Learning to play different chords on the ukulele is a crucial part of mastering the instrument. Whether you’re just looking to accompany vocals or you’d like to play more complex melodic figures, having a solid understanding of chords on the ukulele can dramatically broaden what you’re able to do on the instrument.
Some chords are easier to play than others, and all chords have their own unique qualities and characteristics. Learning to work with these is simply part of becoming a more complete ukulele player. For example, one of our favorite chords on the instrument is the chord of B Major, despite it being somewhat tricky to play.
If you’re looking to learn more about the B ukulele chord, then you’re in luck! Our guide discusses the structure of the chord, as well as some different ways to play it and some of the songs that the chord has been featured in. Read on to find out more.
Looking for more chords? Check out our guide >>> Easy Ukulele Chords for Beginners to Learn First
The chord of B Major is based on the B major triad. A triad is a group of three notes played in unison, and triads are essentially the basic foundation for all chords. Major triads are made up of a root note, major third, and perfect fifth. This combination of notes is what gives major chords their happy or ‘major’ sound.
More specifically, the B Major chord is made up of the notes B, D#, and F#. However, we can choose to voice a given chord in more than one way if we so choose. Different voicings can highlight or remove particular notes. So, not all voicings of the B Major chord will include all of the aforementioned notes.
How to Play
The standard B Major chord voicing is a barre chord. This can make it somewhat challenging for beginners to the ukulele to master. Barre chords in general can be tough to get used to, as they often cause considerable tension in the hands and forearms. However, being able to play barre chords is an important part of learning to play the uke.
This is the most common voicing for the B Major chord on the ukulele. To play this particular chord shape, you’ll need to use your first finger to bar the entire fretboard at the second fret. Then, fret the G string with your fourth finger at the fourth fret and the C string with your third finger at the third fret.
You may find that your fretting hand quickly tires playing this chord, if you aren’t used to playing barre chords yet. If this is the case, then make sure to practice the chord often while taking frequent breaks. Try to limit any tension in your fretting hand as much as possible, too. Too much muscle tension can make holding barre chords challenging and potentially expose you to injury.
B Major – Alternative Voicing #1
This is another voicing of the B Major chord that more experienced ukulele players may want to attempt in addition to the standard chord shape. To play this voicing, fret the G string at the 11th fret with your fourth finger, the C string at the fourth fret with your third finger, and the E string at the 11th fret with your second finger. Then, fret the A string at the 9th fret with your second finger.
The awkwardness of this particular shape is what can make it challenging to learn. This is another chord shape where limiting tension is crucial if you want to be able to play it with any consistency. Make sure to keep your fretting hand as relaxed as possible, as this will allow you to hold the chord for longer and play it more cleanly, too.
B Major – Alternative Voicing #2
This is another barre chord alternative to the standard B Major chord. To play this shape, bar the fretboard at the sixth fret with your first finger. Then, fret the G string at the 8th fret with your third finger and the E string at the 7th fret with your second finger. As with the other chords covered in this article, limiting tension in your fretting hand is crucial to playing this chord consistently.
Songs that Use the Chord of B
- Lorde – Royals: This breakthrough hit by New Zealand pop sensation Lorde is based largely around the B major chord. Despite being harmonically simple, the song is an incredible showcase of Lorde’s vocals, as well as featuring a killer arrangement.
- Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love: One of Led Zeppelin’s biggest hits, Whole Lotta Love is based around some tremendous riffs based on the B Major chord, quite a popular choice within the genre on the whole.
- Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues: Johnny Cash’s tale of an inmate navigating prison life is simple yet moving.