Whether you’ve just learned some chords or you’ve been playing for a while, it’s always good to learn songs. This gives you something you can utilize your knowledge with and allows you to study forms of songwriting.
Don’t be too intimidated to attempt to learn some of your favorite songs. You just might find that these songs are built from nothing more than 4 chords.
Here are some of the best 4 chord guitar songs to get you started.
“Bearing Witness” by David Bazan
If you’re not familiar with David Bazan, you might know of him from the band Pedro The Lion. That band had reached moderate success before splitting up in the early 2000s and has since reformed.
However, during the time off, Bazan began to release music under his own name. The album Curse Your Branches came as a major surprise to his longtime fans, particularly because of the subject content.
Pedro The Lion’s material often featured Biblical undertones, and this album had songs packed with existential questioning. These songs emote Bazan’s own fallout with his own beliefs and the impact questioning has had on his life.
The song Bearing Witness is a prime example of this. Though, despite its subject material, it is one of the more upbeat songs on the album.
You can play this song easily if you know the chords D, G, A, and B minor.
“Hey Ya!” by OutKast
It’s been nearly 20 years (at the time of this writing) since OutKast dropped Hey Ya! on the world. You might say that the world was never quite the same ever since.
This song has been managed to be featured in shopping malls and TV commercials of all sorts. It truly is one of the most popular songs to have been written and released in the 21st century.
Hey Ya! is definitely a song of stark contrast compared to OutKast’s earlier releases. However, this song comes from Andre 3000’s project, which showcases his specific artistry.
You might not think it initially, but you can actually play Hey Ya! on the guitar. The only chords you need to know are G, C, D, and E.
“Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker
Aside from Wonderwall and Freebird, any musician can tell you that Wagon Wheel is a common request. If you expect to play for others, it’s always a good idea to have this song up your sleeve.
There are many versions of this song that you can emulate, including this Darius Rucker take. However, the song’s chorus was actually written by Bob Dylan over 30 years prior to the song’s first release.
Ketch Secor, of Old Crow Medicine Show, is credited for writing the verses, with the band releasing the first version. It seems that almost any version is about just as popular as any of the others.
Wagon Wheel is extremely simple, consisting of the chords G, D, E minor, and C.
“Dammit” by Blink-182
It’s safe to say that Blink-182 was one of those bands helping to bring in the new millennium of music. During the late 1990s, you could not escape the band’s music.
Blink-182’s material seemed perfect for the angsty high-schooler at the time. Much of their song’s material dealt with the pains of getting older and growing into an adult.
A great example of this subject material can be heard in the song Dammit. It’s all about the inevitable pains of love one experiences as one matures out of adolescence.
In a way, this song is brilliant and is the perfect juxtaposition between maturity and immaturity.
You can easily add this song to your repertoire if you know the chords C, G, A minor, and F.
“Honky Tonk Women” by The Rolling Stones
Honky Tonk Women was released at the start of the pinnacle moment in the career of The Rolling Stones. The band had been garnering massive attention and began to receive worldwide recognition for their music.
This song is a great showcase of different musical elements the band would become known for. The guitar parts alone are simple, yet provide the perfect platform for Jagger’s vocals.
As soon as you hear the cowbells at the beginning, you know it's Honky Tonk Women playing. The kaleidoscopic music that accompanies the singalong chorus is just a segment in the highlight reel.
Honky Tonk Women is exceptionally simple to play on the guitar, consisting of G, C, A, and D. Give it a whirl and be sure to emulate your best Mick Jagger vocal delivery.
“Long Haired Country Boy” by The Charlie Daniels Band
When Long Haired Country Boy was released, Charlie Daniels found himself in a unique position in the industry. Country fans thought he was too rock n’ roll, and rock fans thought he was too country.
In a way, it allowed Charlie to pursue his own path, defining his own brand of outlaw country rock. No better example of this can be heard than with Long Haired Country Boy.
