13 Easy Guitar Songs With 3 Chords

Do you only know how to play a few chords? Most people might feel fairly limited with this amount of knowledge.

However, that certainly does not mean you won’t be able to play some of the most famous songs ever recorded. Believe it or not, there are many songs that only use 3 chords throughout their entirety.

The following songs are a great place to start utilizing your chord knowledge.

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“Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen

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Take a moment to consider the most punk-rock songs you could ever think of. Now, would you be surprised to learn that the genre has its roots in the early 1960s?

If you are in disbelief, be sure to check out the song, Louie Louie. Chances are likely that you’re at least somewhat familiar with this famous song by The Kingsmen.

When you consider the common musical tropes of punk, you’ll find that Louie Louie really does fit into this categorization. Considering what was on the radio at the time, this track really has some gritty meat behind it.

To play Louie Louie, you’ll need to know how to play the chords A, D, and E. You might consider playing the barre chord forms to match the tonality of the electric piano in the recording. 

There is a guitar solo in this song that might be fairly hard to transcribe, even with an educated ear. However, it’s probably much more difficult to figure out what the lyrics are exactly without mumbling incoherently. 

Nevertheless, Louie Louie is a perfect beginner’s song. Just about everybody is familiar with it, so you can definitely please an audience with your performance.

“Born Under A Bad Sign” by Albert King

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As a general rule of thumb, it’s always a good thing to have a few blues tunes under your belt. Blues music, after all, is the root of rock and roll as we know it today.

Plus, if you know some blues tracks, it’ll give you something to play when playing with other guitarists. You’ll likely end up using these songs yourself as a basis for learning how to play lead guitar. 

One easy blues song consisting of 3 chords is Albert King’s hit, Born Under A Bad Sign. This song has been covered countless times, with the most notable version by Cream.

Born Under A Bad Sign has everything you could want in a blues song, including honest and heartfelt lyrics. It also has a funky undertone that is sure to get anybody’s foot to start tapping. 

To play this song, you will need to know your barre chord shapes. You’ll be playing C# minor, G#, and F#.

Do be mindful of the extended period of time on the C# minor. Many guitarists get tripped up here, only to realize the progression doesn’t change when they think it might.

It’s best to learn the lyrics so you can have a definitive guiding point as to when the progression changes. After you are comfortable, try adding in the iconic bass line for an expanded sound. 

“Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

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Chances are, when you think of Sweet Home Alabama, you aren’t thinking of its composition. Rather, you’re probably more familiar with the song’s iconic guitar leads throughout the track.

While it’s definitely in your best interest to learn those signature licks, you can simplify the song. At its core, Sweet Home Alabama primarily uses the chords D, C, and G.

Knowing this might surprise you, but you'll find that this is all you need, especially during the verses. Just be sure to get the rhythm pattern down correctly, as that is partly what makes this song so unique.

Sweet Home Alabama is a great track to learn, no matter what your skill level might be. It is a song that everybody can recognize and it will truly please a crowd if performed well. 

“Ring Of Fire” by Johnny Cash

"Ring Of Fire" by Johnny Cash

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Even if you aren’t into country, you probably have not been able to escape the reaches of Ring Of Fire. This is perhaps the most identifiable Johnny Cash song to those who don’t listen to Johnny Cash.

Because of this familiarity, it’s worth learning the song if you ever plan to play in front of an audience. It’s a true classic and will be appropriate in almost any setting you might be playing in.

This song has been covered countless times over the years by artists such as The Animals and Alan Jackson. The world is certainly waiting to hear your own unique version, however you might decide to play it. 

Ring Of Fire is incredibly easy to play, consisting of the chords G, C, and D. You’ll want to give extra attention to the strumming pattern to make sure you can give the song its country flair. 

Of course, you’re free to play the song as you wish. Its 3 chord composition makes it a prime target for punk-rock stylings if you are so inclined.

