If you are starting to get bored with the handy dandy E minor chord, then it’s time to move on up to the 2nd fret and explore the F#m guitar chord! The F#m chord adds just enough aggression and brightness to lift us up, but not to sink us in total despair like its close cousin F minor tends to do.
Trust us. You already know and love this chord as well as the key signature, as you’ll see with some of the songs below. Before we start to wield the hammer of the gods (hint hint), we need to talk about this Gb minor chord nonsense.
Gbm and F#m are the exact same thing! Use our Chordfinder if you don’t believe us, but you’re only going to use “Gbm” if you’re playing in keys like Fb major (weird) and Db major (very unlikely). F#m, basically, only requires us to use 3 sharps to write sheet music in this key.
Enough of this pedantic lingo though. Let’s talk about the shape a little bit already….
The Most Popularly Used Shapes Of The F#m Guitar Chord
Since this chord is not an open chord, you’re going to be using its barre chord shapes the most. F# minor is exactly the same as E minor EXCEPT that the entire thing is moved to the 2nd fret. Take note of the shape above. You use your 1st finger of your fret hand to barre the 2nd fret, while using your 4th and 3rd fingers to play the 4th fret tones. It’s almost the exact same thing when you move to the 9th fret of the A string to play the other popular F# minor chord shape.
The songs we’re about to discuss below will help you use this shape in all sorts of ways. If you’re struggling to get it down though, use the uberchord app to improve your timing and check your fingerings, while also playing this chord in some interesting strum patterns. You can also check out this great article about writing in minor keys…..
Popular Songs That Use The F#m Guitar Chord In Riffs & Progressions
Two of the most iconic riffs in the rock/metal repertoire, that are in the key of F# minor, are Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” and Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” (hammer of the gods?). These are two of the best riffs any beginner can learn, and will be a great reference for you if you need to remember the sound of F# minor. So think aggressive and a little bright sounding maybe?
Everything you need to know about rock chord progressions can be found here, if you’re curious….
One song that uses chords from F# minor that you probably learned already is Oasis’s song “Wonderwall.” It’s all played on a capo on the 2nd fret, but the chords of the intro/verse translate to F#m – A – E – B7sus4. We’ll get to why those chords work so well together in the theory section down below.
“Billie Jean” is a great great use of the F#m chord and its key signature. It’s also a great one to play if you can’t yet get a grip on the full chord, as it only uses the upper 4 strings to play the chords.
“Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood is also another great song in F# minor, as like Wonderwall, it uses the capo at the 2nd fret and some of the same chords. The progression is F#m – E – D – C#, and I really want to talk about how cool this C# chord is with the F#m guitar chord, but hold your horses alright?
Finally, “Cemetery Gates” by Pantera is such a classic use of the key of F# minor, but showcases more of the sadder part of this key. It uses some untraditional chord shapes, but sticks relatively close to the structure of the key. By the way, let’s talk about that now……
How To Write Music In F# Minor
“You really think you can tell us right away how to do something so hard in just a paragraph or two?” you may be asking. Well yes, I can claim to teach you that, and once you start looking up the chord shapes in the Uberchord app you’re going to see how easy it is to do!
So the F# minor scale is composed of these notes: F# – G# – A – B – C# – D – E (7 total). The chords in this key include the F#m guitar chord, G#m7b5, A, Bm, C#m, D, and E (or E7).
A few breakdowns of the notes in the chord are below so compare them to the 7 I just gave you……
F#m = F# – A – C#
A = A – C# – E
D = D – F# – A
E = E – G# – B
All of these notes are in this key! It’ll take a little longer to explain why they go together and explain chord theory, but this is all you need pretty much to write your own chord progressions in F# minor. Just compare the chords I gave you to the songs we talked about before. Pretty crazy right?
If you’re at all shaky about using music theory and reading chord charts, then please click that link and check it out.
Here are a few of the most common chord progressions used in F# minor, using the F#m guitar chord of course:
- (Most common) I — IV—V—I: F# minor — B minor — C# minor — F# minor
- I — V — VI — IV: F# minor — C# minor — D — B minor
- I — VI — IV — V: F# minor — D — B minor — C# minor
- I – V – VI – III – IV – I – IV – V: F# minor – C# minor – D – A – B minor – F# minor – B minor – C# minor
- (Blues) I – I – I – I – IV – IV – I – I – V – V – I – I: F# minor – F# minor – F# minor – F# minor – B minor – B minor – F# minor – F# minor – C# minor – C# minor – F# minor – F# minor
- II – IV – V: G# diminished – B minor – C# minor
- I – IV – V – IV: F# minor – B minor – C# minor – B minor
- V – IV – I: C# minor – B minor – F# minor
- VI – IV – I – V: D – B minor – F# minor – C# minor
Ways To Make The F#m Guitar Chord A Little Spicier
Now here comes the fun part about making music in this key using the F#m guitar chord. There is so much more to making music than staying in key and hitting all the “right” chords. This key signature and every other one is just a basic structure of music that we often use as a springboard for other ideas. In this final section, I’m going to give you a few suggestions, using the uberchord app, to create some riffs just like the great songwriters we mentioned before…..
1) Look up the C#7 chord and play this chord right after F#m. You just made a very typical chord move in Baroque music that’s used by Yngwie Malmsteen. Or you can just make breakup revenge country songs a la Carrie Underwood (look at the C#).
2) Play the G#m7 chord from Billie Jean, break down the notes, and then look up the F# dorian mode. You’ve just unlocked a secret of making music in Dorian, and now you know a great song that uses this mode. Use this chord with any of the other chords in F# minor and see what you come up with.
F# Dorian = F# – G# – A – B – C# – D# – E
G#m7 = G# – B – D# – F#
3) Practice playing the F# minor scale, but start throwing in the C note. By doing this, you’ve just instantly found a way to start making more metal/hard rock-sounding lead licks. If you’re a big fan of Cemetery Gates, this little note will work great over many parts of the progression.
That’s it! You’ve got a few more ways to start messing around with the F#m guitar chord and making some riffs and solos of your own. Keep using the Uberchord app to discover new chord shapes to try that may go with F#m. You may be surprised what you come up with!