Bob_Teaching_webMost guitar curriculum begins by teaching the natural notes that fall within the Key of C. It is hard to create ensembles in that key because the F chord is so prominent in the rhythm part. Try these variations of the F chord to help make the Key of C come to life. I have often substituted just the F bass note when necessary.

The F chord is one of the most difficult taught in a first-year class. There are no open strings in the F chord, a trademark feature of chords like C, G, D7, G7 and Em, making it tough to execute and produce a good sound.

By having a select group of students play some form of the F chord, many tunes can be played in the key of C which will allow you to program wonderful ensemble material with melody, rhythm, and bass for practice and/or performance.

Above are four examples of the F chord, each with its own set of challenges.











Ex. 1 – This example is somewhat like the C chord. Students have had their hand in this position since week one and might find it the most comfortable to play. Be sure to remind students that only three strings are sounding–4, 3, and 2.

Ex. 2 – This example presents a new challenge for the left hand. Finger one has to create a small bar across strings 1 & 2 in the first fret area. Finger two plays the note on string 3 in the second fret area. This “mini bar chord” might be possible for your better students. Be sure to remind them that only three strings are sounding — 3, 2, and 1.

Ex. 3 – This is often referred to as “the small F chord.” This is probably the hardest of all the examples. While finger one creates the small bar across strings 1 & 2 in the first fret area, fingers two and three are also fretting notes on strings 3 & 4. This is an awkward hand position of beginners. Be sure to remind the students that only four strings are sounding – 4, 3, 2, and 1.

Ex. 4 – This is the full bar chord position for the F chord. If some of your more advanced students have been playing power chord/rock songs, this example might be achievable for them. This position also includes the low F bass note, on string 6, which can give the illusion of the the F chord by itself.

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