Updated: JANUARY, 2018 ● ASK A QUESTION
In this article we show you how to build the F sharp minor chord, starting with a simple F root note and adding one interval at a time, giving us both the easiest and more complex F sharp minor chord voicings.
Every difficult guitar chord can be broken down and built back up in a way that gives you a ton of different ways to play the pattern. It can be as complex or as dead clean simple as you want it to be. When you come across the F sharp minor chord, which is notoriously tricky in its full form, it can be helpful to use this method to break the shape down to the root and build it back up, one interval at a time.
To cover this material, it would be helpful to have a basic understanding of the following theoretical topics:
If you need to brush up on any of these topics, you can click on the links above, then come back to this material. Otherwise, we'll cover all the important details here, at least enough for you to understand what is going on and what the material is about.
Using Chord Composition for the F Sharp Minor
We'll use a tactic called chord construction or "composition" as we'll begin with the root F sharp and build our chord out from that point.
Each step will involve adding an interval, which means we'll build the chord one note at a time.
We'll go through the following incremental iterations:
- The root form
- The root plus the fifth
- The root, fifth and minor third
- The full form of the F sharp minor chord
Three basic elements we'll use to build our F sharp minor chords. (View Larger Image)
For each iteration, we'll have three different flavors or fretboard locations on which you can play the chord. This means that once we're done covering the material, you'll have nine different ways to play this chord, including the full form versions.
- Three dyadic chords
- Three triadic chords
- Three full form F sharp minor chords
The beauty of this approach is that if you want to play the difficult versions, you can do that, but you can also play the simpler versions as substitutes.
Particularly as it relates to building and playing chord progressions, it can be easier to play a minimized version of a chord - even a simple dyad - in place of the full, conventional versions of the chord.
We'll cover it all in this lesson.
Other F Chord Guitar Resources
Finding the Root Positions of F Sharp on the Fretboard
All chords are built out from a root note.
In our case, that root note is F sharp, which occurs naturally on the fretboard - assuming a standard tuning - at several prominent locations where it can serve as the root of an F sharp minor chord. Once we find those root locations, we can build out our chord from each point.
The most obvious place is at the second fret on the sixth string.
Root F sharp positioned at the second fret. (View Larger Image)
This is the most commonly used root position for a F sharp chord (minor or major). Let's go ahead and label a few other fretboard locations where the F sharp root will fall and can serve as an anchor for our F sharp minor chords.
Here are three ideal spots:
Common F sharp root positions on the fretboard. (View Larger Image)
Memorizing these three locations (the fourth one is just for reference as we won't use it to build a chord) is the best way to start learning the F sharp minor positioning on the fretboard.
These notes are the first lines of defense you have against messing up (or missing entirely) an F sharp minor chord within a given progression.
If all else fails, you can always play the F sharp root note at one of these locations.
Once we're comfortable with the F sharp's root positions on the fretboard, and you've done the work of memorizing them, we can begin adding intervals to each root position, beginning with the perfect fifth, which is seven semitones from the root.
Adding the Fifth to the F Sharp Root Note
For the first three F sharp root positions on the fretboard, at the second, fourth and ninth fret, we'll add a perfect fifth that will build the base for our F sharp minor chord. Since there's only a root and fifth, the chord isn't technically minor yet. However, it can be played in place of an F sharp minor chord, just as a bass player would play the root F sharp note without any additional intervals.
We'll start with the second fret variation.
Root Plus Fifth (Minor Interval is Assumed)
F sharp dyad with perfect fifth positioned at the second fret. (View Larger Image)
Now the fourth fret position:
F sharp dyad with perfect fifth positioned at the fourth fret. (View Larger Image)
And finally the ninth fret position:
F sharp dyad with perfect fifth positioned at the ninth fret. (View Larger Image)
These three chords are dyads, meaning they're only made up of two notes. In the next section, we'll make them into theoretically-complete F sharp minor chords by adding the minor third interval to each shape.
Here are the diagrams for the three chords we've tabbed out above.
F sharp root and fifth chord diagrams. (View Larger Image)
Creating an F Sharp Minor Chord with a Minor Third
Up until now we've been dealing with neutral F sharp roots and dyadic chords. With only the root and fifth, you have a basic power chord shape, but you don't have a minor chord. To get that dark minor sound, and to be a true F sharp minor chord in a theoretical sense, you've got to add the minor third interval.
In this section, we'll expand our chord composition to those three notes:
- Minor third
The minor third is one semitone lower than the major third from the root, which means we can take any major chord and make it minor by simply dropping the third interval one semitone (one fret space).
We'll add our minor third to all of the shapes we've already covered at the second, fourth and ninth fret positions.
Root, Fifth and Minor Third
F sharp triad with perfect fifth and minor third positioned at the second fret. (View Larger Image)
We've muted the fourth string and placed the minor third on the third string, since it's an A, three semitones above the root of the chord. Though three semitones above the low F sharp would be the A on the sixth string, we can use the A on the third string all the same, even though it's a few octaves higher. These are called compound intervals, as they're greater than one octave above the root note.
F sharp triad with perfect fifth and minor third positioned at the fourth fret. (View Larger Image)
The same arrangement is used here, utilizing the high A note at the fifth fret on the high E string.
F sharp triad with perfect fifth and minor third positioned at the ninth fret. (View Larger Image)
The structure repeats itself once more, where the minor third is now on the second string at the 10th fret. Wherever you have an F sharp root, you can use this structure to build a minor version of the chord.
F sharp root, fifth and minor third chord diagrams. (View Larger Image)
Full Form F Sharp Minor Chord
Now, if you've gotten to this point and you still want to tackle the more difficult forms of the F sharp minor chord, the three we've tabbed out below are the most conventional and usable options.
They're located at the same three fretboard locations we originally outlined for our F sharp root notes, and have been built on a similar root, fifth and minor third interval structure. Thus, they shouldn't feel entirely foreign to you.
At the same time, they are more difficult and in two of the three cases require you to barre several notes.
Give them a try and see how you do.
Full form F sharp minor chords tab sheet. (View Larger Image)
While it's helpful to know these chord forms, the triadic versions of F sharp minor are much easier to work with. We'd recommend defaulting to those simpler variations, unless there's a specific reason to go with the full form chords.
Here's a proper guitar diagram with all three of the above chord voicings:
Full form F sharp minor chord diagrams. (View Larger Image)
While it does require a little bit of music theory, it's often helpful to look at guitar chords in the context of structure and chord building, as opposed to memorizing full patterns. Particularly when it comes to difficult chords like the F sharp minor, you'll have an easier time mastering it if you start at the absolute most basic element and work your way up from there.
To recap, those elements are the following, in the order given:
- Root note (start here)
- Perfect fifth
- Minor third
- Octaves (if any)
- Full and barre form (end here)
If you're having trouble with a chord, don't start with the full version. Instead, get the root notes down first and build up your knowledge of the chord from there. Not only will you learn the chord in a more functional and usable way, but you'll also learn some valuable theory that you can reuse and apply to other material.
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Thanks for reading.
Flickr Commons image courtesy of Kmeron
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