September 2013

Learning Guitar – Equipment You’ll Need to Get Started

Fender Stratocaster GuitarsSo, you’re thinking about learning how to play guitar and wondering what equipment you’ll need to get started. Obviously, the most important piece of equipment you’ll need is the guitar itself. But what kind should you buy… acoustic or electric?

The type of guitar you’ll choose depends primarily on your musical interests and long-term goals. Generally speaking, if you want to play heavy metal, rock n’ roll, or blues guitar and like artists such as… John Mayer, Eric Clapton, BB King, Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Jimi Page, etc… then an electric guitar is probably the best choice.

On the other hand, if you prefer country, folk, fingerstyle or classical music and like artists such as… Willie Nelson, James Taylor, Don Ross, Christopher Parkening, Alex de Grassi, etc… then an acoustic guitar would be better.

Once you’ve decided on the type of guitar you will buy, the next important step is to get the right size. Pick a guitar that feels comfortable in your hand and doesn’t require any awkward contortion of your body in order to strum directly over the sound-hole.

Here is a list of some other equipment that you will also want to have…

– guitar case
– several picks – (thin, medium, and hard gauge)
– guitar strap
– guitar tuner
– guitar stand
– extra strings
– cleaning cloth
– bottle of guitar polish
– chord reference book
– small amp (electric and acoustic/electric guitars)
– guitar chord

Before spending any money at all though, you should consider what method you’re going to use to learn how to play the guitar. For example, are you going to teach yourself, or find a guitar teacher?

If you plan on teaching yourself, then I recommend you find a good program or book that will help you build a solid foundation. Everything will fall into place more naturally if you take it one step at a time and I think you’ll find that the learning process will be much easier for you.

On the other hand, if you try learning guitar from random bits of information that you gather here, there and everywhere, you might end up becoming frustrated and decide to quit altogether.

Taking guitar lessons from a qualified teacher will give you the advantage of having personal, one on one attention, which can help you progress at a faster pace. The downside is the cost. Private guitar lessons can be expensive, so you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons before making your final decision. What can you afford? Try to set some priorities in advance.

In the final analysis, the most important piece of equipment you need to get started learning how to play is the right guitar.

Your second priority should be choosing the right method of instruction that is most suitable for your particular situation and learning preferences.

Once you have these two basic elements in place, the rest of the equipment you may need can be added as soon as you can afford it.

Author Bio:

Kathy Unruh has over 25 years experience teaching guitar. She created the AbcLearnGuitar eBook specifically for beginners. This step by step instruction manual includes, chord charts, tab. and video to help students of all ages get started playing guitar as quickly and easily as possible.

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The Guitar Practice Juggling Act

Practicing GuitarThere will probably be times when it will seem like your guitar practice is more of a juggling act than a regular routine. The demands of work and other responsibilities just get in the way and make it hard to manage time effectively.

It might be a little comforting to know that you are not alone in this struggle. Other students have told me about the problem they are having in this area. And recently, I must confess, this is exactly how my own experience has been too.

One person wrote…

I have been trying my best to get effective although it is a life time process, The reason is that some times i have along lack of practise like now my guitar Brock all the strings and I have to replace them another thing is that being a missionary is a hard responsibility and I am hoping to finish my mission here in Jamaica this coming March then return to my native home Kenya in Africa, before playing the guitar full time.

Isn’t that the way it goes? Just when you finally get a chance to practice your guitar… all the strings break- bummer!

Notice the other points that were mentioned…

* long periods of time in between practicing

* other responsibilities get in the way

* having to put practice off to some future date

Sound familiar?

It’s easy to feel frustrated when things like this happen, but believe me, frustration only creates more tension and makes the problem worse! The key thing to take note of when it comes to guitar practice is that…

it is a life time process

One of the most important ingredients you will need to establish in your mind during the whole process of learning how to play the guitar is found in the word: commitment.

