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This seems to be a common theme among newbie guitarists ... I hear a lot of guitarists who say that mastering the "F" chord is kicking their butts. 

Why?

I know that it requires that you barre the bottom two strings with your index finger which is something unfamiliar and uncomfortable for most of us at first.  But, I can't remember it holding me back for more than a couple of weeks.

My son, who is just learning, is getting pretty good ... at any song he tries ... that doesn't have an "F" chord in it, LOL.

Unfortunately, he is consciously picking songs that don't require an "F", even though I try to insist that mastering the "F" is absolutely essential to become a competent guitarist.

So, did you have a lot of trouble with the "F" at first"

Are you STILL having a lot of trouble with the "F" ...

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"B7" was a nightmare for me until I became determined to play "Peaceful Easy Feeling" by the Eagles, in which "B7" is an integral part ... bottom line, through repetition, I know hit "B7" cleanly 98% of the time.  I can still remember when it was the chord from hell, though.

"Oh Holy Night" needs a B7 - and "What Child is This?" - however, I have a version of "Peaceful Easy Feeling" that has no B7 therein...woo hoo!

I'll bet yours sounds better, though... ;-)

Mine is played fingerstyle - if you can imagine...

Yeah, that B7 chord is the one that got a young George Harrison in John Lennon's band.

I agree, the F gave me the greatest trouble until the B7 came onto the scene. I've been repeating the B7 for some time now and still don't hit it as cleanly as I'd like. It'll come in time...

Anyway, I've gotten to the point where I play F both ways (little and barre). However, recently, I've begun practicing little F but with a thumb wraparound to get the 6th string. In this way, the pinky is free for chord embellishments and the only muted string is the A string. Apparently, this is how Jimi Hendrix played an F and as such slid it up and down using his pinky to embellish the heck out of all his chords. I think Tommy Emmanuel uses this same or similar technique. My thumb doesn't quite play the 6th string cleanly every time, but it's getting there.

Everything is practice, practice, practice!

Fortunately, I am just able to catch the top string with my thumb to sound a nice clean full 6-string "F" ... it's the one thing I can do without much trouble that is better than a lot of far superior guitarists!  I guess we take our "wins" where we can get them, huh?

 

BTW, my Sarah Jarosz tix came in the mail yesterday.  Took about a week.  YOu get yours yet?

Stephan Stills said that Jimi Hendrix used to tell him to just throw his thumb over the top, funny thing is Stills' thumb isn't long enough to go over the top.

Now you need to go read that AG article with the tab to Run Away. Check that alternate tuning she uses on it. It was frustrating the heck out of me trying learn it before I saw that article, so I do it slightly different in G, approching the chorus with a sort of Blackbird open fingering to it. Maybe I'll find some time to record it and share it.

@Jud: Mine are at will call. Can't wait!!

I didn't have too much trouble with it myself. My first guitar was a short scale Harmony electric, so it was easier to learn on it than a chunky necked acoustic back then. Also, a lot of the British Invasion tunes I was listening to used barre chords in them, so we had to learn that shape. Now, I do struggle making that F using my thumb on the 6th string 1st fret. I don't stress over it though, as I can make that barre shape pretty fast, or just use this one, with a C in the bass, just the top 4 strings

String 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1
Fret... X - 3 - 3 - 2 - 1 - 1.
Finger X - 3 - 4 - 2 - 1 - 1

In any case I don't see any harm in avoiding the F chord in the beginning, but you do have to learn that shape eventually. Of couse if you play with a capo, you can avoid it entirely for those 1-4-5 folk tunes ---- G-C-D or D-G-A Now, seems like I had a harder time with the Bb on the 1st fret using the A shape when I started.

The fret board really opened up for me when I learned how to barre.  Interesting things happen when you start working your way up the neck.  If you ever watch Stephan Stills play For What It's Worth he plays the E chord in the verses by barring the forth fret and playing an open C chord. The chord is 4-5-4-6-7-x.  It really has a growl to it, but its still kicks my butt to play it.

Barre chords have their place, of course - you can't really play "Pinball Wizard" without them - but, as primarily a fingerstylist, I try to avoid them. When strumming, they are very convenient. And, they are not as much fun on a 12 - but practice will help that, too ;-)

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