Trying to learn your favorite songs on guitar, but overwhelmed at how many chords there are in some of them? This post is for you! Below, we’ll be exploring my favorite songs to learn on guitar that only require three chords or less.
I even put the chords for each song right in the header of each song listing… so you can see if you already know the 3 chords of each song before deciding to learn it.
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).
Now let’s jump into the 35 Best Easy & Famous Guitar Songs that Use 3 Chords or Less!
Closer To The Heart – Rush – A, G, and D chords
Rush’s Closer to the Heart is a classic song that sounds a lot harder than it really is. The verse and chorus of this classic rock favorite use only the A, G, and D chords.
They do throw a C chord in for the guitar solo section… but if you’re playing by yourself you’ll probably cut that section out anyways.
Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffett – D, G, and A Chords
Everyone’s favorite Jimmy Buffet song also only uses 3 chords as its foundation: D, G, and A. Jimmy spices it up at some points by playing a D7 or A7 instead of just the regular D and A chords, but this is optional. It gives you something to work up to as you’re practicing this easy 3 chord guitar song.
The Middle – Jimmy Eat World – D, A, and G Chords
This one goes out to all the 90s kids. Another D, A, and G chord classic, The Middle is Jimmy Eat World’s most popular song by far, and one of the easiest and coolest songs to learn on guitar (even though it uses just 3 easy chords!).
Dead Flowers – Rolling Stones – D, A, and G Chords
A great song from 1971, Rolling Stones’ Dead Flowers features notably dark lyrics, particularly the line, “I’ll be in my basement room, with a needle and a spoon”, (an obvious drug reference).
“Dead Flowers” was written during the period when the Stones were stepping into country music territory, and you can certainly hear this in the sound, and the simple 3 chord structure of the song.
Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash – E, A, and B Chords
One of Johnny Cash’s most famous songs, Folsom Prison Blues is deceptively simple. A good rule of thumb is that many blues songs often only require 3 chords (The 1, or “root” chord that they key is in, and then the 4 chord and 5 chord). For example, Folsom Prison Blues uses just E, A, and B chords.
Love Me Do – The Beatles – G, C, and D Chords
Many Beatles songs use simple chords, and often only use 3 or 4 chords at most. Love Me Do is a great example, and uses only 3 chords: G, C, and D chords.
Feeling Alright – Joe Cocker – F and C Chords
Feeling Alright was originally recorded by the band Traffic, but today Joe Cocker’s version is far more famous. Cocker recorded it to lead off his debut album With a Little Help from My Friends in 1969 and also changed the title of the original from “Feelin’ Alright?” to “Feeling Alright”.
Unknown Legend – Neil Young – G and C Chords
One of Neil Young’s easiest songs, Unknown Legend requires only two simple chords. The song is about a young woman with a free spirit and the magic of the open road.
Mr. Tambourine Man – Bob Dylan – D, G, and A Chords
Bob Dylan is a master acoustic songwriter, but many of his songs are easier to learn on the guitar than you might think. Mr. Tambourine Man is a great example.
Blowin’ in the Wind – Bob Dylan – G, C, and D Chords
One of Dylan’s most famous songs ever, Blowin’ In the Wind is also one of his easiest songs to play. It is one of Dylan’s “protest” songs and as such, peace is a strong recurring theme throughout the lyrics.
Franklin’s Tower – The Grateful Dead – A, G, and D chords
The Grateful Dead were one of the most legendary jam bands ever, and many of their songs can be complicated. However, one of my favorites, Franklin’s Tower, is extremely easy. The song is in the key of A and requires just three chords on your guitar: A, G and D.
Stir It Up – Bob Marley – A, D, and E chords
Stir things up with some reggae. Bob Marley’s classic song is built off of the A, D, and E chords, and is one of the best songs to start out with if you want to dive deeper into playing reggae songs on your guitar.
I Saw The Light – Hank Williams – G, C and D chords
Perhaps the most famous country gospel song of all time, I Saw the Light has been covered by dozens of artists over the years. One of my favorite versions is Hank Williams, because of it’s simplicity. All you need to know to play this gospel classic is G, C, and D chords.
Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash – G, C and D chords
Ring of Fire is another Johnny Cash song that only uses three chords: G, C, and D. The song is easy to play on guitar… the harder part is matching Johnny’s famous baritone voice.
