2020 saw the loss of frontman Eddie Van Halen from this iconic band. With his passing, more and more people are looking out for easy Van Halen songs on guitar that they can play with the best amps for guitar. So, we decided to come up with a list of the most simple songs to get you started. Some are for complete novices and others require a few more skills. Every song comes with a video tutorial that will help you learn the notes and riffs from master players online.
Let’s get rocking!
Table of Contents
- 1 1. Eruption
- 2 2. Jump
- 3 3. Panama
- 4 4. Runnin’ with the Devil
- 5 5. Hot for Teacher
- 6 6. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love
- 7 7. You Really Got Me
- 8 8. Unchained
- 9 9. Ice Cream Man
- 10 10. Why Can’t This Be Love
- 11 11. Somebody Get Me a Doctor
- 12 12. Dance the Night Away
- 13 13. Can’t Stop Loving You
- 14 14. (Oh) Pretty Woman
- 15 15. Beat It (Michael Jackson)
- 16 Conclusion
- 17 FAQs
This is probably the most popular song that Eddie Van Halen came up with and it’s one that many guitar players first go for. The popularity is probably due to the fact that it’s purely instrumental. The song was first released in 1978 and was featured on their debut album titled Van Halen.
Eruption is the track that leads into another one of the Van Halen brothers hits, You Really Got Me. The guitar solo in this is probably one of the best solos ever to be put on tape and it’s a great place for you to start if you want to learn Eddie Van Halen’s tapping technique.
The tapping technique are otherwise known as hammer-ons and pull-offs for guitar players. The one-handed method was old news in the 70s but the two-handed technique was introduced by Van Halen when playing live. Eddie would often play this track during live shows to show off his true musical skills.
Van Halen released Jump in 1983 and it was one of the tracks that were featured on their sixth album titled 1984. Jump is the most successful track the band ever released, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
What distinguishes this track from others that the band created is that the main theme of it was played on the keyboard, not the guitar. Of course, there is still an Eddie Van Halen solo thrown in there, otherwise, it just wouldn’t be right.
Learning to play this song as a beginner, we would say stay away from the solo, to begin with. This is because you will need to know that tapping technique we mentioned previously and the arpeggios are really quick. The rest of the rhythm guitar and piano chords shouldn’t cause you any issues as a beginner.
Another single to come from the album 1984 is Panama. It was originally recorded back in 1983. When asked about the inspiration and meaning behind it, David Lee Roth said that it was about a car during a visit to Vegas that he saw racing called the Panama Express. This was his inspiration to write the song.
During this same interview, the reporter actually accused Roth of only ever singing about parties, cars and women. This lead him to realize that he had never written a track about a car. David Lee Roth also owned an Opel Kadett that he called Panama.
The reason why this is such a strong song for the guitar is because of the riffs. These should be simple for a novice to pick up and still has the sound that makes Van Halen so recognizable.
4. Runnin’ with the Devil
Runnin’ with the Devil is a song that came from Van Halen’s first-ever album. The track was inspired by Ohio Players. It ended up being named number nine n the VH1 greatest hard rock songs list.
The interesting thing about this track is that Van Halen never told us what the lyrics actually mean, with many people thinking they were satanic. The general consensus is that the song was about freedom.
Whatever the meaning behind it, there’s a clean riff that can be learned as a beginner. The song is not too complex and it will give you an easier time than jumping into to some of the other entries on our list.
5. Hot for Teacher
The last single to be released from the 1984 album was Hot for Teacher and it was also the last track that featured Van Halen’s original lineup. The brilliance of this song is that it sums up perfectly what the band is all about.
The song starts out with an epic drum solo and then goes into the double bass which is played by Alex Van Halen. Once the solo is over, Eddie Van Halen comes in with his guitar solo which introduces the main melody of the song. The riff is a great heavy rock one and it gives you everything you want from a Van Halen song.
To play the full version of this song correctly can be really tricky and will need the skill set of a more advanced player. However, there are easy versions out there that use simple chords so that you can reach the notes of Eddie with plenty of practice.
6. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love
The third single to be released from the band’s debut album was Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love and it features an incredibly recognizable guitar riff. At the time it hit the airwaves it was one of the heaviest tracks around and it showed there was something unique about this band. When it was first written Eddie Van Halen didn’t think it was going to be anything special and didn’t even show it to the others for an entire year.
Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love was penned to be about casual sex which is something that Roth often was known for. For beginners, the core of the song only features two chords which will be easy to master. You can then progress into the accents and extras that make the song sound much fuller.
7. You Really Got Me
This track was originally written by Ray Davies of the Kinks fame and Van Halen covered it on their first album. We mentioned earlier that Eruption is the sort of instrumental intro for this track and it was the first single to ever be released by them.
The cover of the Kinks original track was played by Van Halen’s lineup for years before they decided it was time to record it. When they finally did so they thought it to be an updated version of what the original was. The guitar solo in the middle really adds a new dimension to the track. Ray Davies said that he enjoyed this version of the song, although it wasn’t in his traditional playing style, and that it made him laugh.
A song that came from the band’s fourth studio album titled Fair Warning is Unchained. It was originally released in 1981 and was actually called Hit the Ground Running as a working title. Roth’s vocals are very much the highlight of the track but the riff that repeats throughout the song features some great power chords for beginners. You will need to use drop D flat tuning to recreate this one.
The band never released any singles from the Fair Warning album but they did enjoy playing Unchained for live audiences and cited it as one of their favorites. The music video is a recording of one of their live performances where they didn’t want to put in any additional lights. The final result was something they enjoyed so much that they decided to make more videos like this.
9. Ice Cream Man
Yet another song from the first album that the band played as a cover is Ice Cream Man. The original song was written by John Brim who was a Chicago-based blues guitarist who studied his craft from recordings of Big Bill Broonzy.
This bluesy number is played on the acoustic guitar and it’s a nice change to hear Eddie play something a bit more mellow. Eddie was actually a guitarist who took his influence from blues music and used this inspiration in his songs. Another famous guitarist that did this is Eric Clapton.
Ice Cream Man is an easy song to play, especially if you have played blues-style music before. You will get into more of a rock rhythm in the second half of the song when the electric guitars are introduced.
10. Why Can’t This Be Love
We’re moving away from the first album and jumping to the seventh which was called 5150. Why Can’t This Be Love was originally released in 1986 and it was the lead single from the album. It was the first ever single for the band to have Sammy Hagar take over the vocals replacing Roth who had left the band.
Eddie comes in with his keyboards during this album and you can hear him especially in this track. There’s a lot more of a pop influence than the heavy rock we’re used to hearing from Van Halen. It’s definitely a great one for a beginner because you can jam along with the laid back rhythm and nail those basic chords.
11. Somebody Get Me a Doctor
Somebody Get Me a Doctor was released on the second studio album in 1979 titled Van Halen II. Many of the songs featured on this album were interestingly written a long time before the band was able to record them.
Originallly this was a demo song which was recorded by Gene Simmons of Kiss fame. It features that typical heavy sound and rhythm we would expect of Van Halen and it has a fast tempo too. Eddie said that the meaning of the song was about being high and feeling good about it. The earlier version of the song was recorded back in 1976 and it was a song that the band loved to play together.
12. Dance the Night Away
Van Halen II also featured the song Dance the Night Away and this was the first song from the band that reached the top 20 in the states. As we’ve mentioned before a lot of the music from Van Halen were written many years before they were recorded and the band would just play them live.
Dance the Night Away didn’t follow this trend. It was a track that was actually recorded to feature on the album. There isn’t a guitar solo in this. Instead Eddie relies on his tap harmonics which follows along with the main riff. When Roth returned to the band as the lead singer in 2007 they performed this song at every live concert they had.
13. Can’t Stop Loving You
Van Halen’s tenth album was titled Balance and this was one of the tracks to appear on that album. Released back in 1995, the track goes against Halen’s usual style and is very much toned down. It was intended to be a tribute to Ray Charles who wrote the song I Can’t Stop Loving You.
When the song was released from the album it became it’s most successful hit. It’s a really easy one to play on your guitar thanks to the simple riff. You will want to use an acoustic guitar to recreate the sound properly.
14. (Oh) Pretty Woman
Van Halen were known for their cover tracks and this one was a cover of the Roy Orbison track of the same name. It was released on the album Diver Down in 1982. Funnily enough the video was banned from being aired on MTV for a number of different reasons and was one of the first to be so.
Roth was the mind behind the original video. Once it was recorded the band realized that it was too long. Instead of cutting it back the band decided it would be an opening track for the song and they ended up calling it Intruder. Roth took to his synthesizer and within an hour he had the combination which we know and love today.
15. Beat It (Michael Jackson)
While this isn’t actually a song by Van Halen, it would be odd not to include Eddie’s most famous guitar solos ever to be performed. As an ending to this list we have the classic Beat It track which was released on the Thriller album in 1982 and then as a single later that same year.
Quincy Jones was the producer for the song at the time and he called up Eddie, knowing he had a lot of talent as a guitarist. Eddie initially thought it was a joke. Once it was confirmed not to be a hoax he picked up his Hartley-Thompson amp and recorded the entire solo free of charge. When the solo was recorded the monitor speaker ended up catching fire which caused one of the engineer’s to say ‘this must be really good’.
The world truly lost a great talent when we lost Eddie Van Halen who shaped a lot of the guitar music we know and love today. If you want to get tapping just like Eddie in his signature technique then make sure to go through each song on our list which are easy enough for beginner guitarists. Happy playing!
What is the easiest Van Halen song to learn on guitar?
All of the songs we have detailed above are the easiest ones for you to learn on the best guitar for metal. You can browse the full list and watch the video tutorials we included to make sure you can nail each track.
What is an easy song to play on guitar?
We have a lot of guides for easy songs to play on guitar, including metal songs from this sort of genre. Make sure to browse the website for similar guides on different genres and artists that will help with playing guitar at a beginner level.