Every great guitarist should have at least one country song in their repertoire. Guitars for country music sound, quite simply, amazing and there are so many songs to learn for beginners and more advanced players. We’ve put together a list of easy country songs to learn on guitar so you can jam along with some classics from this genre.
The songs we’ve featured in this list are fun to play and they usually contain a message that is both down to earth and relatable. We’ve chosen select songs that that are easy country songs to learn which will be ideal for beginner guitarists. These are pieces that give you the right starting point so that you can establish your basic skills and evolve as a better all-around guitarist. Let’s get started.
1. John Denver – Take Me Home, Country Roads
Chords needed: G, D, Em & C
This is at the top of many people’s greatest guitar country songs of all time. It also happens to be the signature song of the world-renowned country artist, John Denver. It’s so iconic with country music that it became the official state anthem for West Virginia. The song was originally recorded back in 1971 but it still has a massive online following today, with one of the largest digital download numbers online. Anyone who is aspiring to learn easy country songs should pick this one up first.
If you’re completely new to this style of playing then we have some tips for you. The best way to start out is to strum the chords. It’s completely your own choice if you want to learn it with the fingerstyle technique. Doing it this way will make it harder but the payoff could be greater in the end.
2. Merle Haggard – Okie from Muskogee
Chords needed: A & D
You need to start your journey into easy country songs by learning the classics and this is definitely one of the most successful and popular singles to come from the genre. The reason why this is so good for beginners is that it only has two guitar chords throughout the entire piece. While this may seem a little bit boring, it’s the fingerpicking where your skills will truly shine through. There’s a great melody that goes along with the lyrics to the song which is a good way to learn on guitar.
When this song was released in 1969 it took less than three months to hit the top of the Hot Country Singles list. Nowadays modern country artists still draw their inspiration from the song. This is because Haggard showed off some simple but pretty phenomenal playing as well as stellar songwriting skills.
3. Hank Williams – Jambalaya
Chords needed: C & G7
We think that Jambalaya is one of the easy country songs that is incredibly iconic in this genre. The song was released back in 1952 and is still a song that people listen to and play now. The tune is incredibly catchy and you’ll easily be able to remember the lyrics as well. The reason that this song is so well remembered even now is because of the melody.
Playing this song is easy for beginners. Guitarists will also be able to learn a simple fingerpicking technique as well as strumming patterns which will serve you well in your guitar playing career. The chords are simple enough that you can move easily between your fretting fingers. It’s this movement that gives the song a harmonic effect which is practically what the tune is known for.
4. Johnny Cash – I Walk the Line
Chords needed: A, D & E
So many people instantly recognize this song from its guitar intro. It really shows of Cash’s master playing of his favorite instrument of all time. Beginners will find it easier to play this country classic if they use a more relaxed strumming method. You will need to learn modified arpeggios if you want to play the more exciting bassline feature in this song. Players can definitely expect to improve on their fingerpicking skills by choosing to learn this one.
If you’re a complete newcomer to the guitar then you can always just focus your attention on the strumming technique and getting those up and down strokes nailed. The song has a medium speed tempo but you can slow it down until you make it sound the way you want it to. It’s a really carefree song with a hip beat that will have people swaying along when you play.
5. Johnny Cash – Ring of Fire
Chords needed: D, C & G
We have to feature Cash heavily in our easy country songs because he was such a legend in the genre. All of his songs should be part of your repertoire if you really want to nail that easy country song style. This one is perfect for anyone with a shorter attention span because it doesn’t last as long as other country songs.
You’ll instantly love this song for its simplicity. However, being able to play the notes will need more than just basic knowledge of a few guitar chords. You can make the most out of playing this song by combining both strumming techniques and arpeggios. It is vital that any guitar player has a high level of finger coordination so that the right strings are being hit at the right time. These basics aren’t just important for the piece but for playing guitar in general.
