If you are completely new to playing the guitar then you may want to find the easiest songs to learn and play on the guitar to get you started. We’ve put together a comprehensive list of the easiest songs to play on a guitar that suits both electric and acoustic guitars. Before we get started on easy acoustic guitar songs let’s go over the basics.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Fundamentals
- 2 Easy Guitar Songs for Beginners
- 2.1 1. Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes
- 2.2 2. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan
- 2.3 3. One by U2
- 2.4 4. Talkin’ Bout a Revolution by Tracy Chapman
- 2.5 5. Mannish Boy by Muddy Waters
- 2.6 6. Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton
- 2.7 7. Old Town Road by Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus
- 2.8 8. Polly by Nirvana
Before you jump into learning easy guitar songs let’s make sure you’ve got your fundamental skills nailed. First of all, you need to hold your guitar in the right way with a good posture and proper hand positioning. Next, you will need to know your basic guitar chords as well as a variety of strumming patterns and how to use a capo. With these fundamental skills, you can pretty much learn any easy guitar songs you want. Let’s take a closer look at these skills before we jump in.
Basic Guitar Chords
If you want to play easy guitar songs then you must understand how to read basic tabs and know how to play the simplest open guitar chords. These chords include C, A, G, E, D, A minor, E minor and D minor. Once you’ve learned these at a basic level you can add in the F and B minor chords as well as some dominant sevens such as A7 and C7. Guitar chords make up the foundation for any song so they’re important to learn.
Changing Between Chords
Once you know two or three different chords you can practice switching between them to make sure you are transitioning smoothly. There’s a special art to playing guitar chords cleanly and clearly while still switching in time to the next part o the song and strumming the strings. As a beginner this can be challenging when you first begin but with plenty of practice you will soon get used to it.
Whether you play electric or acoustic guitar, the strumming pattern is where your rhythm kicks in. The way you strum the strings defines both the tempo and beat for the song. With guitar songs for beginners, you will more than likely be using a 4/4 time signature and the most basic of strumming patterns.
Using a Capo
Some songs require the use of a capo to attain the right sound and key. The use of a capo means that you can play a song in its original key but use open chords which makes it much easier to play. It’s a common tool used by many guitarists and allows you to become more creative with your playing.
Now you’re ready to begin!
Easy Guitar Songs for Beginners
1. Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes
Whenever you hear the beginning riff of Seven Nation Army it’s instantly recognizable as this song. Even though it may sound fast it’s actually a really easy guitar song. All you need is seven notes and you alternate playing these notes one after the other using your fifth string. You probably won’t even need a guitar tab to learn that chord progression.
Start by finding your fifth string. It’s the second thickest string that sits next to your sixth string on your guitar. Keep strumming this string and use your frets in this order – 7, 7, 10, 7, 5, 3, 2. Finish this chord progression off with a G5 and A5 powerchord and that’s the riff down. Listen to the track which we’ve provided for you below to learn the overall rhythm.
Jack White used a special technique in this song which was obtained with a pitch shifter. This tool reproduces every note you play on the guitar, just an octave lower. As a complete beginner, this isn’t something you want to worry about. Just keep focusing on those notes and powerchords and getting the sound as clean as possible.
2. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan
All you need for this masterpiece is four chords which makes it an ideal easy guitar song. Bob Dylan penned this song to have a folk influence with a little bit of gospel in there too. It was originally used on the soundtrack for Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid and is still one of the most popular tracks from this artist today.
The chord progression used here is incredibly simple. You play G, D and A minor chords and then follow this with G, D and C. Keep alternating these two patterns and you’ve got the basics down. Of course, there are some harder chord variations in there but as a beginner guitar player you can leave these out. Just focus on the main chords we’ve given you above so you can get used to changing smoothly through the piece.
Once you have learned the chords you can pay attention to your strumming pattern. It’s a very simple straight down, up, down, up pattern that is crucial for getting the right feel for the song. That line makes up the core part of the rhythm for the song and this drives the piece more than the bass and drums do in some parts. Take it steady and make sure your pace stays the same throughout.
3. One by U2
One by U2 opens up with acoustic guitar the same as Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door did. This is a really beginner guitar friendly song because of the chords that it uses. You will have to learn two separate chord progressions to play this one – an A minor, Dsus2, F major 7 and G progression for the first half of the song. Going into the verse you will need to learn the progression of C, A minor, F major 7 and C to round out the song. These two chord sequences are easy beginner song gold because they repeat throughout the entire song so it’s pretty much the only part you have to learn.
We have some key advice for you on this part. The suspended 2 and major 7 chords are going to sound unusual to you at first because you are a beginner guitar player. They may seem daunting when you see them in the guitar tablature but they are actually much easier to play than both the D and F chords. It’s just another part of music theory and chord shapes you will need to learn to become a well-rounded guitarist.
As your start playing this song you can listen out for the acoustic guitar techniques that make the piece sound bouncy. You can try and nail this technique by getting a good feel for the drums used throughout the song.
