Blackstar Silverline Standard – 5 Riffs That Use the Same 3 Chords

Blackstar Silverline Standard – 5 Riffs That Use the Same 3 Chords

When learning guitar, it can sometimes be daunting. The idea of learning so many things can seem quite hard and make you wonder how you’ll actually hit your goals. It doesn’t need to be that scary though. Imagine you knew just three chords. Three chords might not seem like much, but if you combine those three chords with a few techniques and rhythms, you can play a bunch of songs.

Here are 5 songs that use the same 3 chords all the way through. The chords we are using for this lesson are G, D and C.

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There is a slight change to how we play the G in one of the songs. We will be dropping the note on the A string in favour of a muted note like this:

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The Clash – Should I Stay or Should I Go

This riff just uses the D and G chords.

You are starting on the “&” of the first beat and playing eighth notes for the bar. You’ll notice between the D and G chords you play the top three string open each time. This is great for players who might find the changes tricky. The open strings give you a little window to make the change.

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To get the tone for this track you want to dial in a light overdriven tone using the Crunch voice with the EL34 response. Aim for a bright, twangy guitar sound. A Telecaster bridge pickup works wonders.

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Chords Image

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabalma

This riff is a picked riff that substitutes the typical C chord for a Cadd9 along side the D and G chords.

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Pay careful attention to the order of the notes on each chord. Take your time with the picking pattern when putting this riff together.

The first bar and the third bar are the same. This is a change from a D to a Cadd9.

Also notice the root notes on the Cadd9 and G chords are played with a muted note in between. Check out the video for a full description on this.

Each three-chord phrase is linked with a short guitar lick.

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To get the tone for this, you want to use the Clean Bright voice with an EL34 response. The original riff was recorded on a Strat style guitar on position 2 (Bridge and middle pickups selected).

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Chords Image

AC/DC – You Shook Me All Night Long

This riff has some great changes between the G, C and D chords and is perfect for building your chord changing speed.

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The riff is shown here as “on the beat” but the studio version is played slightly ahead of the beat with a little swing. This gives the song a driving feel.

The riff is divided into two separate rhythms. The first and third bars are just a single chord hit. The second and fourth bars have a pair of eighth notes on the first beat and quarter notes on beats 2, 3 and 4.

In the video we discuss a slightly simplified version of some of these changes.

To get the tone for this track you want a humbucker loaded guitar on the bridge pickup. Angus Young used a Gibson SG through his career. Choose the Crunch voice but keep the gain dialled back and select the KT88 response for that high headroom sound. You want it to sound overdriven but lots of clarity.

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Guns N Roses – Knockin’ On Heavens Door

This riff is all picked and uses the altered version of the G that you’ve learnt at the start of the lesson. To play along with the studio version of this track you will need to turn your guitar down half a step.

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The only strummed chord in this whole riff is the first beat. Strum the altered version of the G but only from the low E down to the B string.

Think of the picking rhythm as straight 16th notes (1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a) all the way through. This allows you to break this riff down into small 4 note groups across each beat. The first bar is the G and D chords. The second bar is entirely made up of the C chord.

Where there are hammer ons present, that counts for 2 16th notes.

To get the tone for this track select the Clean Bright voice and an EL34 response. You want a warm clean tone so choose a humbucker style guitar in the neck pickup position. Slash used Les Pauls during the recording of this album, so he most likely used one on this track somewhere.

You can add a little chorus as shown here to thicken the sound and make it shimmer.

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Chords Image

The Eagles – Already Gone

This riff is actually compiled from two separate guitar parts on the track but it’s a lot of fun to play!

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This is a great example of big, ringing chords coupled with some bluesy lines between them.

Start by ringing the G chord out for a beat and a half. On the “&” of the second beat, start the single note run. This is straight eighth notes (& 3 & 4). You’ll be hitting the string bend on the fourth beat, but you want to make this last for the whole beat. Bend up on the fourth beat and release the bend on the “&”.

Jump straight into a D chord on the first beat of the second bar.

The third bar follows the same form as the first except the chord is now a C and the lick is the same, except you drop it down to start on the D string instead of the A.

To get the tone for this song you want to us a Telecaster style guitar in the bridge pickup for the added twang. Choose the Clean Warm voice but turn the gain and volume up full. This will add a warm but clear sounding breakup. Perfect for getting into that Eagles style vibe. You want to chose the 6L6 Response to capture that American guitar tone.

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Chords Image
About The Author

Leigh Fuge is a professional guitar player from Swansea in South Wales that has written and created content for many high-profile guitar brands and publications such as PMT, RSL Rockschool, Trinity College London, Guitar.com and more.

He works with mgrmusic.com to provide high quality guitar content for guitar players of all abilities from around the country. To date, mgrmusic.com has successfully generated over 32,000 student enquiries for their network of music teachers around the country. Find a local teacher in your area today.

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