Even if you don’t like country, be sure to give this a listen. It’s all about telling other people to mind their own business when it comes to how you live your life.
The chords in this song include D, D7, G, and A. Take some extra time and learn all the licks, you’ll be glad you did.
“Low” by Cracker
Do you know the chords D, C, E, and G? If so, you can play this iconic 1990s hit by the band Cracker.
This band did not receive the same success as some of the other grunge and alternative bands of the era. However, this band’s material fits right in, putting a unique spin on the genre.
If you’ve ever had your ear to a radio station playing classic rock hits, you’ve likely heard this song. And no, it’s actually not about being on drugs, despite what the chorus sounds like it’s saying.
“Blue Moon” by Elvis Presley
Blue Moon is one of those classic songs that has a famous chord progression used throughout the 1950s. The truth is, the song was originally written back in 1934 by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart.
In a way, Blue Moon has etched itself into the common folklore of the past century. It has been recorded numerous times, including the King himself, Elvis Presley.
Blue Moon can be played with the chords C, A minor, F, and G. For a fun little experiment, see if you can play the Heart And Soul melody over this chord progression.
“The Thrill Is Gone” by B.B. King
There are those who say that the real King is B.B. King himself. Without a doubt, he is certainly one of the Kings of blues music.
B.B.’s playing style continues to dazzle and stun guitarists today. His otherworldly vibrato technique is one aspect that truly cannot be mimicked.
One of his most famous songs is, by far, The Thrill Is Gone. The whole song is ripe with tension that is perfect for playing soulful guitar solos.
It’s always a good idea to have some blues tunes under your belt, the progressions are all relatively similar. This song in particular features the chords B minor, E minor, G, and F#7.
“Creep” by Radiohead
Creep is a song that continues to be just as popular and relevant as it was when it was released. You certainly won’t hear the band playing it too often at their concerts, however.
In a way, Radiohead has disowned the song, not really wanting to be defined by this massive hit. Their sonic catalog has evolved so much that to be known for this one song would be absolutely silly.
Nevertheless, Creep does contain some hallmark Radiohead features, namely in its dreamy guitar progression. It features the chords G, B, C, and C minor.
“Via Chicago” by Wilco
Wilco’s 1999 release Summerteeth helped to put the band into the alternative music spotlight. This indie-rock group is heavily tinged with country flavors, though this album features an emphasis on pop.
Jeff Tweedy’s songwriting has been celebrated by music fans all over, and Via Chicago is a popular favorite. It’s been featured in films and television shows since its release, cementing its classic status.
Via Chicago can be played with the chords Cmaj7/G, C/G, G, and F. The first 2 chords are essentially the same, with one note extra being added.
“Zombie” by The Cranberries
Have you been looking for a grunge tune that slams with authority? You’re probably going to want to learn the song Zombie.
This song was actually written in response to deaths resulting from a bombing in Cheshire, England, in 1993.
When you take that into account, it's easy to understand why this song has so much of an emotive edge. Even the music video is chock full of militaristic images that somewhat allude to the song’s subject content.
It truly is a song unlike any other song in the band’s catalog. Zombie reached the number 1 spot on various charts around the world and is still critically acclaimed.
To play this song, you’ll need to know the chords E minor, C, G, and D/F#. Make sure you crank the distortion to get that iconic distorted edge.
“Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers
The work of Bill Withers remains as important and influential as it was when it was released. Evidence of this can be seen in the song Ain’t No Sunshine.
This is a song that many musicians will learn and regularly play at their gigs. It contains subject matter that just about every human can relate to.
Don’t worry so much about the fact that so many other musicians play this song. Rather, use it as an opportunity to show others how you can create your own unique spin on this classic.
The chords involved in this song are A minor, E minor, G, and D minor. Experiment with using barre chords and don’t be afraid to bust out some nasty, expressive solos.
“Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton
Even if you’re not a fan of country music, you’ve likely heard the song Tennessee Whiskey. The song is simply hard to avoid, which is evidence of how powerful of a song this truly is.
