Being able to play easy Christmas songs on guitar could be one of the best gifts for guitar players this festive season. If you want to learn a few songs in time for Christmas so you can sing along with the whole family and bring some festive cheer then this list is for you.
Before You Begin
Before you launch into our list of easy Christmas songs on guitar there are a few things you will already need to know. We’ve picked the easiest choices we could think of but a grasp of basic guitar skills is a must. You’ll have to know how to fingerpick as well as use your plectrum to successfully play Christmas songs for guitar. You will also come across skills such as hammer ons which are a great way to increase your finger strength.
A few entries in our list help you get to grips with some more advanced strumming patterns. While they aren’t for advanced players, they will really stretch your overall skills as a beginner. As long as you can get used to the rhythm of the piece the strumming pattern doesn’t have to be bang on. Just have fun with your playing.
The last thing you will need for your Christmas songs for guitar is the ability to read tabs. We’ve included a tab for every easy Christmas song feature on this list so if you want to be able to play the basic or more advanced version, you’ll need to know how to read these properly.
Now we can begin!
1. We Wish You A Merry Christmas
Why not kick off with a true Christmas classic and a really easy one to boot. The most recognizable part of the melody in this song is pretty much just one phrase that repeats itself in different variations. This is what makes it one of the easier Christmas songs for guitar.
We want to make We Wish You A Merry Christmas as joyful experience as possible so we’re going to give you some tips on how to play the song. Start off by placing your fingers on the fretboard. You want to place your third finger so that it rests on the third fret on the fifth string. Then take your second finger and have it hovering over the second fret on the fourth string. This makes sure that your hand is in the exact right position it needs to be to play the song easily. The whole song makes use of this hand position by either moving it up or moving it down so you will be able to play the guitar chords seamlessly.
What many don’t realize about Christmas songs is that they sound a lot more difficult to play than they actually are. Easy Christmas songs will use a melody that sounds harder because they accompany it with various guitar chords and other elements such as bass notes. When you take a look at the actual tabs for Christmas songs like Jingle Bells, you’ll find they are really easy and perfect for beginner guitarists.
2. Last Christmas
No one can resist a bit of heartache at Christmas and with this 1984 hit from the English pop group Wham, you can have all of the Christmas love story you need. The song has become incredibly popular worldwide thanks to George Michael’s notoriety and is very much a mainstay at Christmas parties and work functions in the festive season. If you don’t know the words to this one, you’ve probably been living in a cave.
Because Last Christmas is such a popular song you can play it for everyone on Christmas Day and have them sing along to the guitar chords. You can use the vocal melody provided in the guitar tab to provide the right tune for anyone who fancies a sing song. The melody tab is a great choice for someone who wants to improve their skills at the top end of their fretboard. It will really get your fingers working and the melody is simple enough to help beginners with these skills.
If you look at the notes of the song you may notice that they almost fit into the E minor pentatonic scale. Some of the notes also come from the natural minor scale. You will need to know the chords of D, Bm, Em and A if you want to learn this entry into our easy Christmas songs.
3. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
We’ve gone back to the more traditional and classic Christmas songs with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. This arrangement is chord based and this is what is typically seen when you look at jazz music. You will also alternate between the leading line and chordial accompaniment.
Take a look at the first bar of the song. You will see that it is loosely based on a C major triad where you will use the D, G and B strings. Take your little finger and alternate it to press down on the tenth fret with the B string to recreate your melody line.
When you continue to work through our list of Christmas songs you may want to take a look at each bar of every song. Each one has a chord shape which is set in place and then goes on to frame the entire melody for that bar. If you can keep this in mind then you will find working through Christmas songs a lot easier. This is because you will be focusing on the chord changes and where they land on the first beat of the bar so you can add in the melody later one once you’ve practiced it a bit.
4. Silent Night
Silent Night is a Christmas carol that is well known around the world is a popular one to sing on the night before Christmas Day. The original song was composed in 1818 by an artist called Franz Xaver Gruber and he wrote his melody to lyrics with were penned by Joseph Mohr.
The chords for this piece have a bit more of a jazz feel to them even though the song is slow and melancholy. As far as guitar chords go they are easy to play as a melody all the way through so that you don’t have to work out separate parts for the accompaniment. This will make it much easier to master the piece quickly as long as you continue to practice.
