The F barre chord is one of the biggest hurdles that beginners struggle with on the guitar. Not only does it sound bad, but it also hurts.
In fact, the F barre is so intimidating, that many beginners simply quit the guitar. And you might be thinking about stopping as well. But before you do, there’s one more trick you should check out. It’s called the “Batch “Method.” And it’s the technique I used to learn the F barre chord on guitar. Besides being free, what I really like about this approach is that you can apply it to any difficult guitar chord – not just F major.
So how does the Batch Method work?
First we need to understand the usual approach to learning tough chords.
How Most Beginners Learn the F Barre
Most guitarists learn the F barre by picking a song that has this chord – and practicing that tune non-stop until they get it. You probably have a song in mind right now, which is why you want to learn the F barre chord. And if you stick with that tune long enough, you absolutely will master both the song and F major.
The question is – will you really stick with it long enough? Maybe. But if you’re anything like me, the answer is no. And here’s why:
- Even with daily practice, it’s hard to measure improvement over time. The change is so gradual. There will even be days when you sound worse than you did before. If you’ve ever tried to save money or lose weight, you already understand how frustratingly slow progress can be.
- By definition, practicing a single song is repetitive. And repetition is inherently boring. You might begin the journey loving your target song. But after 100+ run-throughs, that opinion will likely change. You may even grow to resent the tune.
Because of these limitations, it’s hard to stay motivated while working on a difficult (but necessary) chord like F major. And quitting is often the easier option.
But the Batch Method may be able to help you overcome this hurdle.
Using the Batch Method to Learn the F Barre Chord
The Batch Method is a technique guitar teachers use in the studio all the time. They choose “batches” of similar songs or etudes to help their students explore difficult concepts from many different angles.
And we’ll do the same thing here by choosing a batch of songs that all use F major.
Here’s how it works – step-by-step.
1. Pick a Target Song with F Major in It
Again, you probably have a song in mind already. But imagine you’re a fan of country music from the 1940s to 1970s. And your target song is a version of Carry Me Over by Arlo Guthrie that uses G, C, D, Em, Am, and F.
Let’s also imagine that you’re already comfortable with the first 5 chords. Only F major is giving you trouble.
2. Find Songs with the Exact Same Chords
If you plug G, C, D, Em, Am, and F into this free Search by Chord tool, you’ll get a list of tunes that use those 6 chords exclusively.
Here’s a demo search to show you what I mean.
3. Choose 10 or More Tunes to Practice
It’s time to pick some songs. If you really did like classic country music, for example, maybe you’d choose the 10 titles below. You might need a capo to play in the right key. But all these songs use chords you already know – plus F major.
- Streets of London by Ralph McTell (C, G, Am, Em, F, D)
- You Are My Sunshine by Gene Autry (C, F, G)
- I Knew Jesus by Glen Campbell (C, F, Em, Am, D, G)
- I Can’t Help It by Hank Williams (C, F, G)
- Hello Walls by Willie Nelson (C, G, F, D)
- Do Re Mi by Woody Guthrie (C, F, G)
- I Still Miss Someone by Johnny Cash (C, F, G)
- He Would Know by Dolly Parton (C, Am, G, F)
- The Shortest Story by Harry Chapin (C, G, F, Em, Am)
- Peanut Butter Conspiracy by Jimmy Buffet (C, G, F, D)
4. Record Yourself Playing Your Target Song
Make a recording of you playing “Carry Me Over” (or whatever your target song is). Because of that F barre, it might take you 10+ minutes to make it through the entire song. And it’ll sound terrible and choppy the whole time – guaranteed.
But we need a baseline in order to measure our progress.
So take out your phone or webcam and capture yourself playing your target song. We’ll listen to this recording again in a later step.
5. Practice Your “Batch” of Songs for a Week
Over the next 7 days, sit down with your guitar for at least 30 minutes every day and:
- Work on any song (or combination of songs) from your practice list.
- Bounce around as much as you want. You can spend 5 minutes on one tune and 25 minutes on the next.
- You don’t even have to touch your target song at all. Put it aside and ignore it for the next week if you want.
It doesn’t matter – as long as you log 30+ minutes every day practicing some (or all) of the songs from your list.
After that week is up….
6. Record Yourself Playing Your Target Song (Again)
It’s time to measure your progress. So make another recording of you playing your original target song – ideally with the same phone or webcam you used before.
Note than only one week has passed. But as you record yourself a second time, you’ll be able to see, feel, and hear the difference:
- That song will sound a hundred times better.
- It won’t take 10+ minutes to get through.
- The F barre will be so much easier.
The difference is unmistakable – especially if you play both recordings back to back. This is true even if you haven’t touched your target song for more than 7 days. That’s because every tune from your practice list uses the same exact chords. The tempos and melodies might change from one song to the next. And this variety is what prevents boredom from setting in. But no matter what tune you practice, you’re always moving to and from your target chord – F major.
You’ll be amazed at how much progress you’ve made after just one week of practice. And this gives you the motivation to keep moving forward. You might need a full month (like I did) to finally nail the F barre chord. But as long as you keep cycling through your diverse collection of practice tunes, you’ll get there.
And as an added bonus, you’ll also have picked up 10+ new songs (instead of just 1).
Give the Batch Method A Try
If the F barre chord is still giving you trouble, try this method out. And remember that you can apply this technique to any tough chord you come across in the future.
So visit the Search by Chord tool, and start finding batches of songs to practice.
Good luck. And happy strumming.
About the Chord Genome Project
The Chord Genome Project is a free music search engine that lets you find songs based on the chords they use. Do a search of G, C, and D, for example, and discover hundreds of easy tunes that use those chords (and only those chords).