Easy guitar songs might seem like wishful thinking when you first pick up a guitar. Everyone takes the same path of bum notes and sore fingers. But, all is not lost; stick with it because we have some amazing beginner guitar songs to get you playing in no time.
There’s nothing better than nailing your first song and feeling like the rockstar you are. Although rockstars need more than one song, so let’s get through our list.
1. The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
There are a few reasons that Seven Nation Army from The White Stripes tops our list. First of all, it’s just the ultimate rock out song. It’s a massive guitar riff that has rocked festival stages, sports arenas, and every other type of venue around the world.
What makes it one of the easiest guitar songs is that the main riff takes place entirely on one string. It’s played on the fifth string using a combination of just five notes. There is one slight variation of the riff on every second turn, but it barely strays from the first one.
Once you have the riff mastered, the final piece of the puzzle is two simple power chords, G5 and A5.
The benefit of learning Seven Nation Army is that it gets you rocking quickly. Even though it’s so simple, it feels amazing to play and sounds great. It will give you the confidence to tackle the next song. We would go as far as saying it’s the best guitar song for beginners.
Stick an octave pedal on it, close your eyes, and you’ll feel like you are playing to a sellout crowd. But, don’t be that guitarist who learns one riff and thinks they know it all; this is a starting point.
2. Muddy Waters – Mannish Boy
If you are learning to play the guitar and don’t know who Muddy Waters is, then go find out right now. There’s no excuse; he is simply one of the most influential guitarists ever. His simple but effective style laid the foundation for rock n’ roll and every guitarist that follows.
Mannish Boy is one of his best-loved hits and most iconic blues guitar riffs ever. It’s a simple five-note sequence that defined the Chicago Blues scene.
The arrangement of the song is pretty straightforward; multiple instruments like bass, guitar, and harmonica double up on the riff. That means it’s a great tune to start playing with other musicians.
The riff might be easy, but the Blues is all about the feel. If it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t matter. Get the notes down, then play it over and over until you start to get that feel. Focus on the notes that you want to embellish a little more.
It’s so enjoyable to play, and it’s basically a beginner’s guide to writing your own blues songs; just add lyrics.
3. Bob Dylan – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
If you are learning to play acoustic guitar, young or old, you need to learn at least one Bob Dylan song. Bob Dylan is, arguably, one of the best storytellers music has ever known. What better place to start than the timeless classic, Knockin’ On Heavens Door.
Knockin’ On Heavens Door is one of the best songs for beginners because it takes just three chords. Once you get used to the basic chord shapes, you can throw in a couple of alternative voicings in places. But, don’t worry about that in the beginning; just get the chords right, and work on the strumming pattern.
The strumming pattern is relatively simple; it’s a 16th-note pattern, down-up, down-up. Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean you don’t need to practice it. The trouble with simple strumming patterns is that it’s easy to lose concentration and lose your tempo. With a song like this, you need a nice steady pace.
Learning songs like this doesn’t just improve your playing; it also helps you understand songwriting. Plus, it’s perfect for a sing-along in a group.
4. Tracy Chapman – Talkin’ Bout A Revolution
Tracy Chapman has given some of the best acoustic performances of all time. Her songs are often first on the list whenever someone brings out the acoustic guitar.
We are looking at Talkin’ Bout A Revolution, a song that has inspired countless people to stand up to oppression of all kinds. The song has four chords, and the best thing is that there are no changes. Once you learn the two-bar loop, it’s just a case of repeating till finished.
The strumming pattern is another simple one, and after you get your fingers around the chords, it will be no problem for you. As you get better, you can alter the pattern to make it busier in the chorus if you like. Again, that’s not something to worry about at the start.
Why learn this song? Well, because it’s a perfect introduction to dynamics. With such a simple chord progression, it’s easier to focus on dynamics – when to be soft and when to be loud. It’s a passionate song; sometimes it’s like a conversation, other times it’s a roar.
5. Bob Marley – Three Little Birds
It’s tough to think of anything that feels better to jam than a Bob Marley song. They are so uplifting, motivating, and flat out fun.
Three Little Birds has one of the sweetest, catchiest melodies you will ever hear. Thankfully for us, you can play along with just three chords.
It’s one of the many easy songs that can be played with chords one, four, and five of the major scale. It’s the perfect song to get used to that common chord progression because it will come up time and time again.
You won’t take long to get the chords right, so you should spend most of your time getting the right feel. The strumming pattern is simple, but you have to accent in the right places to get the feel; beats two and four.
You need to keep your dynamics in-check; you can’t be too heavy-handed; otherwise, the accents will get lost, and it will become muddy.
Why learn it? Because everyone loves it!
6. Bob Marley – Redemption Song
Another Bob Marley song on the list, this time it’s Redemption Song; another sing-along favorite. If you can imagine a scene with a campfire and an acoustic guitar, chances are Redemption Song was on the playlist.
If you are familiar with the song, you’ll know that it has a lovely little finger-picked intro. It’s an iconic intro, and it’s super-easy to play.
What makes the introduction so easy to play is that it outlines the opening chords. So, even though you are picking out single notes, the hand position isn’t too different from the rest of the song.
It’s a song that inspires unity, which is why it’s so good for a sing-along. There are five chords, which is more than most of the other songs on our list. But, the chords are all very similar in shape/fingering, so they won’t cause you too much stress.
The crucial thing is that you keep the feel as laid back as you can. Redemption Song is not one that you want to rush.
