Alright guys, it’s F minor time! Whoop! Whoop! Wait, why am I so excited? I don’t even like this chord, B minor’s way better…
Ah well, I guess I’ll talk about it anyway.
So today I’ll be going over 5 easy ways that you can play an F minor chord on guitar to get you ripping up those chord progressions.
F Minor Shape 1 – The E Shape
E shape? What the heck does E have to do with any of this…
Aha! Well, start by playing an E minor chord like this:
Notice how the bass note is the open low E string, which is obviously an E note. From there, we build a chord shape using the other strings, right?
So that means, if we use the F note on the 1st fret of the E string as our bass note, and we slide all the notes in this Em shape up 1 fret with it, we’d get an F minor chord:
And there’s your first shape! We call it the E shape because it’s just an E minor chord shifted upwards. But to play this shape, and all F minor shapes actually, we’ll have to bar with our 1st finger.
So to do that, you’ll want to flatten down the underside edge of your index finger down across the 1st fret so that it presses down the low E string, and GBE strings too.
Tried it yet? Good, you’ll have realized that it’s practically impossible to play by now. I mean, whoever came up with that shape deserves to stub their toe on something.
So most of us guitarists will simplify this shape down to make it easier to play. We’ll either drop the bass note:
Or drop two notes, and just start the shape from the F note an octave higher:
Both do the same job, so pick whichever shape you prefer. Yup, you’ll still have to bar down those top 3 notes with your index finger, but it should now feel much easier.
And if this new bar chord thing is taking a lot of getting used to, then you can always simplify the shape down even further:
It’s got the notes of an F minor chord in, so it’s still an F minor chord. That means you can use it in a song the exact same way you’d use a full F minor shape.
This is great as long as barring notes feels new to you. But I’d recommend learning one of the two shapes above when possible.
You’ve Just Learnt to Play Every Minor Chord
Congratulations! You’ve just learnt one way that you can play every single minor chord there is. But what do I mean by this…?
Well, we started with an open E string bass note, and built an E minor chord of that.
Then we shifted the shape up to the 1st fret so that the F note was our bass note instead, and built an F minor chord off that.
Sooooo, if we decide to use the Bb note on the 6th fret of the E string as our bass note for this shape instead… we’d get a Bb minor chord!
All we’d have to do is shift this exact shape that we used to play F minor up to the 6th fret, and we’d get a different minor chord.
Another is example is that there’s a C note on the 8th fret of the E string. If we shift this bar chord shape up to the 8th fret, and play it… Voilà! You’ve got a C minor chord.
We probably won’t play the root note on the E string note because it’s annoying, but we’re still at the fret that it would be if we did want to play it.
So bar chords are pretty cool, right? By learning the F minor shape, you’ve actually just learnt the generic E minor bar chord shape.
And we can even use this logic to build chords off an A string root note too.
F Minor Shape 2 – The A Shape
Knowing one way to play and F minor chord on guitar is great, but knowing two is even better!
When you start diving head first into bar chord progressions – which you’re now perfectly capable of – you’ll realize you have to move about when changing chords.
If two chords are close, like G minor and F minor, then this is easy. You just shift the E shape up or down a couple of frets.
But let’s say you were mid-progression, and had to switch from C minor to F minor. You’d play C minor at the 8th fret using one of the shapes that we’ve gone through…
But then F minor is frickin’ miles away on the 1st fret! And that chord change is making me wince just thinking about it.
But aha! There’s an F note on the 8th fret of the A string. If we built a chord using this as our bass note instead, we wouldn’t even have to change fret when switching between Cm and Fm.
So start by playing an A minor chord like this:
Then slide your fingers up 8 frets to the F note:
Then bar down your index finger on the 8th fret:
Booyakasha! That’s how you play an F minor bar chord in the A shape on guitar. And this shape is actually pretty nice to play, so there aren’t any real variations.
And like with the E shape, this isn’t really just an F minor chord shape.
This is the generic minor bar chord shape for the A string.
For example, there’s a C# note on the 4th fret of the A string. Copy and paste this shape onto the 4th fret and BAM! You get C# minor. Such is the magic of bar chords…
Tips for Practising These Bar Chord Shapes
Yup, I get it. Bar chords are not the easiest things in the world to get used to.
So here’s a couple of tips to make life easier:
- Squeeze a bouncy ball!
Okay, that sounds like it has as much to do with guitar as a unicorn does with a one legged squirrel. But trust me on this one.
Find a bouncy ball lying about from a shoddy Christmas cracker or something, and do reps of squeezing it. Like this:
This works and strengthens the pincer muscle, which is the muscle that your index finger bars notes with. So you can be practising bar chords without even playing your guitar!
And the best part is, you can do reps anywhere and everywhere. On the train, in the bus, on the loo…
- Learn the notes on the E string and A string.
If you really want to get the most bang for your buck with these F minor chord shapes, you’ll want to learn where to move them too to make a different minor chord.
And if you know the notes on the low E and A string, you’ll be able to make any minor chord you like, whenever you like. AND you’ll be set up for when you want to learn the other bar chord shapes, and start playing bar chord progressions.
- Use The Switch Method to practice the shapes:
This is my favourite way to learn new chord shapes, fast.
- Find 2 chords that you are trying to learn. E.g. Cm (E shape) and Fm (A shape)
- Switch between them continuously for a few minutes. Cm to Fm to Cm to Fm…
- Have a break and do it again until these changes feel comfortable.
- Add an extra chord to the mix. E.g. Dm (E shape)
- Switch from Cm to Fm to Dm to Cm to Fm to Dm for a few minutes
- Once this feels comfortable add another chord. E.g. Am (A shape)
And then once these 4 chords feel easy to switch between… Boom! You’re ready for the outside world.
The Chords of F Minor
Alright guys, to finish I’ll be showing you the chords in the key of F minor, along with some chord progressions to put everything to use. I mean, that’s why you wanted to learn it in the first place, right?
So here’s the chord scale of F minor:
The bold notes on the bottom show the different notes of an F minor scale. And underneath is the Roman numeral that shows whether each note’s chord should be major, minor or diminished in the key of F minor.
I’ll always draw one of these when writing a chord progression for whichever key I’m writing in. To make this one, I wrote the notes of an F minor chord vertically, and then filled in the F minor scale notes in order after each one. From there, I could look at the chord notes and figure out whether each chord would be major or minor.
And oh yeah, that top row shows which type of 7th you can add to each chord too if you’re feeling spicy.
So using this F minor chord scale grid, here’s a couple of progressions that you can try:
- i – iv – VI – VII (Fm – Bbm – Db – Eb)
- i – VI – VII – iv (Fm – Db – Eb – Bbm)
- i – v – III – VII (Fm – Cm – Ab – Eb)
And if you can play all that, then give yourself one mahoosive pat on the back.
Wrapping It Up
Muy bien! You now know not only how to play F minor on guitar, but any minor chord, in two different ways! And you didn’t even come here to learn that! So why the heck did I teach you it! And why am I using so many exclamation marks!
Sorry, bar chords just excite me. Anyway, hopefully you’re now enjoying the freedom to play any frickin’ minor chord, whenever the frick you want.
Bar chords seem scary on the outside, but once you get to know them, they’re kinda cool.
I’ve been Sam Olverson.
Have fun chording!
P.S. If you want to learn how to play the other bar chord shapes on guitar so that you can play chord progressions in any key, click here to view my post on that, and take your rhythm playing to a new level.