One by U2 – A Guitar Song Lesson to Learn Scales and Chords in Depth

The classic song ‘One’ by the legendary rock band U2 is a pretty easy song for beginners and a good song/exercise for learning and improving chord strumming on the guitar.

This song is demonstrated by Marty Schwartz, one of the popular guitar tutors on YouTube who is an excellent teacher who can break down a difficult piece into easily learnable chunks.

This song has some very basic and easy chords and progression, but at the same time pretty melodic to play and listen to. So without much ado, let’s dive in and check out the nuts and bolts of this song! 

Apart from learning the chord progressions of this song, this post will help you understand

  • How to build these chords from their corresponding major scales and
  • Also playing them in different positions of the fretboard.

So essentially, you will learn to build Major Scales, Minor Chords, and Major Chords and also learn the chords of this song in this post.

There are 5 easy Chords used in this song that is played in different combinations in the Verse, Chorus, and Bridge sections, and those are Am, C, D, F, and G.

Chords are built from their corresponding major scales, so the first step would be to learn how to build a major scale.

Major Scale Formula

The formula for building a Major Scale is W-W-H-W-W-W-H (“W” represents Whole Step or Whole Tone which is equivalent to 2 frets on guitar and “H” represents Half Step or Semi-tone which is equivalent to one fret)

Building “A” Major Scale

To build an Am chord you will first need to build an “A” Major Scale. So let’s build an A Major Scale from the Major Scale formula above,

A Major Scale: A    B    C#      D     E     F#     G#      A

A Major Scale Guitar Tab

Minor Chord Formula

The formula for building a Minor Chord is 1(R)-b3-5, (where R is the Root Note of the scale, which implies that a Minor chord is built from the 1st, flattened 3rd and 5th notes of a Major Scale).

Flattening a note means lowering it by a semitone.

The interval between the 1st, 2nd and flattened 3rd degrees (or notes) of a Major Scale is 1 and ½ tone (or 1 Whole Step and a Semi-Tone 9 or is 3 frets apart) and is known as a Minor Third.

And the interval between the flattened 3rd, 4th and 5th degrees is 2 whole steps or 4 frets apart and is known theoretically as a Major Third.

So a Minor Chord is the combination of a Minor Third and Major Third and is known as a Minor Triad.

“A” Minor Chord

If you apply this formula on the A Major Scale you will get an A Minor Chord as A-C-E. (C#, when flattened, becomes a natural C note) where the 1st note is A, Flattened 3rd (C#) is C and 5th note is E.

A Minor Chord on Different Guitar Fret Positions

Building C Major Scale

By applying the above Major Scale formula, we get the C Major Scale as C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C.

C Major Scale Guitar Tab

Major Chord Formula

Major Chord formula is quite similar to a minor chord formula, without a flattened 3rd degree.

Therefore, the formula is 1-3-5 or R-3-5 where R stands for the Root Note of the scale.

The Major Chord is the combination of a Major third (C to E) and a Minor third (E to G) and is known as a Major Triad.

C Major Chord

By applying this formula on the C Major Scale we get a C Major Chord as C-E-G.

C Major Chord on Guitar Different Positions

In the same way, we can build all the remaining scales and chords by applying the respective formulas.

D Major Scale is D-E-F#-G-A-B-C#-D and D Major Chord notes are D-F#-A

D Major Scale Guitar Tab


F Major Scale is F-G-A-Bb-C-D-E-F and F Major Chord notes are F-A-C

F Major Scale Guitar Tab


G Major Scale is G-A-B-C-D-E-F#-G and G Major Chord notes are G-B-D

G Major Scale Guitar Tab

I hope this lesson has helped you in learning the chords of a melodious song as well as understanding the Major Scale and Chord Building to some extent.

Please do let me know your feedback by leaving a comment.

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