So, you have learned a bunch of chords! Whilst this is an amazing feeling, the next step will be even better.
Combining a mixture of chords will be literal music to your ears. However, some chords sound better together whilst some just sound a bit odd.
With so many chords on the guitar (12 for every chord type), you are almost spoiled for choice when constructing a song and putting these chords together.
By learning what chords sound good together, you stand a better chance at creating a great song. Who knows? You may make the next number one!
To help you understand what chords sound good together, we have compiled this article to guide you through different types of chords from minor to major chords (or, as some put it, sad to happy chords).
Read on to find out what chords sound great together, so you can play around on the guitar tonight and create your own song.
A Chord: What Is It?
If you’re brand new to the guitar, you may be wondering what a chord is. Many people get confused between a chord and a note. But, they are different from each other.
A note is a singular, individual pitch played on the guitar. For example, if you play the first fret of the low E string, you will be playing an F note.
As you go up the neck, each fret is a note (i.e., E string 2nd fret is F#, 3rd fret is G, 4th fret is G#, 5th fret is A, and so on). The same applies to all six strings (E-A-D-G-B-E – Standard Tuning).
Even if you play one string at a time without using any frets, you are playing a note.
Chords are different. A chord is a collection of at least three notes. When these notes are played at the same time, they make a chord that has different sounds depending on how it’s constructed.
Although chords are a complex subject, there are some basic laws that apply to 99 percent of chords in guitar music. These include:
- Chords tend to be built on triads – If the first note of the chord is C, you can move up two notes to E and another two to G. So, the C chord is basically the notes C, E, and G together.
- Chords get their name from the first or lowest note – If the first and lowest note is G, for example, then the chord will be a G.
- You can get more than 3 notes in a chord – Some include a fourth note. This is known as a 7 chord.
- Chords can be either major or minor – Hear a happy sounding chord? It’s probably a major. Is it sad sounding? Chances are, it’s a minor chord.
The Major Scale: Notes And Chords
Before we jump into the chords that sound best together, we want to talk you through the scales. Learning scales on the guitar can help you become a much better musician.
These allow you to know how notes work in conjunction to one another and when to use certain chords.
Best of all, when it comes to jamming with other musicians, you will know exactly what notes work and don’t work depending on the key and scale you are playing.
Understanding scales will help you figure out why some chords sound better with other particular ones.
So, if you want to improve your improvising and show off in front of your friends next time, keep reading!
We should begin by taking a look at the notes and chords of the C Major Scale, which are as follows:
C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C
The major scale has the following chords:
- I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, viiø
The large Roman numerals (I) indicate a major scale degree.
The lower-case i Roman numerals indicate a minor scale degree, and the lower-case roman number with the small ø beside it indicates a diminished triad.
Don’t worry if you’re confused! Everyone is at this point. With some patience and studying, you will soon get to grips with this.
Enough of scales talk for now! Let’s find out some tasty chords that sound perfect together.
Chords That Sound Good Together
G, C, D, And Em – (G Major Key – Open Chords)
The classic G, C, and D trio, with an Em thrown in for good measure. As a complete beginner, the G, C, and D chord combination is the first set of chords many guitarists learned to play.
In the key of G Major, these are the 1, 4, 5, and 6 chords.
When playing these chords together, no matter what order you play them in, you can’t go wrong.
There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of popular songs that use these chords and are played in the key of G Major.
Some common chord progressions involving G, C, D, and Em are:
- G-C (I-IV/1-4 progression)
- G-C-D (I-IV-V/1-4-5 progression)
- G-D-C (I-V-IV/ 1-5-4 progression)
- G-D-Am-C (I-V-vi-IV/1-5-6-4 progression)
Play around with these, and you’ll hear how good they sound.
C, F, G, And Am – (C Major Key)
You will be surprised by how many songs use this combination of chords. Once you start playing them, you will recognize the chord structure straight away.
The F is used in this group as a barre chord, however there are variations on the F that allow you to not bar the entire first fret.
These chords use the 1, 4, 5, and 6 chords in the C Major scale. Again, this is very well known and hugely popular amongst songwriters.
You can change them up and play them in any sequence you want…they’ll still sound fantastic together!