Commitment will keep you coming back again and again, no matter how many times your practice schedule gets interrupted. But without this ingredient firmly established in your thinking you will eventually give up!

So, how do you stay committed in order to reach your goal? It’s simple really…

1. Remember that you are learning how to play the guitar, so try to keep it fun.

2. Decide today that you are going to be committed to learning how to play the guitar

Then just do it, no matter what!

Author Bio:
Kathy Unruh is the author of the AbcLearnGuitar eBook
She has been teaching guitar to students of all ages for over 25 years.
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Learning Guitar – 5 Essential Elements

Learn & Master GuitarEveryone who has a desire to learn how to play guitar will find that it basically boils down to 5 essential elements…

1. Guitar Chords

Chords are one of the most essential elements of learning guitar. That is why I believe that every guitarist can benefit from having a good Guitar Chord Encyclopedia or chord dictionary. A chord encyclopedia will help you learn how to play every type of chord imaginable.

These learning tools can be found online of course, but it’s also a good idea to have a chord book or DVD that you can refer to when you are away from your computer. This will make it easier for you to reference chords when you are practicing, learning a new song, or simply jamming with your friends.

2. Guitar Scales

You have probably already heard that scales are the backbone of any guitar method, so you’ll want to have some information at your disposal on how to use them. It’s easy to incorporate guitar scales as part of any practice routine and they are a great way to get your fingers warmed-up before playing. Scales will open up your understanding of the fretboard, provide the keys to improvisation, and pave the way for you to play licks and riffs in any style.

3. Guitar Songs

Most people want to learn how to play songs, so it’s nice to have at least a few songbooks on your shelf. I have many, but probably one of the best songbooks I own is: The Beatles Complete Scores. It gives the guitar tab, notation, chords and lyrics for each song they ever recorded. The only complaint I have is that the print is rather small. However, it is still a great reference tool because every Beatle song a person might want to learn is in one convenient location.

4. Guitar Styles

There are lots of different guitar styles, or genres, that you might like to try also, such as… Rock, Blues, Jazz, Classical, Finger-style, Folk, Celtic, Hawaiian, Country, Heavy Metal… just to name a few. Don’t try to learn them all at once. Pick a style you are interested in and try to learn as much as you can. If you discover that the style you chose is not your thing, try something else. When you find a style that you like, stick with it until you can actually play something well. It won’t do you any good to be jumping around from one style to the next. It’s important for you to develop the discipline of learning how to play a song, or piece of music, all the way through from beginning to end.

5. Guitar Techniques

As you are learning different songs and styles you will eventually be introduced to a wide variety of guitar techniques like… hammers, slides, pull-offs, bends, vibrato, tapping, tremolo… and the list goes on! Scales provide an excellent way to practice many techniques, but it’s usually more fun to learn how a technique is used when playing a song or specific guitar style.

As a guitarist, I am constantly reminded of how much there is to learn! I only wish there was enough time to go through all of the guitar resources that I have, let alone all that are available! It can be overwhelming sometimes!

I often find it helpful to simplify things because then I am able to focus in on what is most necessary… So, here is a quick and simple summary of the 5 essential elements (not necessarily in this particular order) for you to hone in on when learning how to play the guitar…

1. Guitar Chords
2. Guitar Scales
3. Guitar Songs
4. Guitar Styles
5. Guitar Techniques

Including these elements into your practice routine on a regular basis will help you develop into a well-rounded musician. It shouldn’t take too long before you begin to see an overall improvement in your playing.

Author Bio:

Kathy Unruh is the webmaster of AbcLearnGuitar.  Check it out today!

Any Body Can Learn Guitar – It’s as easy as ABC!

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Guitar Chord “Secrets” to Increase Speed

Guitar Chord SecretsOne of the biggest challenges that many beginning guitarists face is being able to move from one guitar chord to another quickly. This difficulty becomes apparent to anyone listening because the music will suddenly be interrupted by a long pause until the guitarist gets to the next chord and resumes playing.

