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Thread: Tips on reaching the F Chord

  1. #1

    Thumbs up Tips on reaching the F Chord

    I am having trouble reaching the F Chord, I am doing stretches and everything, and it just seems like my index finger just cant turn properly to reach that first fret. Anyone else have this problem? Any tips or hints you all could give me to help? I'm definitely by no means a hobbyist yet, just a novice loser. HAHA! I can't even play a whole song through yet, I'm trying though.

  2. #2
    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tips on reaching the F Chord

    Welcome to the forum jmcturnan. There is more than one way to play an F chord on the mandolin, and the only hint you give as to which one you are speaking of is that you mention index finger on the first fret; perhaps you are struggling with the first chord shape shown on this page? https://www.mandolincafe.com/cgi-bin.../ch.pl?chord=F

    Here is another shape that is not shown there: 2-3-3-5 (or 2-3-3-1) Unfortunately I don't have time to make a chart just now but those number represent the frets, first number shown is on the fat strings, last number is the skinny strings.

    And there are many other ways to play an F chord at different places on the neck. I rarely use the full F chord that you are trying. The F chord I play most of the time is the one indicated by the first set of numbers I mentioned. So here are my tips:

    1. Try other voicings (or chord shapes) when you learn a new chord. Eventually, you'll want to learn many ways of playing a chord, but in the beginning you need to find the most comfortable for you, personally.

    2. In general, as a beginner, nobody can play chords on a stringed instrument comfortably, cleanly and easily. It will take much practice to get your fingers to do what they are not used to doing. The good news is that with some practice, it just sort of happens one day, and afterwards you'll wonder why it ever seemed so difficult. So don't be discouraged, and keep practicing. Your index finger actually can catch the note on that first fret, you just don't know it, because that finger has not begun cooperating with your desire yet.
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    Default Re: Tips on reaching the F Chord

    I don't use/prefer the four finger chords in the music I play so..
    two finger F: 233x or 533x
    three finger F: 578x

    the chord I chose depends on sound, convienence and the shape of the proceeding chord

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  5. #4
    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tips on reaching the F Chord

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Wilson View Post
    the chord I chose depends on sound, convienence and the shape of the proceeding chord
    This is where you'll be headed, jmcturnan. Any competent musician will consider things like those in choosing a fingering for any chord. So the point is, again, there is more than one way to play an F chord. As an admitted early beginner (and we've all been there at one point), I'd say at this point all you need think about is learning the most comfortable shapes to play a song you like.

    From another thread:

    Choosing which voicing of a chord to use:
    When choosing which form to use for a chord, one must mitigate several factors.
    1. First is, the color or the character of voice. How does the chord sound in this particular piece? You want the voice that complements the best what you wish to say with the music.
    2. The second is, what chords come before or after this chord? You want to be able to flow from one form into another as easily and smoothly as possible. Also, you may want the bass note in the chord to proceed upward or downward from the previous chord for musical effect. Or the top note, etc. to do the same. So, context.
    3. Third, and least important overall, is how much difficulty do you have in fingering the chord to get a clean sound? Now this must of course be considered, and unfortunately, in the beginning it can be the #1 criterion for a student. But it should not be a long abiding criterion in any musician's career as a whole. It is well to remember that no chord at all is ever comfortable for a student to learn and use smoothly and cleanly. For that reason, it is always wise to learn variations -- new ways of playing chords -- and practice them in songs until they become second nature. In that way, the first two, more important musical criteria, can guide the musician in their choices.
    Last edited by Mark Gunter; Dec-05-2018 at 9:19am.
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    Default Re: Tips on reaching the F Chord

    Chord choice is a good topic, but you can't exercise choice if you can't reach the chords.

    The first fret is really useful; and worth getting your hand position correct so it is comfortable. I am guessing you have your hand turned palm facing you like guitar players. This works fine if the reaches are mainly across the fingerboard, but on mando the job is more like violin, where you need to reach along the neck, and back to the nut. This means you should rotate your hand with palm turning away from the neck. Here is the way to reach back to the first fret and also up to the seventh fret:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Default Re: Tips on reaching the F Chord

    That looks positively lethal
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    Default Re: Tips on reaching the F Chord

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    This is where you'll be headed, jmcturnan. Any competent musician will consider things like those in choosing a fingering for any chord. So the point is, again, there is more than one way to play an F chord. As an admitted early beginner (and we've all been there at one point), I'd say at this point all you need think about is learning the most comfortable shapes to play a song you like.