“Franklin’s Tower” by Grateful Dead

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The Grateful Dead is known for its long, free-form improvisations that truly bend the constructs of the mind. They were one of the first bands to build a career solely out of their live performances.

Each Grateful Dead performance was unique in itself, often with different setlists each night. This eventually gained the band a fanbase that would follow them from city to city.

As you progress on the guitar, it’s likely that you’ll dabble a little bit in playing improvised guitar solos. It’s also likely that you’ll come across the Grateful Dead in this pursuit.

One of the best songs to get you started with this pursuit is the track, Franklin’s Tower. This song is very simple, consisting of the chords A, G, and D.

Traditionally, the song is a part of a 3-song suite, following songs called Help On The Way and Slipknot! This track is a bit of a breath of fresh air considering the sheer difficulty of those songs. 

Much of the band’s songs aren’t exactly mainstream, but Franklin’s Tower gets pretty close. Those who are somewhat familiar with the band can likely recite the song’s chorus without issue.

“Barbara Ann” by The Beach Boys

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Just about everybody under the sun is at least somewhat familiar with The Beach Boys. Much of their music has been associated with summertime, thanks in part to their surfing imagery. 

Barbara Ann was actually one of the earliest hits that The Beach Boys had. It topped the pop charts, which eventually fueled Brian Wilson’s obsessive desire to continue creating the best music possible. 

Sure, Barbara Ann might not have the lush orchestration as something found on the Pet Sounds album. However, it could be argued that, without Barbara Ann’s success, there might not have ever been a Pet Sounds. 

Barbara Ann can be played using the chords G, C, and D. This is one that you’ll definitely want some help with on the vocal front.

You will need to be warned, however, that this song will definitely get stuck in your head. It can be downright annoying when it lingers like an itch on the brain that you cannot scratch. 

“Love Me Do” by The Beatles

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Some would say that The Beatles were destined for greatness from the very beginning. Many point to the song, Love Me Do, as evidence of this opinionated fact.

Love Me Do was actually the first single that the band ever released. It was also the spark that lit the rocket to the full-on frenzy of the British Invasion of the 1960s.

This song has all of the classic Beatles hallmarks, including impeccable vocal harmonies and an upbeat swing. It was this combination that would prove to be highly potent amongst American audiences of the 60s. 

Like many other songs from the era, Love Me Do is actually pretty simple on a compositional level. You really only need to know G, C, and D, although a G7 is nice to throw in occasionally. 

Love Me Do is the perfect song to play for a duet. There aren’t many people who would object to hearing this song if it is done well. 

“Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

"Bad Moon Rising" by Creedence Clearwater Revival

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If you’re a complete beginner, you would do well to learn some songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Much of the band’s well-known catalog is built from simple compositions.

Take the song, Bad Moon Rising, for instance. This song can likely be recognized within the first few seconds of listening. 

Despite being built from D, A, and G, it sets itself apart from other songs using the same chords. The key to this really lies in the strumming pattern used throughout, so you’ll want to give that extra attention. 

Bad Moon Rising’s chorus also feels like it uses different chords. However, this is just a clever repositioning of chords to create a different feel.

Whether you’re a complete beginner or somebody more advanced, you’ll benefit from learning this song. It provides plenty of evidence that it doesn’t take much to write a very catchy song. 

“Blowin’ In The Wind” by Bob Dylan

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Bob Dylan is certainly one of the most important songwriters in recent history. He was influential in bringing folk music to the mainstream, as well as bridging the style into rock music form.

If you’re playing out in front of an audience and taking requests, you should have a Bob Dylan song prepared. You can almost bet that at some point during the night, somebody will make a request for some Dylan.

The song, Blowin’ In The Wind is a great starting point for adding some Bob Dylan to your repertoire. This folk hit can be played using the chords G, C, and D, with a capo on the 7th fret.

