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Few chords give beginners more frustration than the F barre. It’s completely different from most other chords you’ve probably learned until now like A, E, D, or G. That’s because with the F barre, you have to contort your fingers and hand into unfamiliar positions. And it’s really difficult to get a clear sound – especially when you’re just starting out.
But a lot of songs use F Major and this fact alone makes the journey worth it.
Better still, you’ll own a lot more of the fretboard once you’ve locked down your first “barre” chord. In fact, it’s possible to play every single major chord in Western music using the F barre shape. When you add in other barre shapes (like Am, E7, or Cmaj7), the possibilities are limitless.
So this isn’t a chord you should run from. Instead, you should embrace it. And with the technique down below, that’s exactly what we’ll do.
The Batch Method for F Chord Mastery
When teaching students in the studio, many guitar teachers use “batches” of songs to help explain difficult concepts. They’ll then assign these songs as “études” that the student is supposed to practice at home.
And that’s what we’ll be doing here. We’re going to learn the F barre chord by practicing a whole bunch of tunes together.
1. Choose a Song That Uses F Major
The first step involves choosing a target song that uses guitar chords you already know – plus F major. You probably have a tune in mind (which is why you’re reading this).
But for demonstration purposes, we’ll use the Beatles’ And I Love Her. The version we’ll be playing uses the following 6 chords:
You’ll need a capo to play in the right key. But that’s okay. Pitch “accuracy” is not the goal here. We’re simply looking for songs to practice.
2. Find Songs That Use These Exact Chords
The next step is to find guitar songs that use our 6 chords. And you can do that very quickly with this free Search Song by Chord tool. Simply plug in Dm, Am, F, G, C, and Em, and it’ll spit out a list of tunes that use those 6 chords (and only those chords).
Here’s an example search.
You need to pick 10 or so tunes that you really like. If you wanted to stay in the same genre and decade as “And I Love Her,” for example, you might choose the following songs:
- Sweet Caroline | Neil Diamond [C,F,G,Am,Em,Dm]
- Mountains on the Moon | the Grateful Dead [G,F,Dm,C,Em,Am]
- Can’t Help Falling in Love | Elvis Presley [C,G,Am,F,Em]
- Do You Believe in Magic? | the Lovin’ Spoonful [C,Dm,Em,F,G]
- You’re So Vain | Carly Simon [Am,C,F,G,Em]
- Where Did Our Love Go | the Supremes [C,G,Dm,F]
- This Magic Moment | Jay and the Americans [C,Am,F,G]
- See See Rider | the Animals [C,F,G]
- Spanish Harlem | Ben E. King [C,F,G]
- Bad Moon Rising | Creedence Clearwater Revival [C,G,F]
- Just My Imagination | the Temptations [C,F]
You’ll notice that every single song from the above list uses some exclusive combination of Dm, Am, F, G, C, and Em. And they all use F major, which is our target chord.
Moving forward, we’ll treat these tunes as our “practice études.”
3. Work through These Songs
Over the next week or so, work on every song from your list. The order doesn’t matter. And you can move back and forth as much as you want – trying one song before switching to another.
The beauty is that no matter what song you’re practicing, you’re always working on the F barre chord. But because you’re playing so many different songs, boredom never sets in. That’s because the tempos and melodies change as you move from one title to the next.
Variety is the spice of life.
After that first week of practice, the F barre chord will still sound a little rough. And it may also be a bit painful too. But guaranteed that in week #2, the road will be much smoother as you work through all of your songs a second time.
You can actually feel and hear the difference. And this gives you the motivation to keep pushing forward for another week – or however long it takes to master the F barre.
That’s precisely what I did. I worked with a batch of 10 songs for about a month. By the time I was finished, the F barre had gone from an intimidating hurdle to one of my favorite chords to play.
The same can and will happen with you. And as an added bonus, you’ll end up with a much larger repertoire than when you started. Instead of walking away with a single song, this method ensures that you learn 10 or more new tunes – simply by adding one new chord to your practice.
Stop Running from the F Barre. And Start Running Towards It
If the F barre (or any tough chord) is still giving you trouble, try out this technique. To get started, visit the Search Song by Chords search engine and find some music to play.
Good luck. And happy strumming.