26 August 2009

Easy Ways to Play F Chord With No Bar

Here are two different ways to play the F chord without having to make a bar (or barre). Most guitar learners have trouble with the F chord when they come across it. The bar across the first fret is very difficult to make without first developing good technique and finger strength.

But the F chord doesn't have to be so hard when you know that there are different ways to play the F chord. In the rest of this lesson you will learn two fingerings to play the F chord without making a bar.

Firstly you are going to learn a simple three finger position to play notes from the F bar chord at fret one. Then we'll have a look at another F chord fingering based on the simple open D chord you can use a little higher up the neck.

F Chord 3 Finger Version

The first way to play an F chord without making the bar is to play only the three notes shown in the diagram below.


It can take a little practice to place your fingers across three frets like this, but until your fingers are stronger it's less of a struggle than making a bar.

Here's a little trick you can use to get a good sound. Lean your index finger down towards the bottom string so that you touch the first string with the side of the finger tip. This muffles the first string so it doesn't ring out when you strum. If you sound the first string E note then you'll end up playing an Fmaj7 chord instead.

F Chord from D Shape

You can also play the F chord a little further up the neck using the familiar D chord shape shown below.

You may have learned this fingering at the second fret to form a D major chord. But you can also move it up three frets to the fifth fret and it becomes an F chord. Check the notes on the third, second and first strings: C, F, A - the fifth, root, and third of the F major chord.

Note that the open fourth string remains a D when you move this fingering up the neck so you should avoid picking this string when you play the F chord.

You can optionally play the F root note in the bass at the 3rd fret. To do this use the fingering shown below - it takes quite a stretch so you might need some time to make it. Start by learning to make the basic three finger shape using the second, third and fourth fingers of your fretting hand. When you can do this easily then you can try to add the root note with the first finger.


Now you know two different ways to play F chords without making a bar. This should make it easier for you to play those favourite songs that have F chords in them.

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Photo by Al Jordan.


Anonymous said...

omg thank you so much! theres this song where i have to play F and i couldnt get any of the other techniques. THANK YOU! LOVE YOU!

Anonymous said...

This helps a lot. I just started playing two weeks ago, and I really cannot get a hang of the barre. :) Thanks.

Gary Fletcher said...

Hi AW, you're welcome. Don't worry about barre chords if you've only been playing two weeks. There's plenty of time to learn and master them...

Leslie said...

I probably shouldn't ask this because everyone is different, but how long does it take to learn barre chords? I can play them, not perfectly 100% of the time (a little buzzing) but changing from a non-barre to barre is so slow for me. It's frustrating. I've been playing for six months. I know it's not a contest but I have no frame of reference. Any suggestions? Plus, my carpel tunnel is acting up - I'm wearing a brace at night so it's a little better. Thanks for your help!

Gary Fletcher said...

Hi Leslie, Your progress with barre chords depends a lot on how much, and how well, you practice them. It also depends on the kind of guitar you play, they are much easier to play on an electric for example.

I wouldn't worry too much after only 6 months. After many years I still get buzzing or muffled notes sometimes, that's just part of the territory.

Don't try to force things - especially if you're getting pain (consider reducing the amount of time you spend on them in this case) - and let your barre chord skills develop at their own pace. If you practice consistently without overdoing things you will notice a big improvement in a few months time.

Willem said...

Thank you for this enlightening post. Another way to play an F chord (the way I usually do it) is by fretting it the Hendrix way, viz.


where the 0 is the thumb. You can leave the thumb out and just fret it with your four fingers, not strumming the lower E.

This way of playing a barred chord can be applied not just to F.


Anonymous said...

thankyou so much! this has really helped be able to play my favorite song Liquid Confidence by You Me At Six <3 i have only been playing for a few days but i am determined to conquer it(: you've helped me so much, thankyou(:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this! I am just learning to play, and I can do a couple of Barre chords, but this one I just wasn't getting. Now I'm a lot more confident that I could learn a song. Thanks again!

Scott said...

Great article for beginners learning the dreaded F chord. I teach my students the 3 finger version, muting the high e. I call it the staircase F. Thanks for posting this Gary!

Anonymous said...

thank u sooo much i have to learn to play back to december by tayloe swift and it has that chord in it

Guitar Lover said...

William's sounded best in my opinion. They all sounded pretty good but I thank Greg and William! Thank you!

Hope it helps... said...

Hey guys i am a beginner... So may be my words don't count much... nyways I found a fast(also kinda boring) way of learning barre chords... u just have to hold 'A' barre chord(5th fret) strum it 8 times then shift to 'G' barre chord(3rd fret) & do d same... & switch back n forth "as long as u can & as many times possible every day"... At some point, u ll know when... decrease d strumming to 4 stokes then shift back n forth... then bring it down to 2... u ll get a hang of it in a week or 2...
Well after that, all that's left is d annoying, open to barre chord switches... Which at this point is all about perseverance & patience... Remember, 1 step at a time...
Tips :-
1. Keep ur index finger straight when u barre... ( its really hard.)
2. Keep ur middle finger at d end of its respecive fret...(needs a bit of flexibility.)

Theoretically this exercise -
1.It increases ur finger strength.
2.Puts d chords into ur muscle memory(vvimportant).
3. 8, 4, 2(Magical nums) strums before shifting helps u(a bit/lot) to overcome d beginner habit of stopping ur flow of strumming when u r shifting...

Pass it on if it helps...
It helped me a lot...
Always & always keep it simple... ;)

Isiyara said...

I started guitar very recently and the F chord was very frustrated I kept getting buzzing or barely audible notes. >.<

Thank you so much for this article. A song that is pretty easy for beginners like me is 'I'm Yours' It only features C, C Am and F chords which are repeated throughout the song.

I just have a bit of trouble switching between chords (I'm pretty slow, but I still feel that playing guitar is both enjoyable and rewarding. So don't give up! ;)

Guitar Player said...

F Chord from D Shape does not sound too well, but the first one is nice to play instead barre.

Anonymous said...

Pink floyd's Mother uses the f chord, thank you so much man.

Shaun said...

Your tips have helped my students tremendously. Thanks for all the great resources!

Jax said...

VERY HELPFUL! But I'm still going to learn the orthodox way.

Anonymous said...

this was so helpful i have too small of gads to bar the chords thanks so much!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the 565000 d-shape way of playing the F chord. Now I can play Stairway :) Thank you so so much :)

Anonymous said...

thanks for the tip on leaning the pointer finger to mute the high E string!

Anonymous said...

Thx for the help.. I'm rly struggling with it

Anonymous said...

I'd wait a bit till you get a better hang of guitar until you go for barres

craig hines said...

thanks a lot ....... been learning to play for a few weeks and F was killing me .... now i can jam so many more of my favourite songs .... i thought guitar playing would be so hard ! but really its quite easy to learn the basic chords and play 1000s songs .. i would encourage anybody to learn .. because nothing like that feeling when i master a tune . thanks for the easy Fso i can learn so many more

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