How to Play the F Guitar Chord Properly: 3 Easy Alternatives

The F guitar chord is notoriously difficult for beginner guitarists. In this free lesson you will learn:

  • How to play the F guitar chord correctly
  • The best F chord for beginner guitarists to use
  • A simple 3-string version of the F guitar chord
  • 3 bonus tricks you can use to make your F chords sound better

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How to play the F guitar chord properly

Let’s look at the correct way to play an F guitar chord first, then we’ll look at the easier alternatives. Sound like a plan? Let’s do it.

Ok, this is how an accomplished guitarist plays an F chord. (By the way, did you know that the full name of an F chord is “F Major”? Most of the time people just call it “F”.)

F Major

F Guitar Chord

(If you don't understand the above image please read our article "How To Read Guitar Chordboxes In 60 Seconds". It will make everything clear!)

In real-life the F chord looks like this:

guitar chords for beginners F major

As you can see this is a difficult chord – it’s simply not possible for a beginner guitarist to play an F guitar chord (in this way). Clearly we need to find easier alternatives, so let’s get to it!

Some easier ways to play an F guitar chord

This is the most widely-used easier version of an F chord on guitar:

F Major


As you can see, we no longer need to totally barre the first fret, so that’s a huge relief for a beginner guitarist. Even so, this chord still requires solid concentration and a good level of dexterity to play.

If you’ve been playing the guitar for only a few hours this will still be a very difficult chord for you to assemble quickly and consistently. We need an even easier alternative.

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A 3-finger version of F

Ok, now we’re getting to a lower barrier of entry. This chord is called “Fmaj7” (pronounced “F major seven”).


F guitar chord

As you can see, this is significantly easier than the first version of F that we looked at.

In a moment we’ll look at the easiest-of-all ways to play an F guitar chord, but firstly there’s an important point I need to flag to you.

F Guitar Chord – String Selection

Note that when playing both the above versions of an F guitar chord  you should only play strings 1-4. Your strumming/picking should begin on the 4th string.

(Remember that an ‘X’ on a chordbox diagram means “don’t play this string”.)

Let’s have a quick refresher on string numbers:

Understanding Guitar String Numbers

If you play the fifth string (the A string) when playing either of the above F guitar chords it won’t kill the chord (it’ll still sound ok, just) but if you accidentally play the 6th string (the E string) it will wreck the chord.

For tips on how to do this well read my free lesson: How To Skip Strings When Strumming

Easy F guitar chord

The Best Easy Versions Of This Chord

A super-simple, 3-string version of F

This version of an F guitar chord is fantastic for children and adults with learning difficulties or smaller hands:


This version of F doesn’t sound as good as the earlier versions, but it’s passable, and it will act as a stepping stone towards the better-sounding F chords.
How to play the f chord easily

Remember: F is a tough chord, so don’t worry if you’re struggling with it. Learning guitar takes time!

The F guitar chord is one of the very toughest chords for a beginner guitarist to play, so don’t worry if you find it challenging. That’s perfectly normal.

With this in mind, I tell my new students to skip all songs that feature an F chord until they’ve been playing guitar for at least a month.

After 4-6 weeks most people have mastered simpler chords like Em, G, Am, D and C. By that stage they have developed enough control and precision in their third finger that they can perform the above easier F chords without it being too tough.

For the vast majority of adult learners, Fmaj7 should be the first goal. It sounds great and is much easier to play than a full F chord.

A Pro Tip For Using Fmaj7

Note how closely a Fmaj7 chord resembles the shape of a C chord? This is one of the things that makes Fmaj7 a handy chord to know, because F and C are common bedfellows, they crop up together often, along with G.

You can combine Fmaj7, C and G in the following way. It sounds great and allows you to maintain a similar handshape as you play. (This makes things easier for you and allows you to play with more fluidity.)

Check this pattern out. When you have F and/or C and/or G near to one another, try playing F like this:

F guitar chord

…and C, as normal, like this…

C guitar chord

…and use this version of G (called Gsus4)…


This is a great example of using broader chord knowledge to make things easier and sound better. (You’ll do this a LOT as you progress as a guitarist!)

Common versions of F


Now let’s look at some sevenths:

F - types of F chord (sevenths)

Here are some other cool-sounding F chords

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