Chord bbes

Chord bbes DEFAULT

How to Play the B Flat Chord on Guitar

This article examines how to play the Bb major chord on guitar. So roll up your sleeves, because while this one requires a little more effort to learn than other beginner chords because of how it's played, it's an essential one to get under your fingers.

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Songs that Use the Bb Chord

From classic rock standards to new wave hits, the Bb chord is featured in countless well-known songs.

Pop Songs

Listen for the Bb chord in pop oldies such as "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys or the soulful "Now That We Found Love" by the O'Jays.

It shows up in '80s new wave like the melodic "Don't Dream It's Over" by Crowded House and acoustic rock hits like "All I Want" by Toad the Wet Sprocket.

Rock Songs

Several chart-topping classics feature the Bb chord: The Yardbirds' "Heart Full of Soul" and "White Room" by Cream.

Also check out "Magic Man" by Heart or metal head bangers like "Holy Diver" by Dio.

How to Play the Bb chord

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These are the five stages a beginner guitarist goes through when learning how to play barre chords.

You may have been avoiding them until this point, but there's no getting around it now because the two most common ways to the play a Bb use barre chords. So before we can look at some easier variations, let's look at these two shapes. Once you get them under your fingers ,you'll wonder how you ever got along without them.

The first way to play the Bb Major chord is in the 6th position and uses the E shape, which looks like this:

  • - Index finger on the 6th fret of the low E (6th) string
  • - Index finger on the 6th fret of the B (2nd) string
  • - Index finger on the 6th fret of the high E (1st) string
  • - Middle finger on the 7th fret of the G (3rd) string
  • - Ring finger on the 8th fret of the A (5th) string
  • - Pinky finger on the 8th fret of the D (4th) string


Strum all six strings down from the low E string.

The other common way to play this chord is in the 1st position and uses the A shape, like this:

  • - Index finger on the 1st fret of the A (5th) string
  • - Ring finger on the 3rd fret of the D (4th) string
  • - Ring finger on the 3rd fret of the G (3rd) string
  • - Ring finger on the 3rd fret of the B (2nd) string


Strum four strings down from the A string. This one is a little more difficult because you have to fret the chord so close to the headstock, which requires more pressure to make it sound clean. To make it easier on your wrist and fingers you can substitute a Bb5 chord. To do that, just play the 5th, 4th, and 3rd strings of this shape using your index, ring and pinky fingers.

At this point, if you're still not loving barre chords, there's good news because there are easier versions.

Easier Alternatives

Here's an easier alternative version that takes the barre part out by removing your index finger from the 5th string so you're only playing the 1st four strings, like this:

  • - Index finger on the 1st fret of the high E (1st) string
  • - Middle finger on the 3rd fret of the D (4th) string
  • - Ring finger on the 3rd fret of the G (5th) string
  • - Pinky on the 3rd fret of the B (2nd) string


Strum four strings down from the D string. This version removes some of the strain on your index finger but does add a little stretch from the 1st string and 4th string between your index and middle finger.

If this is still too much we can remove that stretch with an easier three-Finger version. Like this:

  • - Index finger on the 1st fret of the high E (1st) string
  • - Ring finger on the 3rd fret of the G (3rd) string
  • - Pinky finger on the 3rd fret of the B (2nd) string


Strum three strings down from the G string.

Struggling with the Bb chord is perfectly normal. Because of the way the guitar is tuned, there is no fingering that you can use to take advantage of open strings, making barre chords a necessity. Take pride in the fact that your playing and knowledge is improving and now that you have barre chords resting comfortably in your tool shed you have many more musical options to explore.

If you'd like to learn how to play even more chords, browse Fender Play's chord library, learn about chord types, and find tips on how to master them.

Also, if you're not a member yet, sign up for a free Fender Play trial!


Guitar Chords Chart

Guitar Chord: Bb Major


x = don't play string
o = play open string
If the same fingering appears for more than one string, place the finger flat on the fingerboard as a 'bar', so all the strings can sound.

See also the Bb Piano Chord

Examples of use
In major keys, major chords are found on the I, IV and V (1st, 4th and 5th) degrees of the scale.
In Bb major, that means Bb, Eb and F. These three chords form the basis of a huge number of popular songs.

In a minor key, a major chord is found on the III, V and VI (3rd, 5th and 6th) degrees of the scale.
For example, in Eb minor, there are major chords on Gb, B and Bb

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How do I play the Bb Guitar Chord?

