NYC Guitar School Logo

13 Three-Chord Guitar Songs For Beginners With D, G and A7 And The Miracle Of “Chunking”

13 Three-Chord Guitar Songs

For Beginners

With only three chords–D, G and A7–beginning guitar players can start playing guitar right away, with lots of amazing songs.  In fact, if you know these three chords you can even start playing “Happy Birthday”–and that means you and your guitar can be the lynchpin of any birthday celebration for the rest of your life.That’s cool!

 

Of course, as a beginner, it can be hard to figure out songs which are simple enough to play along with. That’s why, in this blog post, I’m giving you a list of songs which can be played with only these three chords–D and G and A7.  And I’m even giving you links to the audio, tutorials, and music charts. This is guitar gold!

 

D and G and A7 are super beginner friendly…plus they are the very first three chords we teach in the NYC Guitar School Guitar for Absolute Beginner Class–meaning that this extremely handy blog post is also companion resources to the NYCGS Beginner Class!

 

Here’s a quick flow chart for what to do next:

 

If you DON’T know D and G and A7 yet:  Fear not, immediately either click this link for FREE and easy online tutorials on how to play those chords or sign up for a lesson or class right away at NYC Guitar School.

 

If you DO know D and G and A7:  That is awesome.  Grab your guitar–because one of the best ways to practice is by playing along with songs!

 

Now, remember, because you are a beginner, sometimes we will be using D and G and A7 to play songs even though the original artist used different chords.  

 

Q:  Wait, Dan–you mean even though we don’t know the chords that the original artist is playing, we can still play along? Using only D, G and A7? That sounds kind of crazy.  Is that allowed? Can we do that?

 

A:  YES WE CAN!  SI LO PUEDE! But we’re going to need two special tricks, called capos and transposing.  Don’t freak out! It’ll be easy.

 

First, we’ll simply place our capos on a given fret in order to play along with a song.  For example, let’s say a song is played using the F# barre chord, like “Give Me One Good Reason” by Tracy Chapman (one of our potential 3 chord songs!)  Wow…that is so inconvenient for a beginner who doesn’t know barre chords yet!  However, using the miraculous properties of a capo, a beginner can play that song using the beginner friendly D and G and A7 chords, simply by placing the capo on the fourth fret.  (If you need a capo, you can MAKE YOUR OWN with a PENCIL AND A RUBBER BAND or you can buy one–here’s a pretty good one.

 

Similarly, in some cases when you click on the link to the chord chart the song will be charted using chords you don’t yet know.  Don’t worry, because in those cases we’ve listed how many half-steps to transpose the song–which in practice just means clicking the little “transpose” button on the chart until the only chords showing are D, G and A7.  It’s that easy!

 

(And yes, you eager guitar player, as you learn new chords, you’ll get the pleasure of revisiting these songs again, only without the capo!)

 

One more quick tip:  chunk it, baby! Whenever you have a big job to do, doesn’t it make sense to break it into easy to accomplish chunks?  Yes, of course.  Here’s a nice chunk for you to focus on–when you change from D to A7, your first two fingers are in identical positions!  The only difference is that in a D chord your first two fingers are on the 1st and 3rd strings, and in an A7 chord they are on the 2nd and 4th strings.

 

So when you change between those chords, don’t get sloppy with your fingers, leading to confusion and delay in changing chords!  Instead, keep your fingers in exactly the same shape, and just move them as a chunk over one string.  Voila! New chord

 

Time to start rocking! Here’s a list of songs, along with where to place your capo (if applicable) plus links to the song, tutorials and charts.  How convenient is that?

 

(And don’t forget: for broken-down step-by-step guitar skills, we invite you to join our friendly guitar community at NYCGuitarSchool.com.  If you’re not in NYC you can still get the step by step goodness at guitarlessons.nyc.)

 

For super convenient playing along, grab your guitar, then check out our YouTube Beginners 2 playlist or our Spotify playlist.