“Can’t You See” by The Marshall Tucker Band

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When it comes to southern rock, most people associate the genre’s sound with The Allman Brothers Band. However, The Marshall Tucker Band was another group that was instrumental in bringing the southern rock sound to the mainstream. 

Perhaps the biggest hit The Marshall Tucker Band ever produced is the song, Can’t You See. It was the first song they ever released, although it didn’t gain traction until its re-release a few years after. 

This song is easily recognizable thanks to its iconic flute melody and signature chorus. Even those only vaguely familiar with the song can probably recite the song’s chorus from memory.

Can’t You See is very simple on a compositional level, consisting of the chords D, C, and G. Despite sharing the same chords as many other songs, this track has a certain open feel to its sound. 

It’s generally a good idea to have this song tucked away in your back pocket. You’ll be able to rouse up a crowd into a singalong during the chorus without any issues. 

As you start to play out more frequently, you’ll see the importance of this kind of connection with an audience. It’s a good start to ensuring you’ll be able to return to the establishment for future gigs.

“Wild Thing” by The Troggs

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It might be a little annoying to have to hear so much about the 1960s. However, the decade planted seeds that sprouted into much of the modern music styles that we have today. 

The beginning of the 1960s still had the buttoned-up politeness that was present throughout the 1950s. As the 1960s progressed, things began to become a little more loose and free.

Take the song, Wild Thing, for instance, which was originally written in 1965. The original version didn’t chart at all, perhaps because of its non-commercial musical aspects.

When The Troggs released a cover of it a year later, it went all the way to number 1. Sometimes, it really is all about the timing. 

Today, that version played by The Troggs is known across the world and has become embedded in pop culture. It’s also become a song that many use to personify the start of the psychedelic era of the late 1960s. 

Wild Thing is perfectly appropriate for a beginner to play, consisting primarily of the chords A, D, and E. The verses do have a brief alternation between G and A in between vocal lines. 

If you are just getting started with guitar pedals, this makes for a good starting point. You’ll be able to get as psychedelic as you wish here, all while remaining relatively simple. 

“Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley

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Elvis Presley won a massive base of fans with his rich voice and his rock and roll musical stylings. Some have even gone as far as to claim that he is the King of rock, though this is debatable. 

Much of Elvis’s work was riding a fine line between buttoned-up commercialism and sultry taboo. It could be said that Elvis was instrumental in the artistic freedoms that many musicians take for granted today. 

While Elvis had many hits throughout his career, one of his most upbeat and swinging tracks was Hound Dog. At its core, it is a fundamental blues song, providing further evidence of the importance of blues in rock music. 

Hound Dog can be played utilizing the chords C, F, and G. If you know how to play C7, it can be a tasteful addition to throw in occasionally.

You’ll definitely want to learn this song if you have a voice that can emulate the unique Elvis vocal characteristics. 

“Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley

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Do you wish to make others feel good when they hear you play the guitar? You might want to consider getting a few Bob Marley tunes under your belt.

A great place to start on your reggae journey is with the song, Three Little Birds. It might be ironic considering the title, but you only need 3 chords to play this song in its entirety. 

The chords you’ll be using here are A, D, and E. While you can play them with open chords, it’s best to play them using barre chords.

Reggae guitar has its own unique rhythm pattern, usually consisting of chord stabs on the offbeat. Playing the barre chord forms will give you the ability to mute the strings and properly emulate the style.  

Once you've learned this song, it’s also worth checking out the famous song, Stir It Up. Believe it or not, the song uses the same 3 chords as Three Little Birds.

Easy Guitar Songs With 3 Chords, Final Thoughts

So those were the best guitar songs with 3 chords. Are you surprised to find that so many popular songs share similar chord compositions? It just goes to show that you don’t need to know a whole lot to craft a well-known song.

In fact, simplicity often reigns supreme when it comes to writing songs that are easy for audiences to digest. You’ll definitely want to keep that fact in mind as you progress to higher levels of skill on the guitar. 

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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