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The Dictionary of 3-Chord Songs for Guitar, Ukulele, Mandolin, and Banjo

Easy 3-Chord Songs for Beginners

Below are links to thousands of easy 3-chord songs collected from guitar and ukulele sites. This music is now in a search index - sorted by chords, genres, decades, and even chord progressions.

To see what I mean, click the link below to run a demo search of 3-chord "rock" songs with G + C + D. Any tune that exists for both guitar and ukulele will appear twice.

Run 3-Chord Search

And click the next link for 3-chord songs from the 1980s that use D + G + A.

Run 3-Chord Search

With that out of the way, let’s dive in.

Table of Contents

If you don’t know any chords yet, start with 1-chord songs first. Otherwise, skip ahead to see 3-chord songs by:

There’s also a Bonus & FAQ section at the end.

The 3 Most Useful
Chords to Learn First

If you’re going to learn 3 chords, make it one of the combos below. They have the highest return on investment (ROI) because they let you play the most music across all genres and decades.

Run Demo Song Search

Click the first link to see what 3-chord songs you can play with G, C, D. Rinse and repeat.

Here are major chord diagrams for mandolin, banjo, guitar, and ukulele.

3-Chord Songs
by Genre

3-chord Songs by Genre

Using data from Last.Fm and AllMusic, it's possible to tag songs by genre. These genre tags aren’t perfect (for the reasons listed here). But they can help you quickly find easy tunes you know and like.

Jump ahead to see three-chord songs from your favorite genre:

Rock Songs with Three Chords

Below are the groups that let you play the most 3-chord rock songs. Click any link to see a list of easy tunes from this genre.

Run Demo Song Search

Here are major chord diagrams for mandolin, banjo, guitar, and ukulele.

Folk Tunes with 3 Chords

If you’re a fan of folk music, the chords below have the highest ROI. We're also starting to see some dominant 7 chords like G7.

Click any link to see what 3-chord folk tunes you can play.

Run Demo Song Search

Here are major chord diagrams and dominant 7 chord diagrams for banjo, mandolin, guitar, and ukulele.

Three-Chord Pop Tunes

I didn’t realize how many pop songs use just 3 chords. There are loads. And the combos below are the ones that appear together most often.

Run Demo Song Search

Here are major chord diagrams for mandolin, banjo, guitar, and ukulele.

Blues Songs with 3 Chords

There aren’t many 3-chord songs “tagged” as blues. But if that’s the type of music you like, below are the best chords to focus on.

Run Demo Song Search

Here are major chord diagrams for mandolin, banjo, guitar, and ukulele. But many blues tunes sound better if you play them with dominant seventh chords instead of major chords. In other words, G, C, D becomes G7, C7, D7.

3-Chord Country Songs

Below are the most useful chords to learn if you like country music. Click any link to see what 3-chord songs you can play from this genre.

Run Demo Song Search

Here are major chord diagrams and dominant 7 diagrams for banjo, mandolin, ukulele, and guitar.

3-Chord Songs by
Decade (1920-2020)

Three-Chord Songs by Year

Maybe you like oldies from the ‘50s and ‘60s. Or perhaps you’re a fan of 1980s music. Either way, you can search for 3-chord songs by decade. Just click your favorite era below.

Coming soon: I hope to add a new section for 2020 when I have more data.

Quick tip: When signed in, you can use genre and decade filters together. This is useful if you want to focus on a very specific style of music (e.g. 3-chord rock songs from the 1960s and 1970s).

1920s Three-Chord Songs

I’ll be honest. There aren’t many 3-chord tunes from the 1920s (unless you were in the Carter Family). But below are the combos that let you play the most music from that period.

Run Demo Song Search

Here are major diagrams and 7 diagrams for ukulele, guitar, banjo, and mandolin.

1930s Songs with 3 Chords

The 1930s saw an explosion of jazz music - most of which used lots of complex chords. So I could only find a handful of 3-chord tunes from this decade. Below are the chord sets that let you play the most 1930s music.

Run Demo Song Search

Here are major chord diagrams and dominant 7 diagrams for guitar, mandolin, ukulele, and banjo.

3-Chord Tunes from the 1940s

We’re starting to see a little more music as we get into the 1940s. It’s still a small haul. But below are the best 3-chord combos to learn if you like songs from this decade.

Run Demo Song Search

Here are major diagrams and 7 diagrams for ukulele, guitar, banjo, and guitar.

1950s Three-Chord Songs

The 1950s was when blues, country western, and rhythm & blues merged into early rock ‘n’ roll. And there were a lot of easy songs with 3 chords that came out during this 10-year span. Below are the chord groups that let you capture the most 1950s classics.

Run Demo Song Search

Here are major chord diagrams and dominant 7 diagrams for mandolin, guitar, banjo, and ukulele.

