Em Guitar Chord: 2 Easy Ways to Play It and More

The Em chord is comprised of the notes E, G, and B

In terms of intervals, it has a root, a minor 3rd, and a perfect 5th

It can also be named or notated as Em, E-, Emin, or E minor.

If you are just starting out on guitar or need a refresher on this chord, stick around.

In this article, I will show you the easiest ways of playing this chord on guitar, and give you some tips and tricks to make it work out as it should.

After leaving this page you will have learned the must-know shapes of this triad, and also a lot about how it works in context with other chords.

Hey, I will even give you a fretboard diagram so you can work out your own voicing!

Let’s get to it.

Basic shape

Em Basic

The secret to playing the Em chord is learning how much force you have to apply to the strings for them to ring properly without getting tired or making your fingers hurt.

This is one of the easiest open chords to play on the guitar, however, take your time and try to get a good sound out of it.

It is a great starting point to build finger stamina and dexterity.

Here are some tips for getting it sounding right:

  • Fret with the tip of your fingers
  • Press the strings near the fret wire
  • Learn how much pressure is the minimum required
  • Have the thumb from your fretting hand at the middle or lower back part of the neck
  • Arch your fingers
  • If it hurts, take a break!

2 easy ways of playing the Em chord

Em Easy
Em Easy

These alternative shapes for the Em are probably the easiest chords to play on a guitar.

Take advantage of it and use them when you feel insecure about landing a chord change in time, or just if your fingers need a break.

They have all the important notes, and although they might sound “smaller” than the basic versions, they are completely fine.

Open voicings of the Em chord

Here are some alternative ways of playing this chord near the nut of your guitar, close to where you will find most other open chords.

If you want alternative sounds for this classic chord, I encourage you to try them out!

These also use some open strings, so these shapes are not movable across the fretboard.

Em Open
Em Open

Moveable voicings of the Em chord

As their name implies, these moveable voicings can be shifted along the neck getting you different chords of the same quality.

The root note of the chord, for these voicings, as you can see,  is defined by the lowest note played.

Em Movable
Em Movable

The first alternative is a barre chord, which might be a bit hard at first. 

I advise you to take your time and focus mostly on your index finger fretting properly the first and fifth strings since the ones in between are already fretted forward in the neck by your other fingers.

Again, take a break if it hurts, and remember the tips I gave you above for the basic shape.

Em chord fretboard map

Em Fretboard Map

You can use this fretboard map to come up with your own chord voicings.

Just remember that you will need at least one of each chord note for it to be outlined properly.

Songs to practice the Em chord

Metallica – Nothing Else Matters

Nirvana – Come As You Are

Evanescence – Bring Me To Life

Scales and modes that have the Em chord, and their chords

The following scales and modes have this chord inside them.

This means that it will “fit” among their other chords, however, given the context, the feeling that it gives will be shifted.

In some of these scales it will sound like a resting point, and in others more like a tension agent.

E minor scale chords, Em is i


D major scale chords, Em is ii


C major scale chords, Em is iii


B minor scale chords, Em is iv


A minor scale chords, Em is v


G major scale chords, Em is vi


F# Phrygian scale chords, Em is vii


Inversions of the Em chord

The inversions of a chord are just a different order for the notes that comprise them.

They are notated with a / before the indication of the note that should be used as the bass.

Triad chords have, naturally 2 inversions.

Em inversions are:

  • Em/G
  • Em/B

Extensions of the Em chord

Extensions are extra notes you can add to the chord to spice it up.

To know exactly which notes you can use you will have to check the key and scale you are playing in.

Some of the most common extensions of the Em chord are:

  • Em6
  • Em7
  • Em9
  • Em11