Before we get into learning how to play easy versions of the Bb guitar chord, let’s take a look at the two most common Bb major shapes.

Bb Guitar Chord Root On The E String

Here’s the main Bb guitar chord.

In this case, the root note (the first note in the chord) is on the low E string. (6th string.)

Here’s the chord box:

Bb Guitar Chord Root On E

To play this chord:

  • Place your 1st finger on the 6th fret of the low E string.(6th string.)

(This is tricky as you have to barre over! Have a go, but don’t worry if it’s too hard. Barre chords aren’t easy)

  • Place your 3rd finger on the 8th fret of the A string. (5th string.)
  • Place your 4th finger on the 8th fret of the D string. (4th string.)
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 7th fret of the G string. (3rd string.)
  • Strum all the strings.

Pro Guitar Tip!

If the word ‘minor’ isn’t in the name of the chord, this means that the chord is major.

So in today’s lesson we are learning a ‘Bb major chord’.

Learn the 12 EASIEST beginner chords with our famous FREE guide

  Stop struggling. Start making music.

  Learn 12 beginner-friendly versions of every chord.

  This is our most popular guide and it will improve your chord ability quickly.

Bb Guitar Chord Root On The A String

Here’s another Bb major barre chord, this time the root is on the A string.

Here’s the chord box:

Bb Guitar Chord

To play this chord:

  • Barre your first finger on the 1st fret from the A string (5th string) to the high E string. (1st string.)
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 3rd fret of the D string. (4th string.)
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the G string. (3rd string.)
  • Place your 4th finger on the 3rd fret of the B string. (2nd string.)

Easy Ways To Play The Bb Guitar Chord

We’re going to show you 3 super-easy ways to play the Bb guitar chord.

For tips on guidance on how to barre chords, watch this video. Mike will help you.

Let’s get stuck in.

1) 2 Finger Bb Guitar Chord

This chord is perfect for beginners as it only uses two fingers.

Here’s the chord box:

Bb Guitar Chord

To play this chord:

  • Place your 1st finger on the 1st fret of the low E string (6th string.)
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 1st fret of the A string (5th string.)
  • Strum the E (6th string), A (5th string) and D string (4th string) together.

Don’t worry too much about hitting the wrong strings here, just concentrate on nailing this chord.

To learn how to skip strings while strumming, go here:How To Skip Strings While Strumming

2) 3 Finger Bb Guitar Chord

This chord is fantastic for beginners as it only uses 3 fingers.

It can be tricky to squeeze the fingers into place, however once you have this chord down you’ll be rocking out in no time.

Here’s the chord box:

Bb Guitar Chord

To play this Bb guitar chord:

  • Place your 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the G string. (3rd string.)
  • Place your 4th finger on the 3rd fret of the B string (2nd string.)
  • Place your 1st finger on the 1st fret of the high E string. (1st string.)
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3) The A Shape Bb Guitar Chord

This Bb guitar chord uses the exact same shape as the ‘A major chord’.

Let’s compare. Here’s the A chord:

If you already know how to play the standard A major chord, just move this shape to the 3rd fret.

Here’s the Bb guitar chord:

Bb Guitar Chord A Shape

To play this chord:

  • Place your 1st finger on the 3rd fret of the D string. (4th string.)
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 3rd fret of the G string. (3rd string.)
  • Place your 3rd Finger on the 3rd fret of the B string. (2nd string.)

Learning the guitar is good for you, it’s scientifically proven. Check out this article by Guitar World to find out more:10 Scientifically Proven Reasons You Should Play Guitar

How to play Bb easily

I don’t want to cut corners, let me learn the hard guitar chords first!

If you’re a complete beginner, the quickest way to learn guitar is to learn the EASIEST chords first. Learning more advanced guitar chords stunts your progress.

It’s far better to learn easy chords first, then when you’re ready, you can ‘graduate’ to more advanced chords.

That way you’re gradually preparing yourself for each step of your guitar journey.

When you’re first learning how to play guitar, it’s far more important to play MUSIC than focus on advanced guitar chords. Do your guitar progress a favour and learn how to play some super-simple songs.

You can find easy songs here: 10 Easy Songs On Guitar

How do I remember guitar chords?

Here’s a quick and easy tip which will help you remember guitar chords at lightening speed.

  • Once you’ve played a chord correctly, squeeze your fretting hand 5 times.

