So, you’ve decided to dive into the world of guitar? Great! I bet you have a lot of questions about the instrument, but I’m going to bet your most burning questions are “where do I start?” and “what songs can I play right away?”. You might also be wondering if you can start with one-string guitar songs. The answer is YES, but they are usually very short, or are riffs played in longer songs. In this article, I am going to show you 10 different songs on one string that you can play, even if you have never picked up a guitar before!
Before starting, I recommend learning the names of the strings on your guitar. The order of the strings from the thickest string to the thinnest string is EADGBE. If you are an absolute beginner, you can remember the acronym “Eddy Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddy” to help you remember the order! The thinnest string is also known as the first string, while the thickest string is the sixth string.
I have written out the notes in this article as a simplified version of tablature. Tablature is a way of learning music that uses numbers and lines to represent frets and strings on the guitar. In this case, I have only written out the numbers, since all of these songs only use one string. Each number represents a fret on your guitar, which you will press with your index finger and play with your dominant hand thumb or a plastic pick.
Want to follow along with me? Pull up this free video lesson where I help walk you through all of these tunes!
Hot Cross Buns (1st string)
Let’s start with a classic song that many children learn as their first song on their instruments. Hot Cross Buns, also known as Three Blind Mice, is played on our thinnest string on the guitar. Start with your index and put it on the 4th fret. Now, take either your thumb or pick and pluck the string gently to play the note. Next, move your index finger to the 2nd fret and play that note. The last note to know are the 0’s in the tab, which represents the open string, which means we do not fret anything. Here are the notes…
4-2-0 4-2-0 0-0-0-0 2-2-2-2 4-2-0
Eye of the Tiger by Survivor (6th string)
Hot Cross Buns was played on the high E string, now let’s try a song with bass notes! Eye of the Tiger was made popular from the Rocky films. This riff repeats throughout the entire song and is played on your thickest string! Try playing this along with the music track after you learn the notes!
8 8-6-8 8-6-8 8-3-4
We Will Rock You by Queen (5th String)
Now let’s try a song that you can play with friends and family! We Will Rock You is THE song of every sporting event. If you want to get friends/family involved, have them stomp their feet twice and then clap to create the notorious beat of the song! Try this song on you’re A string, which is your second thickest string.
9-8-6-4 6-6 6-6
Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana (6th string)
Now let’s take a look at some Grunge music! Smells Like Teen Spirit has one of the most recognizable bass lines in Rock’n’Roll history.
1-1 6-6 4-4 9-9
Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple (4th string)
I know, this is one of the forbidden guitar songs besides Stairway to Heaven! However, this is a great riff for beginners as there are only a few different notes.
0-3-5 0-3-6-5 0-3-5-3-0
Mission Impossible Theme (3rd string)
One of my favorite genres to play fingerstyle are movie soundtracks. Try this recognizable theme played on the guitar’s G string!
2-2 5-7 2-2 0-1
Sunshine of Your Love by Cream (4th string)
Here’s one of my favorite riffs in rock history! This time, let’s play the notes on the D string!
12-12-10-12 7-6-5 0-3-0
Seven Nation Army by White Stripes (5th string)
Here is another classic bass line! This riff played on the A string is also repetitive throughout the entire song.
You Really Got Me by The Kinks (6th string)
Here is a longer riff, but is also repeated throughout the entire song. You Really Got Me was originally written by The Kinks, but many of you might know it from the cover by Van Halen.
1-3-3-1-3 (4 times)
3-5-5-3-5 (4 times)
8-10-10-8-10 (4 times)
Paint it Black by The Rolling Stones (2nd string)
And finally, one of the most famous riffs in Rock history!
I hope this shows that not everything on the guitar has to be complex or difficult, and that one-string guitar songs are a great way to begin. Most of these songs can be played with only one finger, but as you get comfortable you can start playing notes with multiple fingers.
You can also try playing these same songs, but change the strings they are played on to see how they sound. Who knows, you might like Paint it Black played on your 6th string to give it more bass qualities. Play around with these to find your groove, and enjoy the music!