B Chord on the Guitar (B Major) - 10 Ways to Play (and Some Tips/Theory) (2024)

The B Major chord is a common guitar chord. Despite its common use in Pop songs, there are no practical ways to play the B chord as an open chord. It is therefore played very commonly as a bar chord in the second fret.

Some Quick B Chord Theory

  • The B Major chord contains the notes B, D# and F#.
  • The B Major chord is produced by playing the 1st (root), 3rd and 5th notes of the B Major scale.
  • The B Major chord (just like all Major chords) contains the following intervals (from the root note): Major 3rd, minor 3rd, Perfect 4th (back to the root note).
  • The B Major first chord in the key of B. The key of B contains the following chords – B, C#m, D#m, E, F#, G#m, A# diminished.

10 Ways To Play The B Major Chord

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

B Chord on the Guitar (B Major) - 10 Ways to Play (and Some Tips/Theory) (1)

Standard B Chord Shape

The most common way to play the B chord is with the root note on the second fret of the fifth string. This is almost the same as the root-5 barre chord shape for B, but in this example, the first finger only plays the bass note and does not extend down to form the ‘barre’.

Easy B Chord Shape

The easiest version of the B chord is the three-note triad, played on the first three strings of the guitar. Learning the easy B shape can be useful if you’re just starting out and need to play B for a song that you’re learning. Often, by learning these easy versions, you can get by until you learn the more common (but harder) shapes.

B Chord on the Guitar (B Major) - 10 Ways to Play (and Some Tips/Theory) (3)

How to Play the B Major Chord (Step by Step)

  • Place your third finger on the third fret of the third string.
  • Place your forth finger on the second fret of the third string.
  • Place your first finger on the second fret of the first string.

The instructions above are step by step instructions for playing the easy B Major chord shape. These instructions can actually be super helpful when you feel like you’re interpreting the shape incorrectly. By going through the B chord instructions step by step, you can verify that you’re playing the chord correctly.

Barre Chord Shapes for B

The B 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:

B Chord on the Guitar (B Major) - 10 Ways to Play (and Some Tips/Theory) (4)

B Major Triads

Most of the time, when we play the B chord, we play the standard shapes, such as the open position B and the barre chord shapes. However, learning the strict root position and inverted triads is a great way of exploring subtle and interesting variations that exist across the fretboard. The B Major triad can be voiced in the following three ways:

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

Here are six different ways to play the B Major triad (including inversions).

B Chord on the Guitar (B Major) - 10 Ways to Play (and Some Tips/Theory) (5)

Which Keys Have The B chord in Them?

The B chord can be found in the following keys:

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

Alternative But Useful B Chord Shapes

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

B Chord on the Guitar (B Major) - 10 Ways to Play (and Some Tips/Theory) (6)

B Chord Substitutions

The B chord can often be substituted with the B sus 4 chord, the B sus 2 chord and the B add 9 chord. The B chord can also be used itself as a substitute for more complicated chords, such as the B Major 7 chord, the B7 chord, and other extension chords which have B as the root note (it can’t be used in place of minor chords though!).

Which Scales Can Be Played Over the B chord?

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

  • B Major pentatonic scale – This scale will almost always work over the B Major chord, in any context.
  • B Major scale – This is the ‘default scale’ of the B chord.
  • B Lydian mode – This scale can be used over the B chord in certain contexts to add a jazz flavour.
  • B Major Blues – This scale is particularly useful in a Blues context.

Further Reading

  • B Major scale
  • How Major chords work
  • Chords page
  • B Major arpeggio
  • B/D# chord
  • B/F# chord

B Chord on the Guitar (B Major) - 10 Ways to Play (and Some Tips/Theory) (2024)

FAQs

Why is the B chord so hard to play? ›

Unlike most of the basic chords a beginning guitarist needs to know, the B major chord doesn't really have an open-string version. In other words, you need to play a barre chord, which can be hard to play if you're not used to it.

What is the B chord in music theory? ›

If the root of the B chord – B – is the bass note (i.e., the bottom note), then the chord is in root position: If the third of the chord – D-sharp – is the bottom note, then the chord is in first inversion: If the fifth of the chord – F-sharp – is the bass note, then the chord is in second inversion.

How do you simplify B chord? ›

If you want to simplify things even further, you can try a three-finger version of the B major chord like this:
  1. Don't play the low E, A, and D strings.
  2. On the G string, position your ring finger on the fourth fret.
  3. Position your pinky finger on the fourth fret of the B string.

How do you cheat A B chord on guitar? ›

The first alternate thing you can do is to take your index finger off the 5th string and place it on the 1st string, so the chord now looks like this: Index finger on the 2nd fret of the E (1st) string. Middle finger on the 4th fret of the D (4th) string. Ring finger on the 4th fret of the G (3rd) string.

What fingers do you use for B major on A guitar? ›

B Major
  • Make a barre with your first finger on the second fret.
  • Put your second finger on the fourth fret of the fourth string.
  • Put your third finger on the fourth fret of the third string.
  • Put your fourth finger on the fourth fret of the second string.
  • Strum only the highest five strings.

What are the 4 chord of B major? ›

Equivalent chord symbols: C♭4, B3+3, E5+1, B3+10, C♭3+3, C♭3+10. Notes in this chord: B, D♯, E.

What chord is B major A dominant of? ›

Dominant – F-sharp major. Submediant – G-sharp minor. Leading-tone – A-sharp diminished.

What emotion is B minor chord? ›

In classical music, B minor was considered to be a key that gave a song a feeling of deep and thoughtful sadness. The B minor scale could also convey patient expectation and hope. This was in contrast with its relative key, D Major, which was considered to be one of the most joyful keys.

What is the B power chord? ›

The B power chord is a popular guitar chord used in a variety of musical styles. It is a two-note chord consisting of the notes B and F#, played on the second and fourth frets of the guitar. This chord is often referred to as a “power chord” because it has a strong, driving sound.

What does the little B mean in chords? ›

In usual internet type tab, “b” means bend the string. So “7 b 9” means play that note at the 7th fret, then bend the string so that the pitch you get goes up a full tone to match the tone you would get if you fretted the string at the 9th fret.

References

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