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.
x|---|---|---| |-1-|---|---| |---|-2-|---| |---|---|-3-| x|---|---|---| x|---|---|---|
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.
5th fret |-2-|---|---| |---|-3-|---| |-1-|---|---| x|---|---|---| x|---|---|---| x|---|---|---|
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.
|---|---|-3-|---| |---|---|---|-4-| |---|---|-2-|---| |-1-|---|---|---| x|---|---|---|---| x|---|---|---|---|
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.