27 August 2010

How To Play F Maj Chord Without Bars

Here's an easy to apply tip that shows beginner guitar players how to play F maj without bars.

The obstacle represented by the F barre (or bar) chord is a recurring problem for novice guitar players. It often occurs in popular beginner songs, The Beatles' Let It Be is just one example, yet it is one of the hardest chords for beginners to learn and master.

Barre chords take time to learn and master because they require good technique coupled with hand and finger strength. And that takes time to develop. The F barre chord is particularly hard, it takes a lot of force and technique to press the strings down so close to the neck's head.

It's unfortunate that this barre chord is often the first encountered. It leads many beginners to believe that playing guitar is very hard, maybe too hard and too much work for them. It's one obstacle that leads to a lot of learners abandoning, or at least giving up on playing anything that requires more than a few easy open chord positions.

But the fact is that there are different ways to play the F chord that avoid playing this difficult barre position. One easy solution that any beginner can use is a capo.

What A Capo Does For You

A capo is a device that fits over the strings of the guitar and pinches them onto a fret along the fretboard. It acts as a kind of moveable nut that can shorten the strings and change their pitch when they are played "open".

The result of this is that the chords you create with open chord positions are changed to higher pitches. What this means for you is that you can play an F barre chord with a simple open chord position.

There are two places on the fretboard you can use the capo to create an easy to play family of chords for songs in the key of C major. Let's take a look at these and the chord positions to use in each case.

Chord Positions For Capo At The Third Fret

When you place your capo at the 3rd fret you can play the C major, F major and G major chords of the key of C major using the open chord positions shown below.

  • Play C major with an A open chord position
  • Play F major with a D open chord position
  • Play G major with an E open chord position

You can also play the common chords in the key of F with the capo in this position. In addition to the C and F chords already described you can play the Bb chord with a G major open chord form.

Chord Positions For Capo At The Eighth Fret

At the eighth fret you can play songs in the key of F with easy open chord positions.

  • Play F major with an A open chord position
  • Play C major with an E open chord position
  • Play Bb major with a D open chord position

The key of C is a little trickier...
  • Play C major with an E open chord position
  • Play F major with an A open chord position
But to play the G major you'll need to use a B chord position. To do this move an A major open chord up two frets and strum only the three fingered strings. If you want to try a more advanced fingering then play these three strings with your middle, ring, and little fingers and use your index to press two frets back along the 5th string.


Now you know how to play F maj without bars. With this easy solution you can play songs in the keys of C and F major even if you can't make an F barre chord.

A capo is inexpensive and easy to use and will let you take your time to gradually build the technique and strength needed to play barre chords without injuring yourself.

Want A Capo Recommendation?

There are many different kinds of capo and if you decide to get one you you might be wondering which one to go for. I've been asked this question several times and I have no hesitation in recommending the Dunlop Trigger Capo.

I've used one of these for over ten years without any problems. Its spring action makes it a snip to put on or take off. It has enough strength to securely grip the strings on my guitar and has never slipped or given false notes.
(Note that the links above are affiliate links which means I get a small commission from Amazon if you buy after following them).

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Anonymous said...

but what do you do if you don't have a capo?

Gary Fletcher said...

If you don't have a capo, try this article on Easy Ways To Play F Chord With No Bar. It shows you three different ways to play an F chord with no bar and no capo.

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