10 Easy Nirvana Songs on Guitar with Powerful Riffs for Beginners

Nirvana are the most successful grunge band of all time, creating a new genre of music and having 8 albums to their name. There’s no doubt they are one of the most popular rock bands of all time. As a beginner guitarist, you may want to start out by learning the most famous tracks from this lineup. We have a list of easy Nirvana songs on guitar so that you can learn the chords and play along to their music. We have included YouTube tutorials for each one which will give you guitar lessons on how to play guitar to these popular tracks.

1. On a Plain

If you are looking for a catchy Nirvana song then look no further than On a Plain. It’s not a complete grunge track like a lot of their other music. It has more of a pop feel to it and the guitar solo makes it an easy song for beginners to pick up.

The composition is actually quite muted when compared to others you would normally hear in the alternative rock genre. The intro to this song is simple and moving so it’s a good first song to start out with.

One of the things we love so much about this track is Dave Grohl’s high harmonies as he provides backing vocals for the song. It gives the track a surreal feeling that goes along with the string bends on the guitar really well.

2. Drain You

Another first song choice for beginner guitarists who want to recreate Nirvana tracks on their instrument is Drain you. It may not be their most popular track but it was actually one of Cobain’s favorites to play. According to many musicologists, this was the Nirvana song that he thought was a lot better than any other piece the band recorded.

If his vocals weren’t enough to make you fall in love with this song, Kurt Cobain uses his guitar to create a noise breakdown. It adds a lot of tension to the piece and fuels the track to make it quite brilliant.

Once again, this is a more pop alternative to the rock-grunge genre and the guitar chords you will use shouldn’t cause any issues for a beginner wanting to play songs from this band. Drain You was penned as a love song that was intended to be a prelude to the band’s next album.

3. In Bloom

In Bloom won the best alternative video award for MTV in 1993 and it’s considered to be one of the best Nirvana songs. It uses their signature style of starting out quiet and moody before hitting you with those power chords to create an intense ending.

The track is more of an anthem and should serve as an inspiration to anyone who aspires to play grunge guitar properly. Rolling Stone named it entry number 415 on their greatest songs of all time so it’s definitely one of the easiest Nirvana song options you should learn.

4. About a Girl

Many people associate Kurt Cobain with being all about punk and grunge but what a lot of people don’t know is that he was a huge fan of The Beatles. He wanted to write a pop song that took inspiration from his favorite band and it took him a few years to write About a Girl. He also then spent a few extra years sitting on the recording before he decided to include it on the 1989 album titled Bleach.

This entry in our easiest Nirvana song list shows a different side to Kurt Cobain. It steers away from his typical power chords and other guitar techniques and goes more towards a softer and melodic side. It shows how much passion he had for songwriting, no matter what genre it fits into.

5. Heart Shaped Box

Heart Shaped Box took Cobain a long time to write and the guitar chords are incredibly powerful if you want to learn them as a beginner. The song was written about children who were suffering from cancer. It’s not an easy song to listen to because of the message but it certainly packs a punch.

6. Smells Like Teen Spirit

We couldn’t write a list of the easiest Nirvana song to play on guitar and not include the legendary track that is Smells Like Teen Spirit. The opening part of the song shows off some catchy guitar chords and the rhythm helps you get into playing it even more. Cobain adds his vocals to the song and it’s a hard track not to want to rock out to.

You will need to practice the guitar chords for this track at a basic level first. Then you can put in the dynamics and accents that Cobain uses on the power chords to get the full effect of the original song.

7. Come As You Are

The Smells Like Teen Spirit album was the most popular by far for the band and Come As You Are was one of the tracks also featured on there. The guitar chords have a more watered-down tone to them which makes it an interesting one to play. The beginning starts off almost moody and then leads into those power chords which make up the chorus, with Cobain belting out the lyrics for the middle part.

8. You Know You’re Right

This was one of the last songs that Nirvana recorded before Cobain passed away in the April of 1994. Years of arguments and upset between the band and the widow that Kurt left behind lead to the song being delayed when it came to its release.

Eventually the single would be released in October 2002 and it allowed fans to hear Cobain take center stage with his stunning vocals for the last time. The verses are soft and mellow which makes way for the choruses where Cobain unleashes his most powerful and passionate vocals.

9. Lithium

Lithium has all the makings of a true rock and roll classic. Grohl gives us a steady rhythm on the drums and then Cobain adds his guitar chords on top to create a great song. The message was a relatable one, reaching out to anyone who was suffering from their own demons and trying to overcome them. This was something Cobain struggled with himself and you can hear the pain and anger channeled into this music.

10. All Apologies

A lot of diehard fans of Nirvana will say that All Apologies is the best song to ever be written by the bandIt’s maybe the only song that takes a more mellow approach and leaves out those aggressive guitar chords and riffs. Still, as a musician, you will be able to play this on your guitar and you’ll find it a pretty easy one to master.


That’s all for our list of easy Nirvana guitar songs. We hope you found some of your favorites on our list and that you learn to play them using the included video tutorials. Make sure to check out the other guides on our website for more easy beginner guitarist tunes which use simple tuning and open strings.


Which Nirvana songs is the easiest to play?

All of the songs we’ve included in our list are the easiest Nirvana songs to play on the guitar. We also have other guides on our website including easy rock songs and music from other genres that are ideal for beginners.