If you are reading this article, chances are you have already learned some of the basic chords on the ukulele, and are well on your way to mastering them. Way to go! Now it’s time to raise the bar by adding the Bm chord to your repertoire. If this is your first bar chord (more on that below), it can be a bit intimidating, but don’t worry! I’m here to guide you through some of the tips and tricks that helped me master this highly useful chord.
The bonus: Once you master the Bm chord, you can move the shape up and down the neck to play any other minor chord your heart desires!
So let’s get into it!
Playing the Bm Chord
As you probably know by now, the standard tuning for a ukulele is G-C-E-A. Most basic chords utilize one or more of those open string notes. However, the B Minor chord is made up of the notes B, D, and F#, none of which match the open strings. Not surprisingly then, if you look at the diagram below you will see that in order to play a Bm chord, you need to fret a note on all four strings of the ukulele.
Before you start trying to figure out what sort of finger acrobatics you will need to do in order to keep all four of your fingers down for this chord, let me just tell you that despite needing to fret four notes, this chord actually only requires two fingers! That’s right, all you need is your 1st (index) and 3rd (ring) fingers.
This is what’s known as a bar chord; a chord where you play 2 or more notes with one finger (typically the index finger) by “barring” it across the strings. If you are familiar with a capo, a bar chord is essentially like using your finger as a moveable capo. Neat!
So to play a Bm bar chord –as pictured above– simply take your 1st finger of your fretting hand hand and lay it across the 2nd fret, barring the 1st, 2nd and 3rd strings (some people decide to bar all 4 strings), and then place your 3rd finger on the 4th fret of the G string and give it a strum.
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How did it sound? If you are new to this, probably a bit muffled or muted,right? The challenging part of playing this, or any bar chord, lies in maintaining the appropriate pressure with your index finger so that all the notes ring out clearly when you strum.
Read more: How to play the Cm7 Chord on your Ukulele
Don’t get discouraged if you are having trouble with this, it takes time to develop the strength and dexterity it takes to play bar chords smoothly, so just keep practicing. In the meantime, let’s talk about a way to simplify the chord a little so you can start playing songs that have Bm without delay.
How to Simplify the Bm Chord
Remember how I said a Bm chord is made up of three notes (B, D, and F#), yet requires fretting four notes on the ukulele? If we break down the notes of the Bm chord above from the A string up to the G string, we get B-F#-D-B. Since we have two B notes, we can actually simplify the chord by removing our 3rd finger from the 4th fret of the G string.
If we bar just the first three strings on the 2nd fret with our index finger, and either mute the G string or pass over it while strumming, we get a simplified version of the Bm chord. To mute the G string, try wrapping the side of your thumb over the top of the neck and resting it gently on the string so that if you hit it when strumming no note rings out.
If you are still struggling to get clean notes to ring out when barring the three strings with your 1st finger, consider using fingers 1-3 instead. Place your 1st finger on fret 2 of the 3rd string, your 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the 2nd string, and your 3rd finger on the 2nd fret of the 1st string. For those of you familiar with the D chord you may notice this version of B minor is just like taking your D chord and moving each finger down a string. Remember to either mute or skip over the G string when strumming.
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