If you are completely new to playing the guitar, starting out with easy beginner songs is a great place to get going. We’ve got a full list of easy first songs on guitar which will help you progress further with your guitar playing. As a beginner, we would suggest using an acoustic guitar, although these beginner guitar songs are also suitable for electric guitar.
Some of the songs we are including in our guide are good sing-along tracks whereas others are riff-based to build on your skills. Read on to find out the best beginner guitar player songs, each with its own video tutorial to help you get started.
Table of Contents
- 1 1. Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival
- 2 2. Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton
- 3 3. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door – Bob Dylan
- 4 4. Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty
- 5 5. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
- 6 6. Old Town Road – Lil Nas X & Billy Ray Cyrus
- 7 7. Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
- 8 8. One – U2
- 9 9. Talkin’ Bout a Revolution – Tracy Chapman
- 10 10. Mannish Boy – Muddy Waters
- 11 11. Polly – Nirvana
- 12 12. Twist and Shout – The Beatles
- 13 13. Wildest Dreams – Taylor Swift
- 14 Conclusion
- 15 FAQs
1. Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Bad Moon rising is a great one to start our list of easy songs because it only uses three guitar chords. They have to be played quickly though which you will see from the chord progression included in the video tutorial. Not only is this song an up-tempo track, but it’s also a great song to help you speed up your chord transitions as a beginner to the acoustic guitar.
2. Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton
As far as guitar songs for beginners go, Eric Clapton’s intro to Wonderful Night is a great one. This classic song has an easy leading riff that is simple to learn and really sticks in your mind. The challenge you’ll find here is playing those string bends.
If you’re unsure what a string bend on the electric guitar is, it’s a technique that helps you change the pitch of a note by bending the guitar strings. You can hear this technique used from the offset of the Eric Clapton song.
Even more experienced players can find bends like Eric Clapton does tricky so get the basics nailed first. Press the string down as you bend it. Your aim is to bend the pitch up to another note on the fretboard, usually one to two frets higher. A great way to learn how to do this is to play the note first and then bend the string afterward to hit the desired pitch. It’s a great lesson in listening.
3. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door – Bob Dylan
This is a superb track for our easy guitar songs list because it only has four guitar chords. The song has both gospel and folk influences and was featured on the soundtrack to the movie Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid. It’s one of Bob Dylan’s most popular songs and the chords are super simple for beginners.
For the chord progression, you will play G, D, Am and then G, D and C. There are some chord variations used throughout this Bob Dylan song but mostly it’s the same chords played over and over again. Just focus on the main progression and get used to playing the changes before you switch over to the harder chords.
Another area you need to pay attention to in this Bob Dylan track is the strumming pattern. It’s your standard sixteenth-note pattern that goes down, up, down, up. The easy guitar strumming makes up the core of the rhythm for the song and really drives the track so you need to get this part perfected. Stay steady on the beat and try not to change the tempo throughout the hit song.
4. Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty
Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty is a great easy guitar song as it only involves four guitar chords and three riffs. Separate out the riffs, to begin with, and then go on to focus on the chords involved in each. this is a very popular track in terms of pop songs and once you get it nailed, it’s a lovely one to perform for others.
5. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
When you first learn to play guitar a faster song such as Brown Eyed Girl can be daunting. While this has a faster tempo than other songs we’ve featured on this list, we’ve included it because it only has five beginner guitar chords. It’s one of the ideal guitar songs for beginners because it gets you used to making those chord switches at speed – a skill you will definitely need throughout your guitar-playing career.
6. Old Town Road – Lil Nas X & Billy Ray Cyrus
One of the biggest hits to have gained worldwide popularity in 2019 was Billy Ray Cyrus teaming up with Lil Nas X to release Old Town Road. During live performances, Cyrus has been known to play those easy guitar open chords that the song is known for. These include E, G, D and C.
What a beginner will need to know is that Cyrus uses a capo on the fourth fret. A capo is a clamp-like device which holds the strings down on any fret that it is placed. This will raise the pitch of your guitar and makes it ideal for singing with a higher voice or when you just want to change a song’s pitch.
So when you listen to Old Town Road you will hear those chord shapes we mentioned earlier but they will sound like they are played four frets higher. This would technically mean that the chord names are different but if you remember the guitar chord shapes of E, G, D and C it will make it a lot easier. A lot of easy guitar songs use a capo so we would definitely recommend investing in one.
7. Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
Both beginner guitar and drum players will find Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes a really great one for easy songs. Jack White came up with this popular song which is annoyingly catchy. In fact, it has one of the most recognizable riffs to be used in a song during the 21st century. Plus the guitar tabs easy to play too. All you have to do is learn seven notes and play them one after the other, all using the fifth string. You probably won’t even need guitar tabs for this one.
Find the fifth string on your guitar. It’s the second thickest string on a six string guitar. Then you will use the frets and play them in this order: 7, 7, 10, 7, 5, 3, 2. To finish out the song play the guitar chords G5 and A5 and that’s the entire song done. Take a listen of the original track so you can pick up the correct rhythm.
The secret of White’s playing here though is that he uses a pitch shifter. This is a special effect for a guitar that reproduces every note played on the guitar to be an octave lower. If you are completely new to easy guitar songs then this is an effect you don’t need to worry about. As a novice, you should focus on making sure every note is played as clearly as possible.
8. One – U2
This is a great entry for easy guitar songs because the guitar comes in right from the intro line and propels the song throughout. There are plenty of easy guitar chords as well, with only two chord progressions to learn. These are Am, Dsus2, Fmaj7 and G which is played in the first part of the verse. You will then play C, Am, Fmaj7 and C to round out the song. These two sequences pretty much cover the entire song so it’s all you will need to learn.