7. Eminem/Rihanna – Love The Way You Lie
You might not always see Eminem or Rihanna on a list of easy guitar songs. But, we wanted to have a bit of fun with it, and give you something slightly different.
Love The Way You Lie was an absolute smash hit, so you’re probably already well familiar with the melody. If not, you’ll pick it up quickly; it’s very catchy. There are four chords in this song, nothing fancy, just a standard pop progression.
The same can be said about the strumming pattern; it’s pretty standard in pop music. However, there are a couple of ways that you can tackle it. You can stick to an eighth-note pattern, using only down strums. That makes it easier to change chords while keeping a consistent pattern.
Alternatively, you can add an up strum on the “and-a” of every second beat. Giving you a pattern like this: one and two and-a three and four and-a. With the added up strum, changing chords might be trickier, but you’ll get the hang of it.
As well as just being a cool song to learn we really want you to have a go at Eminem’s verses, too. Go on; you know you want to!
8. Bruno Mars – Marry You
Bruno Mars is one of the most successful pop artists in recent years. For a while, it was hard to imagine the pop charts without a Bruno Mars song.
The one that we have picked out is Marry You, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s another three-chord song. Apart from the fact it has just three chords, there are another couple of things that make Marry You an easy guitar song. First of all, there are no real dynamics to think about and no difficult timing issues.
Once you get the chords and the strumming pattern down, it becomes muscle-memory very quickly. Before you know it, you’ll be running through the entire song without thinking about it. The tough part about learning a Bruno Mars song is trying to sing them half as well as he does.
This song is perhaps more for the guys than the girls, and as cheesy as it sounds, it doesn’t hurt to know a few romantic songs!
9. Tom Petty – Free Falling
Tom Petty is one of America’s most beloved musicians, and Free Falling is one of his most iconic songs. Many people have fond memories of this song for different reasons. Some grew up listening to Tom Petty; some know it best from the classic scene in Jerry Maguire. If you are too young to fit either description, listen to it now, it’s awesome.
Free Falling is another three-chord song that every budding guitarist should learn. There is nothing complicated in the chords or the general strumming pattern.
If there’s anything that might cause beginners’ problems, it’s the timing of the chord changes. The changes don’t always fall on the beat, which isn’t too complicated, but it might be new to most learners.
When you are trying to get used to changing chords between beats, it’s sometimes good to use a metronome. If you don’t have a metronome, you can even try tapping your foot to hammer home the 4/4 feel.
As well as improving your rhythm, you’ll never be short of volunteer vocalists.
10. The Beatles – Twist And Shout
The Beatles have so many hit records; it’s safe to say there’s something for everyone. One of the things that The Beatles did so well was moved through styles seamlessly. Their songs can make you smile, cry, think, or dance.
To add a bit of fun to your learning, we are going with one that makes you dance. Twist And Shout is one of the most iconic feel-good songs of any generation. Despite the upbeat feel, you can play this simple song with only three chords.
The three chords cover the entire song; the only change is in the breakdown sections. It doesn’t have any new chords; it’s just a change in rhythm and feel. Practicing breakdowns is a fantastic way to get used to controlling your timing and dynamics. On top of that, it’s just funky!
Twist And Shout is a song that many people might assume is more complicated than it really is. So, learning to play it might just give you a new party trick.
11. Imagine Dragons – Radioactive
Imagine Dragons are a trendy band and not just a cool name. One of their biggest hits so far is Radioactive, which has seen a lot of success through TV/Film use.
Radioactive is one of those songs that manages to stay fresh and interesting from start to finish, despite offering very little in the way of changes. But that’s good news for us; it means it’s one of the easiest songs to play on guitar.
There are four chords used throughout the entire song, and those chords are played in the same order throughout. So, as far as the chord structure goes, nothing changes from verse to chorus.
The only change comes in the form of the strumming pattern. The verse starts on a fairly standard pop, singer-songwriter strumming pattern before the chorus gets a little busier. Although there is a change in the pattern, it’s a very slight change, so technically, it shouldn’t be a challenge.
What you get out of learning songs like Radioactive is a chance to practice staying focused. When a change is so small that it’s almost insignificant, it’s easy to lose focus and miss the change altogether. This song will keep you sharp.
12. The Doors – Break On Through
When you think about musical icons, they don’t get much bigger than Jim Morrison and The Doors. An interesting fact about The Doors is that they didn’t have a bass player. Instead, keyboardist, Ray Manzarek, played a Fender Rhodes Key Bass with his left hand.
From the many, many classic songs The Doors recorded, we have chosen Break On Through. The reason we chose Break On Through is that it has very few chords, a simple riff, and sounds impressive.
While it can be called one of the easiest songs to learn on guitar, this one might take a little more time than most. The riff isn’t too technically challenging, but it will take some practice to get the phrasing right at the correct tempo.
With songs like this, the key is repetition; play it till it becomes second nature. We cover a few bases with this song; it’s got its atmospheric chords ringing out, and it’s got the cool riff, both typical of The Doors.
You could go through lots of easy guitar song lists and find different songs in each one. There are plenty of simple songs to choose from, and learning any new music is a good thing. But, sometimes, you have to look at the bigger picture in terms of your development.
We put together our list by choosing songs that are fun to play while enhancing different aspects of your technical ability. Work your way through the list, you’ll enjoy it, and we promise you’ll be a better player when you’re done.