10 Popular Guitar Chord Progressions

I've had a few people asking about guitar chord progressions lately, so I figured I would put together a little lesson showing a number of variations.

The first thing here is that you'll see all the guitar chord progressions are listed out in roman numerals - not in chord names. Why? Because when we use numbers, these chord progressions can be very quickly and easily transposed into any key of your choice. In the video, all the examples are done in the key of G. If you're not familiar with the number system, I highly recommend grabbing a copy of my Unlocking I IV V course; it deals with this nice and efficiently.

If you want to transpose these from the key of G, simply make whatever key you want to move to your new "I" chord. For instance, if you move to the key of B major, B major becomes your new "I" chord instead of G. Likewise, all the other chord relationships change by the same amount as well.

I'm not going to teach you how to interpret the number system in this lesson, though I do give a really brief overview in the video. Notice that nearly all the progressions start with the "I" chord... indeed you will find it incredibly common to start the song on the tonic chord; however that said, I did include a progression that doesn't start on the "I" just because I wanted to show you that this isn't a strict requirement. It's a little off the beaten track, but by no means unheard of.

Here are the ten guitar chord progressions in the video:

  1. I - IV - V
  2. I - IV - V - IV - I
  3. I - V - VI - IV
  4. I - VI - V - IV
  5. I - VI - III
  6. I - VI - II - V
  7. I - III - IV - V
  8. I - III - VI - IV
  9. I - II - III - IV - V
  10. IV - V - I - VI

 10 Popular Guitar Chord Progressions


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16 Responses to “10 Popular Guitar Chord Progressions”

  1. Lynch1 July 3, 2013 at 6:49 am #

    I don't know why I have to comment twice, but nice lesson. You listed #6 1625 a common blues/jazz turnaround but missed on the very common 251. I can't do without it.

    • Jonathan Boettcher July 3, 2013 at 7:17 am #

      Yeah, there are quite a few others that could have been in here as well.

      • Mike M July 8, 2013 at 11:13 am #

        Is there not a 7th chord?...you listed G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em. Would it be Fm?....Is the 7th chord even played?...

        • Jonathan Boettcher July 8, 2013 at 11:22 am #

          Hi Mike - first off, 7th chords have nothing to do (necessarily) with being the 7th chord in the key - you could easily change any of these into various "7th" chords and it would still sound good.

          The VII chord in the key should technically be a diminished chord, so F# dim. However, that chord is rarely ever used in popular music, so for the sake of this lesson, I just left it out. Sometimes on the guitar it gets substituted with a minor 7th chord - so F#m7.

  2. jim July 3, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

    I finally got sense of the chord progression, thanks for the lesson.

  3. jamesrwilliams July 3, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    Thank you Jon. And it's nice to be able to understand exactly what you're talking about (IV,V,I,VI) thanks to your I, IV, V ! 🙂

  4. Mounir July 3, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

    Finally i understood how i can play the chord progression ,in your nice and simple way....

    Thank you Jon.

    all the best wishes

  5. seeker_83501 July 4, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

    A little different from what I had learned before on paper using the caged concept. By using 1,4,5 cords derived from parent keys. Chord basics with AARON STANG on warner brothers music videos.

  6. Professor Arrogantus Noitalici October 18, 2013 at 6:19 am #

    But couldn?t we switch to a 9b dim 7 withbactriplevsummie and a half twist? I?m sorry, Kohn. I couldm?t resist being a pesto. This article is excellent. Keep up the awesome work. I, for one, appreciate your insights and apologize that folks can?t just add it to what they know. High five.

  7. Professor Arrogantus Noitalici October 18, 2013 at 6:22 am #

    But couldn?t we switch to a 9b dim 7 with a triple summie and a half twist? I?m sorry, John. I couldn?t resist being a pesto. This article is excellent. Keep up the awesome work. I, for one, appreciate your insights and apologize that folks can?t just add it to what they know. High five.

  8. rowell October 22, 2013 at 5:37 am #

    Thank you Jon. Great lessons on progressions,

  9. Randy September 6, 2015 at 7:57 pm #

    Excellent lesson, exercise!
    Thanks Jonathan.

  10. Sunday September 30, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

    Please i need chords and their scales very much and i will great if only u can help me

  11. John Kondrk August 4, 2017 at 11:50 am #

    Ty so much!...good stuff!

  12. John Kondrk August 4, 2017 at 11:51 am #

    Thx good info!!

  13. Dick Frederick aka fearless freddy August 4, 2017 at 12:11 pm #

    Hi Jonathan, Good basic material for us beginning guitarists and neophyte music theorists. Prof. A. Noitalici's comments (Oct.18, 2013) need some more clarification. We could switch to the 9b dim7 to a b2 dim7 or a bii(no5)(#4) or a (for the jazz guys) Bmb5/G# if we are in the same key as today's lesson. The Prof's. addition of "a triple summie and a half twist" is either a reference to 'Nashville drop 2' notation or a dare to invoke litigation! fearlessfreddy

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