How Many Songs Can You Play (with the Chords You Know)?

How Many Songs Can You Play (with the Chords You Know)?

Have you ever found yourself playing the same song again and again? If so, you’re not alone. This is a common problem for beginners on the guitar and ukulele. The song in question doesn’t even have to be a hard one. In fact, it can (and should) be easy.

But practicing the same song can get pretty boring after awhile.

For example, “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley is a classic beginner song that’s playable with G, C, and D. But even though it’s a simple tune, you still need to invest a lot of time and repetition before you see any real improvement. And unfortunately, that repetition is unavoidable. If you don’t cycle through “Three Little Birds” enough times, you won’t get better.

Fortunately, the fix is simple.

Practice Other Songs That Also Use G, C, and D

Instead of practicing one song, you can choose others that use the same chords. If you can play “Three Little Birds,” then you can also play the following 4 songs:

  1. “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash
  2. “La Bamba” by Ritchie Valens
  3. “Wild Thing” by the Troggs
  4. “Blue Suede Shoes” by Carl Perkins (and Elvis)

They all use the same chords, but each of these songs has a different melody, a different tempo, and a different backstory. So you have more variety when you practice. And it’s a lot harder for boredom to set in.

What if you’re not a fan of these somewhat dated examples? Maybe you like more modern songs (by artists who are actually still alive). Not a problem. If you Google “3-chord” or “4-chord” songs, you’ll find lots of online lists. And you can wade through them to find practice tunes that resonate with you.

That’s certainly one option. And if you’re committed to getting better, this type of online research may be worth the investment. But there’s a new search engine that can speed up this entire process for you.

A Much Faster Way to Find Beginner Songs

Although still in beta, the Chord Genome Project is a free tool that shows you all the songs you can play with the chords you already know. If you do a search of G, C, and D, for example, you’ll find almost 400 individual easy 3-chord songs for the ukulele and guitar. Better still, all the results are sortable by genre and decade. So if you’re looking for songs by living, breathing musicians, you’re sure to find some.

And you’re not limited to G, C, and D. For example, a lot of newbies start with:

  • A, D, E (on the guitar)
  • C, F, G (on the ukulele)

Plug those in and see what comes out. You can also do searches for songs with 4, 10, or even 20 chords. So this music search engine isn’t strictly for beginners.

If you’re stuck in a rut and dying of boredom, the Chord Genome Project is definitely worth checking out. The site has a demo version (there’s no signup required). But the results are limited, and unfortunately, you can’t sort by genre or year. The real magic happens once you register for a free account (signup is required). There’s also a paid version with even more bells & whistles.

To start finding easy songs to play on the guitar and ukulele, head over to the Chord Genome Project, and start jamming.