How to Play the F Chord on Guitar

Posted on January 18, 2023

There are a handful of basic beginner guitar chords that are helpful to learn when starting out. Once you get the hang of these, you can already play numerous songs using basic guitar chords. Most of them require three strings to be played, although there’s one more challenging basic guitar chord that has many beginners (and more advanced players) struggling. This is the F major guitar chord or simply the F chord. What makes this guitar chord particularly difficult is the finger placement of the index finger.

Let’s look at how to play this guitar chord that makes many guitarists tremble. We’ll also teach a couple of easier variations of the F guitar chord.

How to play the F major guitar chord?

What makes the major F chord particularly difficult to play on the guitar is the number of strings needed to play it. In order to play the F chord, you need to use four fingers on the fretboard to play all six strings. The difficulty arises from having to use your index finger which needs to lay on the entire fretboard while holding down the low E, B, and high E strings at the same time.

Here’s how to position your fingers:

  • First finger (index finger): Press down the first fret of the low E, B, and high E strings.
  • Second finger (middle finger): Press down the second fret of the G string.
  • Third finger (ring finger): Press down the third fret of the A string.
  • Fourth finger (pinky finger): Press down the third fret of the D string.

After establishing the correct F chord shape, play all six strings simultaneously by strumming down with your fingers or a guitar pick. Congratulations, now you know how to play the F chord on the guitar. A good way to practice transitioning to the F chord from some other guitar chord is to first create the C chord shape. By starting with the C chord shape, you can keep your ring finger where it is while moving your middle finger just one string lower to the second fret of the D string. Your index finger also stays on the first fret, this time playing the B string only.

What is a barre chord?

As opposed to basic cowboy chords or open chords, the F chord in its full form is quite complex and difficult to play. The major F chord isn’t the only guitar chord that requires you to play multiple strings with a single finger. These are known as barre chords or bar chords. In order to play the full barre chord without any of the strings buzzing, you need to be able to press down all five or six strings across the entire fretboard. 

In guitar chord charts, this is shown as a solid bar that covers all strings you should play with the same finger. Although barre chords can be difficult to learn and play, once you get the hang of them, it’s easy to move up and down the guitar fretboard and change from one barre chord to another.

Trouble playing barre chords? Try this.

Barre chords can be challenging to play, especially during those fast transitions from one chord to another. One main challenge many guitar players face is so-called fret buzz when playing barre chords such as the F major. This occurs when one of the strings is not pressed all the way against the fretboard. With barre chords, this is an issue with your index finger having to play more than just one string at a time. And this is not a challenge for beginner guitar players only; experienced guitar players also struggle with this. However, beginners in particular may experience pain in their barring finger.

Luckily, you can make playing the F chord easier while still practicing the proper barre chord fingering. Instead of laying your index finger across the entire fretboard, leave out the low E string and use the tip of your index finger to play the B and high E strings instead. You’ll be missing out on the lowest note of the chord, but this way of playing the F guitar chord still sounds good. You’ll make playing the chord even easier by leaving out the high E string as well. This way each of your fingers will only have to press down a single string.

There is also an even easier alternative to playing the F chord on guitar which is similar to another beginner guitar chord: the major C chord. In this variation, you play only the D, G, and B strings. Don’t play the other three strings at all. 

Songs on guitar using the F chord

The F chord is used in numerous songs across all genres. Master playing the major F guitar chord with songs such as these. Find even more songs to play from Yousician’s full song library.

Songs without the F major chord

In case the F guitar chord still seems too painful and difficult to play, there are luckily songs that use chord shapes other than the full F barre chord. Jam along to these songs on the guitar until you get the hang of playing the F chord and other barre guitar chords.

Learn guitar chords with Yousician

The F chord is only one of many major guitar chords to learn as a beginner and master as you progress. To expand your knowledge and fill your arsenal of chords, make sure to check out our entire guitar chord library. There you’ll find other major and minor chords as well as different variations of the F chord, including the F minor chord and the F power chord. Learning to play guitar chords is easy with Yousician. Try Yousician’s interactive guitar lessons and level up your guitar-playing skills.

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