    From another thread:

    Choosing which voicing of a chord to use:
    When choosing which form to use for a chord, one must mitigate several factors.
    1. First is, the color or the character of voice. How does the chord sound in this particular piece? You want the voice that complements the best what you wish to say with the music.
    2. The second is, what chords come before or after this chord? You want to be able to flow from one form into another as easily and smoothly as possible. Also, you may want the bass note in the chord to proceed upward or downward from the previous chord for musical effect. Or the top note, etc. to do the same. So, context.
    3. Third, and least important overall, is how much difficulty do you have in fingering the chord to get a clean sound? Now this must of course be considered, and unfortunately, in the beginning it can be the #1 criterion for a student. But it should not be a long abiding criterion in any musician's career as a whole. It is well to remember that no chord at all is ever comfortable for a student to learn and use smoothly and cleanly. For that reason, it is always wise to learn variations -- new ways of playing chords -- and practice them in songs until they become second nature. In that way, the first two, more important musical criteria, can guide the musician in their choices.
    Good stuff, Mark. I've been working on voicings for several tunes I'm working on and have been contemplating opening a thread on it. Even though the OP is asking about the F chord, this helps greatly with creating the right sound for any piece.
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    Default Re: Tips on reaching the F Chord

    kung fu pinky stretch! Good eye Alan
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    Default Re: Tips on reaching the F Chord

    Thanks for all the tips, but how do I know which would be the right F? I'm no musician on string instruments to be honest. I played sax for a long time, but this is a lot harder to me.

  15. #10

    Default Re: Tips on reaching the F Chord

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post
    Chord choice is a good topic, but you can't exercise choice if you can't reach the chords.

    The first fret is really useful; and worth getting your hand position correct so it is comfortable. I am guessing you have your hand turned palm facing you like guitar players. This works fine if the reaches are mainly across the fingerboard, but on mando the job is more like violin, where you need to reach along the neck, and back to the nut. This means you should rotate your hand with palm turning away from the neck. Here is the way to reach back to the first fret and also up to the seventh fret:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	pinky stretch.jpg 
Views:	11 
Size:	379.9 KB 
ID:	173154
    Your picture helped tremendously, the placement of my thumb and pinky helped me position my index and ring finger to reach the frets. That gentleman in the pick though has a really long pinky finger. LOL

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  17. #11

    Default Re: Tips on reaching the F Chord

    There’s a reason they call it the “F” chord.

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    Default Re: Tips on reaching the F Chord

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Wilson View Post
    kung fu pinky stretch! Good eye Alan
    Click image for larger version. 

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    or could be the eye poke!
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    Default Re: Tips on reaching the F Chord

    Quote Originally Posted by jmcturnan View Post
    Thanks for all the tips, but how do I know which would be the right F? I'm no musician on string instruments to be honest. I played sax for a long time, but this is a lot harder to me.
    Use the one that you can play and sounds good to you. A simple one that is easy and sounds good for me is 5-3-0-x. Use it. (index and middle fingers on 3 & 5, respec.)
    Phil

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    Default Re: Tips on reaching the F Chord

    Quote Originally Posted by jmcturnan View Post
    Your picture helped tremendously, the placement of my thumb and pinky helped me position my index and ring finger to reach the frets. That gentleman in the pick though has a really long pinky finger. LOL
    I think my pinky is pretty normal, it's the angle that helps.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The stretch is not spreading but the contrast between flex and extend.
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    Default Re: Tips on reaching the F Chord

    Try 230x. Two fingers. And with that form you can play the three most popular chords in the key of C this way:

    C: 0230
    F: 230x
    G: 0023

    As simple as it gets. More sophisticated voicings can wait for you to build experience.

    One trick. Try leading into the F chord with a G note and a G# note....to the A note. All on the fourth strings.

    So you play 0 - 1 - 2 - 230x. And you can do that for the C (third strings) and G (second strings) chords, too.

    And the F7 chord can be played like this: 210x.

    Welcome to the wonderful (but humbling) world of mandolin playing. Have fun.
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  25. #16

    Default Re: Tips on reaching the F Chord

    It should be pointed out that the F and F7 chords that Tom suggested are only partial chords (two notes), since they both contain two A notes. They can be played along with an F or F7, if other instruments are playing the rest of the chord. This is often a good choice for many chords.

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  27. #17
    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tips on reaching the F Chord

    Partial chords can work in solo playing as well, depending on what it is you’re doing/playing. A listeners brain can “fill in” implied harmonies in many cases. But it’s important to understand what David is saying and to move on past what is the easiest possible solution for most of us. Tom’s advice could make a world of difference to a person who has picked up a fretted stringed instrument for the first time and wants to have some fun though.
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
    "Life is short. Play hard." - AlanN
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    Default Re: Tips on reaching the F Chord

    HI,
    if chop chords is what you're after, I recently found a lesson by Brad Laird (member here) on "two finger chop chords" or maybe it was "chop chords for small hands" im still working through it but so far it has been well worth the $8 i paid for it, and the shapes are moveable- I'll post a link here later, but its www.mandolincompass.com i think--
    jp

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