Jon MacLennan


Learn Chuck Berry's "No Particular Place to Go" on Guitar

When it comes to the roots of rock and roll guitar, it all started with Chuck Berry. In fact, even John Lennon said on The Mike Douglas Show in 1972, 

"If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry." 

In this post, I am going to dive deep into his guitar style and share key elements for playing the way he played. Specifically, we'll cover how he used classic blues progressions and double-stops in his iconic hits. 

So grab your guitar and get ready to rock!

Who wrote No Particular Place To Go

“No Particular Place to Go" was written and performed by American musician Chuck Berry. It was first released in 1964 as a single and then later appeared on Berry’s album St. Louis to Liverpool.

The tune has a catchy melody and an upbeat groove that made it an instant hit, reaching #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. It also received critical acclaim, with Rolling Stone magazine ranking it as one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

While the song was an original composition by Chuck Berry, its melody was inspired by the 1938 song "School Days" by Will D. Cobb and Gus Edwards, which also featured the line "riding along in my automobile." Despite this, "No Particular Place to Go" remains one of Berry's most popular and enduring hits and a beloved classic of the rock and roll genre.

No Particular Place To Go Chords

As with many classic Berry songs, they follow standard blues progressions. You’ll only need 3 chords to play this song. It is in the key of G and uses the I, IV, and V chords.

I chord = G

IV chord = C

V chord = D

These are the 3 most common chords in the key of G and a simple way of playing these chords can be done like this:


As I mentioned above the song follows a typical 12-bar blues chord progression that is used in millions of songs. 

Start by strumming just once per bar and practice switching between the chords in the correct order of the progression like this:

G (4 bars)

C (2 bars)

G (2 bars)

D (2 bars)

G (2 bars)

If you already know the 12-bar blues, simply plug the chords into the progression. However, there is one key point to note that you'll see repeated in many of Berry's hit songs.

Take note of the last 4 bars of the turnaround progression, which end with 2 bars of D and then return to 2 bars of G. Berry often wouldn’t even incorporate the C or IV chord in the turnaround. On the other hand, incorporating the IV chord is another super common 12-bar blues progression that goes like this:

G (4 bars)

C (2 bars)

G (2 bars)

D (1 bar)

C (1 bar)

G (2 bars)

But again notice how Berry actually just keeps it simple with the D (V) chord for 2 bars and then back home to the G (I) chord for 2 bars. 

Getting the Groove

Once you feel comfortable playing those chords next, you’ll want to change them into a classic rhythm and blues rhythm pattern. This can be done by playing 2 notes at a time, starting with a power chord shape, and then reaching up with the pinky and grabbing the 6th of the scale in a standard root 5th to root 6th pattern like this:

This same pattern can then be applied to the other chords in the song so for C it would be played by shifting up to the 8th fret like this:

And then finally for D you can shift up to the 10th fret and play this:

Take note of where your index finger is on the neck. This is called the root note. Which essentially means “the note that names the chord.” So whatever fret you are at on the neck this note names the chord. This is the single most important rhythm pattern Berry used over and over in so many songs and is a must-know pattern for any rock guitarist.

When playing this lower on the neck, more towards the headstock, the frets get wider so it can be a bit of a stretch. If you are having trouble bring the pattern higher up the neck and then slowly work your way down the fretboard to become more limber.

Another key factor here is the call and response between Berry’s vocal line and the rhythm section. Berry sings a phrase like, “… Riding along in my automobile” and then the band comes in with the rhythm as a response to the vocal. 

The pattern is essentially playing rhythm for 1 bar and then break on the downbeat, rest for the remainder of that measure, and then repeating through the 12-bar blues progression. (See the video above for a demonstration) 

Guitar Solo

When it comes to playing solos in the style of Berry there are two key factors I would like to point out:

  1. Blues Scale
  2. Double-stops

The main scale Berry uses to play solos in this song is the G minor blues scale. This scale can be played at the 3rd fret like this:

You can also move higher up the neck and play it here the next position up. 

Berry would often blend between different positions in his solos using double-stops. Double stopping is essentially the concept of playing two notes or parts simultaneously. So, instead of just soloing with single notes, he would create high-energy licks that played two notes at a time like this:

This type of lick could go over the G chord and comes straight out of the blues. Here we are sliding into the 5th and 7th of the chord creating a dissonance and then walking down from that 2nd pattern of the blues scale mentioned above to pattern 1.

Example 2 demonstrates another classic Berry style double-stop by sliding into the 3rd fret on the 2nd and 1st strings and then tying it back in with the same way that the first example ended.

This is a great way to start learning these basic concepts and ideas and then start experimenting to create your own licks in the style. Keep in mind, it's important to start slow, focus on hitting the right notes clean, and get the timing right. Then as you become more comfortable with it, you can start to add in your own personal touches and improvisations to make it your own.


Learning how to play "No Particular Place to Go" on guitar is a fun and rewarding experience for guitar players of all levels. By following the 12-bar blues and adding in the rhythm patterns and lead licks outlined above, you'll be well on your way to jamming out in a classic Chuck Berry guitar style. So grab your guitar, crank up the amp, and get ready to rock and roll! And for another great rock lesson, check out "You Really Got Me" next!

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