The Magic of G C D

“All I have is a red guitar, three chords, and the truth.”  -Bono

I find that we often get too caught up in the complications that life sometimes entails.  But by keeping hold of an old mantra, KISS  or “keep it simple stupid” we persevere and prevail.  This same principle applies to music and, more specifically, guitar.  Some of my best music has been written with 3 chords.  In fact, some of the most popular and enduring songs in the world have been written with only 3 chords.  Which ones?  Here’s a short list.

1)  Every blues song

2)  Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd

3)  Time of Your Life – Green Day

4)  Every Rose has its Thorn – Poison

5)  Knockin’ on Heavens Door – Bob Dylan

6)  Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds – The Beatles

7)  Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival

8)  You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC

9)  Wild Thing – The Troggs

10)  Louie Louie – The Kingsmen

Again, this is just a short list of songs that jump to my mind first.   The list is in the hundreds.

Referring back to the blues:

These three chords are also used in blues. In the key of G, a typical twelve bar blues sequence would be:
G | G | G | G | C | C | G | G | D | C | G | D7

The D7 chord is used as a “turnaround” which is a way of flowing back into the beginning of the sequence again instead of coming to a stop on the G chord. This chord progression is called the I IV V progression because if you take G as the first note on the scale, C is the fourth and D is the fifth.

It may seem hard to believe, but if you can play these three chords, you are off to a strong start already!  Most of my beginner students pick these chords up rather quickly and it blows their mind how far we can go with the magnitude of songs we can cover.

Here are the chords.  Now start practicing and you can be the bell of the bonfire!

G MajorC MajorD Major

Andrew McCormick has been serving Orange County with high quality guitar instruction to students of all skill levels for many years.  

Call:  714-955-3278 or email at: for more information/references.

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