Unfortunately, if this problem is not corrected and the guitarist continues falling behind the beat, the end result may be that their sense of rhythm remains undeveloped.

That sounds pretty serious and you might be wondering if there is a way to increase your speed in order to change guitar chords more efficiently?

The answer is yes! And today I’m going to share a few “secrets” that should make changing guitar chords much faster and easier for you.

1. The first secret I want to tell you about is called: Economy of Motion. It’s not really a “secret” among seasoned guitar players, and some of you may even remember me mentioning it before. But if you’re new to the art, then it will likely be an unfamiliar term.

Economy of Motion basically means that less is more. In other words, if you reduce the amount of movement to get from point A to point B, you will become faster and more efficient.

One of the ways you can apply Economy of Motion to your guitar chord changes, is by leaving your finger down on any string that is played in both the chord you’re on and the chord your moving to.

For example, your 3rd finger plays the 2nd string for both the A major chord and D major chord. So, instead of taking your 3rd finger off the string and placing it back down again when moving from one chord to the other, just slide it from the 2nd fret to the 3rt fret.

2. The next secret I want to share with you doesn’t have a name that I know of, but it is very easy to do and also very effective.

Let’s say you are strumming a 4/4 rhythm on the chord G and you just can’t seem to change to the chord C without missing the first beat. Here’s what to do…

* Hold the chord G and strum the first three beats.
* Lift your hand on the fourth beat and at the same time strum the open strings as you move to the chord C.
* Strum C on the first beat, second beat, and third beat.
* On the fourth beat lift your hand and at the same time strum the open strings as you move back to the G chord n time for the first beat.
* Continue on in this manner while gradually increasing your speed (tempo).

Put these secrets into practice this week and you should see a marked improvement on your chords changes.


Author Bio:

Kathy Unruh is a singer/songwriter and webmaster of ABC Learn Guitar.



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Guitar Strings – Understanding Their Differences

Guitar StringsDeciding which guitar strings to use for your particular guitar can be a bit confusing if you don’t know what you’re looking for. To begin with, there are many different brands to choose from… Martin, Ernie Ball, LaBella, Augustine, Fender, D’Addario, Elixir, GHS, Guild… and the list goes on.

In addition to this, there are various designs, types, gauges and materials used in the manufacture of guitar strings. So, where do you begin?

The first thing you need to know is what type of guitar you have.

When you walk into a music shop you’ll typically see a wide selection of guitar strings displayed along the wall. They are usually divided into two distinct groups, or types…


1. Nylon Strings – designed for Classical and “Flamenco” guitars.

2. Steel Strings – designed for Acoustic and Electric guitars.


The materials used in the making of guitar strings are selected on the basis of their intended use…

Classical and Flamenco guitars are plucked with the fingers and originally used “cat gut” for strings. Now they have 3 treble strings which are made of clear mono-filament nylon, and 3 bass strings which have a nylon multi-filament core. The bass strings are commonly wrapped with a silver-plated copper, bronze, or some similar alloy.

Acoustic and Electric guitar strings have a steel core because they are commonly (but not exclusively) strummed or played with a pick.

Acoustic Guitars – have strings that are commonly wrapped with bronze, or brass.
Electric Guitars – have strings that are usually wrapped with a nickel-plated steel, nickel/iron, stainless steel, or other alloy (copper,bronze, zinc).

Bronze and brass strings have a bright, bell like tone. Phosphor bronze are very bright and have a quick response. However, I have noticed that they tend to lose their bright tone rather quickly.


When you pick up a box of steel strings at the music store you’ll see that they are identified as either…


This designation refers to how thick the strings are in diameter. The specs for each string are usually provided on the back of the box.

