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Guitar Chord ProgressionsCommon Progressions

There are a lot of guitar chord progressions that are common for certain styles of music. By learning these progressions it will make learning songs much easier and easier to remember.

Learning these basic chord progressions will also increase the number of songs you know almost instantly.

Many songs will have slight variations of a basic progression. Giving it its own character.

During the 1950’s the I-vi-IV-V progression was used on thousands of songs. In the key of C that would be C-Am-F-G.

Some you still hear on oldies radio stations. This progression is like a time machine because of the overuse of this progression. It brings back a music era.

Progression Numbering System

All the chords will be written in Roman numerals. The upper case for major chords I, IV and V. The lower case for minor and diminished chords ii, iii, vi and vii.

All chord numbers are based on the major scale. like below.

The degree sign under the vii column stands for a diminished chord.

The G♭ and F♯ are the same scale. One is a flat key and one is a sharp key. Same pitch just written different.

By using the above list you can change the key of any song you want to any key you want.

Numbering Variations
Guitar Chord Progressions

To switch keys for every chord that’s not in the key of the music would get very confusing. That’s why it is easier to think in one key with some variations.

Many songs do not stay in one key(called diatonic). They often borrow chords from other keys for chord progressions. Any one of your major chords can become minor and the minor chords can become major.

They can also be flat or sharp from the key. A common chord for this is the VII♭. This is made into a major chord and played ½ tone lower. In the key of C this chord would be a B♭

Other variations are chord extensions like a 6th, 7th, 9th, 11th or 13th.

The iii minor sometimes will become a III7. A dominant 7th. The same with the ii and vi chords.

Key Changes
Guitar Chord Progressions

Sometimes the written music will show a key change if it’s going to last for a bit. Other times it may only be a bar or two and they don’t show a key change. This is why you should learn all of the major scales and their basic chords.

If you learn one key you have also learned half of two other keys. If you don’t understand yet check out the guitar chords page.

Now that you know how guitar chord progressions will be written out we can move on into the progressions. The number system lets you play the song in any key you want.

This is useful for singing so you can reach the notes or you may want to play in an open position for an acoustic guitar or in a closed position for a solid body electric.

You can write these numbers next to chord symbols in sheet music and song books. This is a good way to learn different keys and chord positions.

Chord Numbering Example

This is an example of how chords would be numbered for the first 4 chords of the C scale.

The chords are a Cma7, Dm7, Em7 and a Fma7. The notes are the chord notes also called an arpeggio.

With a little practice you can transpose to any key just read the notes and play them 1 whole tone higher or any other change without rewriting by knowing your music intervals.

Circle of 4ths
Guitar Chord Progressions

Have you heard about the circle of 4ths? Understanding this will make remembering songs a lot easier. Check out the link below.

Circle of 4ths

Circle of Fifths

This is similar to the circle of 4ths but you might be able to understand how all the keys work together better from this point of view.

Circle of Fifths

Two Chord Progressions

Most songs have more than two chords but a lot of songs are based on two chords. Check out the page below.

Two Chord Progressions page.

Three Chord Progressions for Guitar

Now we are getting into songs that are based on three chords. These songs are based on the I, IV and V chords of the major scale. Some are just extensions of the two chord progressions.

Three Chord Progressions

Four Chord Progressions

Now things seem to be getting complicated but it’s only one more chord. We can have an even 4 or 2 measures for these progressions and then repeat it.

There are many more options for 4 chord progressions. Check out the page in the link below.

Four Chord Progressions

12 Bar Blues Progression

This progression is the foundation for thousands of songs. It is based on the I, IV and V chords of the major scale.

12 bar blues chord progression