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

The F minor chord is a relatively popular guitar chord. The root 6 bar chord version of F minor is played on the 1st fret, so the Fm chord is often used as a kind of default chord for practising the minor bar chord. 

The Fm chord does not contain any notes that can be played on the open strings of the guitar, so there is no way to play the Fm chord as an open chord. 

Some Quick Fm Chord Theory

  • The F minor chord contains the notes F, Ab and C.
  • The F minor 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 Ab Major.
  • Fm is the first chord in the key of F minor. The seven chords in the key of F minor are: Fm, G diminished, Ab+, Bbm, C, Db, E diminished

10 Ways To Play The F Minor Chord

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

F Minor Chord - 10 Shapes

Standard Fm Chord Shape

The most common way to play the F minor chord is as a root-6 minor barre chord, starting in the first fret. This is usually the Fm shape that most guitarists default to, but it can actually be a tricky chord to play, because it requires barring the first fret, which is the widest fret on the guitar.

Fm Chord Guitar

Easy Fm Chord Shape

The ‘easy’ or ‘mini’ version of the F minor chord is achieved by playing the first three strings of the guitar, all in the first fret. This can be used as an easy alternative to the more difficult barre chord shape (pictured above).

Easy Fm Chord Guitar

How to Play the Fm Chord (Step by Step)

  • Place your first finger on the first fret of the sixth string and barre all six strings.
  • Place your third finger on the third fret of the fifth string.
  • Place your fourth finger on the third 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 Fm chord can be played as a barre chord by playing a root 6 barre chord shape and starting on the 1st fret or by playing a root 5 barre chord Major shape and starting on the 8th fret:

Fm 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 minor triad are:

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

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

F Minor Triad

Which Keys Have The Fm chord in Them?

The Fm chord can be found in the following keys:

  • The key of F minor (Fm, Gdim, Ab, Bbm, Cm, D, Eb)
  • The key of Bb minor (Bbm, Cdim, Db, Ebm, Fm, Gb, Ab)
  • The key of C minor (Cm, Ddim, Eb, Fm, Gm, Ab, Bb)
  • The key of Ab Major (Ab, Bbm, Cm, Db, Eb, Fm, Gdim)
  • The key of Db Major (Db, Ebm, Fm, Gb, Ab, Bbm, Cdim)
  • The key of Eb Major (Eb, Fm, Gm, Ab, Bb, Cm, Ddim)

Alternative But Useful Fm Chord Shapes

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

Alterative F Minor Chords Guitar

Fm Chord Substitutions

Most F minor chords with extensions can be used as a substitute for the F minor chord. For example, Fm9, Fm11 and Fm6 can often be used to add colour and emotion to the F minor chord.

The Fm7 chord is quite often used interchangeably with the Fm chord.

For more interesting substitutions, playing variations of the F chord (which is the relative Major of F minor), such as Ab6, Ab69, Abmaj9 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 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 Fm 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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