The F major chord is a popular chord on the guitar, but one that raises all sorts of problems for beginners as well as for the experts. Some guitarists may opt to play the big full barre which only leads them to lots of buzzing notes, while others may play the mini version which may sound thin and weedy if not played correctly.

As you can see from the two options, the F major chord can be one hell of a challenging chord capable of making grown men and women weep and even smash their guitars due to frustration. If you are a beginner, it’s more challenging to play the F major chord.

Well, if you are a beginner or expert facing trouble playing the F major chord, you are the right place. In this post, you’ll learn how to play this infamous chord in a progressive manner beginning from the difficult versions and trickling down to the simpler forms.

The tips will help clear out the common problems guitarists face when playing the F major chord. Some of the common challenges that people face when playing this chord are;

  • The B string buzzes – It’s a common problem which can be corrected by rolling the barre onto its side.
  • It’s slow to get to it – This will always come in someone’s mind who is trying to use the chord in a song. Take it slow and incorporate one-minute changes until you master the chord.
  • It needs a hand-strengthening machine – No, it doesn’t need one. Those things are a waste of time; your workout on the guitar is enough for you to be an expert of the F major chord.


With that, let’s move on how to play the F chord on the guitar.

Shape one – The big dreaded F

It is the most feared version of the F chord. It is a tough chord because barring across all the six strings is hard especially at the 1st fret. To understand this version, you’ll first need to practice how to perfect the quality of your barre, that is how close to the fret it is, how straight it is, and how high it is positioned. Moreover, you’ll need to add your finger at a time to complete the chord.the-big-dreaded-f

Shape two – The C shape barre

It is a tough old nut to crack. Here, you have to play the C chord shape with fingers two, three, and four while playing the barre across the top three strings using your index finger placed at the 5th fret. It is one shape that is suitable for experts and intermediate guitarists; however, for beginners, it can be a challenge.


Shape three – A shape barre

The A shape barre version is based on the shape of an A chord. It is turning the A major chord and playing it higher up the neck. It is a convenient shape or version primarily because it is a top pitched version of F and, therefore, it offers several tonal options to the chord.


Shape four – Slightly stripped back

It is a similar version to that of shape one. The only difference is that the barre finger is moved so that it only frets the B and high E strings while fingers two, three, and four still fretting the same notes. It is an ideal version if you are looking forward to practicing shape one.


Shape five

It is also a similar version to shape four that sounds almost the same. When playing this version, your index finger on the B string should be rocked back to kill off the high E string to prevent it from ringing out. The great part of playing this shape is that it’s easy to change from C by simply leaving your index finger and ring finger where they are, and then move the middle finger to the D string.


Shape six – Mini Barre

It is a commonly taught version in many guitar learning schools, but an impractical one in the real world. The main reason for this is that it provides no real strong bass in the chord.


Shape seven

It is the go-to version for everyone starting to play the F major chord. It’s because you only need three fingers to play and there is no barring at any chance. Despite only requiring three fingers, you have to be extra careful since there are only three strings in the chord. Therefore, be careful not to strum the unwanted strings.


Shape eight – A stylish inversion

This is a little different version than the rest. It is known as a chord inversion. This inversion happens by turning the chord around and making the bass note as any other note other than the root. For you to enhance the sound or make it classier, pick it up with a cool fingerpicking pattern.


F major chord extensions

In addition to how to play the F chord on the guitar, there are lots of chord extensions that you can use. These extensions are built off the F major chord such as Fadd9, F7, and sus4. The most common extension is F major 7.


Playing the F chord on guitar is probably one of the chords that give most guitarists a headache. But, with these tips, it will turn out to be an easy task. In a nutshell, if you want to master how to play the F chord on guitar start by playing shape seven, then work your way up the list. Try not to let yourself get discouraged along the way.

The ideal guitar to start learning how to play the F chord is an electric guitar. It’s because it’s a lot easier than the acoustic guitar. After getting the technique and your hand comfortable with the grip, you may proceed to the acoustic guitar. Remember for the acoustic one; you’ll have to press the strings much harder than the electric one as well as have more finger strength. In the end, your technique of playing the F chord will be solid. Good luck!