Three Chord Songs – 10 Essential Songs You Must Know

Want to learn the best three chord songs out there? Then this is the place to be! Grab your guitar and get ready to learn 10 of the best three chord songs around.


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In this free lesson you will learn:

  • 10 easy three chord songs that will make you sound amazing.
  • 7 essential chords which will turbo-charge your guitar playing.
  • 3 top secret tips that will turn you into a better guitarist today.

So you want to learn three chord songs…

One of the best parts about learning the guitar is learning songs. 9 times out of 10 when people pick up the guitar they want to learn great songs.

  • However when most guitarists try to learn their favourite songs they often get stunted by how many chords there are to learn.
  • This almost always stops them from learning and leads to frustration, anger and sometimes leads students to stop playing altogether, this is the last thing we want!

So, to put a stop to this madness, we’ve created a lesson full of three chord songs. These songs are easy to play, fun and will make you a better guitarist.

Let’s dive into learning the best three chord songs around.


Three Chord Songs – I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas

‘I gotta feeling’ by the Black Eyed Peas is one of the easiest three chord songs that you can play on guitar.

  • Not only is it super easy to play, it’s also hugely popular amongst audiences all around the world.
  • The song itself was nominated for song of the year at the Grammys and also won a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

Here are a few reasons why it’s perfect for beginners to learn:

  • It only uses three chords throughout the whole song.
  • Each chord is held for the same amount of beats.
  • It’s great for getting to grips with chord changes.

You can listen to the song here:

What are the chords?

The chords for this song are G, C and Em. Here are the chordboxes:


Don’t understand this image? Go here: How To Read Guitar Chordboxes

How do I play this song?

Each chord is held for 8 beats. The sequence of chords goes like this:

  • G x8.
  • C x8.
  • Em x8.
  • C x8.

There are a number of different ways to strum this song, if you’re experienced with chords you might like to strum each chord 8 times.

However, if you’re a complete beginner take a listen to this audio clip to hear Jack break down this song:

The chords are too hard! Is there an easier way to play these chords?

Yes! You can substitute each of these chords for ‘stepping-stone’ chords.

  • ‘Stepping-Stone’ chords are easier versions of standard open chords.
  • The stepping-stone versions of G, C and Em are G6, Cmaj7 and Em7.

Here are those chords:


For more stepping-stone chords, check out this lesson: 14 Easy Guitar Chords For Beginners

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Three Chord Songs – Can’t Stop The Feeling – Justin Timberlake

One of the best three chord songs you can learn is ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’ by Justin Timberlake.

This song is great to learn because:

  • It uses the chords C, Am and F.
  • These chords are used frequently in the verses and choruses of the songs. This means that we can play over 90% of the song with these three chords.

Here’s the song:

How do I play this three chord song?

The chords in this song are: C. Am and F.

Here’s what those chords look like:


The chords go like this:

  • C x4.
  • Am x4.
  • F x4.
  • Am x4.

The hardest chord by far in this song is the F chord. If you struggle with barre chords take a look at this video from Mike:

Are there easier ways to play these chords?

As always, you can replace all of the chords above with easier stepping-stone versions.

Here are those chords:


Three Chord Songs – Twist And Shout – The Beatles

The Beatles are easily one of the biggest bands the world has produced and were pioneers in creating three chord songs.

  • Ironically, The Beatles didn’t write ‘Twist And Shout’ that was down to writers Bert Berns and Phil Medley.
  • However, there is an argument to say that it was The Beatles who made the song so popular.

Here’s the song:

How Do I Play This Song?

This song uses the following chords:

  • D.
  • G.
  • A.


To play this song, do the following;

  • D x 2.
  • G x 2.
  • A x 4.

This song has a few twists and turns and has some tricky elements to the strumming. In this audio clip Jack explains how to play this song in more detail:

Is there an easier way to play this song?

Yes, for this song you can use the following stepping-stone chords:

  • Dsus2.
  • G6.
  • Asus2.

Here are the chord boxes for those songs:


Three Chord Songs – Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd

‘Sweet Home Alabama’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd is a country classic. A simple chord progression and some cool country licks makes this one of the best three chord songs around.

Interested in country guitar? Then check out this cool lesson: Country Guitar Lessons: 4 Essential Lessons

Interestingly, this song was written in response to Neil Young’s ‘Southern Man’ and ‘Alabama’ hence why Young is referenced in the lyrics:

‘Well, I heard Mister Young sing about her

Well, I heard ol’ Neil put her down

Well, I hope Neil Young will remember

A Southern man don’t need him around anyhow‘

You can listen to the song here:

Here are the chords for this song:


Notice how the Cadd9 chord and the G chord share a similar shape. When changing between these chords, all you have to do is:

  • Plant your 3rd and 4th fingers on the 3rd fret of the B and E string (2nd and 1st string).
  • Then move your 1st and 2nd finger from the A and D string (5th and 4th string) to the E and A string (6th and 5th string).

To play this song, make sure that you play the chords in this order:

  • D x2.
  • Cadd9 x2.
  • G x4.

To hear this in context, here’s a clip of Jack playing these chords:

Is there an easier way to play this song?

Yep, instead of D, Cadd9 and G, you can use the following chords:

  • Dsus2.
  • Cmaj7.
  • G6.

Here are those chords:


Three Chord Songs – Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison

‘Brown Eyed Girl’ by Van Morrison was easily one of the biggest three chord songs of the 60s.

However, despite it being so popular Van Morrison reportedly received no royalties for this song due to a contract which was signed without legal advice.

Listen to the song here:

This is another fantastic song for any beginner to learn, here’s why:

  • The structure is simple and only uses G, C and D chords.
  • It’s a great song to learn if you want to keep audiences on there feet.
  • It sounds fantastic!

Here are the chords for this song:


To play this song do the following:

  • G x4.
  • C x4.
  • G x4.
  • D x4.

To hear this in context, here’s a clip of Jack playing these chords:

This progression happens in both the verses and choruses of the song.

If you’re struggling with these chords you can also use the stepping-stone versions, these chords are:

  • G6.
  • Cmaj7.
  • Dsus2.


Bonus Chord – The Em Chord

When it comes to three chord songs, ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ is one of the most popular ones out there.

However, there is a secret ‘4th’ chord. This chord is Em and it appears in the bridge section. Here’s the Em chord:


Here’s how the bridge goes:

  • C x4.
  • D x4.
  • G x4.
  • Em x4.
  • C x 4.
  • D x4.
  • G x4.
  • D x16.

Here’s how that sounds:


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