11 G Major Chord Progressions [With Examples]

G Major Chord Progressions

If you’re looking for chord progressions in the key of G, you’ve come to the right place.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re learning chord progressions for the first time, or you’re looking for some inspiration for your next song. We’ve got you covered.

And don’t forget – you can transfer over the same chord progressions to any key if you know how. And if you don’t, that would be a good thing to learn too!

Here are multiple G major chord progressions for you to learn.

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I – I – IV – V

In the key of G: G | G | C | D

There are numerous variations on the I – I – IV – V chord progression (like I – IV – V – IV), but there’s no denying that it’s an old standby, and one of the most utilized for its consonant, happy, upbeat sound.

The intro and verse parts to Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” consist of this chord progression, and as you might expect, the song is in the key of G too.

Notes About This Chord Progression

“Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” is a bit of an unusual song for Green Day, or at least it was at the time. It’s a folky acoustic “ballad” of sorts, and it’s more about a bitter parting with an ex than it is about graduation or moving onto a new phase of life (although that’s basically how most people think of it).

What can Green Day teach us about this chord progression? Well, “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” just goes to show that what might be considered a “happy” progression can work in sad, reflective, and even bittersweet songs.

And while it is cliché, it’s a good progression to understand, no matter what key you’re playing in, and to add to your arsenal. It will come in handy on a rainy day, and if you pay attention, you will start to notice it everywhere in music you love.

I – IV – I – IV

In the key of G: G | C | G | C

John Mayer’s “Gravity” opens just as an Eric Clapton song would (bluesy licks and all), and the intro can almost fool you into thinking it’s Slowhand’s latest hit. And then you hear Mayer’s voice bust in and remember, “oh yes, Mayer is a bluesman himself.”

And the verse doesn’t get much easier than with this I – IV – I – IV chord progression:

Of course, it’s the bluesy licks that really make it!

Notes About This Chord Progression

It’s a simple chord progression, made up of just two chords! And it’s great for pop, rock, blues, and even reggae.

Although it’s not entirely common for entire songs to have a two-chord structure (“Gravity” certainly doesn’t), some do! Technically, Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue” is a two-chord song!

The challenge, then, is to add some interest to this progression. How will you spice it up? With lead licks? Riffs? Interesting melodies and harmonies? It’s up to you, really, but if you’re planning to use it for the bulk of your song, it would be best to come prepared with some fun ideas.

I – IV – I – V

In the key of G: G | C | G | D

Simple, pleasant sounding chord progressions form the foundation of plenty of songs. And that’s no exception for Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl.”

Have a listen to the intro and verse sections of this song, and you will hear this chord progression in action:

What makes “Brown Eyed Girl” great, though, is the impeccable balance between the simple rhythm and more sophisticated lead guitars.

Notes About This Chord Progression

“Brown Eyed Girl” reminisces on the joy of youthful love, and it’s hard to imagine a better chord progression than this. It fits perfectly!

Again, as with our last progression, this one will work in just about any pop, rock, or reggae context. It works great for punk rock as well if you speed it up a bit and play it as power chords.

Where other chord progressions might bore with a little too much repetition, this one offers enough movement to keep things interesting. And that makes it worth adding to your toolkit.

vi – ii – V – I

In the key of G: Em | Am | D | G

For that laid-back, oceanside, vacation in the sun vibe, this chord progression turned out to be a real winner for L.A. alt-rock band Weezer’s “Island In The Sun.”

And they still managed to work in a solo and a heavier part!

Notes About This Chord Progression

This chord progression is surprising for several reasons.

First, it begins on the relative minor of the key, and when a song starts on the minor, generally it’s dark, serious, or sad sounding. As you can hear from Weezer’s “Island In The Sun” it’s more laid-back than it is sad or serious. Really interesting when it works out that way!

Second, the ii chord isn’t often used in pop, which relies more heavily on the I, IV, V, and vi chords than anything. But as Weezer demonstrates, that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t use it in your pop-oriented song.

Third, it has a nice descending feel that makes it perfect for some fun and interesting harmonies.

This is a chord progression worth experimenting with!

IV – I – V – vi

In the key of G: C | G | D | Em

Like I said, most pop songs feature a chord progression that’s some variation on this. Here we’re looking at a tune that was the epitome of bubblegum pop in 2012, and ultimately became more of a meme than a song. What are we talking about? Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” of course!

As an aside, I still think it’s a great pop song that had an arrangement that was more artistic than most songs of the time.

Coincidence or not, Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” features the same progression in the verse.

Notes About This Chord Progression

It might take a few tries to get the timing on “Call Me Maybe,” but its verse and chorus parts both utilize this progression.

Blink-182’s “What’s My Age Again?” also utilizes this progression in the verse (but not in the key of G), so that’s the same progression presented and played another way. So, we know it works for punk rock.

Overall, it has kind of an “in between” vibe – neither completely happy, nor completely sad. In that sense, it has quite a bit of utility!

I – V – IV – V

In the key of G: G | D | C | D

In Eric Clapton’s unforgettable ballad, “Wonderful Tonight,” he uses this progression to full effect to serenade his lady:

Listen for it in the verse sections.