 


***Every once in a while links break…please let us know if you notice a broken one!

 

Happy Birthday

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_z-1fTlSDF0

TUTORIAL:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28Y51OxEsRc (use A7 instead of A)

CHART: https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/misc_traditional/happy_birthday_chords_1084205 (transpose +2)

D – G – A7

Traditional (1893)

Easy

 

Gimme One Reason – Tracy Chapman

YOUTUBE:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6hQ9HSKlIE

TUTORIAL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1MHovyGEdg

CHART: https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/tracy_chapman/give_me_one_reason_chords_702441 (transpose + 8)

D – G – A7 (capo 4)

Blues/Rock (1996)

Difficult

 

Yellow Ledbetter – Pearl Jam

YOUTUBE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hs8y3kneqrs

TUTORIAL: (let us know if you find a good one!)

CHART: https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/pearl_jam/yellow_ledbetter_chords_48566 (transpose – 2)

D – A7 – G – D (capo 2)

Rock (1992)

Easy

 

Helpless – Neil Young

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7rQvJgTQ9U

TUTORIAL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4coS234FDCY

CHART: https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/neil_young/helpless_chords_56558   D – A – G (no capo)

Classic Rock (1970)

Easy

 

Satisfaction – Rolling Stones

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrIPxlFzDi0

TUTORIAL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4B-s3QFzFA

CHART: https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/the_rolling_stones/i_cant_get_no_satisfaction_chords_4047 (traspose -2)

D – G;  D – A7 – D – G (capo 2)  

Rock (1965)

Medium

 

Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffet

YOUTUBE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCcXqFCMSbo

TUTORIAL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBa7aH0nkmQ

CHART: https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/jimmy_buffett/margaritaville_chords_504642

D – A7 – D;    G – A7 – D (no capo)

Acoustic Rock (1977)

Medium

 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Deep Blue Something

YOUTUBE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ClCpfeIELw

TUTORIAL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ED9cPFnzxSg

CHART: https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/deep_blue_something/breakfast_at_tiffanys_chords_26901

D – G – A – A7;   D – A – G (no capo)

Alt Rock (1995)

Medium

 

Little Ghost – White Stripes

YOUTUBE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0_IH6SKU-k

TUTORIAL: (let us know if you find a good one!);;

CHART: https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/the_white_stripes/little_ghost_chords_271806

D – G – A  (transp. -5)

Bluegrass (2005)

Medium

 

Bad Moon Rising – CCR

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BmEGm-mraE

TUTORIAL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-UuJS560ZI

CHART:

https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/creedence_clearwater_revival/bad_moon_rising_chords_15892

D – G – A (no capo)

Rock (1973)

Easy

 

Twist and Shout – The Beatles

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RicaUqd9Hg

TUTORIAL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DO0-jT6dhNg

CHART: https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/the_beatles/twist_and_shout_chords_122350
D – G – A – A7 (no capo)

Rock (1963)

Easy

 

I Wanna Get Better – Bleachers  

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8twpQTna_9w

TUTORIAL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxUUgo6k7BA

CHART: https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/bleachers/i_wanna_get_better_chords_1466110

D – A – G – A (capo 2) (transp. +2)

Indie (2014)

Easy

 

Penny on a Train Track – Ben Kweller

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlKjwa0ygwc

TUTORIAL:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQEqWB6CCko (not really a tutorial perse)

CHART: https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/ben_kweller/penny_on_the_train_track_chords_2325683

D – G – A (capo 4)

Folk (2006)

Easy

 

This Land Is Your Land This Land Is My Land – Woody Guthrie

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxiMrvDbq3s

TUTORIAL:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cswk48DCOY0 (use A7 instead of A)

CHART: https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/woody_guthrie/this_land_is_your_land_chords_1054304

Folk (1940)

Easy

Dan Emery is dedicated to Coaching Personal Greatness, One Lesson At A Time. He is the founder of NYC’s friendliest and fastest growing guitar schools, New York City Guitar School, Brooklyn Guitar School, Queens Guitar School and NYC Guitar School, East, and the author of the Amazon best-selling Guitar For Absolute Beginners and six other books on learning guitar and deliberate practice. He coaches new entrepreneurs through the Entrepreneurs Organization Accelerator program and especially enjoys helping other Educational Entrepreneurs. He has a Masters in Education from Columbia University Teachers College, extensive performing experience as songwriter and guitarist for The Dan Emery Mystery Band, three kids, and some juggling equipment.

Leave a Reply

captcha *