If you follow our blog, then you’ve already seen the best tips and tricks for learning guitar chords, but what about playing the infamous F chord on guitar? In this blog post, we’ll address common myths about the F chord and give you some helpful advice that will make playing it more easy.
Misconceptions About the F Chord
The six-string F chord is one of the hardest standard chord shape to play on the guitar. When many people try to play the F chord on guitar (and often succeed) it’s with far too much struggle and effort than is actually necessary. Even extremely influential guitarists can have a hard time with barre chords.
There are plenty of guitarists who can play the F chord without keeping the following points in mind, but for everyone else, here are a few misconceptions to watch out for as you practice F chords (and many other six-string barre chords).
1. Barre chords are too hard. Can’t I just play a different F shape?
This is a good point, and to be honest, sometimes you shouldn’t bother with all six strings. Maybe three or four notes are plenty for the sound you’re looking for.
But there are other times that you really need a full six-string sound, or perhaps you need the low F to keep the bassline across the chords shaped the way you want.
In case you don’t want or need all six strings, below are a couple other options. Included are the six-string F shape, two Fs with fewer strings, and a common chord that is often played when guitarists don’t want to play the full F chord.
Beware, this last example is actually an Fmaj7 chord (notice the open E on the first string).
2) Do I have to press down all six strings with one finger?
No. This is where many people struggle when first learning the F chord. If you look carefully at the chart above, you’ll notice that there are only three strings with dots on the first fret.
This means that you can hold down the low F (first fret, sixth string) with the tip of your index, and curve your finger slightly above the center strings and press the two highest strings with the base of your curved index finger. You only have to press down half the number of strings as most people think! It may take some time practicing but it will save you a lot of energy.
Once this technique is mastered, it’s possible to actually cover all six strings gently (muting them all) and then while strumming, isolate specific strings to press down one at a time with the same finger position muting the rest. It sounds tricky, but it can definitely be done!
3) If I can’t make all the notes play, I should just squeeze the neck more, right?
Another big misconception among guitarists is that barre chords, like the F chord, require lots of pressure from the thumb pressing forward on the neck. This often works, but takes much more energy than players usually realize.
Because of this, after a few measures of a barre, beginning guitarists often complain of pain or cramping in the thumb or wrist.
The pressure you put on the back of the neck works against your fingers pressing on the strings. Because of our natural reflexes, our body tells our fingers to press extra hard, so the notes tend to ring but with lots of extra work on our part.
Resist this urge when practicing and playing the F chord. Many guitarists can play barres without their thumb touching the neck at all!
Now that we’ve proved wrong some of the common myths about the F chord, have fun practicing it! Keep in mind that it will take a lot of time and effort to comfortably play the F chord without thinking about it too much. A good guitar teacher can show you every variation of the F chord, so if you have any problems with the normal F chord, you’ll be set up for success.
If you’re just starting out as a guitar player, check out the 5 basic guitar chords for beginners. Share about your previous experiences with the F chord and other barre chords in the comments below!