1960s Songs with 3 Chords

The 1960s was a fantastic decade for music. And there were lots of 3-chord tunes across rock, soul, folk, and country that came out in those 10 years. The 4 chord groups below help you capture the most tunes from this period.

Run Demo Song Search

Here are major chord diagrams and 7 chord diagrams for ukulele, banjo, mandolin, and guitar.

1970s Three-Chord Tunes

If you’re a fan of 1970s music, you might be surprised how many 3-chord tunes you can play from this decade. Below are the chord combos that deliver the most bang for your buck.

Run Demo Song Search

Here are major chord diagrams and 7th chord diagrams for mandolin, banjo, ukulele, and guitar.

1980s Tunes with 3 Chords

If you like 1980s music, you’re in luck. Artists started churning out 3-chord tunes by the hundreds. And you can play a lot of these easy songs using the chord combos below.

Run Demo Song Search

Here are major chord diagrams for mandolin, banjo, guitar, and ukulele.

1990s Songs with Three Chords

The 1990s was a decent time for 3-chord tunes. See what music you can play by clicking any of the links below. These chord combos unlock the most easy songs from the decade.

Run Demo Song Search

Here are major chord diagrams for banjo, guitar, ukulele, and mandolin.

3-Chord Songs from the 2000s

If you like music from the turn of the century, below are the 3-chord combos that give you the most songs to choose from. So start with these.

Run Demo Song Search

Here are major chord diagrams for mandolin, ukulele, guitar, and banjo.

2010s Tunes with 3 Chords

I’m not plugged into the current music scene, so I don’t know what’s hot or not. But if you like music from the past decade, the combos below unlock the most 3-chord tunes.

Run Demo Song Search

Here are major chord diagrams for mandolin, banjo, guitar, and ukulele.

Chord Progressions
With Three Chords

Chord Progressions with 3 Chords

Learning chord progressions opens up a lot of music. Take the I-IV-V for example. In the key of G major, this is G,C,D.

  • If you know those 3 chords, you can also play any song that uses G#,C#,D#. You just need a capo on the 1st fret.
  • Move the capo 1 fret higher, and you can now play 3-chord tunes with A,D,E.

Moving the fret higher and higher unlocks even more songs - all of which are playable with your original 3 chords - G,C,D.

Jump ahead for 3-chord songs with:

To see other chord progressions with more than 3 chords, click here.

Three-Chord Songs with the I-IV-V

The I-IV-V is the bedrock of modern popular music. You see it in:

  • Rock songs like “La Bamba” (Ritchie Valens)
  • Reggae tunes like “Three Little Birds” (Bob Marley)
  • Country music like “The Gambler” (Kenny Rogers)

To see other 3-chord songs with the I-IV-V, click any (or all) of the links below.

Run Demo Song Search

Here are major chord diagrams for mandolin, banjo, guitar, and ukulele.

3-Chord Songs with the ii-V-I

The ii-V-I often appears within jazz songs. But there are lots of pop tunes that use these 3 chords on an infinite loop. “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5 is a perfect example.

To see more three-chord songs with the ii-V-I, click any of the links below.

Run Demo Song Search

Here are major chord diagrams and minor chord diagrams for guitar, banjo, mandolin, and ukulele.

Bonus & FAQ

3-Chord Songs for Beginners

You Can Search Your Own Chords

The above is just a small sample of easy tunes with 3 chords. You can also use the Search by Chord tool to find other songs using your own 3-chord combos. In fact, you’re not limited to “three” chords at all. Search as many as you want.

And remember that when logged in, you can use Genre and Decade filters together when doing song searches.

How Accurate Are These Songs?

It’s a mixed bag:

  • Some tunes are transcribed perfectly and in the right key.
  • Some are correct but in a different (easier) key.
  • And still others are simplified versions of harder tunes.

And yes, there are duds as well.

Because anyone can upload music to these external sites, the quality varies. But with so many easy songs to choose from, you’ll find more than enough music to keep you busy. And you can use these 3-chord tunes to build up to 4-chord songs and beyond.

Invest in a Good Capo

You probably noticed the same chords keep coming up again and again. That’s because most of these songs are just variations of the I-IV-V (sometimes a V7).

In C major, this is C,F,G (or G7).

But with a capo on the right fret, you can also play any songs that use A,D,E or D,G,A or G,C,D (and vice versa). This opens up a lot more music. And with more songs to choose from, you’ll be more likely to practice, play, and improve.

So buy yourself a decent capo. Or just make your own.

Thanks for Reading

If you found this guide helpful, please share it with other beginners.

Then go make some music.

Happy strumming.

-Austin (and Baby Nio)

Baby Nio - Shreds the Uke

Already know a few chords?

Do a search to find songs that use your chords.