Notes About This Chord Progression

In “Wonderful Tonight,” the V chord is played as a slash chord, in this case that makes it a D/F#. That means that in the first part of the progression, the bassline descends chromatically from G to F#. That creates anticipation for the Em chord, but that’s where Clapton challenges the listener and goes to a C chord instead.

Play it for yourself, and you’ll see that the C chord kind of makes a statement. Almost like it’s saying, “I can stand in for G any time.” But simply playing G – D – G – D would have quite a different feel. The C adds a little spice to the dish.

Try experimenting with it and see what you come up with.

vi – IV – V – I

Chord sequences for beginners

In the key of G: Em | C | D | G

This is yet another common but essential chord progression, especially for songs with a serious tone. Neil Young utilizes it in the verse section of his infamous self-reflective tune, “Heart Of Gold.”

That harmonica is what really makes the song though!

Notes About This Chord Progression

What makes this a fun chord progression is that while it is decidedly a minor progression, the transition from V to I give it a lot of resolution. So, in a song with a sadder, darker tone, you would probably choose a different chord progression. This one might sound a little too happy.

For obvious reasons, it has a “heard it before” quality to it, but in a way, that’s also what makes it timeless. Up the tempo, and you can easily imagine it in a 90s pop-rock tune.

vi – V – I – I

In the key of G: Em | D | G | G

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers made good on this chord progression with the star-studded and ubiquitous “I Won’t Back Down.”

I say “star-studded” because the song was co-written by Jeff Lynne, who also played bass and sang backing vocals, not to mention Beatle George Harrison who played acoustic guitar and sang backing vocals on it. In the video, Ringo Starr also makes an appearance!

Notes About This Chord Progression

Listen closely to “I Won’t Back Down” and you will hear that there’s a bit of a push on the G, which is one of the nuances that make an old formula new again. And despite being a “minor” progression, that I chord provides so much resolution that you can scarcely call it sad or dark.

As Petty demonstrates, you can put your own spin on this progression, and it is encouraged, especially considering just how simple it is.

I – V – ii – ii – I – V – IV – IV

In the key of G: G | D | Am | Am | G | D | C | C

If this wasn’t obvious already, chord progressions don’t just exist in clusters of four. There are shorter chord progressions, and there are longer chord progressions too.

This specific chord progression is still quite basic, but it’s a classic, and you’ve certainly heard it in songs like Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.”

Notes About This Chord Progression

As you can see, the Am and C chords act as the “tag” to the progression. Switching between the two on alternating passes creates a bit of interest, but fundamentally C and Am are quite similar chords, and can easily stand in for each other if necessary.

This chord progression is also a lot like Semisonic’s “Closing Time,” an essential 90s barroom pop-rock singalong.

Overall, it’s another one of those “in between” chord progressions that doesn’t sound entirely happy, doesn’t sound entirely sad. In that sense, you could call it versatile.

I – IV – vi – V

In the key of G: G | C | Em | D

Ah yes. We certainly can’t forget this progression! Do enough looking, and you will find plenty of songs that take advantage of it.

The song that I’d like to highlight here is Boston’s heavenly “More Than A Feeling.” Listen for this chord progression in the chorus:

To be fair, in “More Than A Feeling,” multi-instrumentalist Tom Scholz slides down from the V to the IV at the end. But that’s the beauty of music – you can put your own spin on everything!

Notes About This Chord Progression

Whether you’re strumming along on an acoustic guitar or working out a sophisticated two-hand arrangement on the piano, this chord progression carries with it a triumphant feel. No wonder Boston picked it for “More Than A Feeling.” And it’s perfectly complementary to Brad Delp’s soaring vocals.

At core, it is just another variation on I – IV – V – IV, and Kurt Cobain even said, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was just his take on “More Than A Feeling.” Though I really think Cobain did something a little different with it. But it’s interesting how variations on the same chords can sound different depending on the order of them, isn’t it?

IV – V – IV – IV

In the key of G: C | D | C | C

It might seem like a boring chord progression at first glance, but R.E.M. really made it their own in the intro and verse sections of “Man On The Moon.”

In this song, the transition from C to D and back to C kind of plays like a key change. And that’s one way to add some serious interest!

Notes About This Chord Progression

Obviously, what “Man On The Moon” shows is us that you can make what appears on the surface a basic chord progression a rather interesting one!

And what immediately makes this one interesting is that the I and vi chords are nowhere to be found, so it lives in that grey area where it could be a couple of different keys.

Simple chord progressions like these call for some creativity. So, if you’re thinking about using this one or some variation on it, be sure to take a chapter from R.E.M.’s book and get creative with it.

Top G Major Chord Progressions, Final Thoughts

Remember – chord progressions are important. But it’s what you do with them that matters more. There’s always an opportunity to put your own spin on things, and it’s just a matter of thinking a little outside the box.

And while the chord progressions in this guide work great for most popular genres, we haven’t exhausted all possibilities. So, keep studying, keep learning, and you will start to see new possibilities for yourself.

Have fun and enjoy studying songs and chord progressions in the key of G!

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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