F Chord Cheats

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While you’re working on your full F chord, here are a few F chord variations to get you through in the meantime. Now, even though I’m calling them “cheats,” they’re all great chords of their own merit. In fact, there may even be times when you prefer one of them over the full F! That said, they can get you out of an F chord bind in a pinch.

F Major 7 (Fmaj7)

This chord is a good substitute for the full F chord most of the time, but you’ve got to use your ear. Sometimes, it just won’t sound right in a particular tune.

For this chord, you’re only playing the thinnest four strings. Your 3rd finger can help to mute the 5th string, but if it rings out, it’s not always the worst thing in the world. Definitely don’t play that low E string, though! It’s just awful here.

Also, be careful not to accidentally mute the thinnest string with your 1st finger.

You may notice that this shape is similar to that of C chord shape - they’re both a little stretchy! That’s actually a good chord change for you to practice - C to Fmaj7.


F Major 7 with a C Bass (Fmaj7/C)

This one is a cool, old-school chord that sounds a little fuller than the last one. It just builds on the Fmaj7 chord in that this time, you’re fretting the 5th string instead of muting it. You’ve got the full E chord shape going with your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers, but instead of the barre on the 1st fret, you’re only playing the 2nd string with the 1st finger. The thickest string is muted and the thinnest string is left open.

Again, practice changing between this chord and a C chord.

*Those numbers under the chord box are showing the 'function' of the notes - nothing to worry about at this point, you'll learn about that stuff in the theory course, if you choose to explore it!

Mini F Chord

The mini F uses just the thinnest four strings, unlike the Fmaj7 chord, you’re fretting the thinnest string rather than leaving it open.

To do this, you create a mini barre with your 1st finger, using it to play the thinnest two strings. Lay it down first, and then place the 2nd and 3rd fingers down. Again, you’re going to avoid hitting those thickest two strings, and you can use your 3rd finger to help mute the 5th string.

Sometimes, you’ll see players adding a bass note by hanging their thumb over the top of the neck. Don’t worry about this for now! It’s much too difficult for beginners, and you’ll do just fine with just sticking to your four fretted strings.

A good chord change to practice with this one is D to mini F.

A Few Tips

You’ve got to listen! When substituting one of these chords out for a full F chord, listen to which one sounds the best. If it doesn’t sound great, try a different one.

Also, these chords are useful on their own, so even if and when you can play the full F, these are still great to keep in your chord arsenal. Practice them!

...And practice them ASAP. Start working them into your practice routine, especially changing in and out of them. You can start off with some of the suggested chord changes I’ve given you in this lesson, or you can see what some other common F chord changes pop up in the specific songs you’d like to play.

Remember - these lessons might be more challenging than they were in Grade 1, but that’s good! You should be spending more time on them as things get more advanced, so if you’re not blowing through them like you were in previous lessons, don’t worry about it.


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