Easy Ways to Play the F Chord for Guitar

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Chords are groups of notes played together to create a harmony. There are multiple chord shapes on the guitar, which create different chords depending on their position on the fretboard. The chord of F appears in many well-known songs, including "House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals and "Imagine" by John Lennon. It's the first chord in "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana. There are numerous ways to play the chord. Each approach has distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Barre Chords

  • Barre chords are transferable chord shapes. The notes in the chord are dictated by the position on the neck in which you play the chord. Lay your first finger on fret one, across all strings. Place your second finger on fret two of the G string. Place your third finger on fret three of the A string and place your little finger on fret three of the D string. Strum all strings. The notes in the chord, from low to high in pitch, are F, C, F, A, C, F. The chord therefore spans three octaves. Move this shape up so that your first finger spans fret two to make F sharp. Play it with your first finger on the 13th fret to make an F chord one octave higher than the original.

Thumb Over Chord

  • This chord shape makes exactly the same notes as the barre chord, but has a different position. Play the first fret of the bottom E string with your thumb by clasping it over the top of the neck. Lay your first finger across the top E string and B string. Put the rest of your fingers in the barre chord position. Jimi Hendrix favored this approach to fingering because it allows your first and second fingers to be more articulate. A shortcut of this chord is to just use your first three left-hand fingers and not play the lowest three strings. The chord has less depth, but is easier to play.

Power Chord

  • Power chords are simplified versions of barre chords, popular in rock music. They feature the lowest three notes of a barre chord. It is slightly easier to play a power chord than a barre chord because you don't need to lay your finger flat across all strings. Place your first finger on the E string at fret one. Place your third finger on the A string at fret three. Place your little finger on the D string at fret three. This power chord shape is transferable. The harmonic structure remains constant, regardless of where you play it. Keep the chord shape exactly the same, but start with your first finger on fret eight of the A string to play a higher F chord.

D-Shaped F Chord

  • The D chord shape is transferable. By moving it from its position on frets two and three to frets five and six, it becomes an F chord. Play a regular D chord by putting your third finger on fret three of the B string, your second finger on fret two of the top E string and your first finger on fret two of the G string. Slide the chord shape down the fret board, keeping the same shape, so that your third finger is on fret six of the B string.

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  • Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images David De Lossy/Valueline/Getty Images
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