Learn How to Play the F Chord on Guitar (with this Superhero Hack)
Learning how to play the F chord on guitar sucks. Your fingers ache. The strings buzz.
And it's impossible to land on this chord quickly or cleanly.
But if you can't play the barre version of F Major, you’ll always be a beginner. Or worse, you might quit.
That's not gonna happen today.
In a moment, I’ll show you the method I used to learn F on guitar.
This technique is:
And it’s also free.
Better still, you can apply it to any chord - not just the F barre. I used this very method when learning E Major - one of the hardest beginner ukulele chords.
So let’s get started.
How Well Can You Play the F Barre Chord?
Choose your skill level and jump to the right section.
How to Play the F Barre Chord on Guitar
F is basically the “E” chord played 1 fret higher. The bony part of your index finger acts as a new “nut” - which makes your guitar 1 fret shorter (and 1 pitch higher).
The tricky part is getting your index finger to hold down all the strings - without your hand starting to hurt.
It ain't easy.
But in the videos below, Justin Sandercoe (of Justin Guitar) and Andy Crowley (of Andy Guitar) both do a great job of covering the basics of the F barre chord.
F Chord Demo #1
F Chord Demo #2
Ideally, your F barre chord will sound like the audio clip below.
Audio: F Barre on an Acoustic Guitar
If you’re anything like me, the sound won’t be pretty at first. There'll be buzzing or muted strings. And your hand will hurt (a lot). But if you can sometimes get a clear tone, you understand the basics.
As Justin Guitar explains in his video, it’s just a matter of time and practice.
But if you want to speed up the process, keep reading. We’ll explore tips to make the F barre chord even easier to play.
Otherwise, you can jump to the practice method I used to master F Major on the guitar.
Let's Make the F Barre Chord Easier to Play
The 5 tips below can help make F less sucky.
If you get stuck, I’ve also included some easy F chord guitar positions that don’t use a barre.
1. Practice F Barre on an Electric or Classical Guitar
Electric strings require less force than acoustic ones. So if you have access to an electric guitar, start there.
Playing the F barre chord will be much easier.
The next best option is to practice on a Spanish (classical) guitar instead. Their nylon strings are much easier to play than steel strings are.
Once you feel comfortable with the F chord, switch back to your acoustic guitar.
2. Play the F Chord on Lighter Strings
If your guitar has fatter strings, playing the F barre chord will be harder. That’s because heavier strings require more pressure than lighter ones.
So switch to:
- 10 gauge strings if on acoustic.
- 9 gauge strings on your electric.
If you’re not sure how to install guitar strings, check out this DIY resource. Most guitar shops can also do the job (for a small fee).
3. Tune Your Guitar Down a Few Steps
Don’t feel like installing new strings? You can make them “looser” by tuning your guitar down.
Instead of using standard guitar tuning (EADGBe), tune everything down a couple steps (DGCFAd).
When you barre the “F Major” chord, you’ll hear “Eb Major.”
In fact, all songs will now be in a slightly lower key. But looser strings require far less force. So mastering the F barre shape is easier.
4. Lower the Action on Your Guitar
5. Play F Barre Chords with a Capo
The F barre chord is much easier if you play higher up on the guitar’s neck. That’s because you don’t need to apply as much force to get a clear tone. Every song will be in a higher key. But that’s okay.
The pitch doesn’t matter.
We’re just trying to master the F barre chord shape. Once you get the finger position correct (and a clear sound), then try again without the capo.
Easy Ways to Play the F Chord on Guitar (w/o a Barre)
Learning the F barre chord takes time. And the journey can be frustrating and painful - especially if you're not using the proper hand position on the fretboard. But you’ll get there.
If you get stuck, here are 4 easy F chord finger positions that don't use a full barre. They're laid out from easiest to hardest. And you can use these to build your way up to the real barre chord.
4 Easy F Chords for Guitar (If You Get Stuck)
The Batch Method: How I Learned to Play F on the Guitar
Below is the technique I used to master the F barre chord.
I call it the "Batch Method."
Let's see how it works - step by step.
Then we'll look at why it works.
Choose a Target Song That Uses F Major
First, we need a target song that uses both:
- F Major
- Chords we can already play.
You probably have a song in mind (which is why you’re reading this).
But for demo purposes, we’ll use “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond.
The version we'll be playing uses the guitar chords below. If you know more chords (or fewer), that’s fine. This technique still works.
Find Other Songs That Use the Same Chords
Next, we need to find tunes that use the same chords as our target one - "Sweet Caroline."
With the right tools, we can do that quickly.
For example, the button below generates a list of guitar songs that use our 6 example chords. And it does this in just a few seconds.
