Em Guitar Chord

The E Minor chord (E, G, B) is a ubiquitous one (you'll find use for it in all genres of music and songs of varying difficulty), and it's one of those great chords in the respect that it has a bunch of easy-to-play open position variations, but also has plenty of challenging voicings around the fretboard if you're looking to challenge yourself or achieve a unique sound in your playing.

Today, we'll be looking at a few of the most popular versions of Em, along with some less common voicings that you might want to consider adding to your repertoire.

How to Play Em Guitar Chord

Let's start with the basics, shall we? Here's the version of Em guitar chord that everyone typically learns first:

E Minor Guitar Chord

  • Place your 1st finger on the 5th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 4th string/2nd fret
  • Play strings 1, 2, 3, and 6 open

Yup, it's that easy. There's a reason E Minor is one of the first chords most new guitar players learn.

Em Guitar Chord - Alternate #1

Don't "fret" if you were looking for more of a challenge when playing this chord in open position, though, because there are a few fun twists you can put on the basic formula:

E Minor Guitar Chord Alternate #1

  • Place your 1st finger on the 5th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 4th string/2nd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 1st string/3rd fret
  • Play strings 2, 3, and 6 open

Em Guitar Chord - Alternate #2

E Minor Guitar Chord Alternate #2

  • Use your 1st finger to cover strings 4 and 5 on the 2nd fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 1st string/3rd fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 3rd string/4th fret
  • Place your 4th finger on the 2nd string/5th fret
  • Play string 6 open

You shouldn't have too much trouble nailing down the first of those voicings. The second, however, might pose some difficulty since you'll be engaging all of your fretting fingers and have to pull off that bar move, and will need to make a significant stretch to boot.

Em Guitar Chord - 5-string barre

Now, what if you want to play E Minor higher up on the fretboard? You've got plenty of options for doing so, and we'll start at the 7th fret, with an easier 5-string barre chord voicing:

E Minor Guitar Chord 5-string barre

  • Use your 1st finger to bar the strings at the 7th fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 2nd string/8th fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 4th string/9th fret
  • Place your 4th finger on the 3rd string/9th fret
  • Mute string 6

Em Guitar Chord - 9th Fret

And if you're looking for a higher-pitched E Minor chord you can play without barring, you can just jump up to the 9th fret:

E Minor Guitar Chord 9th Fret

  • Place your 1st finger on the 4th string/9th fret
  • Place your 2nd finger on the 5th string/10th fret
  • Place your 3rd finger on the 6th string/12th fret
  • Place your 4th finger on the 3rd string/12th fret
  • Play strings 1 and 2 open

It's a bit of a stretch, admittedly, but you'll get a bright sound from this voicing, so don't discount it, even if you're having some trouble grasping it at first.

There Are Plenty More Chords for You to Learn

There are plenty more ways to play E Minor (Em), so when you've got these under your belt, feel free to start looking at even more voicings to add to your arsenal. As always, good luck, and happy practicing!

Next Lesson:

Em7 Guitar Chord

Instructor: Dwight H.
From big bands to rock ensembles, and even R&B groups, Dwight has played with them all. He's been teaching guitar for over 10 years. When teaching, he draws from his experience on stage, injecting the knowledge of what it takes to be a gigging musician into every lesson.
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