This chord hack will help you learn chords quickly and effectively. However, it’s important that you play the chord correctly BEFORE you squeeze your hand.

If the chord is incorrect, and you squeeze your hand, you’ll be teaching your hand to remember the chord wrong.

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What about other chords?

If you want to become an epic guitarist, you must know how to play other guitar chords.

Here’s a list of essential chords that you must know.

You can learn all of these chords here: 14 Easy Guitar Chords For Beginners

Why do I need to know beginner guitar chords?

Guitar chords form the foundation of ALL music.

You must know guitar chords to be able play easy songs! Learning guitar chords is also a fantastic way of enhancing your musicality.

If you want to learn easy songs and how to enhance your musicality, check out these FREE lessons:

Here are some other cool-sounding Bb chords

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How to Play Bb Chord on Acoustic Guitar - B Flat Bar Chord

12 Ways How to Play the Bb Chord on Guitar (Plus Tips and Ways to Avoid)

Bb chord on guitar

The Bb chord on guitar is definitely one of the hardest barre chords around and it is the one that gives a lot of beginners and intermediate guitarists a lot of bother. Today, I’ll show you some ways to simplify this, play it with better technique (which no one really teaches), how NOT to play it and even ways to “invert” it for a sophisticated take on the chord.

Sounds fun? Well, let’s begin.

This series continues where we left off with the how to play the F chord and getting started with the B minor chord series so you may want to check those posts out once you have read this.

I love the B flat chord (officially a Bb Major but we will call it Bb) but when I started I hated it.

I mean, really hated it.

My technique was awful, and my then claw-like hand had no idea how to play it on an acoustic. Trying to play it sounded like an X-factor or American Idol audition gone wrong. Typical nail on the chalkboard sound!

Anyway, it’s a really useful chord and if you have your main CAGED chords sorted and some of the variations in my 32 useful chords, chart, then it’s definitely up there as one of the next bunch to learn.


The Core Shapes…

Let’s begin by first looking at the A and E shape version of the chord as these are the most useful.

Learn them and use the tips I give below to help improve them.

The A shape version

There are four ways to play this one shape and instead of treating them like different shapes we will treat them like variations of the exact same shape.

The first two you can treat as a pair. Notice they are the same except in the first one we don’t bother trying to play the high E string note cleanly and then in the second one we do.

The reason is that trying to play this high E string cleanly like in the second example is very tough and requires you to bend back your ring finger to “clear” the high E string. This is very tough for most beginner to early intermediate players.

Unless you need to hear the sound of the high E string for a piece (e.g. you are picking this note on its own) then the first version will work just fine – and it sounds great for strumming (as long as the notes are clear of course).

Version 1

Bb chord - A shape

Version 2

Bb chord on guitar - A shape

Now, to actually play the ring finger barre like this deserves a lesson on its own but here are some tips. These are useful because the above two variations of the same shape are the most useful and probably most practical way to play the Bb chord.

  • Don’t practice this shape on fret 1 (index finger) and fret 3 (ring finger) instead, start higher up the fretboard (fret 5 and 7 are a good place for most) and then work your way down one fret at a time. This is standard practice in my teaching and a lot of you know this already.
  • Put the ring finger on first. Yes, DO NOT place the index on first, it makes far more sense to first put the weaker ring finger on which is doing a lot more work than the stronger more independent index finger.
  • Get the ring finger close to the fret and pluck each of the D, G, and B strings individually to ensure they are clear.
  • Then, when the above notes are clear, slowly add the index on to the first fret of the A string.
  • Also, take lots of breaks, and remember my barre chord rule, technique always trumps pressure.

Below are the same two shapes but using individual fingers instead of the ring finger doing the work of the barre.

I’m not as keen on this way but I know a few students like this better.

Version 3

Bb chord on guitar - harder

Version 4
Bb chord on guitar - harder still

This can be hard to get into and your chord changes can be slow when playing this way. You may also struggle with getting a clear sound on each string with this shape, particularly higher up the fretboard where the frets get close together.

It takes a lot of precision to cram three fingers into one fret on adjacent strings – even more so up at fret 5 and upwards for most.

By all means, try this way and stick with it if it works for you. Guitar playing is not a one size fits all solution but if you have tried this way and struggled, try switching to the first method

Keep in mind, the first method (versions 1 and 2) require more practice and better technique but can be far easier to change in and out of quickly once you can play it. 



The E shape version

Now we have the E shape version of the chord. One with the big full barre which is good when you need the B and high E strings to be clear and one where we use the index finger to mute these strings.

