20 Easy 3-Chord Songs to Play on Guitar (With Videos)

When you start to play guitar, you look for different songs to play and have fun. However, not all songs are simple and easy to learn. Many of them have complex chord progressions or simply have a lot of chords. Luckily, there are many 3-chord songs out there that are ideal for beginner guitarists.

There are many famous tunes played with three chords or even fewer, and many of these songs have the same chord progression. Playing these songs will motivate you while helping you progress with your chord transition and strumming techniques, which will significantly contribute to your guitar journey.

1. “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival 

The first song on the list is an all-time classic; “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Released in 1969, the song gained tremendous popularity immediately and became one of the most classic rockabilly songs ever.

The song uses a D-A-G chord progression all throughout the piece. The strum pattern is a groovy-driving one that goes well with the rockabilly rhythm. For absolute beginners, the only challenge may be the pinky finger action made while playing the D chord, but I am sure it won’t be hard to get used to it.

2. “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash

One of the biggest hits of the country legend Johnny Cash is the amazing “Ring Of Fire.” The song has all the country characteristics, with a fast and steady strum pattern, basic chords, and great lyrics.

You will need a G, D, and C chord to play the tune, and that is all. These three chords only require three fingers and the changes between them are pretty easy. The strum pattern is fast, but it is very basic with the down-down-up pattern, an absolute beginner-friendly tune to enjoy.

3. “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol

“Chasing Cars” by the Northern Irish-Scottish alternative rock band Snow Patrol rocked the world in 2006 as it was played in the final episode of the famous TV series “Grey’s Anatomy”. This is a great song to play on an acoustic guitar with the easy yet beautiful intro melody and simple 3-chord progression repeating throughout the entire song.

The only difficulty with the song is the odd E/G# chord which has quite different fingering positions than the chords you may be used to. However, the strum pattern with only downbeats and the basic melody with the alternate picking pattern are very straightforward and a joy to play.

4. “Desire” by U2 

The first ever number 1 single of the Irish rock band U2 was “Desire,” which was released in 1988. The song has a great rock and roll groove with a fast strum pattern and quick chord changes. 

The song uses D, A, and E chords, which is great as all of them have comfortable finger positions. However, the challenge comes with the rhythmic groove, as chord changes have different timings. So, start slowly to get the hang of it.

5. “Free Fallin'” by Tom Petty

One of the most famous tracks of the country-rockstar Tom Petty is “Free Fallin” with its iconic chorus. The song is pretty straightforward to play, even though the chords you need may sound complex at first, as it features chords like Asus2. But do not worry, as all 3 chords in the song have easy finger positions.

The challenge is not with the chords and transitions but with the rhythmic aspect of the song. You should start playing the song slowly, building up the speed later to get the timings and chord changes right.

6. “Wild Thing” by The Troggs 

Here is a song for electric guitar enthusiasts: “Wild Thing” by The Troggs. The hit song features a great rock guitar riff that you can enjoy with a bit of overdrive. It is a highly easy riff to play with only 3 chords and some mutes in between.

While the chord positions and transitions are no challenge, the strum pattern with the mutes between the chords is the part to pay attention to. These are the characteristics of the melody, so be careful to play them properly.

7. “Blowin’ In The Wind” by Bob Dylan

The beautiful protest song of Bob Dylan, “Blowin’ In The Wind,” is an amazing song to play on an acoustic guitar and sing along with. The iconic lyrics and the easy 3-chord progression, along with the steady rhythm pattern, make this one an absolute beginner-friendly tune to play.

The chords you need are A, D, and G, all basic open chords. The strum pattern is also pretty intuitive with a bass pick and a strum, a Bob Dylan-classic strum pattern. So, nothing is challenging with this one.

8. “3 Little Birds” by Bob Marley

If you like reggae and are looking for a simple reggae tune to play, “3 Little Birds” by Bob Marley is the one. It’s an amazing song that lifts your soul with its cheerful lyrics and melody. With the easy 3-chord sequence and the reggae strum pattern added, you get an amazing song for your beginner repertoire.

The song features A, D, and E chords, which create an uplifting melody as they are all major chords. You can go for the barre chords to play the song with the reggae rhythm pattern, or if it gets too much, you can also deploy a traditional strum pattern to create your acoustic version.

9. “I Have A Dream” by Abba

Abba had a knack for simple, catchy, and timeless pop tunes, and “I Have A Dream” is no different. The song’s beautiful lyrics and easy guitar partitions make this one a great acoustic piece to play and sing along with.

The song has a very straightforward progression, with A, D, and E chords repeating again and again. The strum pattern is one of the easiest, as it only consists of downstrokes on every beat. With this one, you have an extremely easy song to add to your repertoire.

10. “Marry You” by Bruno Mars

“Marry You” is one of the biggest hits of the famous pop artist Bruno Mars. The romantic song is regularly used as a proposal song thanks to its emotional lyrics on love and marriage. 

