[Acoustic Guitar Chords] > Bm Chord for Beginners [Exercises and EASIER Versions]
The Bm chord is tricky, especially for beginners. It’s one of the most difficult beginner guitar chords to play, which is why I’m going to break it down for you here.
Now, there are no shortcuts, silver-bullet solutions, or tricks to getting this chord under your fingers. However, I’ll show you how I teach it.
This lesson includes:
- How to play the Bm chord efficiently.
- The easiest variation to get under your fingers.
- An easy exercise to help you practice.
Let’s get started.
Originally published on September 16, 2019, this post was republished on January 18th, 2024.
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How to Play the Bm Chord
The B minor chord stumps a lot of beginner guitarists – it requires you to make the barre across the fingerboard.
“But Tony, what the heck is a barre?”
A barre is where you use your index finger to fret several strings on your guitar. Think of your first finger like a capo – it’ll cross all of the strings while you use other fingers to form the rest of the chord.
(If the image above is confusing for you, check out my lesson on how to read chord diagrams. I promise it’ll make chord diagrams make more sense!)
So, as we look at the Bm chord, you’ll notice that all your fretting fingers are needed.
It might look tricky at first, but when you break it down you’ll see that it’s quite manageable. Here’s how to do it:
1. Barre the Second Fret
Start by barring your first finger across the A, D, G, B, and E strings of the second fret. Don’t worry about the low E string – you’ll mute it for the chord.
2. Place Your Middle Finger
Next, place your middle finger on the 3rd fret of the B string. Remember not to squeeze the chord too tightly – you want firm pressure without feeling like you’re gripping the neck tightly.
3. Place Your Ring Finger
Then, place your ring finger on the 4th fret of the D string. At this point, the Bm chord is starting to take shape.
4. Place Your Pinky Finger
Finally, use your pinky finger to fret the 4th fret of the G string – and boom! You’ve successfully formed a Bm chord.
Once your fingers are in the right position, go ahead and strum the chord. If it sounds clunky, it’s because you’ve accidentally muted some notes. To avoid this, make sure your fingers have a nice arch in them.
Having an arch in your fingers (bending the joints in your fingers) allows you to play on the tips of your fingers. When you play with the tips of your fingers, your fingers are less likely to accidentally mute another string.
Additionally, make sure your fingers are placed just behind the fret — not on top, and not in the middle of two frets.
Learning how to play the B minor chord requires a lot of finger strength. So as you learn this chord, feel free to take breaks as needed.
Remember, learning the guitar is a journey, not a race. Take your time getting used to barring the strings, and don’t hurt yourself trying to learn the chord in one day!
Many beginning guitar players forget to manage their tension as they are playing. Try to relax as much as possible. And if you need help doing this, check out my pointers for tension management in my guide on how to learn the guitar.
Bm Chord Easy Alternative [Bm7]
I’m kind of cheating on this one because it’s technically not a true Bm chord. Rather, the easiest Bm chord is a variation of Bm: Bm7.
I won’t get into the specifics of this chord, but you’ll notice it has a different tonal quality than the first Bm chord I showed you. That’s because you’re going to add the 7th scale degree in this chord.
To play this variation, you’ll only need to use three fingers. Here’s how to do it:
- Place your index finger on the 2nd fret of the A string
- Leave the D string open
- Fret the second fret of the G string with your middle finger
- Leave the B string
- Finally, place your ring finger on the 2nd fret of the high E string
When you strum this version, make sure you’re:
- Maintaining the arch in your fingers.
- Playing with the tips of your fingers.
This Bm7 is going to sound different from the other chords I showed you precisely because it has the minor-7th scale degree in the chord.
You can sub this chord for a normal Bm chord but know that it might change the tonal quality of the song you’re trying to play.
Bm Chord Exercise [Memorize It!]
Before I show you alternative fingerings for the Bm chord, I want you to try this super simple exercise called the quick draw exercise.
B minor is a difficult chord to get under your fingers, and it’s even harder to remember. That’s why the quick draw exercise is super helpful.
To start the quick draw exercise, you’ll need a stopwatch or clock (I always use the one on my phone). Then:
- Start with your fretting hand on your thigh.
- Make sure you can see the seconds-hand of the clock or you have a stopwatch running.
- In the space of five seconds, form the Bm chord with your fretting hand.
- Once the five seconds are up, strum it
You don’t need to perform the quick draw exercise every five seconds. Instead, take a break and let a few seconds pass by before you do the quickdraw exercise again.
This exercise is great for developing the muscle memory and recall needed to play any chord.
If you’re having trouble performing this exercise, check out the video below where I show you three easy techniques for playing barre chords:
Practicing the Bm Chord in Little Chunks
The reality is that playing the Bm chord takes practice and time – and that’s totally okay!
I’d rather see you work on it for 10 minutes every day than strain your hand trying to perfect it in one hour.
I’m serious about this 10 minutes a day business (if you want to learn why 10 minutes a day is SO important, check out my one vital guitar practice tip).
Even if you only want to practice for three minutes (which can feel like a long time), use those other seven minutes to play some easier chords or an easy song!
I don’t want you to feel defeated by not being able to play the chord right away. Instead, make sure you consistently practice it and use the quick draw exercise to help you remember it.
Learning How to Play the Guitar the Right Way
Now that you’ve got the Bm chord under your belt, you might be wondering what you can tackle next.
To help you in that direction I put together the Ultimate Guide where I cover how to play chords the right way, beginner chord progressions, picking exercises, how to play your first solo, and so much more.
If you want even more guidance and support in your guitar journey, I want to share my comprehensive online workshop called Tony’s Acoustic Challenge.
Filled with daily exercises, lessons on a variety of topics (including those minor-7 chords), and a robust community of thousands of guitar players, Tony’s Acoustic Challenge is just the first step in getting better at acoustic guitar.
Watch the FREE guitar class to learn the three things that will help build a life of consistent guitar playing in just 10 minutes a day.