The oldest trick in the book
You’ve probably heard jokes about acts such as Status Quo or Chuck Berry writing songs with three chords. Well, it’s no joke - and they’re not the only ones taking the easy road: this staple jam session progression is heard throughout rock, blues, folk, and more.
Get the chords down and you’ll have thousands of songs to try. Known as a I-IV-V (‘one-four-five’) progression, or ‘three-chord trick’, the chords are built on the first, fourth and fifth notes of the major scale. Learn the scales to find out the chords.
One-four-five progression in C
There are seven notes in the key of C major (or eight, if you count C twice). It’s easy to see that the chords of a one-four-five progression in C must be C, F and G.
One-four-five progression in G
This should be easy, by now. Obviously a I-IV-V in G major uses G, C and D chords. It’s really easy to play because you can use open chords.
One-four-five progression in E
E major is hard scale to remember, thanks to the sharp (#) notes. Still, it’s one of the more common scales for guitarists so try to remember the E-A-B progression.
One-four-five progression in F
These chords are tough, but useful. Tough because you have to play barre chords. Useful because you can move the shapes anywhere on the neck to a different pitch.
Get started with these 10 classic songs that use the I-IV-V progression…
- Bob Marley - Three Little Birds (A D E)
- Chuck Berry - Johnny B Goode (Bb Eb F)
- Dire Straits - Walk Of Life (E A B)
- George Ezra - Budapest (F Bb C)
- U2 - I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (C# F# G#)
- Stevie Ray Vaughan - Pride And Joy (Eb Ab Bb)
- Tracy Chapman - Give Me One Reason (F# B C#)
- Jake Bugg - Lightning Bolt (E A B)
- Status Quo - Rockin’ All Over The World (C F G)
- Led Zeppelin - Rock And Roll (A D E)