Some common chord progressions involving C, F, G, and Am are:
- C-F (I-IV/1-4 progression)
- C-F-G (I-IV-V/1-4-5 progression)
- C-G-F (I-V-IV/1-5-4 progression)
- C-G-Am-F (I-V-vi-IV/1-5-6-4 progression)
Am, G, F (A Minor Key)
Here, we have a minor key group. These great sounding chords are in the key of A Minor (relative minor to C Major).
In popular music (rock in particular), this chord progression is hugely popular.
It’s featured in one of the most famous solos of all-time in the song Stairway to Heaven by Jimmy Page. It is also used in a slew of other songs.
This is how the chord progression usually goes… Am-G-F-G-Am. Using a minor pentatonic or natural minor scale, you can solo over this progression.
Some common chord progressions involving AM, G, and F are:
- Am-G-F (i-VII-VI/1-7-6 progression)
- Am-F-G (i-VI-VII/1-6-7 progression)
Another fun one to play is C-G-Am. Instead of using the F chord, you can replace it with a C. This is used in a number of popular songs. Once you start playing it, you’ll recognize the chord progression immediately!
D, G, A, And Bm – (D Major key)
The 1, 4, 5, and 6 chords here are in the D Major key. These are similar to G, C, D, and Em and C, F, G, and Am progressions.
Listen to this progression, and you’ll probably notice how popular these sequences of chords are. This is because it is another famous chord progression, though not as well-known as the previous two.
However, D Major is a common key that is often used to benefit from open chords, despite the fact that the Bm is played as a barre chord on the second fret.
G, B, C, And D – (G Major key)
This is another very popular chord progression. Used in countless songs by bands such as Green Day and in pop music, G, B, C, and D sound perfect together.
If you’re looking to play a piece of music that is happy sounding and positive, these four chords are a great place to start.
We suggest recording the chords (on your phone or recording software) and jam over it. Put some solos over it and just have fun!
More Guitar Chords That Sound Fantastic Together
While we have selected our top five chord progressions above, there are so many more to enjoy.
Below are a selection of chords that you should play together for catchy songs:
1. F, B♭ and C
2. Am, G, F, E – Known as Andalusian Cadence
3. C, Am, F, G – This was a popular 1950s Progression
4. C, F, Bb, F
5. F♯m, B and C♯
6. C♯m, E, B and A
7. E, A, and B – Probably the most used in popular music!
8. A, E, G, D – Known as Chromatic Descending
9. Dm, Bb7, C – Known as Backdoor Progression
10. D, A and G – This is played when you de-tune the low E string to a D (drop D tuning)
We could go on and on discussing guitar chords that sound good together, but we think these are a good place to start.
That doesn’t mean you should only stick to these. Play around with all the chords you know. You may find a chord progression that sounds amazing and not on this list!
So, Why Do Some Chords Sound So Good Together?
Some chords just sound better with another group than others. Play certain minor chords interspersed with major chords, and it can sound really strange.
Of course, it can work very well too, but that’s the beauty of playing the guitar. Trial and error. You can jam out random chords until you strike gold. Until then, you may discover some unappealing sounds.
So, why do some chords sound better together than when compared to others?
This is mainly down to the intervals between two notes and how they sound when paired with another group of chords or notes.
A great example is when you play in the C Major key. During this scale, there are some intervals between notes that are within the chords too.
Therefore, when you strum the chords, and they are combined, the intervals simply blend well.
Although we briefly mentioned major and minor chords sounding odd together, there are exceptions. Let’s explore this below.
Major And Minor Chords That Sound Good Together
For some songs, moving from a major to a minor chord is required. This is especially if the vocals change during the song.
If you want to experiment and try this with one of your compositions, try some of the following chord sequence below:
- A, C#m, D, F#m
- B, D#m, E, G#m
- C, Em, F, Am
- D, F#m, G, Bm
- E, G#m, A, C#m
- F, Am, Bb, Dm
- G, Bm, C, Em
Implement these in songs to add something a little more unique to the structure. These chords are particularly perfect for verses.
However, we don’t recommend using all notes in every progression as this may end up sounding a little weird. Mix the notes up and find an order that sounds good to you.
You could even combine a few of the chord groups and end up with something amazing!
There’s no doubt about it. Some chords sound better together than others. Try playing some of our chord sequences above and see which ones sound best to you.