You’ll want to add this song to your repertoire as it's sure to gain you a few fans along the way. It’s simple and effective, and it gets the message across like a fine shot of whiskey.
To play this song, you’ll need to know the chords E, A, B minor, and D. Mix in some of those iconic guitar leads for a greater effect.
“Let It Be” by The Beatles
You can use every appendage on your body and you still won’t be able to count every Beatles hit. One of the most powerful songs the group ever released is, by far, Let It Be.
This song has all the right ingredients for a potent song that transcends time and space. In fact, it is one of the reasons why the song is so relatable, even today.
Sure, the song is laden with piano and organ, but you can actually play this song with 4 chords. The chords G, D, E minor, and C are all you need to make this cosmic hymn your own.
“A Horse With No Name” by America
Are you looking to break out of the box of playing your standard chord shapes? America’s A Horse With No Name is a great place to start.
This song will have you playing unique chord voicings, with labels that might be intimidating. However, closer inspection will show that these chords are actually quite simple to play.
To play this iconic song, you’ll be employing E minor, D6/9, E minor 9, and Dmaj9. This will provide you with an exploration into excellent open chord shapes that might not be in your wheelhouse (yet).
“Morning Dew” by The Grateful Dead
Whether you’re familiar with The Grateful Dead or not, you’ve likely heard of this band’s reputation. Not many bands had the sprawling career this group managed, and few have played as many shows.
In fact, the live show is what The Grateful Dead is most known for. Each concert provided a unique experience propelled by group improvisation.
While much of the group’s catalog can be fairly complex, Morning Dew is quite a simple song to play. During the Dead’s shows, this song was a powerful inclusion to any setlist, often shaking audiences to their core.
To play Morning Dew, you’ll need to know the chords D, C, G, and F. Sprinkle in an E minor and some guitar leads, and you’ll be good to go.
“Twist” by Phish
After the death of The Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, there was a void in the jam music scene. One band, Phish, in particular, would be looked upon to carry the torch.
The reality is that Phish had been touring constantly since 1989, creating their own brand of unique improvisation. This group’s music is often highly complex, with doses of comedy added in for good measure.
One of the easiest Phish songs to learn is the song Twist. It’s built from the chords G, B flat, C, and D.
There’s quite a lot you can do with this simple chord progression. Be sure to check out some of the band’s performances and see the myriad directions they take the song.
You don’t have to play like Trey Anastasio to be able to have fun with this song. In fact, playing and improvising with songs like this can help you find your own unique musical voice.
“Tired Of Taking It Out On You” by Wilco
In 2022, Wilco released their 12th studio album entitled Cruel Country. This album has been gaining traction with longtime fans, partly due to its musicality and subject content.
It’s no secret that songwriter Jeff Tweedy has been a little disturbed by the political climate in the US. Any open-minded individual who has been paying attention is likely to feel the same way.
The song Tired Of Taking It Out On You comes from Cruel Country. It has hallmarks of a classic Wilco folk song, including touching lyrics and simple musicality.
To play this song, you’ll need the chords E, B, A, and A flat minor. Learn this and your friends will be impressed that you know how to play a brand new song.
“8 Full Hours Of Sleep” by Against Me!
Before the punk band Against Me! became the band they are today, they were more of a folk-punk group. In fact, many longtime fans were lost when the group evolved into a more polished and produced sound.
The recordings from the early days are a bit rough around the edges but pack quite a punch. This is evident in songs like 8 Full Hours Of Sleep.
Sure, the song may be political to a slight degree. However, its lyrics can likely be relatable to anyone, especially those who have experienced hunger and a distaste for borders.
If you want to make your audience think a bit, learn this easy song. It contains the simple chords of C, A5, F, and G.
“Down Under” by Men At Work
Men At Work hit an absolute grand slam when they released the song Down Under. There aren’t too many people who haven’t heard this song and its iconic musicality.
