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”.)
(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:
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:
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”).
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:
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
Make Barre Chords Easy
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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.
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:
…and C, as normal, like this…
…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:
Find Out What You Should Learn Next With Our Guitar Map
If you want to understand where you’re up to in your guitar journey you should take a look at our Guitar Map. It will show you what you ‘should’ know by now (and also what you need to learn next to move forward as a guitarist).
Most people find that the Guitar Map shows them how everything fits together and best of all, it will help you identify gaps in your knowledge that are holding you back.
(There is often just one piece of information that holds people back, 1 key insight that they need to know so they can continue moving forward and improving in their guitar journey.)
We made the Guitar Map so people like you can quickly identify what you don’t know, that you need to know next. We hope that makes sense!?
NOTE: The Guitar Map is now included in our free special report: 'The 7 Steps To Guitar Mastery'.
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