The F Chord Lesson on JustinGuitar

I had been struggling with the F chord for a few months, just could not get it to ring out each time. I watched several tutorials. FINALLY, someone said to check your strings, I was playing with some fairly heavy gauge strings. I switched to some Martin Flexible core 11-47, AND MAGIC happened, the cord rang out EVERY time. Just a thought, if you have been trying to a while and can’t get it, it might be your guitar setup. $8 strings and frustrations gone. Canceled my appointment with the guitar shrink, LOL.


I have what I think is an amazing tip to quickly build up your left hand strength and dexterity to play the F chord. I have a 6.7" Smartphone and forced myself to use it with my left hand as often as I can after learning about the F chord (in advance), especially while lying down on the bed.

The benefits are two-fold - I was able to play the F chord quite consistently within 1 and a half months of learning the guitar. I can also now use my phone with my left hand almost as well as my right.


@Ledmond Hello and welcome to the community. A full F barre is a killer, Fm is worse. You can play mini barre and it is not cheating. There are only a few songs where it is absolutely imperative to have the lowest note F ring out. So mix and match with the proportion elaning towards mini barre if it is a real struggle.
Also, if your nut slots are cut high and the action at the first three frets is high, F is even more difficult. A guitar tech can take care of that. Lighter strings can help. Gauge 11 or, at a real push though they are super light gauge 10.
Another which you mention is to detune your guitar to Eb and put a capo on fret 1 for your regular play. You will need to readjust to the visual of the fret markers being displaced but it can work.


I appear to be one of the lucky ones with chunky builders hands as the f chord has been really easy for me, in contrast the A chord was and still is a knightmare, trying to get all 3 of my fingers in one fret was near impossible until I discovered the 1 finger A barre, playing the A like this is so much easier for me. My question is, is it worth me learning the F chord cheats as I can play the full F chord with no issues?

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Hi Steve, it’s definitely worth learning the “cheats”. They’re also proper chords in their own right and you’ll find they make sense to use in some songs. I use mini F shape in Should I Stay Or Should I Go for example (but don’t tell Justin, as his lesson isn’t quite that shape! :joy:). If you’re not needing to spend the time on full barre F be thankful but be productive and learn tha alternatives too, always useful.

Thanks Notter, didnt even occur to me they where proper chords, was basing my assesment purely on the title of the next lesson. I’ll get stuck into those latter when I get home. Absolutly loving learning to play and Justins lessons and all the resources he has available are brilliant.

Hopefully this helps someone, because I struggled with this chord for 4 months. I became quite frustrated and took a week or two off here and there, but the F*** barre chord is no joke. I learned all the other chords and was able to do 50 to 60 changes per minute within about 3-5 days of 30 minute practice sessions. Struggling this much makes me feel like I was never going to get it and I would never be as good as anyone else, but after sticking with it, I definitely feel better. I still worry about what the future holds. A lot of guitarists have told me that they consider the F chord to be where you reach the intermediate level which is exciting.

I had no problems with an electric and had the F chord perfect within a week on electric, but I struggled with getting the B to ring out on acoustic, but after watching a couple of other videos to get a better view of positioning for my thumb and index finger, I was finally able to get all strings to ring out. I reset and somehow my muscle memory took over after one successful attempt and it rang out again on the second and third try. So exciting!

I still have a ways to go to fully master it, but at least I can play it now. I really should have hired a teacher to help me figure it out, but I’m more proud that I figured it out myself. If anyone else has more experience with it and sees anything I could do better please let me know, but as of right now I no longer feel like I’m going to break my thumb as it requires about the same amount of pressure as the other chords, I just relax my shoulder and pull in on the guitar a bit.

I will note that I now started picking up the F chord lesson from the beginning, and I feel like the video is different, it shows an overhead view that I don’t remember seeing. I did also change my positioning of my thumb to be in front of my middle finger instead of index so it has more of a level type pull and I can’t really notice a difference, but I’m doing it that way since Justin does. I’ll also point out that the picture doesn’t show it very well, but I do have my finger rolled a bit so it’s not sitting flat. It’s very slight, but if I did it the same way as Justin it just doesn’t ring out. Somehow, I think my finger has too much fat in that area. I’d say the best advice I could give is to just lay your index finger down and move it around until you find the position that the B and E strings can ring out. That’s what I had done the past couple of weeks, and it seems to have helped me along with looking up the positioning of other guitarist.


Hello John, thank you for your suggestions. I’ve also been working on the F chord for quite a while now. And yes, it’s getting better - but still far from perfect. On some days, it rings out clearly, and on others it’s a real struggle.
But I’ll get there eventually :blush:.
Thanks for your positive experience. That’s the extra portion of motivation I need from time to time :slightly_smiling_face:.

Looking back, I made the start of my guitar journey as difficult as possible back in the day with a Beatles songbook and trying to play F as my first chord (admittedly not as a barre)! It didn’t go well. Now, 30 years later, I realise I’ve been playing the F barre chord wrong - even though I have small hands I noticed from Justin’s comments in the video that I was placing my index finger too high up so it overhung the neck and I never noticed that was causing the high E string (and sometimes the B string) to be muted by my palm. Clearly, I have had hand size delusion all this time. Now I must unlearn what I have learned! I’m loving these lessons and wish I had them years ago so I could have avoided mistakes like this.

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Me, too, big bird!!!

Hi Justin, thanks so much for these lessons. I’ve been playing for a few years, but all self taught so I am working through all the groundwork. This lesson is so helpful on the F chord, but I am wondering, isn’t this an “E Chord Shape” with a bar? I’m just getting into theory, so I am sorry if this question has been asked and answered elsewhere.

Hi @WeaverW and welcome to the community! As a beginner, I’ll leave your question to be answered by more knowledgeable people. I’ve found reading this forum a fabulous way to learn without even trying! See you around…

Welcome to the forum Weaver
Yes you are correct the F barre chord is an E shape barre chord and is movable any where on the neck the root note of the chord is on the E string under your index finger. If you move the whole shape up to the 3rd fret the chord would be a G barre chord.

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YES :slight_smile:

I’ve benn doing this chord for like, about a month while doing module 1 of grade 2 and I can get all strings going but the second one, I don’t know what it is, even on mine barre I can’t get the second string to ring out, any tips would be appreciated

Can you do the mini F chord?

I actually find it harder than the regular F chord, rarely I can get a F chord sounding good, can’t even do that with the mini F

Can you play the mini F 2 frets up?

That’s actually quite typical for mini-F to be harder, you’ll see lots of people saying the same in this thread I think. Also keep in mind for F a month isn’t that long, if you’re able to get it sounding good reasonably frequently from a month’s worth of practice then you’re certainly on the right track. When you say second string, you’re meaning B right? It’ll be a really minor adjustment to your barre finger, maybe slightly rolling your finger towards the nut or shifting it up or down slightly could be all the difference.


I do refer to b, what I have found to be helpful is to just push my index further, just letting a little bit of it hang. it has really made a lot of difference, I still don’t get it consistently when playing songs though, only when actually practicing the chord by itself, thanks. this thread has been really helpful. :slight_smile: