Rock is one of those genres of music that can include a bit of everything. The genre has its roots in the 20th century. This was when musicians started to use electric instruments instead of acoustic to create new and exciting music. Rock starts out in the 50s where we saw the classics such as Elvis produce the traditional rock n’ roll. The 70s bought with it soft and hard rock and by the 80s we’d moved into more alternative music. By the end of the 90s we could add emo and other hardcore rock songs into the mix which matched the modern times. As you can see there’s a huge range of subgenres in rock.
If you are a complete beginner to the guitar then rock music and rock songs may have been what inspired you to play. But how do you choose from all of these subgenres and how do you know where to start? If you’re stuck trying to find easy rock songs on guitar then that’s why we’re here to help. We have covered a wide range of guitar songs for beginners in the list below that you can learn to help develop your overall skills. Let’s rock n’ roll!
Table of Contents
- 1 1. The Troggs – Wild Thing
- 2 2. Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock
- 3 3. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama
- 4 4. Guns n’ Roses – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
- 5 5. The Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
- 6 6. The Animals – House of the Rising Sun
- 7 7. Chuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode
- 8 8. Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
- 9 9. The Smashing Pumpkins – Cherub Rock
- 10 10. The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
1. The Troggs – Wild Thing
Chords needed: A, D and E
We’re starting out with a song that is a bit of a throwback which was in the original style genre of rock and roll. The structure is really simple as is the overall composition of the piece. In this era all of the focus was on the melodies and harmonies which were new and exciting for people to listen to. This song was originally released in 1966 and it was the perfect fusion of garage rock as well as punk which gave it a hard rock take to what had been released prior to it.
It’s impossible to play this song without wanting to shout Wild Thing every few strums so lean into those three chords with as much gusto as possible. If you listen to the original you can pretty much predict the progression of the chords and the sequencing. In fact, it’s so predictable that you can pretty much nail the piece in 30 minutes or less. If you find this easy guitar song a bit too easy then you may want to add in a few arpeggios to liven up your playing. Only do this if you have absolutely mastered your basics though.
2. Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock
Chords needed: D, G and A
What list of amazing rock songs would be complete with the king of rock n’ roll himself, Elvis Presley. You can’t consider yourself to be a truly rounded guitarist if you don’t know at least one of Presley’s guitar songs. Jailhouse Rock topped the charts upon its release and ended up in the Hall of Game as one of the all-time best songs to come from the rock genre. The best part about this song is that it follows a chord pattern that has two chords and this continues through the verses, making it one of the ideal songs for beginners. It’s these chords that establish a strong hook that many songwriters wish they could write, even in today’s modern age.
If you want to play the original, it’s not such an easy guitar piece though. There are some ways you can transpose the chords originally used so that they are much easier to play on the guitar. What we would recommend is that you focus on the fingerstyling in this one because being able to nail this means you will be doing justice to this absolutely fantastic song.
3. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama
Chords needed: D, C and G
Sweet Home Alabama has to be hands down one of our favorite guitar songs for beginners. It’s so easy to love because of the Southern Charm that oozes out of every note. It has a really beautiful melody that reminds you of the country and then combines this with a really strong tonal structure that is rock all the way through. This 1974 song from Lynyrd Skynyrd performed really well upon its release. It also features a guitar riff written by Leon Wilkeson and Ed King that so many guitarists get inspired by for their own guitar songs.
If you’re a complete beginner to playing rock songs or to the guitar itself then the best place to start is with the downstrums. You can keep practicing this for a while until you feel the rhythm is right. Once you’ve got into the proper groove of this easy guitar song then move on to the fingerstyling which is the more complicated part. Start out by fingerpicking each of the notes as a great way to improve your finger dexterity and strength. Being able to master this hit will make sure you can play other guitar songs much more easily.
4. Guns n’ Roses – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
Chords needed: G, D, Cadd9 and Asus4
So many people who aspire to play rock songs will want a Guns n’ Roses hit as one of their go-to songs. This is a really exciting song to play and can add some fun into learning easy guitar. The song was originally done by Bob Dylan in 1973 and this is the version that is ideal for beginners because it doesn’t need any sort of fancy guitar playing techniques. Because of its simplicity, you will also be able to develop your rhythm as well which is a vital skill for any musician.
If you’re more of an advanced beginner then the Guns N’ Roses version is definitely the rock song for you. There’s a strong, hard rock theme running throughout it thanks to the fingerpicking techniques they use throughout. It is also twice as long as Dylans 70s song which means you can delve further into some of the most infamous guitar riffs ever played. If you really want to learn your guitar basics then this is the rock song for you. It uses all of the fundamentals that will always be useful for you throughout your entire guitar-playing career.
5. The Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
Chords needed: E, D, A and B7
Next up on our rock songs to learn list is a huge hit from the Rolling Stones. There isn’t a Rolling Stones rock song we wouldn’t include on any rock list because when Mick Jagger and Keith Richards come together, it produces the most amazing music. This is easily one of the best songs to come out of of their musical minds which fused hard rock with the best qualities featured in blues-rock music. What sets this apart from other songs featured in our easy guitar list is that awesome guitar riff.
When you listen to Satisfaction you may think it’s actually a lot more complicated than it is. It only features four chords which are easy for beginner guitarists. The aspect you’re going to want to focus on the most is the fingerstyling to make sure the groove of the song is as catchy as the lyrics are. Any guitarist of any ability will need to learn the fingerpicking techniques used in this song if they want to come anywhere near sounding like the original from The Rolling Stones.
6. The Animals – House of the Rising Sun
Chords needed: Am, C, D, F and E
Many people would think this song was originally by The Animals and released in 1964. The actual piece of music has been in circulation since the 17th century and was a folk song that miners used to sing. In 1933 the song then went on to be recorded by Foster and Ashley and then it became recognized as a guitar song. The Animals took the song and transformed what was a common folk song created by the working man into something that was so much more entertaining. This was actually one of the first-ever true fusions of folk and rock songs to ever appear in the world.
So how do you master this song on electric or acoustic guitar? First, you want to start out with the basic chords we’ve mentioned at the beginning of this section. You will need to use both your strong downstrums on your strings as well as an excellent fingerpicking technique to get this song mastered. Because the tempo sits at an easy 78 BPM you can master all of the techniques you need to make this song great without putting too much strain on the wrists.
7. Chuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode
Chords needed: E, A and D
Without the genius of the icon that is Charles Edward Anderson Berry also knock as Chuck Berry, we wouldn’t have rock music as we know it today. Many modern guitarists don’t actually realize that Chuck Berry pioneered a lot of the rock songs we know and love today. One of the best songs to ever come from this artist was Johnny B. Goode which was featured in the hit movie ‘Back to the Future.
You won’t even have to hear the lyrics to recognize the song. The beginning guitar riff catches your attention straight away and you’ll keep playing this bit over and over again for days once you learn it. Because the song has a simple three-chord progression and structure it’s ideal for beginners. The fingerstyle, however, is recommended only for advanced musicians. You can start out with a basic rhythm which will help you get into the right groove for the song and that strumming pattern needs to be nailed as well. Mastering the basic foundations of your guitar playing here is vital to be able to play the song. You can go on to learn the fingerpicking techniques later on when you learn more advanced guitar playing.
8. Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
Chords needed: F5, Bb5, G# and C#
The grunge scene was created with this song from Nirvana in 1991. It’s also one of the more popular and most famous Nirvana songs. The brilliance of this song swept the world and hit the charts of many different countries. It also received a lot of accolades including being featured in the Hall of Fame as well as holding a Guinness World Record. In fact, it’s so well respected as a guitar song that many electric and acoustic guitar learners have started out their careers with this one.
The original version of the song uses Fm, Bb, Ab and Db chords to form the basis of the song. There is four power chords you will find in the piece as well which gives the song a lot more personality and makes it very distinctive when you listen to it. To play the power chords you’ll need to strum the strings and then syncopate your 16th note. It’s a really hard song for any beginner to learn but once you have mastered it you’ll be well on your way to playing more advanced songs.
9. The Smashing Pumpkins – Cherub Rock
Chords needed: D, A, C, G and E
Want to progress your skills into the hard rock area? Cherub Rock by The Smashing Pumpkins is the epitome of alternative rock and was released in 1992. Whether you want to call it grunge, that’s fine too, but the song is actually great for learning easy guitar. There’s no sort of complicated tunings involved as you can just set your strings to a standard E tuning. With this tuning in place, you should be able to play the piece straight on.
We’ve popped this song on our list because of the techniques it uses. There are strumming and fingerpicking used at the same time which is a great way to learn how to do both at once. You can start out learning the song with a down and up strumming pattern. The rhythm is really predictable so it means the song can be easily be played. You’ll probably also find yourself humming along as you play as well.
10. The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
Chords needed: Em, C, B7, G and A
A lot of people can’t stand The White Stripes but their guitar riffs in this piece actually can help you master your guitar basics. It’s a song that’s used a lot at sporting events because the strong anthem behind it makes it easy to chant along to. Released in 2002, the piece revived the subgenre of garage rock. It gave modern guitarists a distinct blueprint where they could create great guitar riffs without having to rely on complex chord patterns.
The chords used in Seven Nation Army are ideal for any beginner. What you really want to focus on here is the rhythm. Being able to understand the tempo of every rock song you play will only make you a better guitarist overall. The strumming pattern is also easy for any skill level. Once you’ve got the chords down you will be able to play the song within a matter of minutes.
Using our list of guitar rock songs will teach you everything you need to know about nailing basic guitar. Knowing these skills and mastering the techniques perfectly means that you will be able to move on to the harder songs quicker. Make sure to keep practicing the pieces over and over again and you’ll feel like a rockstar in no time.