Invite to the current installment of Chord by Chord, a series developed to construct your understanding of harmony and the fretboard. Last week we took a look at various A small shapes, and today we’ll follow up with E minor.

The Work
You have actually discovered that a small triad has 3 notes– the root, the minor third, and the 5th. The notes in an E minor triad are E (root), G (small third), and B (5th), as depicted in Example 1.

On guitar, an E minor chord is most typically played utilizing the open position shape displayed in Example 2, which consists of three Es, two Bs, and one G. This chord shape maximizes the guitar’s open strings (in standard tuning). Try playing the chord with your second and ring fingers on strings 5 and 4, as revealed in notation, or your first and 2nd fingers, as I do in the video. Example 3 reveals a leaner and less typical E minor shape, in which only the note E is doubled.

An E minor barre chord can be discovered in seventh position (Example 4a). Feel totally free to add the low open E string to this shape, for a fatter noise. Or, take things in the opposite direction and play just the leading three notes, as shown in Example 4b.

While on electrical guitar it would be easy enough to play a complete E small barre chord at the 12th fret, unless your acoustic has a cutaway, this will be challenging or impossible. However, you can play simply the leading 3 notes of an E minor chord with strings 1– 3 at the 12th fret. The most affordable note in this shape is G, however if you’re fingerpicking, you can include the low open E string so that the root is the bottom note.

The Outcome
If you have actually been keeping up with these videos you must understand how to play C, G, and D chords; how to switch between C and G and G and D; and numerous A minor and now E minor shapes. A couple of songs that make great usage of that E minor chord include “Ashes to Ashes” by Steve Earle and “20/20” by Alanis Morissette. Next time I’ll teach you a 3rd small chord, Dm.