Hello. We are moving; starting a new course. Content will be available here, until it travels to jameyfaulkner.com. Some modules won't be transferred, rather, integrated into the path. If you are an existing student of this site, your login credentials already work on the new site. Some of the navigation here forwards to corresponding content on the new site. Practice!
 

By KeyAll ♦  A & AmA FlatB FlatD FlatE FlatF# 

Guitar Chords in the Key of B

guitar chords in b major

Numbers in the dots are suggested fingerings. Empty strings are muted or not played [most likely muted!].

b7 chordIt is a common question: How do I play a B chord? This lesson answers this question.

First, if you are looking for B7, here it is.

We have a lot of options for playing B. We'll first explore the cycle of chord forms for the tone B. In the Bm section, you'll see one tone different from the Major cycle (the flat 3rd), & in the Fragments section, we'll use the E (7th fret) & A (2nd fret) forms based on B to create smaller fragments.

As we've discussed in CAGED lessons on the site, each of the 12 tones has a chord form 'heel' (as in a loaf of bread). For the chord B, the A form is the first full form to appear (when considering the nut as a starting point). Yet, keep in mind that the B (& the F & F# based on E Form) have chord forms that 'sneak in' behind the first full form. And, those forms that do appear (fall behind the first full form) are Dominant 7 type chords. To make this clear, consider that if you finger C7 in first position, then shift it back a fret, you have B7 (Dominant 7 type chord). And, the same goes for B-Flat (shifting back one more, but you have to mute the 2 string, or include an extended tone).

With that technicality out of the way, let's consider the A form as the heel for the B chord (Major). So, our first fingering of B is based on the A form.

a to b chord

The above version of B isn't always such a comfortable fingering, so we'll simplify it to a bar chord (where the 3 or 4 finger is doing the barring).

b chord

The CAGED system supplies a solid framework for all of the ways to play the B chord. The entire CAGED cycle for B looks like this:

caged for b

double dot not a root

There are preferential fingerings for each of these forms (as in the fingering simplication for the A form above).

chord fingerings for b

b minor 7 chordFirst, if you are looking for Bm7 (Bminor7), here it is.

These maps are different from the B major maps in that one tone (the 3rd of Major), has been lowered to create minor type chords (flat-3rd).

We have a lot of options for playing Bm. We'll first explore the cycle of chord forms for the Bm chord. In the B Major section, you saw one tone different from this minor cycle (the normal 3rd), & in the Fragments section, we'll use the E (7th fret) & A (2nd fret) forms based on B tone to create smaller fragments.

Bminor is a necessary chord to know. It typically appears first in a guitarist's playing life as the iii chord of G Major, then typically as the vi chord of D Major.

a to b chord

The above version of Bm isn't always such a comfortable fingering, so we'll simplify it to a non-bar chord.

b chord

The CAGED system supplies a solid framework for all of the ways to play the Bm chord. The entire CAGED cycle for Bm (B Major with a lowered 3rd) looks like this:

caged for b

double dot not a root

There are preferential fingerings for each of these forms (as in the fingering simplication for the A form above). Double dot below is marked as the root.

chord fingerings for b

For this section, we will focus on the E & A Form fragments for the B chord & B minor. These aren't the only fragments from these chords, yet some of the most common. You have options for fingerings. We have intentionally left fingerings out, so you can figure them out. We all have preferences. One of the goals with chords is to find chord voicings that work for you. Take note that the R-5 (Root-5 or 'power chords) are the same for Major & minor. R5 chords are Major-minor neutral & can be used in place of Major or minor chords where necessary or appropriate.

B Major based E Chord Form

b major fragments based on e form

B minor based E Chord Form

b minor fragments based on e form

B Major based A Chord Form

b major fragments based on a form

B minor based A Chord Form

b minor fragments based on a form

As with all Major key centers, there are 7 tones in the scale (key). A chord can be built from every tone in the scale, thus giving us 7 chords. Chords are built by selecting a root and adding every other tone [see EON] until there are three tones [for triads].

A triad is a three tone chord built every other 'note'. 7 chords are 4 tone chords, taking the every other note process one tone further.

In a Major key, there are 3 Major triads [I IV V], 3 minor triads [ii iii vi], and 1 diminished triad [viio]. Upper case Roman Numeral means Major, lower case means minor, and lower case with a degree sign means diminished.

In a Major key, when chords include the 7's, the I and IV become Major 7's [IMaj7 IVMaj7], the V becomes a Dominant 7 [V7], the ii, iii, and vi become minor 7's [iim7 iiim7 vim7], & the viio becomes a minor 7 flat 5 [viim7b5 - also known as half diminished]. 7th chords are taking the EON principle until we have 4 tones.

The vii0 triad can be written as paralling to a minor triad and that would make it a minor flat 5. If it is a 7 chord, paralleled to minor7, this could be called minor 7 flat 5. Minor 7 flat 5 is also called half-diminished 7 and that is indicated as the degree sign with a slash through it. We see the min7b5 written more often than the degree sign with a slash. Just be aware that this type of chord has two ways to be written. They are the same thing.

1. We first get all of the chords in our hands. We take our time, fretting with confidence.

2. We then play the triadic chord scale ascending [and descending].

We play chords as we do scales [alphabetically]. We can use any beat count [4 is shown below] and any motor hand technique [strumming, fingerpicking, or arpeggio picking].

chord scale in roman numerals

3. And then we play 7th chord scales after playing the triads with ease.

7th chord scale in roman numerals

4. Next, we play progressions and/or songs that are in the key.

We keep in mind that the voicings shown in this lesson are but one way to play any particular type of chord. See the CAGED cluster for more options. Different styles favor certain voicings, and in a way are defined by the types that are used.

5. And, as always, we write progressions.

This process of arranging chords in our own order, and/or common sequences, is the genesis for writing our own songs. Start this process from the beginning.

We aren't limited to just the chords in a key for writing. Any chord can go to any chord. For understanding how other chords relate to a key center, check out Harmonic Map.