10 February 2010

Beginner Guitar Chord: B Major

This lesson introduces beginner guitar players to the B major chord. This chord can be a little harder to get to grips with than some of the beginner open chords. For many it could be the first time you move up the neck a little into new territory.

But things are not so hard and scary as they might first sound. This B major chord is basically the same shape as the beginner's A major chord and isn't much harder to play.

The fingering for the complete chord is shown in the chord diagram below.

e x|---|---|---|---|
B  |---|---|---|-4-|
G  |---|---|---|-3-|
D  |---|---|---|-2-|
A  |---|-1-|---|---|
E x|---|---|---|---|

You might find it easier to start by getting only the second, third and fourth fingers into place at the fourth fret. This is exactly like fingering an open A major chord, only two frets higher up the guitar neck. Strum only these three strings when you do that. You might like to use these same three fingers for the A major chord if you know it as a warm up.

When you get comfortable playing the chord with these three strings it's time to move on and get the B note in the bass on the fifth string. Place your three fingers just as you've been doing and then stretch back your first finger to place it two frets lower on the fifth string. It will be a difficult stretch at first and don't be surprised if it feels very awkward.

Work slowly to develop the stretch of your fingers and you'll be able to reach that bass note with a little time.

Now you know how to play a B major chord, take your time and practice it slowly. Once you've got the hang of this chord why not have some fun playing it in some easy rock songs? Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen uses only the B and E chords, for example, or you could try Dire Strait's So Far Away From Me.

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Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I don't fully understand your chord diagrams. I get the strings, I think the numbers represent which finger to use, but I don't see what FRET to play in. What am I missing?

Gary Fletcher said...

@Anonymous - Yes, the numbers represent the fingers: 1 = first finger, 2 = middle finger, 3 = ring finger, 4 = pinky or little finger.

Vertical bars represent the frets. The left-most one is the guitar's nut, or 0 fret, the next to the right is the first fret, and so on.

For the B major chord then, the 1st finger is at the 2nd fret and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers at the 4th fret.

You can learn more in this post about chord diagrams.

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