HOW TO PLAY
On this page, you'll learn how to play the Em guitar chord, where to put your fingers, and how to practice and play along.
How to Play the Em Chord
The E minor chord is one of the easiest chords to learn, and one of the most common minor chords to play. You only need two fingers.
- Place your second finger on the fifth string at the second fret.
- Then, place your third finger on the fourth string at the second fret.
- Strum all six strings.
You may be asking yourself "can I use my first two fingers instead?".
But there is a reason why some people prefer to use their second two fingers—by leaving your first finger available, you'll have an easier time switching to other chord shapes nearby, like C major, A minor, or D major.
Similarity to E Major
If you already know the E major chord, it's even easier—it's just one finger different.
Warning: Music Theory Ahead
You can see, in the E major shape on the right, the third string of the guitar has been raised a half step, playing a G# instead of a G. This creates an interval of a major third instead of a minor third, and that makes the difference between E major and E minor.
Practice with an on-off drill.
A great way to memorize shapes is to use an On Off Drill. (See a video on our page for how to play the C chord)
- Start by placing your fingers on the strings, in the E minor shape.
- Count to four, strumming on each beat.
- Then, take your fingers off the strings for four beats.
- Put your fingers back on, and repeat.
Taking your fingers off and on again in this way will help your brain memorize the shape, while the four beats give you time to place your fingers.
When you’re ready, try the same technique, but switch back and forth between Em and another chord, like the G chord.
Grab your guitar and practice the E minor chord, along with the chords G, D, and C in this interactive playalong.
When you're done, spend five minutes moving back and forth between those chords, paying attention to keeping the rhythm going without stopping.
More chords that sound great with E minor
More Easy Minor Chords
Up your Game with these Beginner Guides
Anna Freitas holds a B.A. from Berklee College of Music and performs throughout New England as a guitarist and vocalist. She continues to teach students, both in-person and online via Skype.