Playing the B chord, songs in the key of E

And how do you play the B chord?
Same problem plus a bar chord

Hey Santiago, whereabouts are you on your learning so far? I wouldn’t worry about B if you’re going through grade 1 right now, it’s an awkward one and it does not actually come up very much at all in too many songs.
FWIW though, it’s barre on second fret with strings 2, 3 and 4 fretted a further 2 frets up. Honestly if you’re early on then I would avoid it.

Thank you for your answer
I was trying to find information about the B chord in other grades but I couldn’t
It’s not so uncommon if you are playing songs in the E key so I wondered if there is a better way to do it
I’m using finger one second fret for the barre and then fingers 2, 3 and 4 for strings 4 3 2 respectively

If you look at Justin playing B he uses his third finger to barre strings 2, 3 and 4 but that’s a hell of a stretch for me. I’ve been using my little finger to do the same when trying it which works ok for me.

There’s also a cheat on B I stumbled across which is reminiscent of mini-F. Use finger 1 on string 1 at second fret and then fingers 2, 3 and 4 for your A shape on fret 4 (and only play the fretted strings of course!)

Good luck!!

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Thank you
Great information

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One option is to play B7 rather than B. In some instances it will sound good, other times maybe not. That caught is taught in Gr2 Open 7th Chords |

Another option is to change the songs key. Many songs will be played just with chords in the key. Not always the case but many times it is. Here the chords in the key of E (excluding the diminished chord, which is also not as frequently used)

Key of E: E F#m G#m A B C#m
Key of C: C Dm  Em  F G Am
Key of G: G Am  Bm  C D Em

You can replace all the song’s chords in E with the matching chords in C or G and may find that enables you to play the song with open chords. The downside of that is that you can no longer play along with the original song.

Actually, there are some #'s in there: Key of E: E, F#m, G#m, A, B, C#m.

You could play D shapes and capo at 2 to play along in the original key of E major.

Key of D: D, Em, F#m, G, A, Bm


I agree. The relative minor is C#m.
I like your idea. You can’t avoid barre chords but they are easier than B.


Of course, not thinking clearly. Thanks John. I’ve corrected my post.


Thanks, Santiago. I made a right mess of the chords in the key of E forgetting all the sharps, but that’s corrected.

And as you say, the F and Bm barres are more manageable at Grade 2 level.

Hi Santiago,

You can play it also as an E-shape barre chord at the 7th fret (799877).

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Hi Mark,

That’s a cool cheat but I think it’s a B/F# chord rather than a B. Sounds nice anyway.

Another thing you could do is play the B7 instead of the B. It normally sounds good in E.

I’ve found the B barre chord has a different sound when played alongside open chords whereas the B7 still fits in.

I learnt the B7 by playing Link Wray’s Rumble. :grinning:

Edit: btw the B7 is X212O2 if you didn’t know. Tricky when you are new but it gets easier.

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Love the sound of B7 but changing to it is “interesting”! I came across it very early in my learning when learning All I Wanna Do which has actually founded me quite well now I’m on the blues module.

The B chord can be a challenge, I’m lucky because I’m able to play it with only 2 fingers. My index finger as a barre, and my ring finger (3) across the 3 strings as a sort of mini barre instead of using fingers 2 3 and 4 for the A shape. My ring finger just bends that way.


Yeah, I’m the same - I learned how to do it when I played a song that needed a change from A to D on the 5th fret, it was in 4/4 but only 2 strums each per bar for about 3-4 bars; at the time it was a right pain but it was well worth learning.

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How lucky you are. For me it’s impossible to barre strings 2 3 and 4 and leave string 1


Not impossible just not something you cannot do right now. With the right practice and watching Justin’s lessons you will get that A shape barre chord down. I struggled like mad and thought I would never crack it but with perseverance it finally became just another chord. You will find lots of chord shapes like this on your journey, seemingly impossible fingering but they can all be mastered, it just takes time.




You don’t have to leave string 1 ringing out. If you can mute string 1, then you have a perfectly good B chord: x2444x.

Some people can bend their ring finger (or pinky) such that the first string is fretted at 2 and rings out: x24442. This is also a good B chord.

I was originally taught to play this 2nd version, but never could with just index and ring fingers. Then I realized that lots of (most?) people play the 1st version and that’s how I play it now.

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Yes. I remember I thought the G7 was impossible for me, unable to ring the six strings. And then, little by little it became easy.
But you know, we tend to forget the good things and overestimate the current problems. That’s human condition.

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That’s probably the best option as starts off about how to play the A Shape Major Barre Chord then diverges into alternative chord options and change of key.


Welcome to the community. If you haven’t already done so it would be worth posting an introduction post #community-hub:introduce-yourself

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