Important: None of the songs shown are “official.” They’re uploaded by amateur and professional musicians from around the globe. If you click on a non-working song or see the wrong chords, just move onto the next result. To learn more, read this.
Click Button to Run a Search
Wanna use different chords? Do your own search by clicking here.
But definitely come back. There's more to cover.
Pick 10 Guitar Songs to Practice
Any song with an “F” is worth practicing. So pick 10 or more tunes that you really like from our list.
For example, maybe we want more classics like “Sweet Caroline." We could focus on the tunes listed below.
Notice that every song uses some combo of our 6 original guitar chords - including F Major (marked in red).
These tunes are all clickable (new tab).
Cycle Through Your Practice Songs
On Day 1, start with the first tune on your list (i.e. "Sweet Caroline"). Try to practice for at least 30 minutes.
On Day 2, practice the next song on your list for 30 minutes.
Rinse and repeat as you work through your list over the next 10+ days (or practice sessions).
That first sweep through all your music will be slow going. But you’ll eventually arrive at your first song again.
And playing "Sweet Caroline" will be so much easier and cleaner.
In fact, every song will sound better the second time around.
Even more so on sweep #3.
Let’s explore why that is.
How the Batch Method Makes Learning the F Barre Chord Easier
I didn’t invent the Batch Method. It’s just a name I made up to describe what guitar teachers do all the time. They use “batches” of similar songs to help students tackle new concepts from different angles.
And that’s all we’re doing here.
We’re using lots of guitar songs to attack the F barre chord from all sides.
The Search by Chord tool simply makes finding these songs easier.
It’s not a 100% perfect search engine. But it finds way more music than anyone could by hand. And it does this in just a few seconds - no matter what guitar chords you search.
Whether you’re a teacher or a student, that’s pretty useful.
But here’s what makes this technique so effective.
Benefit 1: You're Less Likely to Get Bored (or Quit)
Practicing the same song again and again gets boring. Playing 10 different ones adds variety. You’re getting the same chord practice. But it’s not as repetitive.
And you're less likely to give up.
To see what I mean, just look at the next 3 songs. They have totally different:
But they all use the same chords (including our target one - F Major).
No matter what songs you practice, you're always improving at the F barre chord.
And by getting better at F, you also improve on all your songs (including "Sweet Caroline").
This positive feedback loop keeps you motivated to push forward.
Benefit 2: You Get More Bang for Your Buck
Learning the F barre chord takes a lot of time, effort, and patience.
And there are no shortcuts.
But when you finally nail it, you walk away with 10 new songs - not just 1.
That’s a fantastic return on investment. And this alone makes the Batch Method a winner.
But there’s one final benefit. And it’s my personal favorite.
Benefit 3: You Approach True F Chord Mastery
Want to get really good at the F barre chord? Then a tune like “Sweet Caroline” ain’t gonna cut it.
No song can.
And here’s why.
In “Sweet Caroline,” F Major only interacts with some of our chords.
To see what I mean, check out the image below. It shows all the chords that talk directly to F.
F Chord Changes (in "Sweet Caroline")
Think about what this means.
You could practice “Sweet Caroline” a million times.
And you'd never once move between the chords below.
Adding more songs fixes this.
It increases the chances that F Major shakes hands with every chord (in both directions).
The next image shows what happens as you add more tunes to your practice sessions.
F Chord Changes (Across ALL Your Songs)
Attacking the F barre from all angles helps you learn this guitar chord on a much deeper level.
You become an F chord master.
Now for some bonus tips to help you get the most out of the Batch Method.
Bonus 1: Short Guitar Songs Are Your Friend
Songs with lots of chords are more fun to play. But songs with fewer chords are often more helpful.
Look at the 3 tunes below.
“Sweet Caroline,” has 6 chords. But when playing this song, F Major only appears 25% of the time.
- “Just My Imagination” has just 2 chords. And F shows up almost half the time.
- “Mona” only has 1 chord. So by definition, F major appears 100% of the time.
Short songs are your friends. They force you to play the F barre chord more often.
Bonus 2: Use Genre and Decade Filters
Sorting through hundreds (if not thousands) of songs is a pain. But with a Chord Genome Account, you can filter by Genre and Decade.
These filters are SUPER experimental (for the reasons listed here). But they can help with the clutter.
Click either button below to see these filters in action.
Click Buttons to Run Searches
Stop Running from the F Chord. It's Time to Face It Head On....
The F barre chord is a tough one to crack. But I honestly believe the Batch Method can help. It’s what I use whenever I come across a really difficult chord (whether on guitar or ukulele).
You might get different results. But if the F chord is giving you trouble, the Batch Method is certainly worth trying.
Sign up for a Chord Genome Account today and give it a shot.
And if you found this article interesting, please share it with anyone who might also be struggling with the F chord on guitar.
Good luck. And happy strumming.