To play reggae all you need is a very basic knowledge of major
and minor bar chords. Of course, thebroader your chord
repertoire, the more creative and colourful your playing will be. If you only think in terms of
reggae chords, you run the risk of limiting yourself musically. If you listen to Reggae Guitarist Ernest Ranglin, you are sure to be impressed by his style of playing. He uses loads
of jazz chords to spice up his playing. This man’s name is synonymous with Reggae Jazz.
These examples are obviously major chords but, the nice thing about
these progressions is that you can change them to minor keys as
well. Done slowly and you will definitely be
in the Roots Reggae territory.
Using Minor Chords
Major keys give a happy sound but, if you are after that deep and
profound Roots Reggae vibe, then you have to think minors or minors combine with majors.
Most if not all of the great reggae artist I have heard, uses
this method to powerfully bring across their message. Here are some popular progressions.
E minor – D major repeat (Peter Tosh – Johnny Be
B minor – E minor – B minor – F # minor repeat (Bob Marley’s –
Roots Rock Reggae)
B minor – G major – E minor – D major – C # minor repeat (make sure
to pass quickly from the D major to the C # minor)
E minor – C major – D major – B minor – C major – A minor – B7
repeat (T.O.K - Footprints)
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are loads of
reggae chords progression you could try. So feel free to mix and match, as there are really no rules
here. Let your heart and your imagination guide you.
Just remember, if you are after a happy kind of vibe use major
chords and if you are in a reflective or a Roots Reggae mood then, get some minor chords in there. These chords can
be used as reggae guitar chords as well as for other
Here is another video showing some more reggae chords. The
first reggae chord progression is A major - B minor, fallowed by A major - D major - E major and finally A
minor - D minor - E minor. Enjoy.
The three most popular reggae chords
Song writing using reggae chords
If you are writing a song, to get the most out of it, make sure
there is a verse, a bridge and a chorus. Some artists go further and incorporate a dramatic intro and a nice
end. The intro in many cases has nothing to do with the main chord progression.
For example, say you are writing a song in the key of C major, the
intro chord progression could be A minor – G major – F major then repeat. You could then use A minor – E
minor – D minor – repeat, for the verse, then C major – G major – D minor for the bridge and A minor – E minor – D
minor for the chorus and so on.
It is not as complicated as it seems when you
actually start to play it and it is very effective, since the turns are not expected but, they are a pleasant
surprise. Try it out for yourself – you will not be disappointed! For more on reggae chords and reggae bass