At the beginning of the guitar-learning journey, everyone starts with basic open chords that don’t require a lot of muscle strength and skills. The lack of songs the entry-level player knows to play can make him/her desperate and demotivating.
G major, C major, and D major are three basic chords that every beginner learns first. Transitions between these three chords are easy and don’t require fingers to move that much, as everything happens on the first three guitar frets.
There is a significant number of songs that use only these three chords. That helps the beginner enrich the repertoire. Even if you are a newbie, you can be the star of the night among your friends by playing only three chords.
Royals – Lorde
Released in 2013 as the debut single by Lorde. She wrote the song in half an hour at her home. It reached the top of many charts, including US Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles charts. Lorde’s first song performance was on the four-day music festival called Lollapalooza. It appeared in many series and video games.
It’s an art-pop and electropop song with indie-pop and R&B elements. It includes a hip-hop beat and a lot of percussion and bass. It’s set in 4/4 time signature, and the strumming pattern is easy to perform.
Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol
Chasing Cars was recorded in 2005 and released in 2006. It became a hit when it appeared in Grey’s Anatomy. It was nominated at Grammy Awards for the Best Rock Song award and Brit Awards for the Best British Single song. The song was written by Snow Patrol’s singer Gary Lightbody and the title comes from Lightbody’s father’s phrase. He used it to describe his son’s love life as a dog chasing the car.
It’s an alternative rock song, and it’s set in common time. It requires G, C, D, played along with an easy strumming pattern.
If you want to learn more songs with just 3 chords, check out my other article 15 Famous & Easy Guitar Songs With 3 Chords For Beginners
You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC
You Shook Me All Night Long is a song from the AC/DC’s studio album called Back In Black, released in 1980. The song also appeared on their later album called Who Made Who. It reached number one on VH1’s Top Ten AC/DC Songs. If you go to their concert, you will surely listen to this song as the band rarely excludes the song from their setlist. Many artists recorded their cover versions or performed them live.
The song is pure hard rock and is in the key of G major. It requires a G-C-D chord progression. Most AC/DC songs are complex to play, but this song is a beginner-friendly one.
The Gambler – Kenny Rodgers
Released in 1978 by country singer Kenny Rodgers. The song was written by Don Schiltz when he was 23 years old. Bobby Bare recorded the song first, but Rodgers’ version was the most successful. It appeared in many movies and video games, such as the Rock Band game. The Gambler talks about a meeting on a train between the narrator and the person known as ‘the gambler’.
This country song is set in common time, and it’s in a moderate tempo. The first lines are played by picking and then by strumming.
If you want to learn more songs but with different 3 chords, check out my other post Top 45 Easy Guitar Songs With A, D, E Chords – Tabs Included
Chicken Fried – Zac Brown Band
Released in 2004 as part of Zac Brown Band’s album called Home Grown. Zac Brown and Wyatt Durrette co-wrote the song in the early 2000s. In 2008, Zac Brown Band re-recorded the song for their album The Foundation. The band became popular thanks to this song. It reached the top of the US Billboard Country charts, and it has sold nearly 5 million copies in the USA.
Chicken Fried is set in common time and doesn’t require much muscle strength and skills. You only need to learn transitions between G, D, and C chords, and play them along with the down-down-down-up-down-up strumming pattern.
Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Released in 1969 as part of the Green River studio album. John Fogerty wrote the song after watching a fantasy movie called The Devil and Daniel Webster. It reached number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and number one on the UK Singles Chart. Many artists released their versions of the song. Also, the song appeared in many movies and video games.
Bad Moon Rising is a roots rock, swamp rock, and country-rock song. The song doesn’t require that much effort, and therefore beginners can learn it easily.
All Summer Long – Kid Rock
All Summer Long is a song released in 2008. It became a part of Kid Rock’s third studio album. The song was performed at the Grammy Awards in 2009 and WrestleMania 25. The songwriters of well-known songs are credited for writing All Summer Long. It was number five on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The song has been categorized as country one. It’s in a moderate tempo and is set in common time. Your friends would love to sing while you’re playing this great song.
If you like this list you may want to check my other list as well Top 50 Most Beautiful Acoustic Guitar Songs – Tabs Included
Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Sweet Home Alabama was released in 1974 as part of the Second Helping studio album. Ed King, Ronnie Van Zant, and Gary Rossington wrote Sweet Home Alabama, but there is an interesting fact – none of them were from Alabama. The song was an inspiration for the Sweet Home Alabama movie, directed by Andy Tennant in 2002. Country Music Television ranked the song number one on the 20 Greatest Southern Rock Songs list.
