Learning guitar - need to find songs with just the chords I know.
June 9, 2008 12:38 PM   Subscribe

I've been learning guitar for just over a month now and it seems to be going quite well. I'm trying to get my chord transitions fast and smooth with the easy open chords before I move on to more difficult ones. I've found a few songs that I can play with just these chords by looking through the usual guitar tab/chord websites, but finding them this way manually is time-consuming. Where I can search for songs that only include a specified set of chords?
posted by xchmp to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Post the chords you know / want to learn and we can probably find some songs using those chords.

Keep in mind too that many songs that use “more advanced” chords, such as bar chords, can often be played using open chords.
posted by bondcliff at 12:43 PM on June 9, 2008

Chordie has a filter for "songs that are easy to play." I'm not sure exactly how they define that.
posted by wheat at 12:50 PM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Learn to transpose. You might push the songs out of your vocal range (if you're singing along), but there are so many songs that use I-IV-V-VIm. In the key of G, those chords are G, C, D, and Em.

So if you see a song that's in C, and the chords are C, F, G, and Am, just map those chords to the ones above.
posted by notsnot at 1:05 PM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm limited to A, Am, C, D, Dm, E, Em and G. I've been following the beginner's course at JustinGuitar, so next on the list are F and seventh chords, which should make it easier. Feel free to suggest songs. Currently songs I'm learning include Mad World, Jolene and Johnny B. Goode.
posted by xchmp at 1:09 PM on June 9, 2008

Instead of barring an F chord, wrap it. Pull a C chord up a string, flatten your index finger acrossthe top *two* strings, put your pinkie on the third fret of the A string, and wrap your thumb around to the first fret of the E string. Kinda fun.

Anyway, lots of John Prine, Kris Kristofferson, Townes Van Zandt, etc 70's folkish stuff can be played with the chords you already have.
posted by notsnot at 1:19 PM on June 9, 2008

Yeah, that's pretty much my repetoire, as well, and I've used Chordie to good effect. Let's see--
Peaceful, Easy Feelin'
Country Roads
Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World
He Went to Paris
Sin City
Hey Good Lookin'
Accidentally In Love
Bobby McGee
Amazing Grace
Just a Closer Walk with Thee
Sexual Healing
Hey Ya
Here Comes the Sun
Plus, it's easy to strum along with a lot of blues songs, including those on the various Eric Clapton and Keb' Mo' CDs I happen to have.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:21 PM on June 9, 2008

A lot of REM songs use those chords. Look into Driver 8, Fall on Me, and Radio Free Europe. You might need to learn Bm as well.

Most U2 songs use very few chords, though it’s tough to nail down the exact way The Edge plays them. He also tunes down ½ step which makes it difficult to play along with.

You could learn a lot of Beatles songs using those chords.

Once you learn Bm and F you’ll know the chords to Sultans of Swing.

Hard to suggest stuff, since we don’t know what kind of music you like. Sorry I don’t have an exact answer to your question, I don’t know of any way to search songs by chord, other than looking at the “beginner” songs on most “Learn to Play Guitar” sites.
posted by bondcliff at 1:26 PM on June 9, 2008

Go to the music store and look at the music books. Many of them will say "easy" on the cover. Pick out the one that has the most songs that you like.
posted by wsg at 1:43 PM on June 9, 2008

The easy songs for beginners series is pretty great, I've been working my way through them myself.
posted by agentofselection at 1:44 PM on June 9, 2008

Most doo wop songs in the key of G: G Em C D, or G Em Am D.

It'd be a lot better if you'd learn F, since that would let you play the ones in the key of C as well.
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:27 PM on June 9, 2008

For example, I don't know what the official key of "Earth Angel" is, but it'd be really easy to play with your chords if you transposed it to G.
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:29 PM on June 9, 2008

If you happen to have the movie Back to the Future, watch Michael J. Fox's hands in the scene where he starts to fade away.
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:30 PM on June 9, 2008

Response by poster: Lots of useful stuff, thanks. I know about transposing, but I'd not worked out how to know if a song would transpose easily to the chords I can play. But this is clearer now.

If anyone seriously wants to recommend songs based on my music preferences, you can take a look at my Last.fm profile. I'm definitely not expecting people to spend time doing this, though.
posted by xchmp at 4:06 PM on June 9, 2008

Get a capo and you can transpose the easy way.

Most Tom Petty songs can be played with the chords you already know. Ditto for Lou Reed.

In a lot of cases, you can get away with a C even when a C7 is specified. In fact, you can get away with this sort of chord simplifying a lot, until you have time to learn more chords. C can work for Cmaj7. Cm can work for Cm7.

Note that C7 does not equal Cmaj7 or Cm7--those are all different animals.
posted by wheat at 12:34 PM on June 10, 2008

On transposing:

Chordie, the site mentioned above, will transpose for you. There's a drop down menu on the right that lists +/- a number of semitones.

You don't have to know anything about the number of semitones you need to move, but you can just use trial and error until the chords come up as those that you know.

It also has chord charts on the same page so you can learn some of the easy type of advanced chords (like A7 and E7).

I'm not sure this will help too much though, because typically transposing may not make it much easier if there are 7 or other chord variations. I tend to do it mostly to make it work better with my voice rather than to find easier chords.

If you like Okkervil River at all, I found I can play at least half their songs with the chords you already know (and in some cases with the addition of F).
posted by slo at 2:26 PM on June 26, 2008

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