When deciding on the gauge of strings to buy you will want to consider three basic things…

1. Volume
2. Tone
3. Playability

Light – are easy to play, but the tonal quality may suffer, resulting in poor volume and/or string buzz.
Heavy – produce more volume, but the string tension makes playability difficult, especially if you are a beginner.
Medium – fall somewhere in-between, so you might say they provide a “happy medium” for a lot of people. =)

My suggestion is to steer clear of extra-light gauge strings. They are weird to play and don’t produce a good sound- at least, that has been my experience.

Nylon strings have two main designations…

Normal Tension – easy to play, decent volume and tone.
Hard Tension – harder to play, better tone and volume overall.

The regular Light-Gauge steel strings and Normal Tension nylon are a good choice for beginners in my opinion, but I recommend sticking with a “name brand” you recognize to insure better quality, sound performance and to guard against breaking, unraveling, etc.

The string brands I am currently using right now are…

Elixir – on my steel string acoustic guitars.
D’Addario – on my nylon string classical guitars
Fender – on my electric guitars.

When it comes to strings the saying is true that… you generally do get what you pay for.


There are 3 basic designs for steel strings…

1. Round-wound – these produce a broad tonal response and sustain. They are bright sounding with rich harmonies.

2. Flat-wound – are designed to reduce finger noise. They have a very smooth feel, but have a duller “mid-range” sound and less sustain.

3. Ground-wound – These strings are the “middle of the road” and attempt to incorporate the features of both the Round-wound and Flat-wound designs.

Keep these things in mind the next time you are preparing to get new strings for your guitar and perhaps it will help make your decision a little easier!

Kathy Unruh is the author of the AbcLearnGuitar eBook.
She has been teaching guitar to students of all ages for over 25 years.

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Guitar Tab Vs Music Notation

Reading Guitar TabulatureTablature (commonly referred to as tab) is a very popular method for transcribing guitar music into written form. The reason for it’s popularity is likely because most people find tab much easier to read and understand than standard music notation.

In my experience as a teacher I’ve noticed that students who want to learn how to play guitar, tend to grasp the concept of how to read tab more quickly than they grasp the concept of how to read notes on a staff. I think this is primarily due to the simple structure of tablature and how it relates to the guitar.

If you really want to learn how to read tab there are only three basic things you need to know about the guitar…

1. How the strings are numbered
2. How the frets are numbered
3. How to move up & down

On the other hand, music notation is more abstract and complex.

A student who wants to learn how to read music needs to understand how to identify…

  • Lines on a Staff
  • Spaces on a Staff
  • Note Values
  • Notes on a staff
  • Notes on the guitar neck
  • Time Signatures
  • Key Signatures
  • Rests
  • Measures
  • Repeat Signs

and more…

Now it might appear to the casual reader that guitar tab is superior to music notation. But actually, and perhaps contrary to popular opinion, quite the opposite is true. The plain fact of the matter is… tab just doesn’t have as extensive a vocabulary as music notation has.

Tab may be easier to read, but it is very limited when it comes to providing the tools that are necessary for expressing the full breadth of a musical composition. One of the most obvious tools lacking in tab is a method for counting time. Tab must rely on the note values used in standard music notation to solve this problem!

However, with that said, I need to acknowledge that there are additional symbols that are used in tab to indicate specific techniques such as slides, hammers, pull-offs, and so forth.

So should you choose one method over the other? Absolutely not. Whether you are a guitar player, composer, songwriter, or all three… It is in your best interest to learn as much as you can about both of them!

Thankfully, there are many resources available to help you, such as online guitar lessons, books, CDs, DVDs, and private instruction. Try to take advantage of as many of these resources as you can. After-all, having a commitment to continuing education is the key to your success!


Kathy Unruh is the webmaster of ABC Learn Guitar. She has over 20 years experience as a guitar teacher and is currently offering lessons online for students of all ages.



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Barre Chords – Make Them Easier to Play!

C Major Barre ChordPlaying barre chords is just one of the many challenges that an emerging guitarist will have to face during the course of their education. Will you be able to conquer this giant when it comes along, or will you give up in defeat?