6. Dolly Parton – Jolene
Chords needed: Am, C & G
Anyone who is a big fan of Dolly Parton will know every word to this song. It’s one of her most famous and also the most covered of any of Parton’s songs. Even though she never won the Grammy it was nominated for in 1973, it still gets a lot of attention even to this day. Many different groups including a capella singing groups win by covering this song. For a piece that’s over forty years old, that’s not bad going.
You will want to bring out your capo for this one and place it on the fifth fret. This helps you to heighten the pitch of all of the strings. If you don’t want to mimic Dolly’s high-pitched, iconic voice then you don’t need to use your capo. It’s the chords that will require a lot more of your attention and how you strum your guitar. The song has a BPM of 110 so this one will really get your fingers and wrists working like never before.
7. Carrie Underwood – Blown Away
Chords needed: Am, C & G
Blown Away has a really intriguing and unique composition that is different to the other entries on our list. It has the melody of what we would expect from a contemporary song but it has country elements to it. It’s these different elements that add a country theme into the piece. Even though some people would say this is more on the pop song end of the spectrum, the song that was released in 2012 still has all of the makings of a great country music song.
We think this one is simple to learn on guitar because the strumming patterns feature a basic down-up, up, down-up theme to them. This is really easy to remember and it should mean that after a few runs through you won’t need to worry about them anymore. Fingerpicking can be added over the chords to make the song sound whole. If this is your first dip into the country music pond then make sure you can play the basics before starting to learn the more complicated techniques. It’s a lot easier to pick up the more complex parts of country songs once you have fully mastered all of your foundations.
8. Keith Whitley – When You Say Nothing at All
Chords needed: G, D & C
The original singer of this song is, in fact, Keith Whitley but many people will remember the Ronan Keating or Alison Krauss versions better. It was Whitley who wrote this piece back in 1988 and he was the one who made it to the top of the charts. He was featured as number three on the Hot Country Singles chart which is pretty impressive for any country artist.
Aside from being a chart-topping hit, this is one of the easier country songs to learn. It’s great for novice guitarists because of the simple chord progression, plus the strumming pattern is basic as well. The tune is catchy so overall it should be a fun experience for anyone to play.
9. George Strait – Ocean Front Property
Chords needed: D, A & G
This is one of the most classic country guitar songs out there today and it’s brilliant because it sounds a lot more impressive than it actually is. The structure of the song has been cleverly put together so that it’s subtle. Listening to the lyrics you can hear the classic country theme of heartache as the undercurrent throughout. If you listen very closely you’ll be able to hear Strait’s vocals where he has a great ability to evoke sad undertones in many of his songs.
A lot of people may avoid playing this easy country song because it is a bit of a Debbie downer. However, we think it still should be one of those songs to learn for beginners. If you want you can forget all about the lyrics and take a more focused approach to the strumming patterns. The song has a more midtempo rhythm which makes the song entertaining to play. Being able to master the guitar chords and moving through them seamlessly will help train the fingers properly so you can play more advanced songs in the future.
10. Garth Brooks – Friends in Low Places
Chords needed: G, Am & D
When you listen to the opening part of this song you may think wow, that’s a bit dark! However, once you get to the chorus everything lightens up a bit so it is a fun track to learn on guitar. Who could write such a composition? Only one of the most respected artists in the entire music industry – Dewayne Blackwell. He penned this song alongside Earl Bud Lee which went on to massively improve Brooks’s popularity back in the 1990s.
If you want to play the original song then you will need a different set of chords than the ones we provided at the beginning of this section. However, we have chosen to use these guitar chords because they are much easier to play on guitar for beginners. If you want to learn the arpeggios in this country song then we would recommend you use all of the original guitar chords used in the tab we have provided. The overall piece has a lot of interesting harmonics and melodies which makes it one of the more entertaining songs to play.
11. Willie Nelson – Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys
Chords needed: D, G & A7
Even though the name of this song is epically long, this hit from Willie Nelson is easily one of the simplest country songs to play on guitar. This is because it features soft country melodies that give it a fascinating sound and you will probably find yourself humming along as you play the guitar chords. It’s the treble and bass notes that keep alternating throughout the piece that gives it such a melodic quality and makes the overall song interesting.