The song is set in common time and the I-IV-V chord progression makes it easy to play. A moderately slow tempo gives the song a special dash.
Old Time Rock And Roll – Bob Seger
Recorded by Seger for his album Stranger In Town and was also released as a single in 1979. In 2001, the song became one of the Songs Of The Century. The song appeared in the 1983 movie called Risky Business starring Tom Cruise. Also, the song was used in a Domino’s Pizza commercial.
The song is pure rock and roll, and it requires three simple chords and an easy strumming pattern.
Can’t You See – The Marshall Tucker Band
Recorded and released in 1973 and peaked at number 75 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. A live version recorded in Wisconsin became part of the band’s 1975 album called Searchin’ For A Rainbow. The lyrics are pretty dark and reflect a heartache.
The song is a mixture of country rock and Southern rock. It’s set in common time and requires three simple chords.
If you are into folk music and want to learn some songs, check out my article Top 50 Famous&Easy Folk Guitar Songs For Beginners – Tabs Included
Joy To The World – Misc Christmas
The song is a Christmas carol, written by Isaac Watts in 1719, as an adaptation of Psalm 98. It has become the most-published Christmas song since the 20th century in North America. The Trinity Choir recorded its version of the song in 1911, and it became very popular. The song wants to bring joy to all people and inspire the listeners to look positively at the future.
It’s in a key of G major and is set in 4/4 time signature. The song requires G, D, and C, along with the down-down-down-up-down-up strumming pattern.
Leaving On A Jet Plane – John Denver
Released in 1966 under the title Babe I Hate To Go, In 1967, Denver changed the title into Leaving On A Jet Plane. The song was re-recorded two times and also covered by many artists. John Denver wrote the song during a layover at the Washington Airport, and he said it simply presents some scenes of leaving. It reached the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 and appeared in many TV shows and movies, such as The Rock, Catch Me If You Can, and Superstar.
It’s a well-known folk song that doesn’t require that much effort. The suggested strumming pattern for this song is down-down-up-up-down-up, but you can play down-down-up-down-down-up instead.
Jack And Diane – John Mellencamp
Jack And Diane is a song written by John Mellencamp and was released as a single from his 1982 album called American Fool. It reached the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song was based on the drama movie Sweet Bird Of Youth.
The song is heartland-rock and hard-rock one, and it’s played by using three simple chords and a capo on the 2nd fret.
If you are into blues music then you must check out this list Top 30 Famous & Easy Blues Songs For Beginners – Tabs Included
Blowin’ In The Wind – Bob Dylan
Blowin’ In The Wind is a song written by Bob Dylan in 1962 and recorded in 1963. It was included on his album called The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame. Many artists recorded their cover versions, even in different languages, such as German, Swedish, and even Latin. The song includes some rhetorical questions about peace, freedom, war and is often used as a protest song.
It’s a folk song set in 4/4 time signature. An easy chord progression played along with the down-down-down-up-down strumming pattern makes the song easy to learn and play.
Love Me Do – The Beatles
The song was recorded in September 1962 and was released in the UK that year. It was The Beatles’ first single. The song was primarily written by Paul McCartney when he was 16. His co-writer was John Lennon. McCartney once said that Love Me Do is The Beatles’ most significant philosophical song. Ringo Starr recorded a cover version for his Vertical Man studio album in 1998.
It’s a rock song with some R&B and pop elements. It’s in a moderate tempo and requires three easy chords along with an easy strumming pattern.
Love On The Weekend – John Mayer
Love On The Weekend is a song from John Mayer’s studio album called The Search For Everything. It was premiered in 2016, and the next month, John Mayer performed it on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. It reached number three on the US Billboard Adult Alternative Songs. John Mayer said the idea for the song came when he arrived at Capitol Records’ building, which is at the foot of the hill bearing the Hollywood sign.
The song belongs to the pop-rock and alternative indie-rock genre. It’s in a moderate tempo and requires three basic chords. The strumming pattern is easy, but at the beginning, it can be quite challenging to synchronize both hands for the newbies
If 3 chords are too much for you then check out my other article 50 Famous & Easy 2 Chord Guitar Songs – Tabs Included
Over The Hills And Far Away – Led Zeppelin
Released in 1973 as part of the Houses Of The Holy studio album. Robert Plant and Jimmy Page wrote the song in 1970 in a small cottage, where they stayed after an exhausting concert tour. It was initially titled Many, Many Times. It reached #51 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, but it has received greater acclaim in recent years.
