My top tips on playing that nasty ol’ B minor chord

My top tips on playing that nasty ol’ B minor chord

Four ways to play Bm (B minor) chord on ukulele:

This is a hands-on mini-lesson–

–so do not continue unless your hands are on. Preferably on a ukulele.

The awful B minor ukulele chord.

Even the name is taunting. “Play me, or B minor!”

It’s one of those chords that you only need once in a while, but when you do it, oh brother, do you really need it.

It’s physically tricky because it involves a barre (more on this below), AND a giant reach across all the strings.

Plus, it’s a minor chord, and minor chords are just sort of depressing.

Tips for making the B minor chord on ukulele:

  1. Do NOT use four fingers! This requires too much precision and will slow down your chord changes. If you want smooth, efficient chord changes…
  2. Use the barre instead. The barre is just your index finger laid across the entire 2nd fret, covering all strings. Check the pressure–just enough that each string rings out pure and true.
  3. If your index finger isn’t mighty enough, try two things. First, make sure your thumb is behind the neck providing a GI Joe kung-fu grip. You’re SQUEEZING the neck between your thumb and finger. Second, you can double up your fingers. First finger on the strings, then second finger on top of the first finger, for double finger strength!
  4. Finally, reach way across with a finger (I like ring finger) to 4th string, 4th fret. Sometimes it helps to place this finger FIRST, then add the barre. This lets you adjust this finger on its own, before you have to worry about the barre.
  5. If your finger is deadening strings 1, 2, or 3, try pushing your WHOLE HAND FORWARD (away from your body). This changes the angle of attack a little bit and can help with clearance.

Did you read my article about The Spiderman Method of Getting Better on Ukulele? Go read that (it will help with the next bit).

NOW–if you move your whole B minor shape down the neck (away from the sound hole), you’ll move from fret 2, to fret 1, to fret 0 (when your barre will have no place to be and will go right off, over the head of the uke).

At this point, look closely, and you’ll see that what you’re left with is a good old friendly A minor chord! (frets: 2000)

But you’re making it with a finger you probably don’t normally use–just like Spiderman!

The point here is–it may help you form the B minor chord on your ukulele when you understand that it’s just an A minor ukulele chord moved up the neck.)

In ukulele playing, as in most things, they way you think about it is just as important as what you do.

Good luck with the B minor chord! Let me know if you have questions — we're talking about it over here.

More on Ukulele Chords
This post is one of many on the topic of Mastering Ukulele Chords. More (much more) right over here.

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Comments on My top tips on playing that nasty ol’ B minor chord

  1. Ginny H says:

    Thanks! The hint of pushing my whole had forward did the trick!

    1. Danno says:

      On these tricky uke chords like B minor, any little thing you can do to make it easier!

  2. Lavenue says:

    Okay I have a question that I’m really summoning the ukulele gods for you to answer for me haha. I practice daily and have Bm down pat as well as bar chords in general, but I’ve been having a problem with my thumb muscle cramping because of its position (pushing against the back assisting the bar chord). I was wondering is this something that will go away and my muscle will just strengthen equaling no more cramps or am I doing something wrong?

    Thank you!!

    1. Danno says:

      I’ve heard (just recently) of ukulele players getting sore elbows or sore wrists, but this is the first I’ve heard of Sore Thumb Syndrome!

      You’re right, the thumb does a lot of work on those barre chords.

      My first thought is, see if you can just ease off on the pressure a bit. Secondly, see what happens if you shift your whole hand around into slightly different positions–small moves can make a big difference.

  3. Lou says:

    Can always try Bm7 for easier fingering!

    1. Danno says:

      Sure, just trust your ear. Sometimes that will sound fine and sometimes not. Nice to have both chords at your beck and call.

  4. Erin says:

    Double up your fingers… It’s so simple I don’t know how I didn’t think of it earlier! Thank you 😀

    1. Danno says:

      You are welcome! We’re all standing on the shoulders of giants, are we not?

  5. Cnith says:

    I don’t know if you’re still reading these but here goes nothing… When I reach over with the ring finger to do the “Am” I lose my bar. My index finger moves up with the ring finger who’s trying not to hit the other chords. Doubling up does nothing as they all move together. The only awful way I have kind of done this is to use the thumb as that “Am” but that cramps up the thumb like a mofo… Help?

    How do I keep my index finger down while getting my ring finger up enough to clear the strings?

  6. Danno says:

    I know that mofo feeling…

    OK, double-check Tip 5 about pushing your whole hand forward. I’ve seen that help a lot of people.

    And–what happens if you make the chord in reverse order? That is, instead of starting with the barre, get the other finger in position first (and be sure it’s properly clearing all the other strings). Then try adding the barring finger.

    Drop me a note if you get or if you don’t. We’ll do some more doctoring if need be!

  7. Gigi says:

    Hey, Danno, thanks for your tips!

    I just can’t seem to be getting that barre. Doubling-up improves nothing. I can get it if I play the barre alone, but once I add the B, my hand position is shifted in a way that stops the barre from holding down the A string and deadens the E string. Moving my hand forward only makes it worse. I’ve tried changing my grip and the fingering, but nothing has worked.

    1. Danno says:

      I never thought I’d say this in public, but you *can* play the B minor on ukulele as x222 (ceiling to floor).

      When you play the full shape, 4222, strings one and four are actually playing the same note, so you *can* do away with one of them, and it’s string four that causes so many problems.

      The trick then is that you must NOT play string four. You’ll need to mute it or avoid it.

      Is that easier? You’ll have to decide!

      Maybe helpful:

      OK, that said, I KNOW you can do the barre, and it sounds like you’ve seriously worked at it. If you’d like to do a quick video call, I’ll bet I can coach you through it. You can drop me a note at friendlyhelperson (at) largecorp (dot) com and we could set up a time 🙂

    2. Danno says:

      Gigi, also check tip 4, starting with the finger that’s NOT the barre.

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