Before you answer that question, let me just say that barre chords can be a real monster- especially if you have small hands. In fact, some guitar players (including professionals) avoid playing them altogether!

So, there is no shame in admitting that barre chords can be difficult to play, but that doesn’t mean they are impossible. The key to success is having a plan and sticking with it until you win.

Here are some tips for tackling the barre chord “monster”…

1. The first thing you can do to make it easier to play barre chords is to check the action on the guitar you’ll be using. If the strings are set too high you might want to lower the action in order to make the chords easier to play.

2. Another way to reduce the difficulty of barre chords is by using a capo. This will automatically lower the action so that you won’t need to apply as much pressure to the strings. I suggest you place the capo on the 2nd fret if you are unfamiliar with using one as this will look similar to playing without one.

3. Use a half-barre, or partial barre, before trying to play a full barre chord.

Below are some examples using the F Minor chord…


Lay your first finger across the first three strings at the first fret. Strum only the strings you are pushing down. Do not strum the open strings.


Partial Barre: (This title is being used in this instance only to distinguish it from the Half-Barre shown above)

Lay your first finger across all the strings on the first fret. Strum all six strings.


Full Barre:

Lay your first finger across all six strings at first fret. Add your third finger to the fifth string at the third fret and your fourth finger to the fourth string at the third fret. Strum all six strings.



Hold the Half-Barre Shape at the first fret and strum the chord one time.

Move the Half-Barre to the second fret and strum one time.

Continue on in this manner up to the fifth fret, then move back to the first, one fret at a time.

Repeat this exercise using the other barre chord shapes.


Do not overdue this exercise! The idea is to build your strength gradually overtime.

If you practice this exercise a little each day, for maybe 5-10 minutes max, you should begin to notice an improvement and barre chords will become easier to play.

Kathy Unruh has been providing guitar lessons to students of all ages for over 20 years. She is the author of the AbcLearnGuitar eBook which is specifically designed for beginners and includes video, chord charts, songs, tab, scales and more.

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5 Top-Rated Guitar Accessories Any Guitarist Can Use

Guitar AccessoriesGuitar players always seem to be on the lookout for some new book, gadget, item, or other piece of equipment. I think that’s because, as musicians, we have a desire to sound good, look cool, and be able to develop our skills to the best of our ability. Having the right equipment is important because it enables us to do just that.

So, I’ve created a list of the 5 top-rated guitar accessories that every guitarist can use. These items are relatively inexpensive and make excellent gifts too…


1. Capo:

There are basically two types of capos- those that clamp on and those that have a band which wraps around the neck. The second type mentioned either has an elastic band that stretches tight, or a web type material which locks in place. Both types of capos have a flat surface (usually rubber) that lays across the top of the guitar strings. There is also another type of capo that has recently been designed to facilitate open tunings.

  • Shubb Capo – I have tried other capos, but this is the one I prefer. It was designed for steel-string acoustic guitars and electric guitars, but I also use it on my classical guitars. Very simple, fast and easy to use. It is also very stable so the strings will stay in tune.

2. Gig Bag / Guitar Case:

A “gig bag” is a soft shell guitar case as opposed to a hard shell case. Soft shell cases have been greatly improved in recent years and now provide better protection than they used to because the materials are much stronger. These cases are a good choice for anyone who is on a limited budget. However, they will not protect the guitar from damage due to dropping or being knocked around as well as a hard shell case would.

    • World Tour’s Deluxe 20mm Series Gig Bag – This is a top-of-the-line, professional quality bag. It is designed and built for the rigors of the road with twenty mm of high-density padding on all sides and covered with a water resistant, PVC-backed Cordura exterior material. The interior is a fine scratch-proof Cordura.
    • Gator GCELEC Deluxe Molded Universal Electric Guitar Case – Made of rugged ABS construction to handle the battle of the road, yet the interior is fitted with “Class A” plush. The case is also lockable and features a bolt-through system, which bonds the exterior to the interior at the handle.
  • Gator GC-Dread Deluxe Molded Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Case – The Gator GC-Dread uses ABS construction and offers great protection for your guitar. It’s also lockable and features the patent pending bolt-through system which bonds the interior to the exterior at the handle. The case has a Class A plush interior, plus an accessory pocket, for your capo, extra strings, tuner, picks, etc.

