F#m Chord on the Guitar (F Sharp Minor) – 10 Ways to Play (and Some Tips/Theory)

The F sharp minor chord is enharmonically the same as the G flat minor chord. Out of the two chord names, F#m gets used far more often, because of the common keys that it is used in. For example, F#m is the relative minor of A Major, which is a very popular chord and key on the guitar. 

The A note (flat 3rd) in F#m can technically be played on an open string, but the chord itself is basically never played as an open chord, because the open A string is in a low register and sounds muddy when played with the lower F# root note. Instead, the F#m chord is often played as a bar chord on the 2nd fret (root 6) or 9th fret (root 5). 

Some Quick F#m Chord Theory

  • The F sharp minor chord contains the notes F#, A and C#.
  • The F#m chord is produced by playing the 1st (root), flat 3rd and 5th notes of the F# Major scale.
  • The F# minor chord (just like all minor chords) contains the following intervals (from the root note): minor 3rd, Major 3rd, Perfect 4th (back to the root note).
  • F# minor is the relative minor of A Major.
  • F#m is the first chord in the key of F sharp minor. The seven chords in the key of F# minor are: F#m, G# diminished, A+, Bm, C#, D, E# diminished

10 Ways To Play The F Sharp Minor Chord

If you’ve come to this page just to view some chord diagrams for F#m, here they are.

F# Minor Chord - 10 Shapes

Standard F#m Chord Shape

The most common way to play the F#m chord is by playing the root-6 minor chord, starting on the second fret. This is essentially the standard F minor barre chord, but moved up one fret.

F Sharp Minor Guitar

Easy F#m Chord Shape

The ‘easy’ or ‘mini’ version of the F sharp minor chord can be achieved by playing the first three strings of the guitar, all on the second fret. By playing the easy version of the chord, it makes it possible to use the chord in songs, without needing to perfect the more difficult barre chord version.

Easy F Sharp Minor Guitar

How to Play the F Sharp Minor Chord (Step by Step)

  • Place your first finger on the second fret of the sixth string and barre all six strings.
  • Place your third finger on the fourth fret of the fifth string.
  • Place your fourth finger on the fourth fret of the fourth string.
  • Strum all six strings.

The instructions above are step by step instructions for playing the common F# minor chord shape. Forming the chord through step by step instructions is a great way of ensuring that you are interpreting the chord diagram correctly.

F# Minor Barre Chord Shapes

The F#m chord can be played as a barre chord by playing a root 6 barre chord shape and starting on the 2nd fret or by playing a root 5 barre chord Major shape and starting on the 9th fret:

F Sharp Minor Barre Chord

F# Minor Triads

Playing triads is a great way of exploring the minor chord and the guitar fretboard more generally. By arranging the notes of the chord systematically using permutations (root position, first inversion, second inversion), interesting and unique shapes and voicings are created. The three different voicings for the F sharp minor triad are:

  • F# minor Triad (Root Position) – F#, A, C#
  • F# minor Triad (1st Inversion) – A, C#, F#
  • F# minor Triad (2nd Inversion) – C#, F#, A

By playing these triads on two different groups of three strings, we can produce six different shapes.

F Sharp Minor Triad

Which Keys Have The F#m chord in Them?

The F#m chord can be found in the following keys:

  • The key of F# minor (F#m, G#dim, A, Bm, C#m, D, E)
  • The key of B minor (Bm, C#dim, D, Em, F#m, G, A)
  • The key of C# minor (C#, D#dim, E, F#m, G#m, A, B)
  • The key of A Major (A, Bm, C#m, D, E, F#m, G#dim)
  • The key of D Major (D, Em, F#m, G, A, Bm, C#dim)
  • The key of E Major (E, F#m, G#m, A, B, C#m, D#dim)

Alternative But Useful F#m Chord Shapes

The following shapes are alternative ways of playing the F sharp minor chord shape. They’re not the most common F#m shapes, but used enough to include here as interesting alternatives.

Alternative F Sharp Minor Chords Guitar

F#m Chord Substitutions

Most F# minor chords with extensions can be used as a substitute for the Gb minor chord. For example, F#m9, F#m11 and F#m6 can often be used to add colour and emotion to the F# minor chord.

The F#m7 chord is quite often used interchangeably with the F#m chord.

For more interesting substitutions, playing variations of the A chord (which is the relative Major of F sharp minor), such as A6, A69, Amaj9 etc. can be used effectively as a substitute for the F# minor chord.

Which Scales Can Be Played Over the F# Minor Chord?

The most common and effective scales that can be used to solo/improvise over the F# minor chord, or to create melodies for the purposes of song writing are:

  • F#m natural minor scale – This scale (also called F# aeolian) is the most commonly used scale for this chord.
  • F# minor pentatonic scale – This is probably the easiest scale to learn and get started on when improvising over the F# minor chord.
  • F# minor blues scale – This scale can be used over the F#m chord to add a Blues flavour. 
  • F# dorian mode – This scale can be used to add a slightly brighter sound to the F# minor chord.
  • F# phrygian mode – This scale can be used to add a darker sound to the F# minor chord.

Further Reading

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