm chord is by playing the root-5 minor chord, starting on the sixth fret.

Ebm Chord Guitar

Easy Ebm Chord Shape

The ‘easy’ or ‘mini’ version of the E flat minor chord is achieved by playing the sixth fret, seventh fret and eighth 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 Ebm, if you find the barre chord version a little difficult.

Easy Ebm Chord

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

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

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

Eb Minor Barre Chord Shapes

The Ebm chord can be played as a barre chord by playing a root 6 barre chord shape and starting on the 11th fret or by playing a root 5 barre chord Major shape and starting on the 6th fret:

Ebm Barre Chord

Eb 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 E flat minor triad are:

  • Eb minor Triad (Root Position) – Eb, Gb, Bb
  • Eb minor Triad (1st Inversion) – Gb, Bb, Eb
  • Eb minor Triad (2nd Inversion) – Bb, Eb, Gb

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

Eb Minor Triad

Which Keys Have The Ebm chord in Them?

The Ebm chord can be found in the following keys:

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

Alternative But Useful Ebm Chord Shapes

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

Alternative Eb Minor Chords Guitar

Ebm Chord Substitutions

Most Eb minor chords with extensions can be used as a substitute for the Eb minor chord. For example, Ebm9, Ebm11 and Ebm6 can often be used to add colour and emotion to the Eb minor chord.

The Ebm7 chord is quite often used interchangeably with the Ebm chord.

For more interesting substitutions, playing variations of the Gb chord (which is the relative Major of E flat minor), such as Gb6, Gb69, Gbmaj9 etc. can be used effectively as a substitute for the Eb minor chord.

Which Scales Can Be Played Over the Eb Minor Chord?

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

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

Further Reading

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