A Better Way to Master the F Barre Chord

As a newbie on the guitar, one of the hardest and most frustrating chords you’ll encounter is the F barre. It’s nothing like other beginner chords such as A or G or E. Instead, you’ve gotta contort your fingers into an awkward position that strains your hand and wrist.

Even when you get it “right” – the F chord often sounds bad. And for many amateur players, quitting is the easiest option. In fact, the F barre chord is one of the most popular exit ramps for guitarists.

And if you’re also struggling with this chord, you might be tempted to quit as well.

But before you do – there’s one more practice hack you should try. Below is the method I used to lock down the F barre chord on guitar. But it also works with other tough chords – including E on the ukulele.

1. Pick a Target Song That Uses F Major

The first step is to choose a song that uses chords you already know + F major. If you’re reading this, you probably have a tune in mind already. But for demo purposes, we’ll use “And I Love Her” by the Beatles. And the version we’ll be playing uses the 6 beginner guitar chords – Dm, Am, F, G, C, and Em.

2. Find Other Songs with the Same Chords

Using this free search engine, you can quickly find other songs that use our 6 target chords. Just do a search of Dm, Am, F, G, C, and Em – and you’ll discover several hundred songs that use those exact chords.

Here’s a sample search.

If we wanted to play music in the same vein as “And I Love Her” – we might end up with a list like the following:

Notice that every song in our list uses some exclusive combination of our original chords. Equally important, they all have an F major.

3. Cycle Through These Songs At Your Leisure

The above songs represent our practice set for the next week (or month). And every day, we’d pick a different tune to work on.

Obviously, boredom won’t be an issue since we have so much music to choose from, including:

  • Short songs with only 1 or 2 chords.
  • Long songs with 5 or 6 chords.

But the beauty of this approach is that you’ll always be practicing the F barre – no matter what song you’re working on.

Almost every tune will sound bad the very first time you sweep through your list. The F barre chord is a tough nut to crack. But you’ll eventually arrive at your first song again – 10 or 12 days later. And when you sit down to play it a second time, it’ll sound better. It’ll also be much easier to play.

Again, you haven’t touched this tune in more than a week. But you have been playing the underlying chords non-stop (in the context of other songs). And so everything comes together a little more smoothly.

During your 3rd pass through your practice list, every tune will sound even better. And it’s just a matter of working through your list again and again until F major becomes easier and easier.

Eventually, moving to and from this barre chord will become automatic.

And as an added bonus, you also walk away with 10+ new songs to add to your repertoire. That’s not a bad return on investment – given that you only really learned a single new chord (F major).

So give it a try. If you’re struggling with F (or any tough chord), head over to the Chord Genome Project and start finding songs to practice.

Good luck. And happy strumming.

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