16 June 2008

5 Ways Not to Play the F Barre Chord

The F bar chord is dreaded by many guitarists. It is difficult for beginning guitarists to play. The discouraged learner might be tempted to give up altogether or decide that they can only stick to open chords because bar chords are too hard.

Putting off this learning hurdle for a while is often a good idea for beginners. There are plenty of other things you can enjoy on the guitar before tackling it. This article shows you five specific things you can do to avoid tripping over the fearsome F bar chord.

1. Choose the right keys

The key of C is often used for beginners in music because it is a popular piano key. On the piano C is the easiest key to play because it uses only white notes. This is not the case on the guitar because it forces you to play the difficult F chord.

The best keys to begin learning guitar are G or D. You can then go on to learn chords in the keys of A and then E. These four keys let you play literally thousands of songs. You can use them and learn with them for a good while before tackling F.

2. Use a capo

Before learning the F bar chord you can play in the key of C using a capo. The capo is a small device that fit onto the neck of your guitar to change the chords played by open chord positions. You can see some examples in the pictures below.

Place a capo at the third fret and play the open chords from the key of A - A, D and E. You will in fact obtain the chords C, F and G - the key of C with no bar chord in sight.

You can purchase a capo cheaply at any guitar shop or get one delivered to your home by Amazon. I use a Dunlop trigger capo with a stiff spring to hold it on the neck. It is easy to fit and holds all the chords correctly.

3. An F triad

You can play the F chord without a capo by playing only a partial chord. You only need the root, 3rd and 5th note to make a chord. These three notes are referred to as a triad.

You can finger an F triad near to the usual open chord positions as shown below. Strum or pick only the fourth, third and second strings; respectively the root, 3rd and 5th notes of the chord.

e x||---|---|---|
b ||-1-|---|---|
g ||---|-2-|---|
d ||---|---|-3-|
a x||---|---|---|
E x||---|---|---|

This position is also a good "warm up" for the real F bar chord when you attempt it later.

4. Move the E chord

Finger the open E chord that you are familiar with and move it up one fret (your first finger is on the 2nd fret). This is another F triad with a different fingering. Strum or pick only the fifth, fourth and third strings which are the 5th, root and 3rd notes of the chord respectively.

5. Use a D chord form up the neck

This trick uses an F triad a little up the neck at the 5th fret. The fingering is identical to the open D chord you play at the 2nd and 3rd frets. Just move the whole thing up three frets and you can strum or pick the top three strings for an F chord.

e --|-1-|---|---|
b --|---|-3-|---|
g --|-2-|---|---|
d x--|---|---|---|
a x--|---|---|---|
E x--|---|---|---|

Now you have five good ways to put off the moment when you learn the F bar chord. The will leave you plenty of time to enjoy the guitar and build your confidence before tackling the dreaded F bar chord.

Of course, one day you will want to add that infamous F to your arsenal of guitar skills. It doesn't have to be such a fearful experience, but that's the story of another day. And armed with these tips you can face it safe in the knowledge that you can take your time.

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