What you want to watch out for with this Christmas song as well as others we have mentioned in our list is the chord changes. Making sure you understand the different hand shapes featured in Silent Night as well as the other easy Christmas songs can help the chord transitions happen a lot more smoothly.
5. Stop the Cavalry
Many people will know that the subject matter of this song is about war but because it was released around the festive period many people consider it a Christmas song. Jona Lewie released this song in 1980 and it was the only song of his that ever made it into mainstream popularity. It was never originally intended as a Christmas track, it was just the timing of the release.
When the song was originally written Lewie wanted it to be in protest to the war. It features a great line that says ‘wish I was at home for Christmas’. This lyric was intended to be from the perspective of a soldier in a farawar land who had one wish for the festive season.
In this song you will be playing the vocals as a melody with a single line on the guitar. It’s a relatively simple melody which makes it ideal for beginners. You can see by looking at the music that every bar of the song has been made up of quarter notes and that an eight note then covers every third beat for each bar of the music.
Now take a look a look at both the fourth and eighth bars of the music. These ones differ from the rest as they are made up of a single half note and then two quarter notes. You will also find that there’s a big change in the rhythm once you hit the eleventh bar. The beats change to eighth notes before it goes into the final part of the song.
6. Deck the Halls
We’ve included Deck the Halls into our list of songs even though it’s on the harder side of the scale because it helps you get used to more advanced fingerstyle arrangements. You’ll find that there’s some parts where the melody goes a lot faster as well as some chords that skip strings. Anyone who wants to learn this piece will be playing in eighths with some sixteenth included as well. In each bar of the song the guitar chords will hit on both the first and third beat and the melody then goes in to cross over this by landing on the second and fourth beats.
As you make your way through the song there’s some parts of the arrangement you need to look out for. There are some parts that contain sixteenth notes which can throw off your rhythm. This particularly true for beginners to learning guitar who haven’t quite got the fingerstyle technique nailed down yet.
7. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
You’ll need just one guitar to play this one ans once again the melody and chords are derived from jazz as so many Christmas songs are. This is a lot more of a challenge for new players because there’s some pretty tricky chord changes in there thanks to the jazz aspect of the piece. You can get away with playing this piece as slowly as you like, making sure to add that swing into it that it needs.
We mentioned the difficult chord changes above and one that is especially hard sits at the beginning of the second bar. You’ll have to stretch your fingers to the maximum if you want to play this smoothly. The chord stretches out across multiple strings so requires a good amount of finger flexibility to produce a clear, clean chord sound.
Once you’ve got the chords and those tricky chord transitions down you can move on to the melody which goes along with the chords you just learned. You may want to just play the melody by itself if you’re finding the chords a bit too difficult to get the hang of. If so you can just follow the highest note present in each chord on the tab. Of course, you’ll need a great crooner like Bing Crosby to sing along with you to this one to really get the feel for the festive holidays.
8. Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)
Let’s end our list on a more modern note and crack out those electric guitars to rock our way into the Christmas holidays. This rock hit was originally penned by the English group The Darkness and it’s got some truly amazing guitar licks and riffs that will inspire any rock guitarist. You’ll notice a strong guitar presence right from the beginning section of the song and there’s also a harmony part on the guitar which you can learn too. The band featured two different guitars so feel free to learn each part and play along with a friend.
This song is on the harder end of the easy scale and it includes a new skill you may not have come across yet – string bending. Pitching has to be clean and incredibly accurate when you learn to bend your strings. This is especially true if you plan to play along with a second guitar and want to keep in harmony. String bending can easily make a note sharp or flat so if you’re playing along with someone else, the notes won’t mesh and you won’t sound very merry at all.
The lines in this song are interesting because they go from slower notes to flurries of quicker ones. This will really help you increase your tempo as a guitarist and get those finger skills working too. There are a few instances where you will need to hammer on or pull of using your first and second fingers. Make sure to practice this skill before attempting the song as it can be a tricky technique to master.
Now that you’ve been through our list of Christmas song ideas you’ll be ready for Christmas Day and can play all festive season long on your guitar. Merry Christmas and happy playing!