3. Tuner:

Tuners come in all shapes and sizes, everything from a simple tuning fork to a real time virtual strobe technological device will get the job done. My first guitar tuner was a pitch pipe, which I still have and sometimes use. One thing that I’ve noticed about a pitch pipe though, is that some guitar students can’t match the pitch pipe tone to their strings! They discover that it’s much easier to tune their guitar with my digital chromatic tuner because the needle automatically tells them when the string is at the correct pitch.

  • Korg TM 40 Chromatic Tuner and Metronome – This is a great guitar accessory because you get both a metronome and a tuner in one unit. The TM 40 “…provides quick and accurate coverage of a wide spectrum of notes and pitches…” and is the perfect practice tool for any musician, especially the beginner guitarist.

4. Guitar Maintenance Kit:

There are only two things you really need in order to clean your guitar… a cleaning cloth and guitar polish. These items are inexpensive and can be purchased at your local music store. You do not want to use household furnisher polish or oil products. I once had a student who used Neat’s Foot Oil to clean and “condition” his guitar neck. Needless to say, his new strings were ruined.

  • Dunlop System 65 Guitar Maintenance Kit– The kit contains 5 bottles of Dunlop’s guitar care products along with instructions, a microfine fret polishing cloth and two 100% cotton cloths. This guitar maintenance kit is a good choice for any guitar player who wants to keep their instrument in tip-top condition.

5. Guitar Strings:

It’s a good idea to stay away from cheap guitar strings simply because they break and don’t sound good for very long. You will actually save money by investing in better quality strings. It’s generally safe to stick with brand names you recognize like: Martin, D’Addario, Fender, Guild, LaBella, GHS…

    • Elixir Nanoweb Acoustic Guitar Strings – These are the strings I’ve been using on my steel string acoustic guitar lately. They produce a nice, bright sound and have a tendency to last longer, so you save money in the long run by not having to buy strings as often. Their patented coating technology prevents contamination and corrosion.
  • Darco Electric Guitar Strings (12 Pack) – Designed for rock and jazz by the C.F Martin company, these strings offer quality, durability, & cost savings all in one neat little package. The nickel plating provides great tarnish resistance and is a perfect complement to magnetic pickups.

Guitar accessories and more are available at: Best Beginner Guitar Lessons Online Store

Kathy Unruh began playing guitar more than 35 years ago and has over 25 years experience as a guitar teacher. You can try one of her free beginner guitar lessons at: ABC Learn Guitar.

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Guitar Positions – Learn How to Identify Them

Learning to Play Scales on GuitarGuitar positions… What are they? If you’re scratching your head because you’ve never even heard of such a thing, please read on…

Did you know that musical scales, notes and chords can be written and played in different positions on the fretboard? Therefore, most beginning guitar players usually start with learning the notes and chords associated in and around first position. By using this approach it becomes much easier to learn each consecutive position.

All guitar positions on the fretboard are identified by the first finger of the fretting hand. The fingers of the guitarist’s fretting hand (most commonly the left) are numbered as follows:

  • 1 = Index
  • 2 = Middle
  • 3 = Ring
  • 4 = Pinkie

First position on the guitar covers all the notes of each string on the first four frets.

When playing in first position…

  • The 1st finger of your fretting hand plays any note that occurs on the first fret of any string.
  • The 2nd finger of your fretting hand plays any note that occurs on the second fret of any string.
  • The 3rd finger… plays the third fret
  • The 4th finger… plays the fourth fret

To play in second position, you simply shift all the fingers of your fretting hand up one fret. When you do this your first finger will be directly over the second fret.

