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The Best Way to Play the Medium F Major Chord

Updated on September 14, 2011

To play Medium F (in first position) the first thing to do is to play a 1st finger barre over the high E and B strings on the first fret. If you need help doing that, consult my hub, The Best Way to Play the Small F Major Chord, and read up to the fourth paragraph’s notice, stating “continue here for The Best Way to Play the Medium F Major Chord”. That notice is a link bringing you back here to read to rest of this article.

(Continued from The Best Way to Play the Small F Major Chord)

After obtaining the 1st fret barre on the high E and B strings, the remaining notes of the chord are on the G, D, and A strings.

Let's briefly review the notes making up an F Major chord, then the notes that are in this particular version of F Major. An F Major chord consists of the notes F A C; that is its note-formula. However, the notes in this F chord are (read from bottom to top, just like you would Tablature), from A string to high E string:

High E string: F

B string: C

G string: A

D string: F

A string: C

Notice the two F notes and two C notes. Doesn’t matter though--this is still a bonafide F Major chord and the essential notes in any F chord are ____, ____, and _____. That's right: F, A, and C.

Med F Maj Chord in 1st position, Step 2.
Med F Maj Chord in 1st position, Step 2.

Back to the Medium F Chord.

Once you can repeatedly play the barred notes (F and C) cleanly and without a struggle it’s time to move on to the 2nd fret, G string. This is the note A. The challenge here is to maintain the barre while acquiring this new note with the second finger. To get the A note, arch your 2nd finger while barring F and C. This will take practice—possibly a week or two…it depends on your fret-hand and the effort you are putting in.

The next note to acquire will be the 3rd fret on the A string with the third finger (we are skipping the D string momentarily). This is the low C note. Work at getting this note only after you have secured the other three. Rushing will only lead to frustration.

...Step 3.
...Step 3.

To get the low C, place your third finger on the 3rd fret of the A string while maintaining the barre on the high E / B strings as well as holding down the 2nd fret of the G string with the second finger. Make sure the C note on the 1st fret of the B string doesn't die out on you.

...That's all folks!
...That's all folks!

The next and last note to obtain is F on the D string.To get this note, put your pinky on the 3rd fret of the D string, making sure the the previously acquired notes (on the other four strings) ring clearly once struck. As usual, this might take a week or two to get. You have to put in the time to get it. But once you do, Medium F Major will soon be yours.


Do not switch the third and pinky fingers, as tempting as this may be if/when trying to play this chord gets difficult. I have seen students do this—put the pinky on the A string note and the third finger on the D string note—and it might be tempting but it’s bad news. The only reason it seems like it can be done in first position is because that is the widest fret. Try applying that ‘swapping fingers’ method to a VII (seventh) or X (tenth) position chord with the same form as Middle F. It's just not correct form (hey, the guitar offers tons of options but this just isn't one of them).

(fast forward) So, how long did it take you to reel in Medium F?

By the way, If you're feeling extra confident and you'd like to learn the Big F Major chord right now, visit my hub, Passing the Barre: The Best Way to Play Big F Major.

-6 String Veteran

Just Two Questions, Really...

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