Play like the Allman Brothers and Neil Young with Flatted III, VI, and VII Chords
If youâ€™re working on a song that uses the I, IV, and V, try substituting the bVII for the V to give the progression a different feel.
In general, you can use the bVII to add zing to a progression otherwise made up of diatonic chords. For instance, the Allman Brothersâ€™ â€śRamblinâ€™ Manâ€ť uses a Iâ€“bVIIâ€“I in the beginning of the chorus (â€śLord, I was born a ramblinâ€™ manâ€ť) to make that line stand out in an otherwise standard country/folk progression with the diatonic I, IV, V, and vi chords. Neil Youngâ€™s â€śAfter the Gold Rushâ€ť has the same set of chords and accentuates the bVII to add to the songâ€™s mysterious mood.
Example 2 uses the bVII (an F chord in the key of G) in conjunction with the diatonic I, vi, and V. In measure 2, play a hammer-on from the open third string to the second fret to accentuate the change to the bVII.
Excerpted from Songwriting Basics for Guitarists: Blues/Rock Changes