The song starts with an amazing acoustic guitar intro. A Cash Box magazine said the song is a Led Zeppelin classic with a rock melody. You can enjoy the song by playing only three chords.
The Joker – Steve Miller Band
Released in 1973 and became part of The Joker studio album. It reached the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1974. An English musician called Norman Quentin Cook, more known as Fatboy Slim, covered the song and released it in 2005 as a single. It reached #32 on the UK Singles Chart. He used the ‘pompatus’ word in a songline as usual. The song’s title is connected to the narrator’s personality – he is not serious about anything.
The song’s genre is psychedelic rock, blues rock, and Southern rock, and it’s easy to learn as it includes three basic open chords and an easy strumming pattern.
Cecilia – Simon & Garfunkel
An American music duo called Simon&Garfunkel recorded the song and released it in 1970. The song is from the fifth studio album Bridge Over Troubled Water. Simon&Garfunkel recorded the sound with a tape recorder and then wrote the guitar line and lyrics. It was number four on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Cecilia is a pop-rock/folk-rock song. It has a nice groove, and it’s one of the easiest Simon&Garfunkel’s songs to learn and play.
Ring Of Fire – Johnny Cash
Ring Of Fire is a song written by June Carter Cash and Merle Kilgore. In 1963, Johnny Cash released the song, and it became a hit. It reached #27 on Rolling Stone’s list called 100 Greatest Country Songs Of All Time. The song is on the Ring Of Fire: The Best Of Johnny Cash studio album. It was also used in the UK in a TV commercial of Levi’s in 2003 and 2004.
This country song is set in 4/4 time signature, and it requires G, C, and D, along with the down-down-up-down-up-down-up strumming pattern.
Little Drummer Boy – Misc Christmas
Little Drummer Boy is a Christmas song written by Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941. The song was originally known as Carol Of The Drum. It was first recorded by Trapp Family ten years later, and it has been recorded by many artists since. Pentatonix released the song, and it reached number 13 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
This song is perfect for Christmas days. Imagine playing and singing it along with your family and friends. You just need to learn an easy chord progression and magical lyrics.
Heroes – The Wallflowers
Released in 1998 as a cover version of David Bowie’s song from 1977. Heroes were released in many countries and languages. An American magazine Rolling Stone named Heroes the 23rd greatest ever. The Wallflower actually recorded the song for the soundtrack to the monster movie called Godzilla.
People say The Wallflower’s version of the song is the best one. Tempo is a little bit faster than the original version.
The Boy With The Arab Strap – Belle And Sebastian
An indie-pop band Belle&Sebastian released The Boy With The Arab Strap in 1998. It’s part of the album with the same name. The song title came from a Scottish band name – Arab Strap. Some lines from the song were used in the 2009 movie, called 500 Days Of Summer. The song and the album are creditable for a commercial breakthrough.
A handclap, stunning keyboard, and drumline make the song special. This indie-pop/chamber-pop song is set in 4/4 time signature and requires G, C, D, and down-up-down-up-up-down-up strumming pattern.
Lady – Little River Band
Lady is a song performed by Little River Band and written by Graeham Goble. Goble said she found inspiration in a lady that was dancing at the hotel in Melbourne in 1973. The song was released in 1978 as part of Little River Band’s studio album Sleeper Catcher. It reached number 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
This pop-rock and soft-rock song doesn’t require many skills to play it. The song actually includes G, D, C, and a capo on the 2nd fret. The solo is followed by G, C, G, C, D, C, G.
Barbara Ann – The Beach Boys
Barbara Ann is a song recorded by The Beach Boys in 1965 for their album called Beach Boys’ Party!. The song was written by Fred Fassert and was first recorded by The Regents as Barbara-Ann. It peaked number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 1987, the band re-recorded the song as Here Comes The Cubs with re-written lyrics.
This doo-wop and pop song is catchy and really easy to learn. Play G, C, and D chords and enjoy the song.
Late In The Evening – Paul Simon
Late In The Evening is a song from Paul Simon’s album called One-Trick Pony, released in 1980. It reached number six on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song describes a dream sequence that Simon had in his teenage days. He fell asleep and was dreaming about playing lead guitar in the band.