To play the song, all the chords you need are D, Em, and G. The progression and the tempo are highly easy as the strum pattern is also a very traditional one with a down-down-up-down-up pattern.

11. “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley

If you are looking for an easy rock n’ roll groove with three chords, “Hound Dog” by the rock n’ roll king, Elvis Presley, is the right one for you. The song has a fast tempo with great nuances like stops and quick chord changes making the song much more fun to play.

Again, you will need A, D, and E chords to play the tune. The challenge comes with the strum pattern, as it is pretty fast, and there are some small embellishments you can do after you are comfortable with the rhythm and chord changes.

12. “Love Me Do” by The Beatles

You cannot go without The Beatles when talking about easy yet great guitar tunes to play. “Love Me Do” is a highly simple pop rock tune, great for absolute beginner guitarists. It is one of the band’s most popular songs and is one of the easiest songs to play on this list.

The song features D, A, and E chords along with a basic strum pattern. About the strums, you can try different patterns, but the important thing is to emphasize the second beat.

13. “Mustang Sally” by Wilson Pickett

“Mustang Sally” by Wilson Pickett is a great choice for those who want to explore some easy bluesy rock n’ roll style songs. With this one, you have a nice riff that goes over three different chords instead of strumming.

So, you will play almost the same sequence in different positions on your fretboard. The riff is highly easy and fun to play, but you can also play the song with A, D, and E chords with simple down strums with two strums on each beat.

14. “The Tide is High” by Blondie

Getting back to the reggae realms again, “The Tide Is High” is an amazing classic by the Jamaican band The Paragons. But here, we have the more popular Blondie cover, which features only 3 chords, a really fun strum pattern, and a great song overall for your repertoire.

So, to make the song sound more reggae like Blondie did, you can use mutes on the first and third beat while striking down the strings on the second and fourth beat. As the chords are very easy with the A, D, and E progression, you can focus on the strumming section.

15. “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins

The debut solo single of the English drummer and singer Phil Collins, “In The Air Tonight,” is a great melancholic soft rock piece with only 3 chords. Although the song is characterized by the amazing drum solo by Collins, it can also be a great song to play acoustically and sing along with.

The chord progression is pretty straightforward with Am, G, and F chords. The strum pattern is probably a bit different than what you are used to, so you might have to listen to the song and the tutorial well and start slowly to get it right.

16. “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” by Deep Blue Something 

“Breakfast At Tiffany’s” by Deep Blue Something is another great 3-chord song to play for beginners. It has a quick tempo with a fast strum pattern, but as the chords are D, G, and A, all open basic chords, you can focus on the strumming.

The only challenge with this one is the tempo. As the strum pattern is not anything unconventional, you can start slow and build up the speed as you get more comfortable with the pattern.

17. “Walk of Life” by Dire Straits

“Walk Of Life” is an uplifting and dancy tune by the great English rock band Dire Straits. The high tempo, easy A-D-E chord progression, and basic strum pattern make this one a joy to play for beginners.

The chord progression slightly changes in the chorus, but the strum pattern is always with downstrokes. If it gets too easy for you, you can also put things to the next level with the rock-n-roll strumming shown in the tutorial.

18. “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak

“Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak is a beautifully romantic song with countless covers from many different artists. The song was featured in many movies and series, so there is a big chance you have heard it before. 

To play the song, you need Bm, A, and E chords along with a moderate tempo traditional strum pattern. You can also arpeggiate the chords if you like.

19. “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World 

“The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World is another great rock song if you want an easy song to play with electric guitar. With plenty of overdrive added to your tone, it becomes a very fun song to learn and play.

Although the song has three chords, D, A, and G, the song uses different versions of these chords, like power chords and open chords. Also, you have to use a drop D tuning to play the tune. It may look a bit complex, but the reward is impressive when you put a bit of effort into the piece.

20. “TNT” by AC/DC

Finishing with a rock classic, “TNT” is a killer rock song by the Australian hard rock giants AC/DC. So, get your electric guitar and overdrive ready to rock with this one. 

The chords you will need are A, E, and G power chords. The song is built around the main guitar riff played with these power chords and mutes in between them, which is an AC/DC classic. It may be a little harder to get this one compared to other songs in the list, but with a little practice, you will be fine and add some new skills and a song to your repertoire.

Conclusion

It is great to know that you do not need tens of different chords to play some songs and have some fun while practicing different techniques. As you see, with only 3 chords, you can play many different tunes from various genres and have fun all along. Just grab your guitar and start learning some of these pieces to get yourself motivated and feel like a guitar hero!

Berk Öztuna is a handpan player, percussionist, and guitarist. He has been playing multiple instruments over the last 10 years. He started his music career as a guitarist, playing with several bands before putting his main focus into playing the handpan.

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