How to Play the F Chord on Guitar

On this page I am going to show you 7 ways for how to play the F chord on guitar. 
I'll show you the easiest way to play the F chord a few common variations, and even how to play the F bar chord. We'll also get into popular chords that go with F, popular songs that use the F chord, and what notes make up the chord. 

Why is the F chord so hard?

You've heard about the dreaded F chord 😱 and I want you to know that the F chord
 is not as hard as people think!
 
The reason people struggle to play the F chord is because they either have poor guitar technique that causes their fret hand to not work properly or they try to learn the hardest F chord in the hardest position possible... 
🤦‍♂️


How To Play The F Major Chord For Beginners

Here is how to play the F chord in the easiest way possible.

Place your 1st finger (index) on 2nd string 1st fret

Place your 2nd finger (middle) on the 3rd string 2nd fret
Place your 3rd finger (ring) on the 3rd string 3rd fret


** Your thumb should be directly behind your 2nd finger (index) and the curvature should be in your fingers not your wrist.


Not sure on how to read a chord diagram? Click here

How To Strum The F chord

To strum the F chord  above without strumming strings 1, 5 or 6 You can do the following
First, lightly rest your wrist on the bridge of your guitar just before you strum. This will help you feel where your picking hand is so you can skip strings 5 & 6. This will take some practice to do quickly without looking. 

For not strumming the first string, you can either touch the string with your picking hand or let your 1st finger drop down slightly so that it is lightly touches the 1st string. 

Here is another common way to play the F chord that is slightly more difficult

In this variation you add a C note in the bass by placing fretting the 5th string 3rd fret. You could play the easy F chord above and then add your 4th finger (pinky) to the 5th string 3rd fret but you may find this a but awkward. 

So instead, place your 3rd finger on the 5th string 3rd fret and your 4th finger (pinky) on the 4th string 3rd fret.

As you can see from the diagram the C note is now the lowest sounding note. This essentially turns it into a slash chord written as F/C. Meaning it's an F chord but the C note is the bass note. Look at you getting so good at music theory! 👊 

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F Chord Tips

The 1st tip to learning the F chord and making smooth transition is to learn easier versions first. In this lesson I have chords laid out from easy - Intermediate - hard so be sure to book mark this page for reference as you progress
The 2nd tip is to to make sure your thumb is behind your first and second fingers. You don't want your thumb on the outside of your index finger as this will cause your hand to not be able to stretch or work properly.

 
The 3rd tip is for bar chords. When playing bar chords and your index finger (1st finger) needs to do execute the bar you want to apply pressure to the side of your finger. If you squeeze directly in your finger will bend and the strings on your knuckles wont ring out!

How To Play The F Chord Without The Bar

The variations above were two easy ways to play the F major chord without the bar.  If you can make smooth transitions with the examples above you may want to try this one out as its a great stepping stone to prepare you to play the hardest F bar chord! 

 F Major Bar Chord Guitar Easy

Now we are going to move on to bar chords and you are going to learn how to play the F bar chord properly. I am going to guide you through different variations of the F major bar chord with easy variation getting progressively harder. 

Just so we are clear, when you use one finger to press multiple strings this is called a  bar chord or sometimes spelled barre chord. 

This first example is the easiest way to play the F bar chord. Notice it is exactly like the beginner F chord  but you use your 1st finger (index) to press down on 2 strings. 

** Be sure to press on the SIDE of your index finger!

See video for breakdown

F Major Barre Guitar

This next example is sometimes called the "A shape" bar chord in reference to the A major chord in open position.  I have two way to play this variation however, as you can see one variation uses 2 bar while the other only uses one.  As you can see, the variation with 2 bars the index is pressing down on the 1st string giving you that last bit of top end on the high E string.

To play this variation of the F chord, use your index finger on 5th string 8th fret and lay your 3rd finger (ring) across strings 2-4 on the 10th fret.  

* Remember to have your thumb splitting the difference with your index and ring finger and keep your 2nd joint on your ring finger high so it can SCOOP and lay flat. 
 

F Chord Guitar Bar (Hardest)

Ok, so you're ready to tackle a harder version of the F chord. Interesting enough, this is usually the first bar chord that players start with and not only is it one of the hardest variations for a bar chord but specifically the F chord in this shape is the hardest bar chord of them all! The reason this is so tricky is because your hand is farthest from your body (on the 1st fret) causing it to be awkard to leverage the bar. 

To play the F major bar chord in this position,
place your first finger (index) on 6th string 1st fret and lay (bar) your finger across all strings.  Then place your 3rd finger (ring) on 5th string 3rd fret, your 4th finger (pinky) on 4th string 3rd and your 2nd finger (middle) on 3rd string 2nd fret.

The trick is to have your thumb in the correct position splitting your 1st and 3rd fingers and press your index finger slightly back so you are on the SIDE of your finger. 

** To play this chord properly this all must be done with ONE motion. 

Now you know how to play the F major chord! 👊
Scratch that, you are like an F chord pro as you know a lot of ways to play the F chord on guitar!

Easy Songs That Use F Major

Tom Petty - Free Fallin
The Beatles - Let It Be
Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah

F Major Chord Progression Guitar

Here's a few chord progressions that sound great that use the F chord. Feel free to change up the orders and experiment with the sounds!

F - Bb - C
C -F - G
Am - F - G 

F - Bb - C - Dm
C - F - Am - G
Dm - Bb -  F - C

If you need help learning these other chords, click here

What Keys Have A F Major Chord? 

Major keys that use a F major chord:
Key of F Major
Key of C Major
Key of Bb Major

Minor keys that use a F major chord:
Key of D Minor
Key of Am Minor
Key of G Minor

What Are The Notes Of A F Major Chord?

A F chord or F major chord consists of 3 notes that are derived from the F major scale.
The  F   G  A   Bb   C   D   E

When you number the notes of a scale they are called SCALE DEGREES. So to make a F major chord we need the 1st, 3rd and 5th "degrees."

1      2       3        4        5       6     7
F     G       A       Bb      C     D     E

All major chords use the 1, 3, and 5 notes of a their corresponding scale. 

When these 3 notes are being played harmonically (played at the same time) you are playing a F major chord!

Notice from the chord diagrams above, ONLY the notes F, A, and C are being used. If you have another note such as a G note or a Bb note it is no longer F major chord!

That being said, you can have multiple F, A, or C notes as show in the chord diagrams. Try playing the F chord in one of the variations shown above but only strum a few of the notes. Notice the chord will sound "thin" if there is only one of each note. By adding in more of the same notes you make the chord have more depth. You may even think of it as a darker or lighter shade of the same color.

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