Blues Chords: Understanding I IV V - Riff Ninja Guitar

Blues Chords: Understanding I IV V

Here's a quick introduction to one way you can use I IV V, although there is a TON more to say on this topic. The guitar is tuned to 4ths, except for the G to B string, which is a major third. That means that every time you switch strings, staying on the same fret, you're moving up (or down) a fourth.

For example, on 6th string, 5th fret, you have an A. Move up one string to the 5th string, and you have the D. Now, move up two frets, and you find the E, and there's your I IV V in the key of A, the three most important chords in that key. This works in both major and minor keys.

Learning a bit about I IV V can really help you reduce how much you need to memorize your fretboard, because you'll already know the relationships of the notes nearby. Cool stuff!

Leave a Reply 22 comments

Rick Parker Reply

This is awesome. I've know about I IV V for years but I never hear it explained the way you do. Makes more sense to me now.

Randi Gilliland Reply

Eureka..you make things so simple to understand..thank you very much..always look forward to your words of Wisdom!!!!

Bill Grimes Reply

Colin, as always you give great, simple explanations to make theory understandable and practical to apply to the guitar. I wish you would show how this works when you cross the B string.

Greg Page Reply

Great info, thx!

Ted Bingaman Reply

Great job never thought about it that way! New insight into the way to look at the fret board.Thanks for teaching an old dog.

Kathryn Kelm Reply

This sounds like it makes a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Randall Bachman Reply

So simple and easy to understand. I think this might be the best tip yet, Colin!

Willie Jerome Banks Reply

makes sense easy to understand

Willie Jerome Banks Reply

makes sense easy to understand

Roger Nicholson Reply

I agree with Ted, that really is a New Insight for me also!
I knew a little about 1-4-5 but this really helps explain it. Thx

Keith Bates Reply

Thank you!!!Opened it up a bit for me.

Pat Reply

Who made the ES 175 style archtop in the background? Thanks.

B J Barney Barnes Reply

What an eye opener! Excuse me while I go practice!

Edward Packer Reply

does this work the same on all strings

    Jonathan Boettcher Reply

    Every string except the B string (2nd string), because that string is tuned to a major third rather than a fourth like the rest.

Danny Robinson Reply

you really are cooking with gas now
great stuff colin
regards danny

Paul Tolman Reply

I started playing around on guitar when I was 14. I’m 63 now so just under 40 years ago. I played bass for a few tears then laid them down for a lot of years. During those young and lean years I saw that pattern over and over, but I had no idea why. You guys helped me understand. I have Jonathon’s I, IV,V course. but when you showed it on the fretboard a light went on for me!!

Flatpicker Reply

Hi Colin – Great overview! I also appreciate your feedback about the B string being tuned to a major 3rd……just trying to understand the theory behind it is all. Is there anyway you can explain this concept in more detail as it relates to this I-IV-V lesson?

Keith Willis Reply

I liked this video, it was very useful, I can use this info to better understand my fret board. Nice work on this, I’m sure any of use can get something good from it.

Barbara Morris Reply

Hi your 145 talk was great,im over 60 and just learnt what iv been looking for ,what seems like forever just looked on your :what to learn first clip and you were speaking on g..c.d mager cords with in fills,but first I have to learn the mechanics ,and the mathematics to infill between g c d ,??where can I find these??thanks again for your clarity,ps I play bluegrass style.

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