Is The F-chord More Difficult Than Others?

This is the first post based on actual data from our ChordInvaders game. If you’re impatient and like data, scroll down to the graph. If not, we will start with an intro.

The most common chord shapes on the guitar utilize as many open strings as possible (think about G or Em!). Obviously, using open strings makes the left hand’s work easier. However, the open strings allow us to play only 5 different notes. It means that it is not always possible to include an open string when forming a chord shape.

For example, let’s take the F-major. It should include the notes f-a-c and the most common ways to finger it in the first position would be those two:



But, wait a minute: isn’t one of the open strings ‘a’ on the guitar? It sure is, but attempts to include it would result in something like this:


We simply don’t have enough fingers to press down all those five notes. In this case one might ask that ‘How on earth will including one more fretted note fix that problem?’ And the answer is that we simply use a left hand technique called ‘barre’ to press down several strings with just one finger. See this:

f image

Here we see at least two aspects that make this chord different from most of the other common chords on the guitar:

  1. We need to use four fingers instead of the 2 or 3 that we have in all other common shapes (also, thumb needs to press harder than usual).
  2. We have to press down several strings with just one finger.

That results in slower chord changes. Here is some evidence from the database of our guitar chord game ChordInvaders, that lists the average change times in ms:



You can see that one bar stands out. This is the F-chord. For most players of the game, changing to the F chord with the left hand takes approximately 60-70% more time than placing down the Em.

I have seen many people quit because of the seeming difficulty of the dreaded F-chord (and other barre chords such as B or F#m). There is no good reason for that, however. When you first start playing, all chords seem hard, but then get progressively easier as you change them. The same is true with the F-chord. All you have to do is keep practicing. And we have a tool to help.

F chord is introduced on the 8th level of the game ChordInvaders right after the common open strings chords. If you’re impatient, you can also include it in your own custom levels by using our new level editor (which you can access after completing the first level).

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