Very few guitar chords can be as intimidating as the F major. Like the B chord, the F guitar chord can strike fear into a beginner guitarist’s heart. It is not uncommon to dread the F major chord. Unfortunately, there is no running away from it. The best thing you can do is to learn the F major basics and find unique ways you can simplify its playing.
The Standard Shape of the F Guitar Chord
It would be foolish to go straight to the alternative F major versions if you do not have an inkling of how to play the classic F chord on your guitar.
While it is notorious for creating calluses on beginner guitarists’ fingertips and taxing their first fingers beyond their imagination, the classic F major chord shape is quite easy to form.
This guitar chord requires a bar on your instrument’s 1st fret. The classic F chord is similar in shape to the barre chord version of G major. You might be tempted to use a capo on the 1st fret. This method would be okay if the song only has an F chord. Given that this is rare, you might want to ditch the idea.
To form the classic F major chord, place your first finger over the six strings on the 1st fret. Press the 3rd string on the 2nd fret with your 2nd finger. Using your 3rd finger, press on the 3rd fret’s 5th string. Your 4th finger or pinky will take care of the 4th string on the 3rd fret.
Your thumb is the only digit you will never use when playing the F major guitar chord. Many aspiring guitarists end up abandoning their dreams because of the strict fingering requirement of the F chord.
There has to be a better, more comfortable, and easier way to play the F chord without pushing your fingers’ abilities to the hilt.
The Easy Three-Note Version
The F chord has the same shape as the G barre chord. It makes sense to assume that the F major chord also has an open chord version like the G chord.
You are right.
This easy F chord version only has three notes, using three fingers. First, place your index finger on the 1st fret’s 2nd string. Next, position your 2nd finger on the adjacent fret’s 3rd string. Complete the form by pressing the 4th string on the 3rd fret with your ring finger.
You cannot strum all six strings because you will end up with a sound far different from the original F chord.
To make this version sound like the classic F chord, you will only strum the strings covered by your fingers. You will have to avoid hitting the 1st, 5th, and 6th strings.
If you look at the position of your fingers, it looks like a C major chord. The only difference is that this F chord alternative has your fingers not stretched to the hilt.
This F chord version is perfect for those who have yet to develop finger strength and dexterity. It should still provide your song with the middle range it needs.
A Simpler Three-Note, Two-Finger F Guitar Chord Version
The three-note F chord version we described above may be easy enough to execute for most beginner guitarists. However, guitarists with small hands or those with learning difficulties can still find the technique quite challenging.
There is a super simple version of the F chord that only calls for two fingers – your index and middle ones.
In this F major version, you place your first finger on the two lower strings on the 1st fret. That should be easy-peasy. Next, press the 3rd string on the 2nd fret with your middle finger. That completes this two-finger, three-note shape of the F chord.
Do not expect this F major version to sound as good as the three-finger, three-note alternative. However, it should still make for a good sound to go with your guitar song piece.
The other good news is that this technique can be an invaluable stepping stone for mastering the classic shape of the F chord. You can practice with this shape until you develop finger dexterity and move on to the three-finger version.
The Baby Barre of the F Chord
Here is an F chord version that is a step forward from the two-finger, three-note method. They call it the baby barre technique because it calls for the simultaneous pressing of strings 1 and 2 on the 1st
You should know that the term ‘barre’ is nothing more than the pressing of at least two strings on the same fret. The barre that we know typically spans all six strings. Since this technique only calls for the pressing of two strings, most people nicknamed it the ‘baby barre’.
This F chord alternative has the same basic shape as the two-finger, three-note style, which also makes that version a baby barre of the F major chord.
To complete this F major alternate, you need your index finger on the 3rd string on the 2nd fret and your middle digit on the 3rd fret’s 4th string.
When you strum it, keep strings 5 and 6 muted. It will produce a fuller sound than the two-finger baby barre shape of the F guitar chord.
The A-Shaped Baby Barre F Guitar Chord
These F major chord alternatives are cool and all, but they do not give you the power you need to be a rock star in your own right.
There is a solution to that.
This F major version has the A chord shape as its foundation. You need to press three consecutive strings on the same fret, specifically the 10th fret. You will also need to press the 5th string on the 8th fret and strum all four strings to create a sexier F guitar chord.
You can use your ring finger to create the A chord shape, mainly if you have stubby digits. Otherwise, you can use your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers to create the shape.
Learning how to play the F guitar chord is a must for any aspiring guitarist. Its shape may seem daunting at first, but there are several ways you can simplify the F major’s form. You can progress through the different F major alternatives as you develop your dexterity and finger strength.