Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Beginner help needed

I’m just learning the cords and I’m having difficulty. I’m trying to make a f cord . Its not working so well . I have a hard time barring the 1 2 first fret. I have extremely large hands with sort fat fingers. Is there any other way to make this f cord. Please help desperately needing help .

The F chord is tough, but once you get something that works for you, it’s no sweat. Try rotating your fretting hand (assuming you are right handed) downward (or looking at the pinky side, clockwise) so that your fingers are less upright. That is, the base knuckle of the fingers will rotate below the face of the fret board. If that doesn’t make sense let me know and I can put up a little video. If it makes sense but doesn’t help, let me know as well.

Can you make a barre chord? For some people that is the easiest, but it’s not generally the most efficient for quick changes.

I can bar and a cord because I can’t fit all three fingers in one frett. If you could I’d love to see you video ! Thank you

Hey Jim, I’m assuming you’re speaking of the four string F chord and not a six string barre chord. You most likely won’t need the barre chord in bluegrass, so if you’re having trouble barring the first and second srings at the first frets with your index finger, first try what Mike said, rotate your hand back (or down) to cause your finger to be flatter against the fretboard. If that still causes trouble, try the opposite and curl your wrist more in an upward manner (bringing your knuckles toward you) and try fretting both strings with the tip of your finger. If your fingers are big enough, this is very possible. So your wring finger is on the fourth string, third fret, middle finger on the third string second fret and your index finger fretting the first and second strings at the first fret.

On an A chord, it’s usually taught to fret the second, third and fourth strings at the second fret with three individual fingers while still clearly playing the first and fifth strings open without muting anything. Yeah right, not if you have big fingers. Forget that if it’s just nearly impossible and use two fingers to fret the three strings (I use my index finger on the fourth string and let the back side of it touch the third string and my middle finger is on both the second and third strings. Once you get this, it makes an amazing difference and it frees up your ring finger, and makes your chord changes faster. Remember, you’re using the tips of your fingers and not barring. If you try to bar an A chord the first string will most likely be muted. I know I went against many of instructors and teachers that do not permit this, but I say we have to try different things to find what works best for us as individuals.

Give it a try and I hope I didn’t confuse you.


Great suggestions JW. Jim, Since you have big mitts, the finger tip fretting of the 1st and 2nd string as JW described might well be a great option. I can do it and my hands aren’t particularly large. You shouldn’t have to press hard as long as you are fretting close to the fret.

I found a video on youtube that illustrates the general hand rotation to which I was referring. Take a look starting at about 3:55. The fingers are more laid over than on typical chords. Unlike what is described at that point in the video, I typically don’t fret the A string (A is in the F chord) and I pick up the first fret of the 6th string (low E) by wrapping my thumb to fret the F root. To me, that is the Ferrari SUV of F chords… it’s fast and versatile. My point is the same as JW’s is that there are many ways to play various chords.

Keep at it, the F chord takes a long time. It’s a hill that almost every guitar player has to climb at some point, and I haven’t met one that it didn’t require some work. If you find something that you think will work, let us know. Otherwise we can get some videos going back and forth in the next few days.

Jw yours seams to be the easiest to do. It’s gona take time work but I’ll get there. Thanks guys for the help.

Jim if it means anything that F chord gave us all fits when we started…just takes time.

Even today I see folks that have been playing for awhile where that F chord wears them out if it’s used a lot in a song. Take for instance that song we done as netgrass… “I know You Rider”…I’ve played that in jams and watched a lot of folks simply give up due to hand fatigue, and they have been playing for years.

The “long finger guys” in rock play a 5 string F then extend their thumb over the top of the neck to chord the F note on the E string…that is something I could never do.

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The “long finger guys” in rock play a 5 string F then extend their thumb over the top of the neck to chord the F note on the E string…that is something I could never do.

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Good point Jesse. I am a thumb wrapper and my fingers aren’t that long. My wrist bends backwards significantly, but for me it’s very comfy. I generally leave the A string open (which fits in the F chord). As a bonus that gives me a free finger to fret additional notes with my pinky.

It’s called an F chord for a reason… because it’s Freakishly hard at first.

I’ll keep working on it . Some times I feel s if I’m getting no where. Until I go to lessons on Thursday night and the instructor tells me he can believe what progress I’ve made. But , this f#%&king f cord . I’ll get

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The “long finger guys” in rock play a 5 string F then extend their thumb over the top of the neck to chord the F note on the E string

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I don’t have particularly long fingers, but that’s how I make my F almost all the time. It is a bit of a stretch for me so sometimes I don’t fully fret the bass F note, but just mute the E string instead.

Hang in there Jim! Progress is progress. It’s a hill we all have to climb if we want to play in the key of C. I am working on multiple string tremolo on mandolin, and it’s back to baby steps for me as well. It’s humbling, but I actually enjoy being back to basics again.

I at times raise the neck of the guitar up so my fingers will be at a good position to press all the strings, this woks for me it may not for you . One of My old instructors had a hand damaged in a wreck and he has to have his neck up a bunch but he can play like there is no tomorrow . It might be worth a try . I know it looks different but we want to play and that is the main item . it helps me with the “C” chord and the F chord. Happy picking and here’s to having fun along the way

From your picture it looks like you rest your guitar on your left knee like a classical player. That makes it pretty easy to raise the guitar neck.