One thing that beginners can get easily put off by is the suspended 2 and major 7 chords. Don’t let them intimidate you. The names sound complicated because they come from the music theory behind them. The shapes themselves are actually very easy to play, being more simple than your normal D and F chords.
When you play this one listen out for how the acoustic guitar lightly bounces and then try to lock this in with how the drums feel. Emphasizing your strum for every time the snare drum hits will get you closer to sounding like the original.
9. Talkin’ Bout a Revolution – Tracy Chapman
If a full-length song is a bit too daunting to you as a beginner then easy songs like those protect folk song by Tracy Chapman is a good one for you. It opens up with a chord progression that uses only four simple chords of G, C, Em and D. From there it won’t change at all. You won’t even need guitar tabs to be able to play this entry of easy guitar songs.
The part that you will need to focus on here to get that Tracy Chapman magic is the dynamics. The dynamics in music theory refer to how loud or softly you play the instrument. Other instruments in the song will also pay attention to these dynamics. The song is around three minutes long but it takes over a minute for it to build up to its full sound.
If you want to have a go at playing guitar songs like this then you need to look at the dynamics. Vary how hard or softly you are strumming the strings and understand what the rhythm is like. It’s a brilliant way of getting the right dynamics that match the original recording.
10. Mannish Boy – Muddy Waters
While Seven Nation Army got the catchiest guitar songs riff award for the 21st century, nothing can compare to Mannish Boy by Muddy Waters which was released in 1955. The song was recorded along with Muddy’s fellow guitarist Jimmy Rogers. Mannish Boy has that one riff of all other guitar songs that can pretty much sum up exactly what Chicago blues music was like at the time.
To play this iconic riff as beginner guitar players you only need to know five notes. A, D, A, C, A. That’s all it takes. Keep going with those notes over and over again and you’ve got the riff to Mannish Boy.
Okay, we’ll give you a bit more information about the song. The riff itself is comprised of the guitar, bass and harmonica which add to the sound and give it a bit more color. You can try something similar using your guitar. Play the same notes but take them either lower or higher in pitch using the guitar’s fretboard to add more harmony to the sound.
You may also want to add in a few extra notes to fill out the song. When you play the D note, strum both the D and F# at the same time. The same can be done when you reach C and combine it with an E note. As you continue to play guitar you will start to pick up on these little tricks yourself, but they only come with experience and practice.
11. Polly – Nirvana
You will be using two different chord progressions to recreate this alternative rock grunge track which was originally written by Nirvana frontman, Kirt Cobain. To play the intro and the verses follow the simple chord progression of E5, G5, D5 and C5. For the chorus use the basic chords D5, C5, G5 and Bb5. It’s really that easy. There’s only five chords altogether and they are played almost identically in the way that you place your fingers on the frets. We would suggest starting out with D5 and then the rest of the chords will come easier to you.
When you play the D5 chord you use the both the fifth fret and string and then the third and fourth strings using the seventh fret. Your C5 and Bb5 chords are very much the same but you take them two frets below. You want to aim to keep all of the other strings of the guitar silent by resting the fingers you use to fret against them. Cobain actually wasn’t always careful with this though. When you listen to the original track you may hear him hit fret on the second string which then turns the chords into your standard major chords.
G5, once again, is the same finger shape. You play it with the fourth, fifth and sixth strings. E5 is the same as G5 but you play it in an open position with open strings.
12. Twist and Shout – The Beatles
What makes a great beginner guitar song is that they are completely accessible for people who are completely new to guitar playing. Twist and Shout by the Fab Four is just such one of those easy guitar tracks. It sticks to some pretty easy open chords like D, G and A apart from the breakdowns.
If you want to play something that will be a bit more of a challenge, take a look at the riffs. George Harrison, the guitarist from The Beatles, plays an open fifth string and frets it on the second and fourth frets. He then makes his way over to the D, A and G major chord progression. It won’t be as easily playable as just focusing on the chords but with some practice, it won’t take long to learn. There are some two-note chord shapes that occur during the solo part that will be achievable for you as well.
13. Wildest Dreams – Taylor Swift
To finish off our list we have included a track from Taylor Swift. She is known for making easy guitar songs (there’s a guide here on our website if you’re interested) that are ideal for novice players. When you go into the composition of the song you will need to use C, an E minor chord and D during the verses. G, D, Am and C are used in the choruses which means you will only being playing five chord shapes in total. The trickiest part o this song is remembering the order that the chords are played in.
We hope you enjoyed all of the songs we’ve included in our easy first songs on guitar list. We’ve tried to include as many songs with easy guitar chords that should be no problem for novice players. If you’ve got songs you enjoyed playing as a beginner, make sure to leave a comment below.
What is a good first song to learn on guitar?
Our list of easy beginner songs that we’ve detailed above are all great first songs for you to play on your guitar. Starting out with any of these songs will give you a good base knowledge of guitar playing which will help you progress as a guitarist.
What is an easy song to play on guitar?
There are a lot of different easy guitar song choices out there for you to play. We have an entire song list detailed above, each with its own video tutorial to help get you started.
What is the easiest pop song to play on guitar?
Taylor Swift has some very easy pop tracks you can play on the guitar. We have a full guide on easy pop songs for guitar here on our website if you are interested in taking a look.
What should a beginner guitarist learn first?
The best thing to learn as a beginner before you start looking at guitar tabs is your basic music theory. This includes the different strumming patterns and chord shapes that are commonly used in easy guitar songs.