The E minor chord is widely-used in almost every musical genre. Just about any guitarist with more than a few months of experience knows it.
In this article, we will look at each of them, and by the end, you’ll know how to play E minor on guitar.
The Open Position
E minor has a deep and moody tone, which lends itself to most kinds of music.
Once you learn this chord, you’re likely to recognize it practically everywhere. The good news is that it’s straightforward to understand the fingering, and there is more than one way to play it.
Major chords consist of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th intervals. Minor chords slightly differ from this in that the 3rd interval is flat. The E major chord notes are E, G, and B, while the E minor chord consists of a G flat.
You only need two fingers to play the Em chord in the open position: the ring finger and the middle finger.
- Start by placing your middle finger on the 5th string on the second fret. The 5th string is the second from the top and plays an A. Place your middle finger to the left of the second fret if you’re a right-handed guitarist and to the right if you’re left-handed. Try to get as near to the fret as you can without actually touching it, as this will give you a cleaner tone.
- Next, place your ring finger on the 4th string on the second fret. The 4th string is just below the 5th and represents the D note. Don’t forget to keep your finger as near to the fret as possible without actually touching it.
- With the ring and middle fingers on their respective notes and frets, leave the others open. Use the tips of your fingers to achieve the best tone. This position will help you avoid touching the other strings and muting them. The name “open position” comes from the fact that you leave the other strings untouched (or open).
- Strum all the strings at once. The Em chord uses all the guitar strings, so you can strum away. You can alter the strings you strum to change the mood. Strumming the top 4 strings will give a darker and more resonant sound, while the bottom three or four will emit a lighter, more playful sound.
Still not sure about guitar charts and how to read them, learn to read guitar sheet music here.
A Second Open Position
One of the trickier aspects of learning the guitar when you’re starting is getting used to switching between chords quickly.
It’s something you can only learn through practice, so don’t give up. The good news is that if you find the idea of fretting for your Em chord too tricky, there is a version that does not involve frets.
To play an acceptable version of the Em chord, strum the E, B, and G strings at once, assuming your guitar has a standard tuning. The E, B, and G strings are the first three strings (counting from the bottom). The sound won’t be as full as the one above, but it will still sound like an Em chord, and the delicacy of it might even be more suitable for the specific piece you’re playing.
Think: E Chord with One Less Finger
It’s even easier to learn the Em chord if you already know the E Major chord. The E Major chord consists of pressing the 4th and 5th strings on the second fret and the 3rd string on the first (which plays G sharp).
The only difference between this and the Em chord is that you don’t need to place your finger on the 3rd string. If you’re into a little music theory, E major involves creating a major third, while E minor produces a minor third.
Learning shapes for chords can be challenging for beginners, but it doesn’t have to be. A great way to learn is with an on-off drill, which consists of the following four steps:
- Start by placing your fingers on the strings in the proper shape for the E minor chord.
- Count to four and then strum the chords.
- Take your fingers off the string and count to four again.
- Put your fingers back on and repeat.
This routine will help you memorize the shape of the chord, and the counting to four will help you learn to place your fingers on the strings on time.
Learn more chords quick:
As the Head Editor at Music Grotto, Liam edits content produced from over 30 professional music/media journalists and contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.