Four easy ways to play the F major chord on guitar

Hello my friendly friends! Tyler Preston here, back with another lesson for you. In this lesson, we’re going to talk about four easy ways to play the F major chord, so let’s get to it.

for most beginning guitarists, the dreaded F major chord rears its ugly head when they get into their third or fourth song.

If this is you, you’ve memorized your cowboy chords (C, A, G, E, and D), maybe you know a minor chord or two, and now you’re starting to look out at all the great pop songs that you love to listen to.

So you go and you look up the chords and then…

“Oh my God, there’s this barre chord that I don’t know how to play! and it’s called the F and it terrifies me and I’m just going to skip this song…”

And obviously that’s no fun. We both know you want to be able to play the songs that you love, even the one’s with the F chord.

Unfortunately my friend, the only way out is through, and in this case getting through means learning how to play the F chord.

So what we’re going to do in this lesson is go over four different ways that you can play the F major chord, from easiest to hardest, so you can start playing those songs today.

Now, the number one problem that most folks have with the F major chord is that they immediately attempt the full F barre chord.

This is a no-no. Obviously this is the goal that you need to work towards, But it’s not where you should start for learning F.

To begin learning F, you should begin with the super easy three-string version.

How to play the easy three-string F major chord

To play the three-string version of F major:

  1. Place your first finger on the 1st fret of the B string;
  2. Place your second finger on the 2nd fret of the G string; and
  3. Place your third finger on the 3rd fret of the D string.

Once you’ve got the strings held down, go ahead and strum the three strings that you’re fretting. Voila! F major.

Sure, it’s a little thin sounding. But it’s also much easier than the full barre version, so I recommend you start with this one.

How to play the easy four-string F major chord

Next, once you’ve got the three string version down, you can upgrade to the four-string version, which is another easy F major shape. This four-string F major chord looks a lot like the C major chord, so be careful not to get them confused!

To play the easy four-string F major chord:

  1. Place your index finger on the 1st fret of the B string;
  2. Place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the G string;
  3. Place your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the A string; and finally
  4. Place your pinkie on the 3rd fret of the D string.

Go ahead and give it a strum, and there we go! Another easy F major chord. This one sounds a bit fuller than the three-string version. This is going to create a little bit more bottom end for your F chord. So the the construction is the same first finger on the first fret of the B.

Now let’s talk another easy way to play the F major chord: with a partial barre. This one is a bit more challenging than the last two, but it’s definitely not as difficult as the full barre, and it makes a good stepping stone to help you get acquainted with barring.

How to play an easy F major chord with a partial barre

In this easy version of the F major chord, you’re going to use your index finger to barre across the 1st fret on the B and E strings. We call this a partial barre because we’re not barring all six strings— just two.

But besides that, it’s the same as the four-string version I just showed you. Here’s the directions:

  1. Place your index finger on the 1st fret of the B string;
  2. Place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the G string;
  3. Place your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the A string;
  4. Place your pinkie on the 3rd fret of the D string; and finally
  5. Lay your index finger down so that it barres the 1st fret of both the B and high E strings.

Go ahead and give it a strum. How does it sound? Good?

If your partial barre F major chord doesn’t sound so good yet, keep practicing with the three- and four-string versions for a while and come back to the partial barre in a week or two.

But if it does sound good, then you’re ready to attempt the full barre.

How to play the full barre F major chord

For the fourth and final version of the F major chord, the full barre version, all we are going to do is start with the fingering from the partial barre, and then extend our index finger across all six strings on the 1st fret.

This will be uncomfortable, it’s going to feel awkward and weird, it’s going to sound bad, and it’s going to take a little bit of practice to work up to.

So take your time with it and be gentle with yourself. Just keep chipping away at it, and in the meantime use one of the previously discussed easy versions of the F major chord to “cheat” your way through the songs you want to learn. You’ll be playing the full F major barre chord proficiently very soon!

As always, if you enjoyed this post, please share it with a friend. And if you have any questions or comments, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @MrTylerPreston, or shoot me an email at tyler@tylerpreston.com.

And until next time my friendly friends: good luck, have fun, and happy strumming!

Tyler Preston

Tyler Preston

National touring singer-songwriter & music teacher. I'm a country boy at heart, but I paid my dues singin' the blues. Find me on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.