The best thing about the guitar is that by learning just a few simple chords you are able to play a huge list of songs that will impress anyone you perform for. In this article, we are looking at four specific chords as well as giving you ten songs you can play by using those chords.
First of all, we’re going to teach you the chords used for our easy guitar songs. Remember that these won’t be no capo guitar songs so you’ll need your tool on hand to be able to play along with us. We’ll be using the G major, C major, D major and E minor. We will provide you with the chord charts for each of these easy guitar chords so you can find your finger and fret placement easily.
The chord charts we have provided below are an important method of reading guitar music. If you are unfamiliar with these charts, you can learn how to read them right here.
Reading a Chord Chart
With a chord chart, you are looking at a basic snapshot of your guitar’s neck. Think of it so that the headstock points upwards. The horizontal lines on the chart represent your fret wires that separate out each fret and the vertical lines are your strings.
You will see dots inside of these charts which represent where your fingers of the left-hand are placed. You will place that finger over the string inside the fret that is indicated on the chart. For example, with the G major chart which we have provided you with below the can see that your third finger sits on the third fret, your second finger on the second and your fourth finger back on the third fret.
More often than not your thumb stays as the anchor point that sits at the top of the guitar neck which will deaden your sixth string. You may also want to use the edge of one of your fretting fingers to mute a string that sits next to it. This is a technique called flesh muting which means you can strum all six of the strings of your guitar and only have five of them ring out.
The Four Chords
G Major Chord: Take your third finger and place it on the lowest E string which is the thickest string on your guitar. You will want to use your third fret with this one. Your second finger will be placed on the second fret for the A string. Your fourth finger goes onto the highest E string which is the thinnest of your strings and will need to be held on the third fret. To finish off the G major chord you strum all six of these strings together.
A great tip when playing easy guitar songs and chords is to mind your finger placement. Make sure that your fingertips are right down behind the frets to make the clearest sound possible. This also prevents the strings from making a buzzing noise when played.
C Major Chord: You need to place your third finger first for this chord and this will sit on the A string and the third fret of your guitar neck. Your second finger can then go onto the D string using the second fret. Your first finger is the last up and this sits on your B string on the first fret. You will only use five strings to make this major chord sound so make sure to leave your low E string out when strumming.
The tips of your fingers should be used to play chords like this otherwise your chord sound will sound muddy and may even buzz. Being lazy with your fingers will result in a sound that isn’t very pleasant to the ears.
D Major Chord: Next we have the D major chord which takes your first finger on the G string with the second fret. The third finger can sit on your B string using the third fret. Your second finger sits on the highest E string and will need the second fret to sound right. You only strum four strings to make the D major chord as you leave out the low E and the A string of your guitar.
E Minor Chord: For the only minor chord we’re going to use in our easy guitar songs list you take your second finger and place it on the A string using the second fret. Your third finger sits on the D string with the second fret. That’s all the instruction you need for this chord and you will be strumming all six strings to make the right sound.
Switching Chords and Using the Capo
Before you start on our list of easy guitar songs there are a few more tips and tricks we want to share with you to get you sounding as professional as possible. The tips we want to give you is how to smoothly switch and transition from chord to chord when playing songs and how to use your capo.
Visualizing the chords: The best thing you can do when working through a chord progression in any song is to visualize the shape of the next chord you are going to play before you move into it. This helps you keep one step ahead at all times so that when it comes time to play the next easy guitar chord, you know exactly where to move and what to do with your fingers. It can also prevent you from having to take long pauses between chord progressions during a song.
Memorize the chords: Every chord you learn you should try to commit it to memory. It’s important to get that muscle memory of how a chord feels when you play it and where your fingers should be placed. Once you practice enough playing a chord progression in an easy guitar second will become second nature and you won’t even have to think about it anymore.
If you are having trouble with your chord shapes then we’ve got a top tip for you there too. Take that difficult chord shape and remove your fingers from the fretboard. Then remove it. Keep taking your fingers on and off the fretboard like this over and over again so that eventually you place your fingers down all at once and not one finger at a time. Eventually, your natural muscle memory will begin to kick in and a chord progression where you switch from one to another will become much easier.
Using the capo: A capo is a really useful tool for any guitarist to have and despite what people say, it’s not cheating! This tool allows you to play in any guitar key you want and you only have to use a few chords to achieve it. Think of it as a nut that can be moved up and down your fretboard. For example, you can play a capo on the fifth fret and then play a G chord. Because of the capo, this would actually change the chord to a C. In this way, you can play a much wider array of songs just by moving the capo and using the four chords we have detailed in this article.