This song is a pop-rock one and has iconic drumlines. It’s set in 4/4 time signature and requires three basic chords played along with the strumming pattern with down-up-down-up strumming pattern or maybe choose another one – it’s up to you.
Ain’t Too Proud To Beg – The Temptations
Released in 1966 as part of The Temptations’ studio album called Gettin’ Ready. It was written by Norman Whitfield and Edward Holland Jr. It reached number one on the US Billboard R&B charts. The Rolling Stones recorded the song for their album called It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll. The song talks about the narrator pleading for a second chance with his lover.
Ain’t Too Proud To Beg is a soul and R&B song. It’s great for beginners as it’s not hard to learn and play.
I Saw The Light – Hank Williams
I Saw The Light is a song written by Hank Williams and released in 1948 as a single. His mother was driving him home after the concert and spotted the airport lights. She said she saw the light, announcing that they were close to Montgomery, Alabama. That’s how the song and its title were made. Bill Monroe recorded the cover version in 1958.
It’s set in 4/4 time signature. The song is excellent for absolute beginners because G, C, and D chords are easy to play, and the down-down-down-up-down-up strumming pattern doesn’t require much skill.
Love Vigilantes – New Order
Love Vigilantes is a song released in 1985 as part of the album called Low-Life. It is inspired by country and folk music and talks about a soldier who is looking forward to returning home. The title doesn’t appear in the lyrics.
It’s a beginner-friendly song as it includes easy chords and an easy strumming pattern. You only need to practice transitions between chords, and you’re ready to shine.
Dumb Blonde – Dolly Parton
Released and recorded in 1966 and became part of Dolly Parton’s 1967 studio album called Hello, I’m Dolly. In 2018, Parton re-recorded the song featuring Miranda Lambert. It reached number 24 on the US Billboard Country Singles chart.
The song has a cute, country sound, and it’s set in 4/4 time signature. Play D, G, C, along with the down-down-up-down-up-down-up strumming pattern. You’ll need D and G for the intro.
Cherry Cherry – Neil Diamond
Released in 1966 as part of the album called The Feel Of Neil Diamond. Diamond wrote the song with co-writers, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. The song was originally titled Money, Money, but he wanted it to be more teenage-friendly. It was number six on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. It appeared in the movie called Saving Silverman.
This pop-rock song is played by using three basic open chords and a capo on the first fret.
Big Boss Man – Elvis Presley
Recorded in 1967 as a single and reached number 38 on singles charts. It was first recorded by Jimmy Reed in 1960. Besides Presley, B.B. King also recorded the song version. The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame included the song in the list called 500 Songs That Shaped Rock And Roll. Also, the song was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall Of Fame.
It’s an uptempo, blues song with a nice groove. Play G major chord for the intro, and add C and D major chords for the rest of the song.
Squeeze Box – The Who
Squeeze Box is a song released in the US in 1975. The audience from the UK has been waiting for the release for a year. The song was a success as it peaked at number 16 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and number one on the UK Singles Chart.
Squeeze Box has country elements seen in guitar fingerpicking. The song is catchy and easy to learn. Even absolute beginners can play required chords and a strumming pattern.
Little Ghost – The White Stripes
It’s the fifth track from the Get Behind Me Satan studio album, released in 2005. It was written by the lead singer and guitarist of The White Stripes, Jack White. He also explained the song’s meaning – it’s about when you’re in love with a girl, you see her in a way no one else does. The song was finished in 10 minutes while White was sitting at home with his friends.
Little Ghost is an easy song to learn. You just have to play both strumming pattern and chords synchronized. You can put a capo on the 1st fret for a better feel.
Salvation Song – The Avett Brothers
The song appeared on The Avett Brothers’ 2004 album called Mignonette. It’s full of great lines, and it’s a pure masterpiece. The song features Scott Avett on lead vocals and banjo, Bob Crawford on upright bass, and Seth Avett on guitar and backup vocals.
The song really shows the talent of each band member. The opening banjo is iconic, and both vocals and harmonies are on point. It’s set in common time. Play G, C, D, along with the down-down-up-down-up-down-up strumming pattern.
The First Cut Is The Deepest – Cat Stevens
It was written and recorded by Cat Stevens in 1967. The first cut mentioned in the song is actually a metaphor for the first love. Therefore, the song talks about finding love after the first love that is lost. Many artists recorded their versions of the song, and that’s how the song became popular worldwide.