The song was actually written in criticism of how the band felt about their home country of Australia. In an odd twist of events, Australia embraced the song with a sort of nationalistic pride.
Nevertheless, Down Under is quite a fun song to listen to and remains to be a very popular song. The simple chords of B minor, A, G, and D, will get you on your way to playing this classic.
“I’ve Just Seen A Face” by The Beatles
The Beatles were definitely not afraid to experiment and incorporate different styles of music into their catalog. This is especially evident in songs like I’ve Just Seen A Face.
At the time of its release, the music world was enamored with folk artists like Bob Dylan. You can bet your bottom dollar that Bob Dylan had an influence on the group.
Just listening to this song sounds like the band was attempting to write a Bob Dylan song. They may or may not have hit the mark, but this song remains a true classic in the catalog.
To play I’ve Just Seen A Face, you’ll need the chords G, E minor, C, and D.
“With Or Without You” by U2
U2’s sound truly evolved in the 1980s as effects became more prominently used throughout music. In fact, the band’s guitarist (The Edge) frequently uses effects pedals to craft his unique sound.
You can hear this, especially, in songs like With Or Without You. The band is able to produce a lush environment based on The Edge’s use of effects.
This is a song that still receives regular radio play and incites a slow dance moment in the right environment. The chords D, A, B minor, and G are all you need to play With Or Without You.
“Excuses” by Minus The Bear
Throughout their career as a band, Minus The Bear has traversed many different musical landscapes. They might not have been as popular as other bands, but their influence is undeniable in certain circumstances.
The song Excuses is an excellent track from their 2010 album Omni. Sure, the song features some lush musicality, but you can simplify the song into just 4 chords.
This song will actually give you some experience in playing some different chord shapes. Namely, the song is based on the chords F, C, C flat, and B flat major 7.
“Stand By Me” by Ben E. King
The song Stand By Me is, hands down, one of the most iconic songs ever recorded. Its iconic bass line and memorable lyrics have cemented this song into the lexicon of music forever.
In fact, this is a song that every single guitarist should have in their repertoire. It’s simple enough to play and people absolutely love to hear this song, especially if done in your own way.
To play this song, you’ll need the chords A, F# minor, D, and E. Learn the bass line and connect the chords and you’ll be unstoppable.
“Cause = Time” by Broken Social Scene
Broken Social Scene is a unique band that helped to define the sound of indie music in the early 2000s. In fact, you’ll find their influence heard in the sounds other bands were making at the time.
The song Cause = Time comes from their smash album You Forgot It In People. If you’ve never heard the album, you owe it to yourself to do so.
This song can be played with the chords C, B minor, D, and G. Experiment with different ways to play these chords and have fun with it!
“Crumble” by Dinosaur Jr.
Have you ever seen the Squier J Mascis Jazzmasters and wondered who, exactly, J Mascis is? Here’s your opportunity to find out.
Dinosaur Jr. was an absolute powerhouse of a band in the 1990s, no doubt fueled by J’s soaring leads. The band’s original lineup ended up breaking up, with a reunion taking place with the album Beyond.
This was certainly a welcomed sight amongst longtime Dino Jr. fans. The album has a very refreshing feel, loaded with excellent songs.
Crumble comes from this 2007 release, and can be played using a capo at the 5th fret. From here, you’ll employ the chord shapes of F, C, A minor, and G.
“Jordan’s First Choice” by Against Me!
Remember how we said that early Against Me! was rough around the edges but packed a punch? The song Jordan’s First Choice is another prime example of this fact.
Despite coming from the band’s excellent Acoustic EP, it’s more punk than anything the band released post-2007. That might be a statement that angers some people, but take a listen and decide for yourself.
Regardless, Jordan’s First Choice is an excellent song about the routine working humans have to endure. It can be easily played with the chords A, B, G#, and C# minor.
