Learning Guitar Notes: F, First String, First Fret

The note F on the first string, first fret, of the guitar is one of the first notes that most people learn. It is almost always fretted with the first finger, with very few exceptions. Here is how it looks in staff and tablature notation.

F, First Fret, First String, of the Guitar

F, First String, First Fret, on Guitar

When you fret this with your third finger, make sure that your fretting hand, arm, and shoulder have these characteristics:
  • Shoulder is relaxed.
  • Wrist is straight.
  • Finger joints are bent.
  • Elbow is held such that the forearm, wrist and hand maintain a straight neutral shape.
  • String is pushed down with the tip of the finger.
  • Fingertip is placed near the third fret wire.
  • Palm of hand is parallel with the guitar neck. If you drew a straight line along the same joints of all fingers it would be roughly parallel with the strings.
  • Thumb extended (not bent) and placed behind the neck, touching the neck somewhere in the zone between your first and second fingers.
  • The tip of your thumb should not touch the neck, but the bone at the joint nearest the tip should.
  • Squeeze between the thumb joint bone and the tip of the finger to create a good tone.

Your guitar should be held so that the neck is at an angle, with the headstock higher than the sound hole. The front of the guitar should be nearly straight up and down, not leaning forward or back. If the guitar leans back too much you may find that the wrist of your fretting hand needs to be bent, especially when fretting the upper strings, which is not generally considered good technique. If you keep your wrists more than slightly bent, you will create unnecessary stress that may cause carpal tunnel syndrome or some other repetitive stress injury. Hold your guitar high enough that your fretting hand elbow is lower than the neck. In other words, your elbow should be bent more than ninety degrees.

Here is a picture of what your hand should look like.

Picture of hand fingering an F on the first string

To give you some practice with F, here is a simple piece, with an audio accompaniment track located directly below the music. It may remind you of the famous holiday tune "Jingle Bells", but different. Remember to count one measure of rest at the beginning. If you can play the audio track in stereo, the right channel is the guitar, the left channel is the accompaniment. Adjust the balance to the extreme right or left if you want to hear one or the other, in the center for both.

Jeff Anvinson, owner/operator of JLA Music

F, First String First Fret, on the Guitar. Bongo Drums Guitar Part copyright 2015 Jeffrey Anvinson

(Click here to get a pdf version of this music. Please don't distribute this pdf by photocopying or posting it on the internet. You may print out one copy for your own use. If you know someone who wants a copy, simply refer them to this website. Please help me protect my intellectual property by respecting my rights.)

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