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** Check out the Wikipedia link: HERE

“The 1-4-5 Chord Progression, written (I-IV-V) is the most common chord progression in popular music.

“It is a particularly Melodic chord progression“.

Fig.1. When playing Bar Chords, the 1-4-5 Chord Pattern always remains the same when using either the 6th OR 5th string for the 1st Chord.  As shown above, this Pattern may be moved up and down the neck or from E String to A String to change Key (The Key of “G” in the top image and the Key of “D” in the bottom image of the example above).


Video 1. The I – IV – V Chords played off the Low E String and the A String,  Key of E.

-Most Rock music has its roots in the Blues and is based on the same Basic 3 Chord structure as the Blues.  This I-IV-V Chord structure is also commonly used in Country Music.  It cannot be stressed enough how fundamental understanding the I-IV-V Progression is to learning how to play.  At the very lease, memorize and practice the Pattern shown in Fig.1. above.

-The I-IV-V Chords are derived from the 7 note Diatonic Scale.  If each note of the scale is given a number (1-7) the corresponding chord can be determined.

For example: The Key of E Major “scale” is comprised or the notes: E-F-G-A-B-C-D-E (Major Scale intervels: (W-W-H-W-W-W-H).
Using these notes to represent chords, the I-IV-V Chords are: Major – A Major – B Major.  This works starting with any note/chord.  The same relative chord positions are maintained on the fretboard making it easy to transpose (simply follow the same pattern when playing through the chord progression).

I IV V Chords

 Fig.2. Example of these 3 “Basic Chords” in the Key of E.  They are commonly known as the 1 – 4 – 5  Chords. But more properly called the TONIC,  SUB DOMINANT and DOMINANT chords.

Video 2. -You may also use the chord from any octave.

HAT Trick RevealedTo find the 1 – 4 – 5 (Basic Chords) of any song first figure out the 1st Basic Chord (Tonic Chord) then count up 5 frets to find the 2nd basic Chord (4 Chord) then 2 more frets to find the 3rd Basic Chord (5 Chord).

The Circle Of 5ths

Fig.3. Another easy way to find the 1 – 4 – 5 Chords is to use the “Circle Of 5ths” Pick any Tonic Chord from the Circle. The next chord Counter clockwise is the 4th and the next chord Clockwise is the 5th.

-Note: the 1st Chord is properly called the Tonic Chord”. The 4th Chord is properly called the “Sub Dominant Chord”. The 5th Chord is properly called the “Dominant Chord”.

– You will usually see the 1-4-5 Chords written with Roman Numerals: I-IV-V Chords.

The Following is a List of the I – IV – V Major Chord Progressions:

A – D – E  

B – E – F

C – F – G

D – G – A

E – A – B

F – A – C

G – C – D

Fig.4. A list of I-IV-V Chords using Major Chords.  The “Easier To Play” and most common Progressions are highlighted in Blue.  These are very popular in ALL Styles of music including Country & Western.

More about Open Chords HERE

Video 1. Here’s an Easy I-IV-V Chord Progression based on the G-C-D Open Chords. Note: Only the Index and Ring fingers are repositioned to create each new Cord. Anchoring the Ringing and Pinky fingers makes chord changing easier.

Note that, because the Pinky remains anchored, the actual Chords being played are G – Cadd2 – Dsus4.

An “Add 2” Chord uses the 1-2-3-5 Notes of the Major Scale to Construct the Chord (adding the 2 to the Triad)


A “Sus 4” Chord uses the 1-4-5  Notes of the Major Scale to construct the Chord instead of the 1-3-5 Notes used for the Major Chord (substituting the 4 for the 3 of the Triad).

More on add & sus Chords <HERE>

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