If you are starting to venture into the wonderful world of playing the acoustic guitar then you’re in the right place. We’ve put together an extensive list of easy acoustic guitar songs that will help you progress with your skills and impress your friends with your playing.
Our list contains a lot of different well-known songs that span multiple genres and categories of music. However, they all have something in common: they’re easy to learn, easily recognizable and a guitarist at any sort of skill level will be able to have a go at them.
So let’s get started. Dive into our list of easy guitar songs and get playing your favorite music in no time at all.
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“Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes
The guitar riff throughout “Seven Nation Army” is probably one of the most recognizable ones in the 21st century. It’s also incredibly easy to play on the acoustic guitar because it only involves seven notes played one by one on the fifth string. So simple! For this one you don’t even need a tab.
Find the fifth string on your guitar. This is the string that sits next to the thickest string which is the sixth string. Then you will need to play the frets in this order: 7th, 7th, 10th, 7th, 5th, 3rd, 2nd. Finish off your string plucking with a G5 then A5 powerchord and there you have it – the entire riff. Take a listen to the track to pick up the right tempo and rhythm used by The White Stripes.
“Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan
Next up in our easy songs list is this classic from Bob Dylan. It’s ideal for beginner guitar players because it only involves four easy chords to create a masterpiece. Dylan clearly took inspiration from gospel folk music with this one and it was actually featured on the soundtrack of the movie Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid. It’s certainly one of Dylan’s more popular songs and the chords are super easy as well.
To learn the guitar chord progression for “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” you will need to have mastered the G, D, C and Am chords. The progression goes like this: G, D, Am and then G, D, C. Keep repeating this progression and you will learn to play the song. There are some chord variations featured in the harder version of the song but because we’re doing the easy versions here, we’re going to leave them out. Just focus on these simple chords and you can slowly get used to playing the changes well.
Once you’ve got the chords down you can start working on the strumming pattern, rhythm and tempo of the song. It’s a straightforward up and down strumming pattern but the feeling in it is crucial. The strumming is the core of the rhythm for the entire song and it drives the track more than the bass and drums do in some places. Try and keep your tempo steady without speeding up or slowing down.
“One” by U2
“One” open up with a beautiful acoustic guitar riff that propels the song and it uses some pretty easy guitar chords too. There are two chord progressions you need to master for this one. You’ll need to nail a Am, Dsus2, Fmaj7 and G pattern for the first part and then move on to a C, Am, Fmaj7, C pattern to finish off the song. These two chord progressions are actually the only ones in the entire song so they’re all you need to know to rock it out to this track.
There’s a piece of advice we do need to give you though if “One” is something you are interested in playing. The suspended two and major 7 chords may sound a bit unusual when you first start out. The reason why they’re named these strange names is because of music theory but the shapes themselves are actually much easier to play than your F and D chords.
“Talkin’ Bout a Revolution” by Tracy Chapman
If the thought of a full blown song is a bit daunting to you then you may be interested in this protest style folk inspired song from Tracy Chapman. It has a very simple four chord arrangement that goes G, C, Em D and it doesn’t change once from there! If you can get this down you will be able to play through to the end of the song.
The way you can make the song sound more special is by using loud and soft dynamics. This can be matched with any other instruments you might be playing along with. In total the song is just under three minutes in length but the music doesn’t kick in full pelt until you hit around 75 seconds.
If you are playing on your own then you can change the way you strum the guitar and how busy the overall rhythm is. Doing this will give the song all the dynamics it needs from the original recording.
“Mannish Boy” by Muddy Waters
This smash hit from 1955 has often been hailed as the riff that sums up the entire world that is Chicago blues music. Muddy Waters along with Jimmy Rogers, a fellow guitarist, came up with this iconic guitar arrangement that actually only features five notes. All you need to play this tune is A, D, A, C, A so it’s simple to get riffing along with the beat.
The reason the song sounds so full is that the notes are played by three separate instruments, including the acoustic guitar, to add in that extra colour and harmony. If you would like to build out the music to match the original then you can try playing the notes either a fret higher or lower on the neck of the guitar. You may also want to add in some extra notes if you’re feeling super confident, like playing an F# with the D and an E with the C. As you develop your skills you’ll be able to pull these chords off easily.
“Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton
Any beginner acoustic guitarist will find that the beginning of “Wonderful Tonight”is their perfect first solo. It’s part of our easy songs list because the lead line is catchy but there are some tough string bends you’ll have to contend with.
If you’re completely new to the string bending technique it’s a method used to alter the pitch of the string by bending it. You can hear an example of it right in the beginning of this song.
Now, Eric Clapton is probably one of the best guitarists in the world’s and his string bends are fluent and seamless. Before you jump in to this new technique make sure you have the basics of the song down first. You will need to press the string down as you bend it in order to get the right effect. The aim is to bend the string enough so that it sounds like another note on the frets so randomly aiming in the middle won’t give you the right sound.
The way you practice string bending is straight forward. Keep playing the note you want un-bent, then slowly figure out a way to bend the string and hit the right note. It takes a lot of careful listening and, of course, plenty of practice but over time you should be able to bend with the best of them.
“Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus
Back in 2019 a brand new hit came to our ears from the hip hopper Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, Miley Cyrus’s famous father. “Old Town Road” may not seem like the most obvious choice for our easy songs list but when it was played live Cyrus would grace the stage and pluck out a few notes on his guitar – the chords E, G, D and C.
Watching Cyrus on stage you will see that he uses a capo on his fourth fret on the fretboard. A capo is a popular guitar device that clamps down onto the strings and holds them there on whichever fret you want. This then raises the pitch of the guitar without you having to hold the strings down. Many musicians will use a capo if they sing with a higher voice or if they want to change the overall pitch of a particular song.
With “Old Town Road” you’ll recognize the chords as ones you will have learnt and mastered as a beginner to the acoustic guitar. However, they’re actually four frets higher thanks to the capo. Because of the capo it does actually means that the chord names are different from what Cyrus is playing but for now you only need to remember the chords we showed you above. The best thing to do if you want to master this song is to invest in a capo. It’s something you’ll use time and time again in your guitar career and they’re well worth the money.
All of these easy guitar songs are perfect for a beginner and only have a few of the staple chords you will have learnt when you first started playing the guitar. Once you’ve perfected the basics you’ll be able to add in more flair and even introduce devices like a capo to change up the pitch. We hope you find one of your favorite songs on our list and get to grips with these easy guitar songs quickly. Happy playing!