The Famous F Chord on Guitar

One of my beginning guitar students is working on her “F Chord" and it prompted me to make a few comments about this. (I’m also piloting some note-reading materials on one of my more advanced students. We’re doing a study of dynamics at the moment. Great fun!)

I’ve spoken to a number of people about this dreaded F Chord. Many of them quit playing guitar at an early age because of this chord, though some learned to play it without much difficulty.

The F Chord is one of the more difficult chords for a beginner to learn, UNLESS it is approached gradually in many “bite-sized” chunks. I have about five or six steps that lead up to the full chord. Most of the time, without these set-up steps it’s almost impossible to learn, or minimally entail a lot of unneeded grief and finger/wrist straining.

So, I just wanted to point this out: it can take from four to eight weeks to learn a “full” F Chord on the guitar. Some learn it faster and some take longer—however it goes.

But what I want you to realize, is that it can take some time and this is normal. If it doesn’t come to you in a few days or weeks it does not mean you are unable, a klutz or not meant to be a guitar player. Fingers bend in different ways, some joints are loser then others and it just means that it can be a challenge.

Please forward this to any of your friends who have suffered with the F Chord! It will make them feel better.


This is very, very rare, but on the other side of the coin: I had a beginning guitar student years ago who played everything perfectly the first time. His left hand did all my exercises and chords without any effort and it blew me away. (It was slow, but perfect.)

He looked at me and said, “Are you surprised I can do these things right away?” I said, “As a matter of fact I am.” He said, “You forget what I do for a living.” “You’re a magician,” I replied. He said, “You’re right. But what kind?” “I don’t know,” I replied.

The student got a smug little grin on his face and replied, “Sleight of hand!”

This guy could shuffle a deck of cards in each hand at the same time and do all of that amazing magician stuff. Talk about finger dexterity!

Since very few of us are sleight of hand magicians… the F Chord can take time so don’t worry about it. Just make sure you are approaching it with care.

Marty B.
(818) 242-7551
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