When learning guitar, it’s important to not only know your basic chords, but how to string them together into progressions that can make up entire songs. This can be difficult at first, as there’s so many chords that you think you need to know, so many progressions to learn, and it’s hard enough practicing just to get each chord change sounding nice. Wouldn’t it be great if you knew which chords and progressions to focus on so you can start playing some simple songs?

In this article, we’ll look at some commonly used chord progressions based on chords you should already know by now.  Please note that not every example given in this article is in the correct key, so this is why it’s useful to have a capo. By using one of these, you can easily change keys without having to know a whole lot of music theory.

The first chord progression is one of the most common in pop music from the 80s up until today. The progression is Em C G D. Sometimes this progression starts on the G chord instead of the E minor, but the order of the chords remains exactly the same.

E minor
E minor
G major
G major
C major
C major
D major
D major

A well known song that uses this progression is Numb by Linkin Park. Put your capo on the 2nd fret, and play along with the chorus of this song. You can also do the exact same thing along with the chorus of Africa by Toto.

The next chord progression is one that was popular a lot more during the 50s and 60s. It uses the same chords as the previous progression, but in a slightly different order. The progression goes G Em C D.

A well known song that uses this progression is Last Kiss by Pearl Jam (it’s actually a cover song, but their version is more well known these days). Another popular example (although not exactly a guitar song) is Stand By Me by Ben E King. To play along with the song, put a capo on the 2nd fret.

The third progression is one that I think is the easiest one to play. It’s not as common as the other progressions, but sounds really cool all the same. It’s Em G D A.

A major guitar chord
A major

If you put a capo one fret 1, and strum each chord two times, you are playing the verse to Green Day’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Put the capo on fret 2, and you have the basic chords to Wonderwall by Oasis, although you will need to modify these chords slightly to get it sounding correct.

The last chord progression is probably the hardest to do, but only because it has an F chord in it. If you cannot yet do an F chord, it is ok to substitute it with an Fmajor7 chord. The chord progression is Am G F E.

A minor

F major
F major
F major7
F major7

There’s a lot of cool songs that use this progression. If you can play this fluently, then you can play Hit The Road Jack by Ray Charles. It’s also used in Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal.

And there we have it. 4 simple chord progressions that will have you playing hundreds of songs in no time. Once you get the hang of these, then you should start learning new chords and progressions.