4. Talkin’ Bout a Revolution by Tracy Chapman
Instead of focusing on a small part of a song we’re going to challenge you with a full-length version. Before you begin make sure to listen to it. The song has a protest style and opens up with a simple chord progression using the G, C, E minor and D chords. After this, it doesn’t change at all! Once you have that sequence nailed you can play the song from start to finish with no issues.
To capture the magic that Chapman created in this song you will have to pay careful attention to the dynamics used throughout. Dynamics refer to how loud or soft you play the guitar song. You’ll start out playing softly and then this gradually builds up to become a powerful piece at the end. If you want to start learning about the dynamics in this piece try to vary how hard you strum the strings and really pay attention to that rhythm. It’s one of the great guitar songs that will help you build on your music theory by learning the right dynamics.
5. Mannish Boy by Muddy Waters
Muddy Waters is one of those guitarists who will go down in history. In this piece, he teamed up with Jimmy Rogers to make another memorable guitar riff that can be simple for beginner guitarists to learn. This song easily sums up the Chicago blues scene. The guitar line uses just five simple notes – A, D, A, C and A. That’s all. It’s a really easy riff and it’s a brilliant song to get your teeth stuck into.
If you want a bit more information about the song, the riff actually utilizes bass guitar and harmonica as well as the main guitar part. You may want to find some fellow musicians to recreate the sound perfectly. You can also change the pitch on your fretboard to be five notes higher or lower to get the same effect.
Another way you can add some extra flavor into the song is by adding in a few more notes. When you reach the D note you can add in an F# and play it as a chord. For the C change it to a C and E chord. These simple changes make the song sound a lot fuller.
6. Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton
A kick-ass guitar solo is a must for any guitarist and this song is the perfect entry for a beginner guitarist. This song has a simple leading line played throughout but we’re presenting you with a bit more of a challenge here. You will need to learn and master the string bending technique to get the sound just right.
If you’re unfamiliar with what string bending is it’s a technique that allows you to change the pitch of a note. You can hear the skill used by Clapton in the first few notes of the song if you need an example. Even professional guitarists find Eric’s string bends difficult because of how fluidly he plays them so make sure you have your basics nailed first. A key tip here is to keep pressing that string down even as you bend the pitch. The aim of the technique is to change the pitch of the note so that it hits one to two frets higher on your fretboard. Don’t just aim for a random note somewhere in between.
The best way you can learn this technique which is used in a lot of guitar songs is to play the notes un-bent first. Then take each individual note and bend that pitch until you hit the right tone needed. It’s a great lesson in listening and will help you develop your tonality too.
7. Old Town Road by Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus
This hit came to us in 2019 and quickly became popular amongst the younger generation. We’re not focusing on the hip hop part used by Lil Nas X here but on the acoustic guitar played by Billy Ray Cyrus throughout the piece. He uses some relatively simple open chords which include E, G, D and C suspended 2.
The secret to Cyrus’s country guitar here is to use a capo on your fourth fret. We went over this clamping tool at the beginning of the piece. You can place the capo on any fret you want and it raises the overall pitch of the instrument. This helps when playing along with a singer or if you want to change the entire pitch of a piece you are playing.
With this song, you will recognize the chord shapes because they are beginner chords you will have mastered. The difference is that Billy Ray plays them higher by four frets. This would technically mean that the chord names change but it’s much easier to remember them as your basic E, G, D and C shapes as a beginner. The top tip here is to get yourself a capo because it’s a tool you will come across regularly in your guitar career.
8. Polly by Nirvana
Kurt Cobain is a guitar legend who penned some of the most iconic grunge songs known today and even started the movement. There are two different chord progressions you will need to learn here. The intro to the song as well as the verses have an E5, G5, D5 and C5 progression. In the chorus, you will follow the sequence of D5, C5, G5 and Bb5. There are only five chords you need for this song and all of them are almost exactly the same in terms of finger placement. Start out with the D5 chord and the rest of the song should fall easily into place.
The D5 chord is played on the fifth string using the fifth fret too and then you use the seventh fret of your third and fourth guitar strings. Both C5 and Bb5 are exactly the same, they just move two frets down on the fretboard. All of the other strings should be quiet and you can help yourself along by placing your fretting fingers along them to keep them still. Cobain embodied his grunge vibes with his guitar and wasn’t so careful with his finger placement where he’d use the second string sometimes which changed the chords into majors.
G5 is, once again, the same hand placement and shape as the D5. All you need to do is play on the fourth to sixth strings to achieve the right sound. E5 follows suit but you play it as an open chord on an open string. Even though these may sound complicated once you look at the tab you’ll see that the song is actually really easy.
We hope you have found at least one of the easiest songs to play on the guitar in our list and that our top tips help you become a well-rounded and great guitarist with plenty of practice. If you have any questions or comments make sure to leave your thoughts below and share your favorite easy guitar songs with the rest of our music community. Happy playing and good luck with your easy beginner guitar journey!