ChordBank, How to Play Chords on Guitar
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Helping millions play guitar better, since 2010.

HOW TO PLAY

The F Chord

For many people, the F Major chord on guitar is one of those that people hit when they start playing guitar for the first time, and it throws them. They can't get past it.

There's a few reasons for this, but none of them are your fault. There is a better way.

No matter what level you're at, I guarantee that, by the time you're done reading this page, you will be able to play an F guitar chord, you won't have any buzzing, it'll sound great, and you can move along with your playing.

Sound good?

F major chord, the wrong way (for beginners)

Below, check out the textbook F chord guitar that you'll see in books, and that some guitar teachers will teach you:

Do not learn this chord:

The more advanced barre chord diagram of an F chord on guitar

"Make a barre with your first finger," they'll say.

"What the @*!? is a barre," you'll say.

Just take your first finger, and put it all the way across the strings, and push down as hard as you can, until the strings start to cut through the pads of your fingers like cheese, they'll tell you.

Then, you take your second finger and you put it on the third string, right in front of it on the third fret, and then you put your next two fingers on the next two strings. Strum all six strings. Buzz, buzz, strump, buzz. Bzz bzz buzz.

This is not the best version to start with.

Ugh

But the problem is, what the #@#* is a "barre"? How do you get your one finger to go like this, and then stretch your other fingers around like that?

If you're a beginner (and, chances are if you ended up on this page, if you were Googling around for "how to play f major on guitar", then you're a beginner) two things are probably true:

  1. moving your fingers in this way is difficult, and
  2. you probably weren't looking to learn "barre chords," you were probably looking to figure out how to play an F, so you could finish the song you're trying to learn.

If this sounds like you, I don't actually recommend that you even try to do this F chord. I don't think it makes any sense at all.

In fact, let's be explicit about it: do not learn this version of F major. Just don't. Like a kung fu master, this barred version of F will come to you when you are ready to learn it.

The best way to play F for beginners

I'm going to show you a much easier version of F to play, that you should be able to get sounding good within the first few times you try playing it.

It's still going to involve a little baby barre, but it's nothing you can't handle.

Here it is:

The best way to play an F chord for beginners

A Baby Barre

Barre is just a fancy guitar-y word for pressing down onto more than one string with just one finger.

In the first, much more difficult version of F, we were trying to push down on all six strings with just one finger. That's really hard. In this version, we're just going to push down on two. That's really easy.

You're going to take your first finger, and you're going to use the flat part of your fingertip to cover the first two strings.

Remember, we number the strings up from the bottom, so the thinnest string is 1, and the thickest one is 6. Start by putting the tip of your finger on the second string, right behind the first fret, and then flatten your finger so that the meaty part of your finger, where you would hypotheticall press down if you had any reason to be fingerprinted, hypothetically.

Barre is just a fancy guitar-y word for pressing down onto more than one string with just one finger.”

Next, take your second finger, and put it on the third string, right behind the second fret. This should feel really natural, where the finger wants to go, anyway.

Lastly, take your third finger, and place it ont he fourth string, right behind the third fret.

So it's actually a very easy stretch.

The trick is: just strum the highest four strings.

And that's all there is to it. It's a real F chord, it has all the notes in F major, and you can keep on playing F that way for as long as you like.

Easy Songs with F major

Chances are, the first time you encounter an F major chord, it's in a song that's in the key of C major.

(In fact, chances are, that's why you're on this page in the first place and, really, if that's true you should go back to what you were doing.)

In C, the most important chords are C, F, and G major, and, also, A minor.

There are literally thousands of songs you can play once you learn these four chords. (So, if F was the last one for you on that list, congratulations!)

Songs like Let It Be, by The Beatles, for example:

When I Cfind myself in Gtimes of trouble, Ammother mary Fcomes to me.
CSpeaking words of Gwisdom, let it Fbe C
 

No Woman No Cry, by Bob Marley has the same chords, too:

CNo Gwoman, no Amcry F. CNo Fwoman, no Ccry.

Songs in the key of F Major

In the key of F major, your F chord is going to get some new friends: B flat major, and C major, as well as the D minor chord.

Hey Jude, by The Beatles, is a great example of these chords in action:

Hey FJude. Don't make it Bbbad
Take a Csad song
and make it Fbetter.

As is Carry On, by Fun:

If you’re Flost and alone, or you’re Bbsinkin’ like a Cstone. Carry Fon-- Bb C

Or, with the Dm, Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball:

I came in like a Fwrecking ball C
I never hit so Dmhard in love Bb

Or, inverting the progression, starting on the Dm, you get "Complicated," by Avril Lavigne:

Dm
Bb
F
C
DmWhy do you have to go and make Bbthings so complicFated? C

SEE ALSO

Other common chords in the key of F Major:

HOW TO PLAY
C Major
HOW TO PLAY
Bb Major
HOW TO PLAY
D Minor
HOW TO PLAY
A Minor