10 Classic Rock Songs That Use 3 Chords Or Less

Saying more with less.

Nirvana paramount DVD

There's the old saying that you only need 3 chords and the truth to get your point across. You're not in a prog band after all, so you're going to want to get your message across in whatever way you can in as short a time as possible. It sounds like it should take no effort at all, but it takes the true artists to make it work correctly.

Keep in mind though, these aren't necessarily going to be the flashiest songs that you've ever heard. For most of these tracks, you have very little going on in terms of construction, with most of the instrumentalists just hitting those few chords with absolutely everything they've got. What makes them stand out is what they can do with those chords, adding on little embellishments and added textures until it's a full wall of sound just hitting you in the face.

Hell, some of these artists just got rid of the 3 chord trick altogether, with some of them even going down to just two for the duration of the song. As we get further down though, all you need is just one droning chord to keep things rolling along and blow people's minds. As much fun as it might be to grandstand, rock and roll can get a little too complicated sometimes, so it takes songs like these to get over ourselves.

10. Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin

Look, this author is not about to sit here and tell you that Led Zeppelin is exactly easy to play. Who are we kidding? If you were to throw a dart at pretty much any Jimmy Page lick or John Bonham drum performance, you're not going to get much that's exactly beginner level stuff or anything. For the big hits though, some of the best rockers in the world know how to do the most with less.

From the opening guitar lick of Whole Lotta Love, every fan of rock music knows what they're in for, with an amazing groove that makes the song feel like it's about to fall apart at any moment and never does. Outside of that one riff though, there's not much to the rest of this song musically speaking, with Jimmy just adding in the chords behind the riff and a few slides here and there before breaking into the guitar solo.

Even when they go into the wild atmospheric section towards the middle of the song, your role on guitar is more about creating a mood than actually playing notes, which is why Jimmy was known to be behind the theremin whenever they played this section of the song at live gigs. If anything, this acts as a decent starting point for anyone who's looking to break into the more advanced side of their instrument. You don't have to play too much in terms of raw chords, but you just have to worry about the rest of the stuff around it.


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