The F Chord Lesson on JustinGuitar

Good advise. I agree but still having trouble as I move back up to F chord. Some days are better than others. Will not give up until I master it. Champagne toast when I do. Maybe I should do that before practice to stay loose. LOL.[

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This is a perfect time to learn what chords you are playing. 7th fret is a B 5th fret is an A 3rd fret is a G and you know where the F chord is. The root note (the note the chords are named from) is on the E string.
It’s actually moving down to the F chord when you move towards the headstock the frequency gets lower this is why it’s moving down the neck.

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Thanks. Will definitely do that.

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This is such a great lesson! As I mentioned in my introduction, I quit learning guitar more than 20 years ago because of I thought my inability to master this chord/technique meant that guitar was just not my instrument. I was self-studying from Mel Bay’s “The Complete Carcassi Guitar Method” which has like one sentence about it: “The Barrer is made by pressing the 1st finger on two or more strings, on the same fret.”

It has a couple more sentences on the difference between the “Great” and the “Small” Barrers, but that’s it! No warning at all that it will be difficult and that it will take time to build the muscles! No tips and tricks to make the process easier. No cheat chords to get you by on songs while these muscles or developing (okay, that’s in the next lesson, but he tells you here that they’re coming). None of that!

Anyway, I arrived at Justin Guitar already with a pretty solid F chord, and yet still learned some helpful things in here, like using your arm to help out and trying to relax everything, so I’m glad I’m going through even the lessons I might otherwise think I can skip!

Anyway, the trick for me was learning Live’s “Lightning Crashes” which is basically a 3 chord song (plus two more in the bridge), where 2 of the 3 chords are barre chords. It took me a few weeks to be able to play it all the way through, and I was really motivated because I’d written a version of the song about Ranked Choice Voting, and I really wanted to post a recording of it before this past year’s election (which I was able to do).

So for anyone struggling with this, just keep at it, and be sure to find a song you really like that uses it. Don’t be like me and quit playing for 20 years!

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Started the F chord today…… Yeah, just as expected, I can’t do it! Furthermore, It’s impossible!
I was getting quite pleased with myself with the other stuff too! My strumming and other chord changes are better and I can make some nice sounds!
I’ve reverted to my hands and fingers are too small excuses. Well, they really are tiny! :face_holding_back_tears::joy::guitar::notes:

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I remember trying the F chord when I first started this course. I couldn’t do it as hard as I tried, I couldn’t play this dreaded F chord! I just kind of worked around it on all the other chords. Today I just started back through the 2 Grade course and up popped the F. I put it down and strummed and guess what? It was perfect!
I guess my hand wasn’t strong enough when I first started. It’s a Great Day in Guitar land!

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Hi Ron, congratulations on being able to play the F chord :champagne::partying_face::clap:. That’s a big step. I’m still struggeling with it, but I know, I’ll get there too :smiley:.

@TangleJangle Don’t give up. It IS difficult. Even more with small hands. But I’m certain, that you’ll nail it, too :smiley:.

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Thank you, Nicole,

You’ll get there! Keep trying it. Remember to keep your thumb pushing on the back of the neck.

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How do you let the b string ring out, I can’t seem to ring it out especially the high e but it rings out but no that clear. Any tips guys?

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Neil @backtolearning
First of all welcome to the community :grinning::+1:
Not sure I am best to advise as like you I am just learning the F chord as well but hopefully it is starting to come together. If I am reading you correctly then I, as Justin says in the Grade 2 lesson, move your index finger up and down till you find what works, that’s what I had to do.
Hope that helps.
Michael

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Just started grade 2 lesson 2 and justin mentions finding a way to play the barre chord relaxed essentially. Which seems impossible considering you have to contort you arm and hand plus use all muscles to get the barre chord to sound fully. Any tips from people who have figured out how to play barre chords in a relaxed way? lol

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Its better to play pretty much anything relaxed. Being able to do that though is another thing!

It just takes (a lot of) practice, best to have your thumb behind your 1st finger, and the neck raised to a 45 degree angle or something rather than the guitar horizontal so your hand/wrist is at a mote comfortable angle

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the 45 degree angle thing is interesting, will definitely try it out

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Closer you play to the body the flatter you can have the guitar.

But in general lift that head up! makes it easier

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There’s a couple key things to getting barres.

First one is finding that ideal finger position to avoid dead strings, which only comes via trial and error.
Second is it’s not really about thumb strength. Use your upper body strength.
Pull your fretting hand backwards, and use your other arm to hold the guitar in place to stop it pivoting around your body. To get a feel, try fretting some chords you can play without using your thumb on the back of the neck.

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Disagree with this in general but it can help some.

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Aaron - Justin has this covered:

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I’ve been working through this course now for over a year and I am still struggling mightily with my F Chord, particularly on my acoustic guitar. I have very short fingers and when I barre the chord with my first finger, I need to lay the other three fingers down so flat to reach the strings, that they mute one or more strings. If I am using a pick on my electric guitar, I can get close enough to at least get an F chord sound out of the guitar. But I am now trying to get more into finger picking, and my attempts are complete disasters, no matter how long I struggle and practice. And of course lifting any of my fingers off a string to be able to pick a note on an open string is virtually, if not literally, impossible. I have spent hours searching YouTube for a solution to the problem, but have come up empty. I can’t use my thumb on the low E string. It is too short. I am desperate and depressed. Anyone have any ideas?

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Hi Lee, a year and struggling with the F chord is pretty normal, so try not to worry. Perhaps you could post a photo or video? I am female with very small hands and can after many, many months manage an F chord occasionally. The breakthrough for me was compensating for the lack of strength in my hand whilst learning by using the arm holding the guitar to pull the guitar into my body, effectively adding leverage to my barre finger. Have you tried playing the F shape higher up the neck? If you can get it there it will give you hope. I no longer need the leverage as my hand has developed the strength and technique now. Also find what works for you. I have to slightly curl my barre finger in order to hold down the three strings, I can’t do it with a straight finger. Still not getting it right every time myself though.

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Hi Kim,

Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. Yes. I can play any other E shape barre chord, from F# on up the neck. It is that wretched F chord that I struggle with. I notice that one of my favorite musicians, Jason Isbell, plays many of his songs in concert with a capo on the first fret. I suppose I could always try something like that. In any case, I shall persevere! Thanks!!

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