“Farmhouse” by Phish
Phish isn’t all crazy long improvisations that teleport its listeners to distant galaxies. In fact, the band has some very quaint and charming songs anyone can appreciate.
The song Farmhouse is a great example of this. In fact, when the band busts this out at concerts, their fans go wild.
You can play this classic Phish song with the chords C, G, A minor, and F. Feel free to add your own guitar solos in for good measure.
“Lover’s Spit” by Broken Social Scene
The song Lover’s Spit is another excellent song from Broken Social Scene’s album You Forgot It In People. It is perfectly sequenced in the album tracklist and hits like a wrecking ball in all the right ways.
You’ll notice that Lover’s Spit has a foundation built primarily from a piano. That doesn't mean you can’t use a guitar to play this song.
In fact, the chords can be easily adapted to the guitar (or any other instrument for that matter). The chords used in this song are C, F, A minor, and G.
“Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan
It would be a crime to mention Bob Dylan’s influence without offering a song for you to learn. However, this is no small feat, as a large part of his catalog is quite influential.
The song Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door is one of his most famous songs. It’s been recorded by countless artists, including Guns N’ Roses, who had their own success with the song.
By playing the chords G, D, A minor, and C, you can easily add this song to your repertoire. Everybody is at least familiar with this song, so it will be welcomed if you do play it for somebody.
“Mr. Tambourine Man” by Bob Dylan
Because Bob Dylan’s catalog carries a certain magnitude of importance, it might be wise to learn more than one song. After all, Dylan isn’t known for being one of the best songwriters for no reason.
Mr. Tambourine Man is one of Dylan’s biggest hits from early in his career. You can play this song with the chords D, Dsus2, G, and A.
“Wild Thing” by The Troggs
Speaking of iconic hits from the 1960s, it would be a crime not to mention the song Wild Thing. This song has been featured in countless films over the decades, including the blockbuster Major League.
Wild Thing is incredibly easy to play and will give you something to utilize your barre chord shapes with. The chords involved include A, D, E, and G.
“Legendary” by Lou Barlow
You might not be familiar with Lou Barlow, and that’s okay. However, he was the founding bass player in the aforementioned band Dinosaur Jr.
Outside of Dinosaur Jr., Lou has had a prolific career in his own band Sebadoh. Even his solo career has been quite successful.
The song Legendary is a great song to learn and incorporates some fingerstyle action. You can play this song with the chords E minor, C, G, and D with a capo on the 2nd fret.
“In The Aeroplane Over The Sea” by Neutral Milk Hotel
One of the most influential indie albums ever released is Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. It helped to define many of the characteristics that would be found in this particular vein of music.
The song, of the same title, is a classic and makes for a wonderful commemoration to someone in the audience. You only need the chords G, E minor, C, and D to play this song.
“Gold Soundz” by Pavement
When it comes to indie rock, Pavement is undoubtedly one of the genre’s godfathers. Often characterized by organized sloppiness, Pavement helped to define the genre’s slacker attitude.
The song Gold Soundz is just one of Pavement’s most well-known songs. It can be played with the simple open chord shapes of G, A7sus4, Cadd9, and E minor 7.
“Cocaine” by Eric Clapton
Looking for a song to play using barre chords? Eric Clapton’s song Cocaine is an excellent place to start.
There aren’t too many people who aren’t familiar with how this song goes. Because of this, you’ll likely find this song a breeze to learn.
The chords E, D, C, and B are all you need here. Don’t forget to loop the progression and give your solos a chance to work their magic.
Best 4 Chord Guitar Songs, Final Thoughts
Sometimes, all it takes is 4 chords and a simple melody for a song to become a hit. Learning these songs can give you plenty of evidence of this fact.
Even if you’re just starting out, these 4 chord songs provide a fertile platform for understanding how songs are built.
By now, you’ve likely seen the common threads between many of these songs. Don’t be afraid to use these progressions in your own creative endeavors.
Last Updated on July 13, 2022.
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