For beginners out there, it can be tough to decide which songs to practice with—never getting out of your comfort zone can stall your abilities, but jumping to complex melodies can make you run before you learn how to walk.
That’s why I propose the perfect middle road: gaining confidence by practicing different songs featuring a simple combination of chords you may already be familiar with.
The following fifteen songs only use three chords—G, C, and D. This combination makes them nice and easy to practice, yet still incredibly charming in their unique ways. Take a look at my picks and select your favorites.
One final note before we get started: don’t forget to tune your guitar! These songs won’t sound right if your guitar is out of tune… If you need a great tuner, here’s my favorite clip-on guitar tuner (on Amazon).
With that out of the way, let’s jump into The 15 Best Easy Guitar Songs with GCD Chords:
Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd.
The legends of southern rock, Lynyrd Skynyrd, faced unparalleled tragedy after that heart-rending airplane accident. Yet, their original lineup left us everlasting gems such as Free Bird and Sweet Home Alabama.
But stay away from playing Free Bird if you’re an absolute beginner just yet—it is the latter of the two the one featured in this list. Sweet Home Alabama is an easy and uncomplicated song apt for all beginners thanks to its straightforward D-C-G chord progression.
Just keep an eye out for the strays F chords sneaking in here and there.
Wonderful – Everclear.
Although alternative rock band Everclear has had many exceptional songs that have received widespread acclaim, it is undeniable that Wonderful is their most well-known one and can even be considered their signature song.
The woeful song released in 2000 displays moving lyrics about a family breaking apart through a divorce, as told from a child’s perspective.
But the complexity of these poignant lyrics hides an effortless and straightforward G-D-C-D chord progression that is easy to follow along without further complications yet remains a catchy and engaging tune that will never fail to impress.
Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon.
Released in 1978, Werewolves of London is a fun song that starts by talking about a werewolf with a Chinese menu.
However, the humoristic take of its lyrics does not mean the song is a joke by itself—Warren Zevon displays excellent vocal skill and features Mick Fleetwood and John McVie as personnel in the drums and electric bass, respectively.
The song plays in D key and is exceptionally easy, following a clear D-C-G chord progression from start to finish. Naturally, this makes the song a fan favorite for novice players and a must for total beginners.
You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away – the Beatles.
Written and sung by John Lennon, he cites Bob Dylan as his evident influence for the track. Needless to say, it is pretty easy to pinpoint—the song oozes a distinctive Dylan-like folk sound on the guitar.
Simple and straightforward, You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away places all the emotional focus on the lyrics and the guitar. Despite this—or precisely because of that—the chord progression is also minimalistic and easy to follow.
The song starts on a G-D-C progression and, as it reaches the chorus, shifts to G-C-D.
The Joker – Steve Miller Band.
Do you know what the pompatus of love is all about? If so, you must be pretty familiar with Steve Miller Band’s hit The Joker, a song that single-handedly took over the charts and pop culture of the 70s since its release in 1973.
The lyrics are full of in-jokes and references to the band’s previous works, creating an interesting combination of humor, charm, and sheer excellence. The guitar, in particular, is pretty simple, which only works to enhance the catchiness of the tune and its appeal.
The chord progression is a simple G-C-D and has no particular complications.
Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms – Flatt & Scruggs.
An absolute bluegrass classic, Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms does not really have an author—it is an American traditional song with origins lost in history. However, the first well-known release is that of Flatt & Scruggs alongside the Foggy Mountain Boys, dating back to 1951.
In general, most arrangements for this song fit beginner to intermediate levels, as the notes are quite clear and easy to remember.
Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash.
Written by June Carter Cash and performed by Johnny Cash, Ring of Fire is a song that has become as legendary as the musician himself since its very release in 1969.
Consistently considered one of the best country songs ever recorded, it has managed to escape the restrictions of the genre and move on to gain mainstream appeal and a position on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 greatest songs of all time.
But grandiosity does not always come in the form of complexity. The chords are a simple G-C-D progression with a reasonably simplistic strumming pattern, making it the ideal song for an absolute beginner’s repertoire.
You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC.
