BY KATE KOENIG

Welcome to the latest installment of Chord by Chord, a series designed to build your understanding of harmony and the fretboard. In the last lesson we went over various E major voicings, and this time I’ll teach another major chord, B.

The Work

Remember that a major triad is made up of three notes: the root, the major third, and the fifth. Example 1 shows the notes in a B major chord: B, D#, and F#. (Note that there are five sharps in the key of B major: F#, C#, and G#, D#, and A#.)


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A B chord isn’t as easy to play as an open voicing like C, G, or D, but the good news is that you can take any A shape and move it up two frets to get a B chord. For instance, you might recognize Example 2a as an open A chord, played two frets higher. Example 2b gives an alternate fingering, and Example 2c has yet another fingering, with the fifth (F#) as the lowest note—useful for when you’re playing with other instruments that are covering the low end.

Example 3a shows a B barre chord played at the seventh fret. You could also play this chord by wrapping your thumb around the neck to fret the lowest note, as shown in Example 3b. This fingering eliminates the need for a full barre. For some additional compact B major voicings, check out Examples 4 and 5.

Acoustic Guitar Chord by Chord How to Play B Major examples 1-5 music notation and tab

The Result

You should now know a bunch of B major voicings across the fretboard. One song that makes great use of a B chord (as well as last lesson’s E chord) is “Born in the U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen. In the next lesson I’ll show you how to transition from the I (A) to the V (E) in the key of A major.