Welcome to the latest installment of Chord by Chord, a series designed to build your understanding of harmony and the fretboard. In the last lesson, I taught you how to move from the I to the V in the key of E major. This time, I’ll show you a new minor chord, F#m.  

The Work

If you remember, a minor triad has three notes—the root, the minor third, and the fifth. Example 1 shows the notes in an F#m chord (F# A C#). F#m is usually played as barre chord, and Example 2a shows the lowest version on the fretboard. If you want, you could play this chord using only the top or bottom four strings. Example 2b shows a different fingering where you can eliminate the fifth string by wrapping your thumb around the neck to fret the lowest note.


Example 3 shows a compact voicing higher up the neck, on just the top four strings. Note that in this voicing, the lowest note (A) is the third. For an F#m barre chord up at the ninth fret, see Example 4a. After that, try Example 4b, a three-note voicing derived from that same chord. Moving right along, it’s impractical to play a full barre chord at the 14th fret on acoustic guitar, so Example 5 shows an alternative—simply barre the top three strings at the 14th fret for an F#m chord.

The Result

You should now know a bunch of different F#m voicings up and down the fretboard. A song that makes use of this chord is “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. (Note that Lynyrd Skynyrd used a capo at the second fret, causing the chord to sound as G#m.) In the next lesson, I’ll show you another new minor chord, C#m.