To begin with, you will only need to strum your guitar on the first count for every four. As you progress through the song you can add in a downstrum on both the second and third counts of the song. It’s a bit of a tricky one to learn but once you’ve got this part down, add an upstrum in for every time you play a downstrum. If you want to learn the bassline which pulls the song together you’ll have to add in the alternating notes into your pattern. Once you’ve done all of this you’ll be able to tackle any sort of country music guitar songs out there.
12. Billy Ray Cyrus – Achy, Breaky Heart
Chords needed: A & E
There’s a lot of people out there that don’t consider this to be a true country song at heart but it really is. The only reason people class it as a rock ballad is that it has that upbeat, line-dancing-esque groove running throughout it. Achy Breaky Heart is probably one of the most famous country guitar songs because it’s instantly recognizable to many people. Plus Cyrus went on to father one of the most popular pop princesses ever.
If you put this piece in your must-learn country music collection then you will have a music better shot at improving your overall guitar playing skills. It includes both fretting and strumming which is what makes it one of the more worthwhile songs to play. The beat is incredibly catchy so if you play this to a room full of people, we’re sure you’ll start a dance session or even some karaoke.
13. Taylor Swift ft. Ed Sheeran – Everything Has Changed
Chords needed: D, G, Bm, A & Em7
This is a much more modern country song that a lot of people will learn and then play on guitar over and over again. It’s amazing that country singer Taylor Swift features in this but then adding in Sheeran’s brilliant guitar playing techniques adds so many more layers to this song. Released back in 2013, the ballad blends both pop and folk together so it will appeal to anyone who has a varied taste in music.
The fact that this has five chords shouldn’t be offputting to you because they aren’t actually that hard to learn on guitar. The rhythm is nice and slow so that you can work through the song at your own pace and perfect each part as you go along. You will use mostly downstrums on the strings but upstrums are also included occasionally throughout the music.
14. Luke Bryan – Country Girl (Shake It for Me)
Chords needed: E, G & A
Luke Bryan is known for making country music a lot sexier and he does this by layering songs in a way that makes them playful. It’s a really catchy piece that will have you humming along as you begin to play. When the song was released in 2011 it got to 52 in the Hot Country Songs charts.
If you take a look at the chords you will see they are really simple. To better develop your skills make sure to learn the arpeggio which makes up the intro. Bryan uses a really cool little trick that will actually open up a lot more guitar songs in many different genres. When you move onto the fingerpicking throughout the piece you’ll find that these are easy enough too. You’ll just have to work on the flexibility of your fretting fingers if you want to play the piece properly. It’s a really fun song to learn on guitar which is why we included in our list of country songs to play.
15. Johnny Cash – A Boy Named Sue
Chords needed: A, D & E
We’ll finish off our list with the third time around for our favorite country music star, Johnny Cash. This song failed to make it higher than his previous hit, Honky Tonk Women, but it still was one of the greatest musical pieces to come from this artist. The song actually has a very colorful and lively background which makes it all the more interesting. First of all, a humorist and a poet wrote the lyrics to it. Next, Cash decided that he would record the song at a live performance in California at the San Quentin State Prison. Cash always used to play around with this song and gave it different comedic lyrics whenever he sang it which just goes to show how much fun country music can be.
Because the song is so lively it’s one of the funniest songs to learn and play on your guitar. You can take influence from Cash and make up your own lyrics as you play. Just make sure you have the AABCCB strumming and rhythm pattern nailed before you carry on making up lyrics.
It will always take a lot of dedication and patience to be able to play any sort of genre on the guitar. No matter how difficult a piece is, you have to want to learn to play it properly if you really want to enhance your skills. Keep trying to master those basics which include guitar chords and different strumming patterns. Working your way through this list should have developed on your skills and giving you a great catalog of songs to learn. We hope you enjoyed our list and if you think there are any more easy country strong to learn on guitar, make sure to let us know.