Pride and Joy – Stevie Ray Vaughan – E, A and B Chords
Time for some blues rock – Texas style. Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Pride and Joy is a simple blues rock song that only uses 3 chords. While the chords are easy, SRV’s guitar soloing over them is incredibly skilled.
Leaving on a Jet Plane – John Denver – G, C and D chords
Another G, C, D guitar masterpiece. Leaving on a Jet Plane is one of John Denver’s most famous songs and one of his easiest to play on the guitar.
Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd – G, C and D chords
Anyone who’s heard Freebird knows that Lynyrd Skynyrd’s guitarists are no slouches when it comes to the guitar. However, the chords for many of their songs are actually quite simple. For example, the band’s hit song Sweet Home Alabama only uses G, C, and D chords for both the verse and chorus of the song.
Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival – G, D, and A chords
Creedence Clearwater Revivial has perhaps produced more hit songs than any other bands. What’s more impressive is that the songs are almost all extremely simple when it comes to their chord structure. Bad Moon Rising is a great example, as the song is built off of easy G, D, and A chords.
Paperback Writer – The Beatles – G and C Chords
Another easy Beatles song to learn is the band’s classic Paperback Writer – which uses just 2 chords on guitar!
Solitude – Black Sabbath – Gm and F chords
As you’ll see in the link above, Black Sabbath’s Solitude only uses two chords, so it’s one of the easier songs to play on this list. Since it’s a minor tune, it’s also a good change of pace, as many easy 3 chord guitar songs tend to be overwhelmingly in major keys.
Jane Says – Jane’s Addiction – G and A chords
Jane Says is a song by American rock band Jane’s Addiction, and it was released as a promotional single in 1988. It eventually became the band’s first chart entry on the Alternative Songs chart, peaking at #6.
It is one of Jane’s Addiction’s most famous songs to this day, and frequently ends their concerts.
Horse with No Name – America – Em and D69/F# chords
Horse with No Name is one of America’s classic tracks – one that nearly everyone will recognize from the radio. It’s also a simple song to play, with just 3 chords on the guitar.
Walk of Life – Dire Straits – E, B and A Chords
Dire Straits released a wave of killer songs throughout the 70s and 80s. Walk of Life has always been one of my favorites, partly because it’s so easy to learn with just 3 chords.
The Joker – Steve Miller Band – G, C, and D Chords
Everyone loves Steve Miller Band’s Joker for it’s funny lyrics (“some people call me Mo—reese”). The song is one fo their most popular and easiest to play.
In the Air Tonight – Phil Collins – Dm, C, and Bb Chords
This smash single was in the spotlight again when it was featured in an awesome scene of the hangover with Mike Tyson. It’s probably easier to learn than you would have thought…
The Gambler – Kenny Rogers – G, C, and D Chords
The Gambler by Kenny Rogers is one of the most famous country western songs of all time, and its lyrics are constantly referenced:
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done
Twist and Shout – the Beatles – D, G, and A Chords
Another easy Beatles classic and one of their most iconic songs.
The Trooper – Iron Maiden – Em, D, and C Chords
Many classic metal songs are also easier than you might think. Take The Trooper, by Iron Maiden, one of the most legendary riffs of all time. And yet the songs only requires 3 chords to learn.
Wild Thing – The Troggs – A, D and E chords
This old classic by the Toggs is sure to be recognized instantly once you start playing it on your guitar.
Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin – D, E, and A Chords
You can’t go wrong learning Led Zeppelin on guitar, but some of their songs are harder than others. Lucky for you, some of them (like Whole Lotta Love) use just a few chords and are easy to play on guitar.
What I Got – Sublime – D and G Chords
This Sublime classic is a great laid-back tune to play at parties or gatherings. Only two chords required!
Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol – A, E/G# and D Chords
This song was huge when I was growing up. If you want to trigger some serious nostalgia among 90s kids, this song is the one for you.
Achy Breaky Heart – Billy Ray Cyrus – A and E Chords
One of Billy Ray Cyrus’ most famous songs, Achy Breaky Heart is an easy country classic that you could learn on guitar right now – considering that it only uses 2 chords!
Three Little Birds – Bob Marley – A, D, and E Chords
Three Little Birds is another simple Bob Marley tune that is instantly recognizable. Get into a reggae state of mind and whip this one out on your guitar.
For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield – E, A, and D chords
A classic protest song from the 60s, and one of Neil Young’s first musical appearances to go mega mainstream… this is a tune for the ages. This song uses 90% E, A and D chords, but does occasionally throw in the G and C chord.
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