Version 1

B flat on guitar - E shape Full

Version 2
B flat on guitar - E shape Bass


The second version can be very useful when strumming as it gives us all the bass we need but means we are actually doing NO barring at all.

Instead, to play the second version, simply fret the four notes as shown above (version 2), get them clear, and then rest the lower part of your index finger across the strings so it lightly touches the B and high E string.

To the naked eye, this version can make it look like you are barring but you are not.

It’s not an easy skill but the ability to purposely mute strings like this is a good one to develop as there will be times you will want to use this shape (e.g. often if a song uses all barre chords, you will want to save your energy or if there are lots of fast changes in and out of this shape).


Some useful ways to play the B chord

Now that we have looked at the main and most useful ways to play the Bb chord on guitar, I want to give you some useful ways you might not have thought about before.

Power Chord Bb

Yep, this one is for any rockers out there and is simply a power chord. This can be substituted for a full Bb chord at any point as a power chord is essentially a barre chord minus a few notes. It will not sound as full but often will do the job – especially when rocking out with an overdriven electric!

Bb power chord

Power Chord with added 3rd

This is a bit like the power chord version above but instead, we lighten the sound a little by adding the 3rd note of the chord on the B string. This gives us more of an acoustic sound and can be useful in some situations. It’s a bit like an earlier A shape version but without the cramming of the fingers in a small space!

B flat power chord with added 3rd

Jangly Triad

Here, we have a very light sounding Bb that will work if you are accompanying another guitarist and picking out the notes. If they are playing acoustic, you could try this one with an electric with some reverb and get a little triad picking pattern going. Doing this reminds me of some cool stuff by The Smiths or The Byrds.



Inversions are great and can sound real sweet when used well. They are generally used more in a band setting but if you like to jam along to backing tracks, you can use them here too.

An inversion basically means to make the bass note or lowest note in the chord any note other than the root note.

For example, the root note for a Bb chord is the note of Bb and this is usually the lowest note in the chord.

A Bb chord also contains the notes of F and D and if we decide to make the F note or the D note the lowest in the chord, we have just made the chord an “inversion”.

Chord inversions often sound subtly sophisticated.

Have a look at these three B flat inversions below and see if you can spot which of the notes of Bb, D or F is the new bass note for each?

Bb flat on guitar - G parent

The Bb chord - D parent shape

Bb cord - C parent shape

Beware of these fairly commonly taught ways to play the Bb flat major chord on guitar

The following are a bunch of ways that I have seen taught over the years and a quick Google search will show lots of images similar to the following.

I pretty much hate these ways of playing the Bb chord on guitar.

5 tough ways of playing Bb


  • Top left – A really difficult version of the A shape which creates a lot of tension for most guitarists when trying to play (me included). Generally, you are much better off going for one of the other A shapes than this. For me this is awful!
  • Top middle – A more awkward version of the E shape. Unless you really need the high E string note, I would avoid this way and play one of the earlier E shapes instead.
  • Top right – Can you see how this is based on the G chord shape? Either way, it is brutal trying to play this. The first inversion shown is actually a much simpler and easier to play stripped back version of this.
  • Bottom left – Another nasty way of playing this which is based on the C Major chord shape. Not very easy at all!
  • Bottom right – Based on the D chord, this one is a tough way of playing Bb too. I would go with one of the A or E shapes instead.


The useful theory of the Bb barre chord in a nutshell

Now that we have gone into detail on how to play this chord, it’s time to find out exactly where you can use the chord, in what songs and a little bit of the useful theory behind why it is so important.

Why bother learning this chord, you might think?

I mean, how often do you play songs in B flat?

Well, apart from Johnny B. Goode which is in Bb (but geek alert, in Back to the Future, Marty McFly says it is in the key of B even though he plays in B flat. (Bad filmmakers not picking up on this, yes this is geeky knowledge of mine I know!)

Anyway, I digress, there aren’t really many songs that you will play that are in the key of B flat (apart from Johnny B. Goode), but there are some common keys that like to use the B flat chord.

For example, a big one is the key of C Major.

Now, the B flat major chord is NOT in this key as I talk about in my music theory for guitarists book, but one of the common “outside” chords is the Bb chord.

Why is this? Well, let’s have a little deeper look at the key of C.

These are the chords in this key.

