8 Easy Songs on Guitar with 3 Chords or Less
From Foster the People to ZZ Top, we've got a list of songs to learn on acoustic or electric with a minimal amount of chords from Fender Play.
By Mike Duffy
For guitar players just starting their journey, the thought of actually playing a song can be daunting. But it doesn't have to be.
Fender Play has hundreds of your favorite tracks to learn through bite-sized lessons with world-class instructors broken down by genre and level of difficulty.
To dip a toe in the waters of learning a song, maybe you could start with one that has three or fewer chords to master.
To make the choice easier for you, here is a list of 8 songs with beginner friendly chords, from Foster the People to ZZ Top:
1. Ben Kweller: “Thirteen”
Ben Kweller wrote “Thirteen” while in the studio recording his eponymous 2016 third album. Fender Play instructor Barrett Wilson simplified the piano line on it to just two one-finger chords that run through the entire track. Downstrumming the G and C chords will help you on your way.
2. Israel Vibration: "Cool and Calm”
Jamaican trio Israel Vibration are one of reggae’s great vocal groups from the 1970s roots era. "Cool and Calm" was originally featured on the LP Strength Of My Life, which originally came out in 1988. With two chords to learn, the track's chilled-out vibe was a refreshing change from the metal and punk of the late '80s.
3. ZZ Top: “Tush”
ZZ Top put Texas boogie on the map by taking John Lee Hooker's rhythm approach and adding modern hard rock pickin' and lead work. “Tush” was one of their biggest hits, and Fender Play instructor Scott Goldbaum has a simplified version of this classic with just G, C and D chords. You’ll also work on your quarter note strum.
4. Black Uhuru: “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”
Work on your reggae rhythm skills with Black Uhuru’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” Fender Play instructor Jen Trani guides you through the classic reggae backbeat that runs through the entire hypnotic, groovy song.
5. Willie Dixon: “I Can’t Quit You Baby”
Willie Dixon wrote the blues standard “I Can’t Quit You Baby,” and it was first recorded by Chicago artist Otis Rush in 1956. Since then, it’s been covered by Led Zeppelin and many others. Dixon adds his own flavor to traditional blues song structure and chord choices on this hit. It’s a great example of how the foundational 12-bar form turns a song into the blues, and with three chords (G, C and D), it should be a good one to start with.
6. Carrie Underwood: "Blown Away”
Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away” boasts an easy chord progression that’s made more dynamic by using a few different strumming patterns. This country-pop blockbuster will be a breeze to play with only the A minor, C and G chords.
7. Traditional: “I Shall Not Be Moved”
Bluesman Mississippi John Hurt's version of this classic gave blues and rock fans a lesson in songwriting and how to milk classic countrified chords. What’s more, it’s also been covered by Johnny Cash, Son House and even Elvis Presley. This song straddles folk, blues, and country and features three basic chords and syncopated rhythms.
8. Creedence Clearwater Revival: “Bad Moon Rising”
Never has bad mojo sounded so happy and upbeat than on the peppy Creedence Clearwater Revival classic “Bad Moon Rising,” with its steady, basic strumming. This timeless rock tune is a great start to learning some basic chords (D, A and G) and chord switching.
"A Horse With No Name" was written by vocalist and guitarist Dewey Bunnell of the band America. The song was recorded on America's self titled debut album and released as their first single in 1971. It became a #1 hit on Billboard "Hot 100" and is a song that has withstood the test of time.
"Big Yellow Taxi" was written and released by folk singer Joni Mitchell in 1970. She explained to a journalist that she wrote it in Hawaii when she looked out her window and saw the beautiful mountains, and then looked down and saw a huge paved parking lot.
Want to learn more songs? Check out our list of easy songs and beginner chords by genre and instrument: Pop Songs l Folk Songs l Rock Songs l Blues Songs l Country Songs l Songs for Electric Guitar l Songs for Acoustic Guitar l Songs for Ukulele