If you’re unsure of where to place your capo we’ve got a tip for you here as well. Much like when you are placing your fingers on the strings of your guitar, the capo has to sit really close to the fret you place it on. If the capo is placed randomly in the middle of the frets then the strings won’t make the right noise and the guitar will probably sound out of tune.
10 Easy Guitar Songs
Now we can move on to our list of songs. For every song we have featured in this list we will detail what key to play it in, where to place your capo and what chord progression you will be using. If you need help with the strumming patterns for the song then you can listen to the original versions which we have provided under each piece. We’ve also given you the tab for each song if you want to have a go at playing the full version.
1. Peace of Mind – Boston
As promised we are going to give you the key, the capo placement and easy chord progression for every song in this list. For Peace of Mind by Boston, you will be playing in the key of E. The capo sits on the ninth fret and the chords follow an E minor, C, G, D pattern.
2. If I Were a Boy – Beyonce
You will need to play this Beyonce classic in the key of F sharp but don’t be put off by this if you are a beginner. Don’t worry, we’re still only using the same four chords we detailed at the beginning of this article. You will need to place your capo on the eleventh fret to get the right tone for the song. The chord progression goes E minor, C, G and then D.
3. When I Come Around – Green Day
Another song that you will play in the F sharp key is When I Come Around by Green Day. The capo is also placed on the eleventh fret here as well, the same as you did with the Beyonce track. You need to follow the chord progression of G, D, E minor and C to achieve the right sound for the song. Remember if you need to check the rhythm of any of these pieces you can listen to the original recordings we have provided below each song on the list.
4. It’s My Life – Bon Jovi
We’re switching up the key this time with an E flat for It’s My Life by Bon Jovi. You can take your capo and place that on the eighth fret and then play the chord progression of E minor, C, G, E minor, C, D to recreate the classic sound of this song.
5. No Woman, No Cry – Bob Marley
This one is a relatively easy song even when you play the full version because it’s in the key of C. You will need your capo on the fifth fret to achieve the right sound. The chord progression goes G, D, E minor, C, G, C, G, D.
6. Let It Be – The Beatles
Let It Be by The Beatles is probably one of their easiest songs ever made and it’s always appearing on easy-to-play lists. You’ll be in the key of C and the capo will need to be clipped onto the fifth fret. To play the chord progression you need to use E minor, D, C, G, D, C, G.
7. Save Tonight – Eagle Eye Cherry
Another one in the key of C is Save Tonight by Eagle Eye Cherry. You can keep your capo on the fifth fret here and then follow a simple four-chord progression of E minor, C, G and D.
8. Cryin’ – Aerosmith
We’re changing keys again for the last three entries into our top 10 easy songs list with our simple guitar chords. For Cryin’ you’ll be using the key of A and a capo placed on the second fret. The chord progression goes G, D, E minor, C, G, D, C to sound like the original.
9. Country Roads – John Denver
Again we’re in the key of A to play this classic from John Denver. You will have your capo at the top of your guitar neck on the second fret to recreate the right notes and sounds with the guitar chords we provided. The chord structure for the song is easy as well and goes G, D, E minor, C, G, D, C, G so there is a lot of repetition throughout the piece to get your fingers moving.
10. One Of Us – Joan Osborne
The last entry in our list still goes with the key of A to recreate One Of Us by Joan Osborne. You won’t have to move your capo either because this stays at the top of the guitar neck on the second fret. For our last chord progression, you will follow the pattern of D, E minor, C, G, D, E minor, C, G, D.
Being able to play every song on this list should give you much more motivation to be a great guitarist because, even though they’re easy, it’s still playing real and recognizable music. The pieces we have chosen here are meant to give you some excellent practice for building on those fundamental guitar skills as well as helping with smooth chord transitions too. Once you have gone through the list you can pick out your favorites and go back over them to learn the harder versions of each song. To make things even easier, there are some of these songs which can be played with three chords. All of them use mainly open chords and a basic strumming pattern so no beginner will get lost trying to play on an electric or acoustic guitar.
Playing the guitar means you have to put in a lot of time and practice not only to learn your chords and basic skills but also to transition through chords smoothly so that songs sound like the originals. If you have enjoyed our article or have some suggestions on other four-chord songs you have found easy in your guitar playing career then make sure to leave us a comment below.