B Chord Guitar

The Easiest Method for How to Play a B Chord on Guitar…

The B power chord – properly referred to as a root-fifth chord – represents the starting point for most power chord progressions.

The 5th string provides the root note of each succeeding chord. The B chord is among the easiest to fret. There are some ways to compensate for weak fingers and, although they are not proper technique, they can provide a way to get clear tone out of the chord and to provide an extra bit of strength when one has been playing for a while.

B Chord Guitar - 1st finger 2nd fret A string, 3rd finger 4th fret barre D and G string

Begin by identifying the B note on the 5th string, you’ll find it on the second fret.

Across the strings below the root B, the fingers will form what is called a bar. This simply means that one’s fingers lay across all the strings above the root – remember that the order of strings is reversed compared to what is presented to the eye, the highest and most distant string from the player is the 1st string.

Lucky for you though because for the b chord on guitar it’s not necessary that adequate pressure for clear tone be applied to any string but the 5th string by the first finger.

Go ahead and strum the bar to make certain that the B note is sounding clearly, don’t worry too much about the strings below it.

Quick B Chord Guitar Tip: The ideal position for fretting any note is as close to the higher fret bar as possible. Make certain that the bar finger is as close as it can be to the second fret bar.

If the index finger proves too weak to effectively fret this chord, one may use their second finger to reinforce the strength of the first. Experiment with this technique for a bit to make certain that the correct note is being sounded. If there is buzz in the note, increase the pressure.

If that doesn’t remedy the problem, adjust the position of the fingers relative to the second fret bar, try rolling your fingers back and forth a bit to see how you can apply the most pressure.

Some minor adjustments such as these should help to alleviate any deficiencies in one’s tone. This is a root-fifth chord so it’s time to add the fifth and the octave to the chord to complete the sound. The fifth will be “F#” which is found on the 4th fret of the 4th string. The octave will be B, obviously, and that is found on the 4th fret of the 3rd string. The simple geometry of this chord has a lot to do with it being so popular in rock music.

There are several ways in which one can fret these remaining notes. One may use their 3rd and 4th fingers – ring and pinky – to fret the notes individually. If this method is chosen, use the ring finger to fret the note on the larger 4th string and the pinky finger to fret the note on the comparatively light 3rd string.

Remember to position the fingers close to the forward fret for the best possible tone.

If this method proves immediately fatiguing, try barring the other two notes with either the ring or the pinky finger. The ring finger is stronger but requires more stretching. It does allow for one to trill one fret above the 4th fret which is a common motif in rock music. It’s best to master all three ways to play this chord so that one can adapt their playing style as needed and relieve fatigue by switching techniques.

More Places to Play the B Chord on Guitar

The B root-fifth – which is generally expressed as “B5″ – can also be played on the 7th fret using the 6th, lowest, string as the root.

The position is exactly the same: The first or first and second fingers bar the strings at the 7th fret and the third, fourth or both fingers depress the fifth and the root two frets and one string higher at the 9th fret.

Now that learning the basic B5 chord is complete, it’s time to see why this chord is one of the most valuable to learn and why any aspiring guitarist should learn this chord in both positions.

B Chord Practice

From either location, go ahead and slide the entire chord up one fret. The chord now being sounded is C5. Repeat the process but, this time, slide the entire chord up two more frets from the C5 position. The chord now being sounded is D5.

The B5 chord is a mobile chord. It can be played anywhere on the fret board with the root on the 5th or 6th strings and will always sound a root fifth chord. This is part of the reason that it is so popular. Another reason has to do with the sonority of the chord. This sonority is one of the places where rock, country and other popular musicians are often at odds with classical guitarists where theory is concerned: Moving this chord from one position to the next constitutes a parallel fifth.

The fifth – which can always be found by counting up from the root note with the root note being “1″ – is one of the most consonant intervals in western music. Consonant means that there is little dissonance which is usually heard on an amplifier as a “wavy” sound between the notes. It is for this reason that root-fifths are oftentimes called “power chords”. They’re forceful, consonant and, to use the colloquialism “in your face”.

For classical aficionados, they’re also boring. The lack of dissonance in chord progressions which utilize exclusively root-fifth chords is often the basis for classical musicians referring to rock with such pejoratives as “pedestrian”, “monotone” and “featureless”. Don’t listen to it for a minute!

The root-fifth, whether one learns it from practicing B5 on the 5th or 6th strings or otherwise, is one of the foundational chords for any guitarist. The position is essentially a stripped-down major chord and the barring technique used for the strings behind the 3rd and 4th fingers is an absolute must-have ability for any guitarist. Play with the chord, move it up and down the frets and use it to practice advanced techniques such as trilling and sliding to improve one’s overall ability!

Learn how to play more chords

Check out my guide on how to play guitar chords to learn how to play the rest. It’s really easy… promise!


  • Pingback: B Chord « Play Songs on Guitar

  • Shera Peeples said:on 22 December, 2009

    When one views the issue at hand, i have to agree with your finishes. You clearly show cognition about this theme and i have much to discover after reading your post.Many salutations and i will come back for any further updates.

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  • Jessie said:on 27 December, 2009

    Hi. It’s me again. I found this page earlier, not realizing that you were the same person. But I’m getting mixed signals from many sites, and can’t seem to adjust my finger correctly. Any help?

    Respond to this comment

  • Sam said:on 12 February, 2010

    thnx alot!

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  • PRIVATE said:on 9 March, 2011

    Is this a bar chord?

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