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Learn 4 key John Lennon Beatles chords and approaches

John Lennon
(Image credit: Harry Benson/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

John Lennon's iconic status as a result of his songwriting means his work will remain part of pop culture forever. Regardless whether you think he’s a genius or one of the sloppiest guitar players around, his primitive and driving rhythm style took '50s rock n' roll sensibilities and put them into the mainstream for a new generation.

In this lesson we’re going to look at four chords and rhythm ideas from The Beatles that will give your own playing an instant John Lennon flavour.

Partial minor barre chord

Chord

(Image credit: Future)

With a two-guitar lineup in The Beatles, Lennon was often seen to play partial or alternate chord voicings to compliment Harrison.

This four-string minor barre chord, as heard in the frantic stumming of All My Loving is a great example of how playing a smaller chord voicing can free up space for other instruments in the mix, especially when strummed fast.


THAT infamous Hard Days Night chord

Chord

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Now this is a hotly debated chord. Is it a Dsus4? Did it have a G in the bass? There are many variables here. 

It is fairly well accepted that Lennon played this Fadd9 shape with the open A string and his thumb playing the low F. George Harrison played another add9 variation, which Paul McCartney and producer George Martin also added their sonic stamp to this infamous chord.


The Minor IV concept

Chord

(Image credit: Future)

This is not so much a song specific chord, but more of a concept. If you’re writing a chord progression and you want to add some Lennon flavour, throw in a minor variation on your 4 chord.

If you’re doing a 1 4 5 in A, you’d be using A, D and E. Play that progression and throw a Dm on the end. The minor 4 chord is not in the key, but provides a Lennon-esque resolution back to the root.


Driving Blues Groove

(Image credit: Future)

It’s hard to avoid the fact that The Beatles were early pioneers of hard rock. Tracks like Come Together and Get Back feature a rock solid, bluesy stomp laid down by Lennon.

This is your basic 12-bar blues style shuffle but played a little straighter.

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Leigh Fuge is a guitar player and content creator with a love for all things '80s. When he’s not creating gear demos for his Youtube channel (opens in new tab) he’s teaching students via his online guitar course Right Notes Music Tuition (opens in new tab). Off camera he spends most of his time travelling around the UK performing at functions and corporate events.  www.instagram.com/leighfugeguitar