Released in 1980, You Shook Me All Night Long is just yet another of the many legendary songs that came out of the band’s memorable Back in Black album—a testament to Brian Johnson’s talent and the group’s resiliency after the tragic loss of Bon Scott.
In particular, You Shook Me All Night Long became the first single with Johnson as the main vocalist with tremendous success. It is a song with a simple G-C-D chord progression in the key of G major, yet it showcases the talents of Angus and Malcolm Young in all their glory.
Nine Pound Hammer – John Prine / Tony Rice / etc.
To say that there are many versions, covers, and interpretations of Nine Pound Hammer would be an understatement.
As a traditional prison and railroad work song, its origins have been lost in history, which means there are plenty of songs with similar lyrics and tunes. Nine Pound Hammer is, subsequently, very similar to Take This Hammer, Asheville Junction, and many other pieces collectively known as hammer songs—similar structure and rhythm.
A must-know for any bluegrass enthusiast, Nine Pound Hammer, and their variations have a repetitive and uncomplicated G-C-D chord progression.
Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison.
Van The Man has too many accolades to count—including being knighted and an induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But despite having a career spanning over six decades, his signature song is none other than his very first single: Brown Eyed Girl.
The song has a distinctively tropical influence, quite notorious in the guitar and perhaps on purpose, considering the song’s original name was Brown-Skinned Girl. Most of the track is played through the G-C-D chord progression, but careful listeners will notice the Em right before the chorus.
Hallelujah, I’m Ready – Ricky Skaggs.
Ricky Skaggs is a bluegrass legend and an accomplished multi-instrumentalist responsible for countless contributions to country music as a whole.
Although he has had many hits and successes across the years—including the impeccable Highway 40 Blues—Hallelujah, I’m Ready is a quintessential bluegrass country track that truly shines through in its simplicity.
Like other entries in this list, the chord progression is a simple and repetitive C-G-D that remains easy to learn, memorize, practice, and perform. It is, simply put, a must-have in the repertoire of every bluegrass gospel enthusiast.
Love Me Do – The Beatles.
When an up-and-coming British band The Beatles released their first single—titled Love Me Do—no one could quite predict the storm that was about to hit the world.
Love Me Do is the technical first for many of The Beatles’ staples, including the now-legendary Lennon-McCartney partnership. Their first hit reached success through the charm of simplicity highlighted by Lennon’s harmonica and McCartney on the main vocals.
Harrison’s guitar has a simple G7-C chord progression with the D poping during the middle eight. All these elements combine to give the song a distinctive blues sound.
D-18 Song (Thank You, Mr. Martin) – Norman Blake.
If you own a Martin D-18 acoustic guitar, you must be aware of its unparalleled quality and exceptional sound. I have one, and I can attest to its excellence and versatility—apt for any genre, from bluegrass to rock.
I am only one of its most humble admirers, as it was a favorite of legends like Johnny Cash. But none of these enthusiasts loved it as much as Norman Blake, as attested by an entire song dedicated to the guitar.
The song itself is a charming bluegrass tune with a clear G-C-D7 chord progression perfect for playing in, of course, a D-18.
Let Her Cry – Hootie & the Blowfish.
When Hootie & The Blowfish debuted in 1994 with their Cracked Rear View album, they had no idea it would become one of the best-selling albums of all time.
Their second single was Let Her Cry, a Grammy-winning song inspired by The Black Crowes’ She Talks to Angels. Lead singer Darius Rucker’s powerful voice shines through the entire piece alongside a stellar guitar with a memorable riff.
Luckily, the song is apt for an absolute guitar beginner—with a slow tempo of 71 bpm, it features a GDCG chord progression with an Em in the chorus.
I Have Found the Way – Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.
It is not an understatement to proclaim Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver as one of the most influential and emblematic bluegrass gospel bands of all time, with Lawson himself standing out as a particularly legendary mandolin player.
I Have Found The Way is a sweet bluegrass gospel song with striking harmonies and positive energy that spreads joy to whoever listens. Part of its charm is undoubtedly the result of its strings’ composition.
Beginners will find joy in knowing the G-C-G-D7 chord progression remains constant throughout the song, making it easy to learn, practice, and perform.