As you’re getting to know your way around the guitar, you’ll come to realise that there are a lot of different ways to play the same guitar chord, even in the same position. One of these alternative guitar chord voicings is what I like to call the “lazy F.” It’s a slightly easier way to play an F barre chord, but also opens things up to some other tricks and general fun.

Now, if you’re struggling with barre chords on guitar, don’t use the lazy F as an excuse not to learn how to play barre chords properly. This chord voicing is one of those things that breaks the rules somewhat. And you should learn the rules before you go ahead and break them.

If you’re new to guitar and only working through the basic guitar chords, come back to this article later. I wouldn’t call this chord voicing advanced, or even intermediate, but, as I said, learn the rules first, then start to break them.

What Is The Lazy F?

The lazy F is a way of playing an F chord, which is usually a barre chord, without having to do a full barre. I’ve always just called it a lazy F because that’s what my guitar teacher called it 20 years ago when he was teaching me alternative chord voicings.

I doubt there’s an “official” name for this chord. It’s just an alternative way of playing a standard F chord.

With this voicing, it actually opens you up to four additional ways of playing an F chord. The standard lazy F, the condensed lazy F, a lazy F7, and an F major 7. The first three chords are, as I mentioned, not the official names, it’s just what I call them. The last one is (in my opinion) the easiest way to play an F major 7 in first position.

The Standard Lazy F

The standard lazy F is a way of avoiding having to do a full barre chord to play the F. Instead of doing the full barre, throw your thumb over the top of the neck and fret the 1st fret, 6th string with it. You won’t have enough fingers to comfortably fret the 5th string, so dampen it with your thumb or third finger. From there you do what my guitar teach calls a “mini barre” over the 1st and 2nd string.

When you’re changing from a C to an F, which is quite common since F is the 4th degree of C, this voicing of F an be a lot easier, especially if it’s a quick change. What’s more, if you want to play a C/G transitional slash chord, you can easily walk the bass line down to the F without too much fuss. 

Sure, this way of playing an F chord misses the 5th string, but overall, it’s not much different and still a very full chord.

The Condensed Lazy F

The condensed lazy F is very similar to the standard lazy F, but instead of doing the mini barre, you’re just fretting the 2nd string while dampening the 1st string.

Honestly, there’s not really a big difference between the standard lazy F and the condensed lazy F, but if you’re trying to do a quick or difficult chord change, it’s nice to have this fingering in your arsenal. Just in case you miss the “proper” lazy F and have to strum something to keep in time.

With that in mind, I’ll usually hit the condensed lazy F if I make a mistake and then shift into the standard.

Alternatively, if you’re playing something that requires changing between an F chord and an F major 7 (discussed next), this is the chord for you! All you need to do is dampen that first string then undamped it to play the F major 7.

F Major 7

Guitar chord diagram showing an F major 7.While you may not find major 7th chords in a lot of Rock, Pop, an Blues music, it comes up enough in those genres and elsewhere. Thankfully the F major 7 chord is super easy to play and even easier if you get your head around the lazy F. 

I’m sure there are other voicings of the F major 7 in first position out there, but this one is the most convenient without having to tie your fingers in knots. It’s my go to. Especially since, honestly, I don’t play a lot of major 7 chords in the music I like to play; I just don’t get a lot of practice at it! Finding easier and quick ways to play a major 7th is good because there’s not a lot of experience there.

I think the chord diagram really speaks for itself on how to play this chord. I especially like this chord because, technically, it’s not an open chord. But it’s using an open string!

If you can play the condensed lazy F, you can play this chord.

F7

This one gets a bit tricky because it’s a bit of a stretch. Admittedly, I don’t use this fingering often because it’s not as comfortable as playing a simple F7 barre chord; whether I’m playing the 7th degree of the scale in the bass, the treble, or both. But there may be circumstances where playing an F7 chord like this is the best option.

As mentioned, the lazy F voicing works really well when transitioning from a C chord and, if it’s a fast change, this may be your best option.

All of this goes to show you that sometimes finding an alternative way to play a chord is a good idea for difficult chord progressions. It’s not an alternative to practice, but it is about general guitar knowledge and knowing your way around enough to have a few tricks up your sleeve in difficult situations. Being a great guitarists is part lots and lots of practice and part knowing how to bend things to your advantage.

After all, why work harder than you have to?

So There’s Four New Ways To Play An F Chord

Yep, that’s four new ways to play an F chord!

As I mentioned, this isn’t an excuse to not learn a proper F barre chord. And now I’m sounding like a guitar teacher…

Really, these shapes and voicings are about chops. They’re about having options. As you progress with your guitar playing, being able to pick up a song quickly is often about being able to make decisions on how you’re going to play it. If you have a few options that you’re comfortable with, you can make a decision quickly.

So put all of these in your arsenal and get comfortable with them. Check out my easy guitar songs featuring barre chords. A lot of the songs there feature an F chord. Find a song you like and play through it with the different versions of the lazy F for practice.

And as always, have fun.

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