When playing in second position…

  • The 1st finger… plays the second fret
  • The 2nd finger… plays the third fret
  • The 3rd finger… plays the fourth fret
  • The 4th finger… plays the fifth fret

Identifying guitar positions with the first finger only applies to single notes, not chords. When you form a chord you have to play several notes at a time. That means your first finger will often have to move to a different fret in order to play the chord.

However, there are chords and scales related to each guitar position within the same general area of the fretboard. But we will save that discussion for another time.

Why not take some time this week to get familiar with your guitar by learning the notes in first position.

Guitar Position Playing Tips:

1. Play and say the notes on each string until you have them all memorized.

2. Be sure to keep the first knuckle bent as you press down on the string using the tip of each finger.

3. When you are first starting out, do not hold the previous finger down on the fret as you add the next finger. Instead, lift and place each finger down on each fret, one at a time. This will help you develop coordination and dexterity in your movements.

4. After you have become familiar with the exercise and are able to move easily while producing a clear tone, then try keeping each finger down as you add the next one. This will begin to stretch your fingers.


Be careful not to force your fingers to stretch beyond their current capabilities as you might strain your hand. Take time to get used to moving your fingers across the guitar fretboard and only do as much as you are comfortable with.

Author Bio:

Kathy Unruh has been providing guitar lessons to students of all ages for over 20 years. For more free guitar tips, please visit:


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The F Major Chord – 4 Easy Guitar Playing Tips

Playing the F Chord on GuitarDo you have trouble playing the F Major Chord on your guitar? If so, you are not alone. Most beginners have trouble forming certain guitar chords, especially this one!

The reason that the F chord is so difficult to play is because you have to fret two notes with your first finger instead of fretting just one. This requires a lot more strength and coordination to execute properly and still produce a clear tone!

And, to make matters worse… if you are using a steel-string acoustic guitar it becomes even harder to play the chord because the strings are heavier than the strings that are used on other types of guitars.

So, before we go any further, here are 4 Simple Guitar Tips to follow that will make things a little easier for you…

1. Use light gauge guitar strings.
2. Practice on an electric or a nylon stringed classical guitar, rather than on an acoustic steel string guitar.
3. Play an F Major triad shape instead of using the full chord.
4. Use F Maj7 as a substitute chord

Using Triad Chord Shapes:

All triads are comprised of 3 tones that, when played together, form a specific chord.

For example…

  • The three tones that form an F Major chord are F A C
  • These tones are found in the chord on the first three strings
  • F and C are on the first and second string. They are pushed down together with your first finger on the first fret
  • A is played with your second finger on the third string of the second fret.

When playing this triad shape, just lay your first finger down across the first two strings. This is a semi-barre and it will help you develop the necessary finger strength for playing a full barre later. You should only strum the strings that your fingers are pushing down on the fretboard. Do not strum any open strings.


1. Practice moving this triad shape up and down the neck. Once you are able to get a clear tone using the triad, add the third and fourth fingers to form the full chord.

2. Practice moving the full chord shape up and down the neck just as you did with the triad.

After you can produce a clear tone and easily switch chords, try the barre chord shape with the same exercises.

Using the Major 7 Chord As A Substitute:

If you want to play a song that has an F major chord, but are finding it too difficult, just use FMaj7 as a substitute until your fingers get stronger.

It’s easy to transition from an F major chord to an FMaj7. Simply REMOVE your first finger from the first string and you will have the FMaj7 chord! It’s easy to play and sounds good too!

Here are two simple chord progressions:

C | F Maj7 | G7 | C

C | F Triad | G7 | C

By incorporating these exercises into your practice routine you will begin to develop finger stretch and strength over a gradual period of time.

Author Bio:

Kathy Unruh is the author of AbcLearnGuitar Ebook.     She has been providing guitar lessons to students of all ages for over 20 years.

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