It’s set in common time and requires G, D, C, along with the down-down-down-down-up strumming pattern. For more experienced players, there are some G, D, and C variations for some song parts.
Next Time You See Her – Eric Clapton
Next Time You See Her is a song from the Slowhand album from 1977 by Eric Clapton. It’s about a narrator in love with someone who doesn’t love him anymore. The song and the album started to reach the top of the UK and US charts.
You’ll soon get the idea of the song as it’s not so hard to play. Use two chords for the intro, and add one more for the rest of the song.
Seven Bridges Road – Eagles
Recorded and released in 1980 by Eagles. Eagles recorded the song for their Eagles Live concert album. According to a band member, the group used this song to warm up before live performances. It reached #21 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was first recorded by Steve Young in 1969. Besides Eagles, many artists recorded their versions of the song.
Seven Bridges Road is a country song with rock elements. It’s set in 4/4 time signature. Play D, C, G, D through the whole song, with an easy strumming pattern.
No Particular Place To Go – Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry released the single in 1964, and it became a part of his album called St. Louis To Liverpool. I was number ten on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and number three in the UK. The song is a comical story. The narrator is driving with his girlfriend in the car, and they decide to go to the park and take a walk, but they are unable to release the seatbelt.
The song is pure rock and roll and has four verses. Learn D, C, G, and have fun while playing No Particular Place To Go.
Will The Circle Be Unbroken – Misc Praise Songs
Will The Circle Be Unbroken is a Christian hymn, and it’s a part of the tradition. It was written in 1907 by Ada R. Habershon. The song’s composer is Charles H. Gabriel. There are many versions of this song, including The Carter Family’s version, released in 1935.
The song is suitable for absolute beginners. It’s set in 4/4 time signature and is in a moderate tempo. Enrich your repertoire and start learning this song.
Be Concerned – Twenty One Pilots
Be Concerned is a 2011 song from Twenty One Pilot’s studio album called Regional At Best. It’s about how the narrator has begun to question his faith. It documents a hard time a singer Tyler had but overcame.
Use G, C, D, and play the song with a capo on the 3rd fret. Practice transitions between chords, and you’ll soon get the whole idea of the song.
Nine Pound Hammer – Flatt & Scruggs
Nine Pound Hammer is a traditional work song whose rhythm helped the railroad laborers to keep a steady pace during the work. Nine Pound Hammer is also known under titles as Take This Hammer and Spikedriver Blues. These songs are referred to as ‘hammer songs’ or ‘roll songs’, and all of them include verses about the railroad worker, John Henry. Flatt & Scruggs’ version was originally released in 1962.
The song requires an easy chord progression – it’s perfect for absolute beginners. It’s set in common time, and the strumming pattern is pretty easy to perform.
Banks Of The Ohio – Johnny Cash
Banks Of The Ohio is a ballad written by unknown authors. Another, loss-known version of the song is called On The Banks Of The Old Pedee. The story is pretty interesting – a killer Willie invites his lover for a walk, and she rejects his marriage proposal. Johnny Cash returned the song to country music along with The Carter Family. He recorded the song in 1964.
It’s an indie song with country elements. Play an intro using G, and then add D and C chords to play verses and choruses.
Just Like Honey – The Jesus And Mary Chain
An alternative rock band released Just Like Honey in 1985 as part of their Psychocandy studio album. It appeared in the VW advertisement campaign in 2011 and many series, such as American Horror Story: Hotel. It was #45 on the UK Singles Chart and was number two among the Tracks Of The Year in 1985.
The song’s genre is alternative rock and noise pop. The best song part is a drum intro, and it’s similar to the Born My Baby song intro by The Ronettes. You can play the song with a capo on the first fret.
Willow Tree – Chad VanGaalen
Willow Tree is one of the thirteen songs of the Soft Airplane studio album, released in 2008. It was written by Chad VanGaalen. The song’s arrangement makes the morbid sentiment ‘when I’m dead, that’s when I’ll be free’.
Drums and the bass gives the song a trotting rhythm, and the xylophone makes the singer’s vocal patterns more beautiful. The song is indie-rock and folk and requires three basic open chords. You can put a capo on the first fret for a better sound.
G, C, and D chords are some of the easiest chords that newbies learn in their very first guitar lessons.
They don’t require much muscle strength or skills, and therefore they’re easy to play. These chords require easy fingers’ positions and transitions.
Not to lose motivation, newbies often search for two- and three-chord songs to make a repertoire and to play those songs in front of friends and family.
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