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10 Easy Guitar Songs For Beginners

By Hugo Chisholm from Vancouver, Canada (Playing guitar) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


For all you beginners out there looking to improve your playing, one of the best things you can do is learn your favorite songs. You might think that’s a couple steps ahead of where you are, but you’d be surprised how many popular artists write dead easy guitar songs. The basic chords for each song are included here, but if you want to speed up your progress, I highly recommend that you visit the Guitar Tricks Song Library, where you’ll find the complete lessons for every single one of the songs in this article, and a ton of others too. 

Let’s start with a couple songs that make use of power chords:

#1. All The Small Things - Blink 182


If you’re looking for the easiest of easy guitar songs, look no further. The entire pop-punk genre serves as a great starting point for a guitarist, and Blink 182’s “Enema of the State” album took simplicity to the top of the charts multiple times over.

This song, like all their songs, makes use of the famously easy “power chord” - put your first finger on the third fret of the low E string, second finger on the 5th fret of the A string, and your third finger on the 5th fret of the D string. That’s it - 3 notes, and a shape that you can slide up and down the neck to create entire songs - or entire music careers, such as the case with Blink 182!

The lowest note is the root, and the main chord progression is C - G - F. On your A string, the C note is the 3rd fret, G is the 3rd fret on the low E string, and F is the very first fret on the low E string. That’s all there is to it!

If you’re looking to make an acoustic rendition, use the chords below!

Main chord progression: C – G – F

All chords:

[ C | G | Am | F ]

All The Small Things Guitar Lesson

#2. Breaking the Law - Judas Priest


This song is just fun all around, and it’s an easy guitar song for a number of reasons. First, you have the option of playing either the lead or rhythm section. The lead guitar line doesn’t involve any chords, just some single note picking. The rhythm guitar follows along and breaks off at times to strum power chords that ring out over whole measures. Both guitar lines are following the same chord progression.

Second, while the tempo may seem a little quick on the first run, you’ll find that the repeating picked notes in the main guitar line are all able to be done on the low E string with downward picks (no alternate picking required for this one!).

Main chord progression: Am - F - G

All chords:

[ Am | F | C | G | E | B | A | Dm ] 

Breaking The Law Guitar Lesson

#3. Drive - Incubus (Simple Version)


This song is probably one of the more difficult ones on this list, but it’s also one of the best to sing along to once you’ve memorized the chords. The guitarist for Incubus, Mike Einziger, isn’t one of the most technical guitarists out there, but his playing style seems to make simple things seem much more complex.

The chords given here make up a simplified version of the song that’s great to learn on because it gives beginners a chance to practice coordinating their singing and guitar playing. Once you’ve built your finger strength up and are feeling a little more confident, you can try playing the more complex set of chords from the original version - everything else remains the same.

There’s the added bonus of an extremely simple guitar solo too! (just get your tremolo pedal plugged in first)

Main chord progression: Em – G – C – Am – Em – G

All chords: 

[ Em | G | C | Am | A ]

Drive Guitar Lesson

#4. Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison


 Even glam rocker guys get their feelings hurt sometimes :’(

This song has a nice slow tempo and a simple, repeating chord progression. The chorus section and the main verses don’t differ much and include the same set of chords you’ve already learned from the beginning, so you’ll be playing the whole song in no time. There’s a new chord here too: Cadd9 - don’t be afraid, though, your fingers will stay on the same strings as a regular C chord, you just need to shift a bit.

Main chord progression: G – Cadd9 – D – C

All chords:

[ G | Cadd9 | D | Em | C ]

Every Rose Has Its Thorn Guitar Lesson

#5. Runaway Train - Soul Asylum 


Runaway train is another easy guitar song that gives you a chance to improve your playing on multiple levels. On first listen, it may sound a little too complex, but once you see the main rhythm’s chord progression you may feel like you can tackle it. Once you’ve memorized the chords and got the timing for the changes down, you’ll be able to listen along again and start to adjust your strumming pattern or veer off to play the nice little ornamental chords plucked over the rhythm.

Main chord progression: C – Em – Am – G 

All chords:

[ C | Em | Am | G | Em/B | F ]

Runaway Train Guitar Lesson

#6. Simple Man - Lynyrd Skynyrd 


Aside from being a great song, it’s perfect for learning how to pluck out the notes of a chord progression (rather than strumming). You’ll have to tune your guitar down a half-step (D# standard tuning), and you may want to practice it at a slower tempo until you get the plucking and chord changing down - but after that, you’ll be playing a classic that works great as an acoustic piece that you can sing over.

Main chord progression: C – G – Am – Am7

All chords:

[ C | G | Am | Am7 ]

Simple Man Guitar Lesson

#7. Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd 


The second appearance of Lynyrd Skynyrd on this list is a Southern rock classic, and, if you can believe it, simpler than Simple Man. We’re down to 3 chords here, and they pretty much just repeat the same sequence over and over throughout the song. Does that make it a bad song? Absolutely not - if you have any aspirations to play in a bar-band, you’re gonna need to know this song anyway!

Main chord progression: D – C – G

All chords:

[ D | C | G ]

Sweet Home Alabama Guitar Lesson

#8. Who Will Save Your Soul – Jewel


This one’s for all the sopranos out there looking for something to sing along with while playing. I don’t expect you to be able to belt out the title lyrics with the same force is Jewel, but I do expect you to be able to get this song down quickly. The song is almost entirely the same 4 chords strummed over and over again - but with a light hand! If you want to challenge yourself, try to pluck the bass line out (the root notes of each chord) with your thumb and brush your fingertips downward to play out the rest of the chord.

Main chord progression: Am – C – G – D

All chords:

[ Am | C | G | D ]

Who Will Save Your Soul Guitar Lesson

#9. Ode To Joy – Beethoven


Didn’t expect to see this here, did you? Beethoven isn’t the first thing you think of when looking for easy guitar songs. But it just so happens that one of his most famous works sounds pretty good when transcribed into a guitar piece - and is fairly simple too. Don’t be afraid of all of the chords or lack of a simple, repeating pattern, because after you’ve memorized that then all you have to do is strum the chords out at a fixed pace….and learn German to sing along!

All chords: 

[ G | D | Em | A | G/F | C | Cm/Eb | Am | B | G7 ]

Ode To Joy Guitar Lesson

#10. Opus 60, No. 1 - Fernando Sor


Finally, I’m including a classical guitar song by the great Fernando Sor. As someone who learned to play classical guitar on his own, I have a great love for anything by Sor. He manages to take very simple chords that you’re familiar with and break them into pieces for simple progressions that can create a completely different feel from simply strumming out the entire chords. Classical guitar, as a whole, can seem like an extremely daunting path to take - but if you give this little piece here a chance, you may just find another door opening up into a beautiful world….so put your picks down for a minute and try this out!

All chords:

[ C | D | Em | F | Am | D/B | Em | F | Am | E | F ]

This is a guest post from Joel Bennett of www.electricherald.com

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