F Major Guitar Chord
If there is one chord that strikes fear in the heart of beginner guitar players it is the F chord.
Beginners avoid it at all costs and if you are unlucky enough to find it in a song you run the other way, well not today my friends!
In this article I am going to go through everything you need to know about the big bad F, as well as some easier alternative chords you can use instead. I will then finish off with a few songs to help put the dreaded F to use.
Why is it so hard?
The F chord often gets lumped together with open chords such as C, G, Am etc because it is played in the first three frets.
But F is NOT an open chord because it does not contain any open strings, it is instead a Barre chord.
A Barre chord is where you hold down more than one string with a single finger. This is shown in chord boxes as a line connecting the notes to be played with one finger as shown below:
As you can see above, finger one is holding down all six strings in fret one. This is tough for beginners as you need a lot of strength to allow each string to be heard.
Below is another common way you will see F played, this is slightly easier than the previous F chord because you only need to barre two strings instead of all six.
The above chords are the two most common ways you will likely see F chord played but they are also the two most difficult.
The good news is there are a few easier F chord shapes that will save your fingers, as well as your blood pressure, that we will look at in the next section.
Three Easier F Chords
The first shape we are going to look at is not technically an F chord but an Fmaj7 chord instead, meaning it has an extra note, namely an E note on the top string.
Because we play the top string open rather than playing it as a barre it makes it a lot easier.
The only thing to be careful of here though is this shape doesn’t always work as a substitute to the F, as it is a different chord but does work some of the time.
The next shape is like the Fmaj7 chord we just played but we are going to mute the top string rather than play it open. To mute the top string just touch it slightly with your 1st finger.
For the last shape we are going to add a note to the previous chord. Move your 3rd finger up to the D string and place your 4th finger underneath it on the G string. Because we have added a bass note this chord sounds fuller and is a nicer shape to use in strumming songs.
So now we have a few alternatives to the big bad F chord let’s put them to work in a few songs.
F chord songs
Below is a list of five songs that use an F chord. Feel free to experiment with the different shapes listed above as each one has a slightly different sound which might fit a certain song better.
Save Tonight by Eagle Eye Cherry – A great song for strumming but beware it has quick chord changes. The whole song is just four chords, Am, F, G & C.
My Girl by The Temptations – There are four main chords used throughout, C, F, Dm & G
House of the Rising Sun by The Animals – The main chord progression is Am, C, D & F. The chords are played as arpeggiated meaning they are picked rather than strummed but strumming will work as well.
You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away by The Beatles – A great strummy song that uses G, D, F & C chords.
Mr Jones by Counting Crows – This classic 90’s songs main chord progression is Am, F, Dm & G.
I hope you have enjoyed this article and if you have any questions or comments drop them below.