F Chord Alternatives


Here are some different ways to play the F chord at the (more or less) open position. As I mention in the video, the F chord is important because it is the IV chord for the key of C, and many songs happen to be in the key of C.

I suppose the primary reason for the popularity of the key of C is that on the piano the key of C uses all white notes (no sharps or flats).

In any case it is common knowledge among guitar players that the F chord is the most difficult chord to master for beginners. This is because the “full” chord (which chord charts usually focus on, and which some teachers encourage their students to learn) involves a “barre” on the first fret. And obviously that is difficult for beginners.

The most commonly used alternative is what I have called the “little” F chord where you just barre the high E and B strings (a “little” barre) and don’t play the low E string. I find this is the version of the chord I use the most.

But as I mention in the video there are even simpler versions of the chord which might be appropriate in some cases: versions played on just 4 strings, 3 strings, and even just 2 strings. These versions give beginners something to start with as they work towards mastering the more difficult versions.

That is not to say these “smaller” versions don’t have their place for more advanced guitar players.There are certainly instances where playing on just 2 or 3 strings is easier, and perhaps even sounds better.

It is also important to say that practicing the barre chord version is important as well. Moving around the neck (playing chords further up the neck) and playing familiar chords using alternative shapes requires mastery of the barre chord technique.

If you watch accomplished guitar players you will notice how they fly around the neck using all kinds of variations: full chords, partial chords, barre chords. They do this because the objective is to produce the sound they’re after in the most efficient way possible.

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