I’ve just been back to the old forum, to search for an old post relating to a discussion that is occuring elsewhere in The Community and I came across this post that I made 7 years ago !
So all of you past and present newbie guitarists will recognise this and no doubt relate to this little lament. So I thought I’d share it here.
Not so much a question as a celebration. The Dreaded F Barre Chord
November 03, 2014
About a year ago I started BC6 and the dreaded F chord or the E shaped barre chord to be precise.
Still can’t get it the clean on the acoustic but ok on the electrics. 1 min changes are reasonable I suppose F-C 62 F-Am 51 F-G 51 F-E 80+ Forced Changes with a number of C Am G F combo around 70bpm. Stick it in a song and its just …well ‘suspended animation’ describes it best.
Soon to start BC9 but sticking with those BC6 songs until I nail this puppy. So instead of typing Happy Birthday to that doggone chord. I’ve written it a little song - hopefully for the amusement of the forum.
ODE TO THE DREADED F BARRE CHORD lyrics only to Johnny Cash’s Hurt
I hurt myself today
Just trying play ‘that’ F
Not as easy as they say
It always seems a mess
Try to fit in a song
I always hesitate
I always get in wrong
It is the chord I hate
When will I play
My sweetest friend
All the other chords
Seem so simple in the end
But I would give it all
My little piece of France
If I could play that chord
I’d do a little……dance
If I could start again
A million miles away
I would nail this chord
The F chord I would play
Seeing as though I still can’t play this damn song without stuttering on the F. And oh yeah can’t sing for XXXX knock you self out…extra verses welcome.
This song is dedicated to
We shall over come
It’s certainly a struggle, but we all get there in the end.
I hadn’t seen your song lyric before. Written before my time! Maybe you could get Tosh to sing it.
Classic Toby. Like Gordon before my time. Now you could play and sing it
For sure but maybe the original lyrics, on my fingerstyle play/sing list for next year(ish) !
I love it and can oh so relate. I’ve been driving myself nuts the past few months because of the f’n F and b’chy Bm - both in songs I really want to learn and post up.
The F barre chord is one for the purists. Barre the B and E treble strings at the 1st fret, then make up the rest with the E shape. A perfectly acceptable sound, without the stress of trying to squeeze out a clean sound from the bass E string.
Similarly with Bm. Strip it down to basics. Don’t make playing a chore. That’s why it’s called “Playing”, right?
Sorry David I strongly disagree.
Before you can start stripping things down you need to understand what and why you stripping down. Its a fundamental part of understanding the CAGED system and how the fretboard is mapped out. Once you understand that, then you can decide which notes from those shapes to use to make up the chords and their derivatives.
What you are describing is just one way of playing a F of which Justin teaches many, including “your” F. Many ways to skin a cat and learning barre chords and not just the E shaped ones, is an essential part of building a strong foundation.
Just because something is difficult to master in the beginning, does not put it into the realms of the purists.
Just my 2 cents.
Perfect timing! Thank you for this song!
Just started with the F Chord 3 days ago. My finger hurts because I can’t stop trying until it comes out clearly… and in the end… I got it one (!!!) time and was like “how the ****?”
I’m certainly no purist. An intermediate amateur at best. When I started playing I was determined to learn the proper F barre chord. Not sure why, I think it may have been because I saw many really good guitar players regularly playing barre chords.
So I stuck with it in spite of it sounding less than ideal. It took a few months for it to sound acceptable and now I’m so glad I stuck it out.
I fully agree with the sentiment, especially not making playing a chore. Yet I encourage all new comers to the F chord to set their sights on playing the F barre chord, it’s a gateway chord to so much goodness. If it’s too hard at the start, don’t despair and if it sucks all the joy out of your playing, go for one of the easier options.
That’s how I was with using a metronome when I was a beginner. I knew I wasn’t keeping steady time. Yet playing with a metronome completely ruined the fun for me. I went back and tried it several times, to no avail. Then one day, using the metronome started to work for me and now it’s a main stay. Hopefully the F barre chord can be your mainstay one day.
Hey Katie well done, it may be just one but we all have to start somewhere. It took me months and months. But don’t forget learning to play that one chord shape opens up the whole neck later on, so its worth pursuing. But don’t let it stop playing songs with and F major chord in them though. Just use the “mini” F shapes as Justin calls them, do that while “practicing” the barre.
Are you playing acoustic or electric ? If acoustic has it been set up properly as the action could be high making the barre difficult, That was the game changer for me, as I could playing the barre consistently on electric but my acoustic sucked. Had it set up by a pro and after that it felt no different regardless of which guitar I used. Just a thought as it has made the difference to many players.
Keep at it and let us know how you get on. Its a right of passage for us “Purists” if that what you call and advanced beginner
One tip to help prove if it’s the setup is to see if playing the F chord with the capo at say fret 4 makes it a lot easier. If so, it could indicate the action (gap between the strings and the frets) is too large / high.
Getting a setup done by a pro will make a big difference if there are problems. If there aren’t problems, you may want / decide to save your money.
I take as my model the great Paul McCartney, who’s a master of the stripped down chord. His Bm shapes on Michelle and Mother Nature’s son are a delight. And Blackbird and a one-fingered A7? Masterful.
I’ll keep skinning my cat the way that I’ve been doing. Love that economy : -))…
Great little ditty, @TheMadman_tobyjenner !
@TheMadman_tobyjenner, this made my day! A great parody of a very, very dark song.
As it happens - I was helping my girlfriend learn the F chord just last night, and she complained that the base of her thumb was hurting, so I sent her a link to this post…think she’ll also get a chuckle out of it.
We dug out the Trigger Point Handbook, and sure enough, found one just where the book said we would. As is often the way with trigger points, it was not in her thumb where the pain was, but in her forearm.
It’s so good to have a remedy for Hurt!
Cheers Tom, well I hope she laughs ! Nearly forgotten about this post and its even longer since I went through the pain and woe of getting that barre chord down. Like the last line of the song and for anyone struggling with the mighty F :
“I will find a way !!”
Don’t give up.
Nice encouragement for all beginners that there is definitely a way to nail this challenging chord. Thanks!