  • C
  • Dm
  • Em
  • F
  • G
  • Am
  • B diminished

All are standard chords except for, yep, the dog turd sounding B diminished (not really, I quite like the chord, especially when it’s a diminished 7, but it takes some skill to use well).

Most songwriters are great at their art but apart from jazz, classical and some blues guitarists, many don’t know how to use this diminished chord.

They, therefore, often “flatten” it (move it down one fret) and turn it into a Major chord, and what does that leave us with?

A B flat

You will see this crop up in some songs.

You will also see the Bb chord in some songs in the keys of F, G, and even D too.

Basically, at various points, all the more popular keys on guitar – C G D and F have the B flat chord as a useful extra to liven things up and add interest and/or pleasant tension.

The B flat chord really is a useful and flexible chord to add to your arsenal of chords.

Here is a list of classic and not so classic songs (cough, Nickleback, kidding, the whole Nickleback hatred thing is boring now and this is a pretty decent pop tune) have a dreaded B flat in it at various points.

  • Prince/Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U
  • Queen – Crazy Little Thing Called Love
  • David Bowie – Space Oddity
  • The Commodores/ Faith No More – Easy
  • Nirvana – Pennyroyal Tea
  • Nickleback – Rockstar
  • The Script – Breakeven
  • Pink Floyd – Shine on You Crazy Diamond
  • Dire Straits – Sultans of Swing

There are obviously a lot more songs than the above but these give you an idea how much this chord can crop up.

Note, you can play some of the above songs without a Bb Major chord by using the chords from a different key with a capo (but doing so doesn’t always sound good though).


Going much deeper – The CAGED system relating to the B flat chord

For anyone looking to get a bit deeper into understanding the guitar, music theory and the fretboard, and how they relate, it’s a good idea to see the parent chords of all of the above shapes.

All of the above chord shapes (and in essence, every chord you learn is the same) are derived from these five parent chords in some form, some obvious and some not so obvious.

These are the chords of C A G E D and this is where the “Caged system” comes from. (I’ll write more on this in future posts if you want).

CAGED chords

Seeing how these chords all relate will help you understand what is happening on a deeper level which can clear things up down the line rather than everything seeming random. Being a real student of the guitar is definitely a good thing.

Here’s something to think about.

  • How did I work out all of the above chord shapes in this post?
  • Did I remember them? NO
  • I did so simply by learning the fretboard and applying the shapes I already knew and then omitting notes and moving fingers about where needed to get the notes to make up the chord.
  • I had to apply music theory, fretboard knowledge and a keen sense of inquisitiveness to get to this point.
  • I didn’t wake up one day with this ability, (that would have been nice!) but I studied how some people got different shapes such as F and how they related to the other shapes all using the CAGED chords.

It takes time but working out what is happening when you play any barre, partial or unusual chord shape and relating it back to the parent chord is something I recommend you do (once you get the basics sorted with your playing).

If you do so, you won’t just be able to work out the Bb chord on guitar, on any area of the fretboard but you will be able to work out any chord you like anywhere you like.

That is pretty liberating.

Go back over all the shapes in this post and see if you can write down which one of the shapes is the “parent” chord for that way of playing Bb.

If you get stuck, leave a comment below, and let me know, I’ll answer. This isn’t easy, but it is fun and liberating.

Most of all, choose the best method for playing Bb from above, follow the advice on playing it and add it to your repertoire so you don’t get stuck the next time a song uses this deadly chord!

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Bbes chord

Bb Major


From your perspective, as you look down at the fretboard:


How to play a Bb Major chord on the guitar

  1. Make a barre with your first finger on the first fret.
  2. Put your second finger on the third fret of the fourth string.
  3. Put your third finger on the third fret of the third string.
  4. Put your fourth finger on the third fret of the second string.
  5. Strum only the highest five strings.

If you’re flexible enough, some players prefer to play this chord with two barres—one with your first finger, and one with your third or fourth finger:

It’s really a matter of preference—do what works for you.


Bb Major is a major triad, built up of the root, the major third, and the perfect fifth:

Here is how those notes are actually distributed across your fretboard

Here’s how you might play the same chord on the piano:


The most common progression you’ll likely see with Bb Major is going from Bb, to Eb, to F, or I, IV, V.

Adding in the minor six chord (Gm), you have the classic `I-V-iv-IV` pattern:

Ungrammatical as it is, Cruise, by Florida Georgia Line, is a good example:


Other common chords in the key of Bb Major:


Eb Major




Now discussing:


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