Common Chord Progressions

Learn How To Play Common Chord Progressions On The Guitar!

In this guitar lesson we are going to be going over some of the more common chord progressions that you will see over and over again in pop, rock, blues and a lot of other styles of music. We will cover six different progressions. Five of them will be in the key of G major and the last one will be in the key of E minor.

Both G major and E minor have the same key signature which is one sharp, F#. I will write out the G major scale and the chords that are in that key for you now. The G major scale is spelled 1G 2A 3B 4C 5D 6E 7F#. The chords in the key of G major are 1 G major, 2 A minor, 3 B minor, 4 C major, 5 D major, 6 E minor, and 7 F# diminished.

Now that we know the notes and chords in the key of G major let’s take a look at our first progression. The 145 progression is a super common progression that you will hear all over the place. Since we are in the key of G major all you have to do in order to build this progression is pick out the 1, 4 and 5 chords. Those chords would be G major, C major and D major. Try Playing through this progression using any chord shapes that you like.

The 251 progression is usually though of as jazz progression but you can find it in just about any other kind of music too. A 251 progression in the key of G would be A minor, D major and G major. Try playing through this progression using several different chord voicings for each chord.

Let’s add two chords to the 251 progression to come up with a 36251. If you add the 3 and the 6 to the 251 that you just built you would end up the B minor, E minor, A minor, D major and G major.

The 1564 chord progression is really popular in pop and contemporary church music. G major, D major, E minor and C major make up the 1564 progression in the key of G major.

The 1 b7 4 chord progression uses a chord that does not occur naturally in the key of G. G major is the 1 chord. The b7 chord is an F major. Normally the 7 chord in the key of G major would be an F# diminished chord but this time we are going to lower, or flat, the 7th scale degree one half step to an F natural and use a major chord to go with it. Finally, C major will be the 4 chord. Play through this progression a few times and see if you start to recognize it from some of the songs that you have heard.

Let’s shift gears a bit and look at a minor blues progression in the key of E minor. A minor 145 blues progression in the key of E minor would be E minor, A minor and B7. I love to practice improvising over this progression. Try playing through and even recording this progression. Once you have it recorded you can use it as a play along track to practice your improvising.

All of these progressions are used quite often in many different styles of music. Keep an ear out for these progressions and see if you can identify them in some of the music that you enjoy listening to. If you are a writer you can try out some of these progressions with some lyrics that you already have.

This Lesson Has 26 Comments

  • Paul says:

    Quite nice but need some detailing,,, like accidental chords …accurate use of 7th,min7th,min6th,aug,sus,sus4th,dim,added,9th,11th,13th,broken…etc…basis of runing notes.

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  • Jason says:

    in the 2 5 1 progression you used a minor d and g. the g scale is g a b c d e f# g the second schould have been a. does that mean we can switch sharps and flats anytime we’d like whjen making a progression?

    • Lidiana says:

      Simple major and minor chords are comerispd of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of the relevant scale, e.g a C major chord is C, E, F. The G major chord is G, B, D.a I, IV, V, progression means the chords built upon the 1st, 4th and 5th notes of the scale or key you are playing in. So in key of C it would be C, F, G.The notes of a given chord are the same no matter what key you are in. What changes is the roman number given to the chord. If your playing in F#m, then the F#m chord is the I chord. If you are in the key of A major then the F#m chord is the VI (6) chord.

  • GuwonJung says:

    Hi there Nate. Why do you use A minor instead of A major? Thanks

  • Gerry says:

    Hi, Im new to chord progressions- just in relation to the show example in the key of G. I can understand the first progression..1,4,5, but for the 2nd progression: 2 minor,5,1- why is the 2 minor (A) a minor chord and not a major chord? I just cant understand why some of the chords are major and others are minor?

    • esperance says:

      because A note is composed of A B C D E. there are 3 half notes between A and C and 4 half steps between C and E. If the less half steps come first it is minor.. something I learned before. but I am not sure how to call the half… step or note.. I know two steps make a full note. between Mi (E) and Fa (F), Ti(A) and Do (B) are only half.

      Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do
      1 1 half 1 1 1 half
      hope this helps!

  • gobin says:

    realy works well thanks

  • Gerry says:

    Thanks for your help Esperance

  • manish says:

    can we do these chord progression on other keys?

  • manish says:

    how to spell chords on other key?

  • Yoseph Kumlachew says:

    I Really enjoy your support, i feel like i can play right now. God Bless you for the lesson.

  • Kris says:

    I just thought I’d clarify why A minor is used as the II chord. In western hemisphere music chords are based on tertian harmony. This means that chords are made by putting every second note (intervals of a third) in the scale together. When you are harmonising a scale, you do this for each note in the scale using the notes of that scale. So for G Major:

    The notes are G A B C D E F#. To get the chords you stack every second note (using the notes in G Major) like this:

    GBD, ACE, BDF#, CEG, DF#A, EGB, F#AC.

    To determine whether a chord is Major or Minor, you need to compare the chord to the Major scale of its root (the note the chord is named after). In this case we need the A major scale.

    The notes in A major are A B C# D E F# G#. Compare the A chord you have from the G Major scale with the notes in the A major scale. You’ll notice that the A Major scale has a C#, but your chord has a natural C. This note, the third of your chord, is flat. Because the third is flat you have an A minor chord.

    Hope that helps!

  • Benjamin says:

    When you are playing the chords of a scale the 1st,4th, & 5th are always major and the 2nd,3rd & 6th are always Minor and the 7th is diminished

  • samson says:

    How to play the F minor using the compound guitar and e minor

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  • Deven says:

    For the 1-4-5 Em progression i dont understand why it’s B7.
    I thought a minor progression was m,D,M,m,m,M,M thereby making the progression Em-Am-BM? just when i feel like im moving forward i end up taking steps backwards. My brain must not function properly

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