Who says easy guitar songs are boring? There are hundreds of simple songs that are easy to master, which is great news if you’re just beginning to learn how to play the guitar!
In this guide, we’ll share five easy guitar songs as well as how to play basic chords, and even more tips for learning new music.
5 Easy Guitar Songs
Each song consists of distinct parts such as the intro, the verse, and the chorus. The way these parts are arranged constitutes the song’s structure. Understanding song structure helps you learn new songs quicker because you anticipate the part that’s coming up next.
As you learn new songs, or even as you listen to music, pay attention to how the parts of a song are arranged. A typical pop song might look like this: intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus.
1. “Stand By Me”
If you are looking for easy guitar songs to impress your sweetheart, this classic tune should work like a charm. Originally recorded in 1961 by Ben E. King, this classic ballad uses just 4 chords: G, Em, C, and D. In the video below, you’ll learn how to play the chord progression and R&B strum pattern for “Stand By Me.”
2. “Ho Hey”
Looking for something a little more contemporary? This 2012 hit by The Lumineers should be right up your alley. Below, guitar teacher Dustin B. teaches a slight variation on the C chord for the intro, then shows you the simple chord progressions for the verse and chorus.
3. “Brown Eyed Girl”
Van Morrison’s 1967 song “Brown Eyed Girl” has long been a pop favorite. It’s also been covered by artists such as Bob Dylan, Adele, and Green Day, just to name a few. In this tutorial, beginning guitarists can learn the chord progression and strum pattern in the beginning of the video. More intermediate players can stick around to learn the riff toward the end.
This is one of our favorite easy guitar songs. Teen pop queen Lorde’s catchy songs have an effortless cool that have generated a lot of buzz. Her breakthrough hit “Royals” is sure to be a favorite among beginning guitarists too, since it contains only three easy chords: D, C, and G.
If you’re ready to plug in your ax and turn your amp up to 11, we’ve got the song for you. “Elevation,” released by U2 in 2000, features two simple chords, E and A, plus an easy guitar riff.
How to Play Easy Guitar Songs
To play any of these easy guitar songs, you must have a solid knowledge of some basic guitar chords. Chords are three or more guitar notes that when played together create a harmony. If you haven’t yet mastered reading sheet music for guitar, chord charts are an easier way to learn how to play chords.
This chart shows you how to play an A chord. Each of the six vertical lines represents one of the six strings on your guitar. Each horizontal line represents a fret. On chord charts, the line furthest to the left always corresponds to your sixth (or low E) string. The line furthest to the right represents your first (or high E) string. From left to right, the string names are E-A-D-G-B-E.
Your left-hand fingers are numbers one through four, starting with your index finger. According to this chart, you should play the A chord by placing your middle finger on the second fret of the D string, your ring finger on the second fret of the G string, and your pinkie finger on the second fret of the B string.
You’ll notice there are also Xs and Os at the top of the chart. The X represents a string that is not played. So when you strum your A chord, start from the fifth string down. The strings with Os at the top of the chart are played open, which means you should still strum this string but you do not need to hold down a fret with your left hand.
Now that you know how to read a chord chart, here are a few more basic chords you’ll need to learn in order to start playing easy guitar songs:
When you’re playing a song, you will need to be able to transition smoothly from one chord to the next. If you would like to practice changing chords before getting started with songs, try playing each chord above for four counts and then transition smoothly to the next chord.
Once you’re comfortable with these basic chords, it’s time to start putting them together and playing some easy guitar songs!
More Tips for Learning Easy Guitar Songs
It’s always best to start slow. Use a metronome and practice playing each part of the song slowly and in time. As your playing improves, pick up the pace until you are playing at the same tempo as the song. If you like, you can even play along with a recording of the song to give you a better feel for the rhythm.
For beginners, it is often very helpful to practice each part of the song separately before putting the whole thing together. Start with the verse, and once you feel comfortable playing that chord progression, move on to the chorus. When you feel confident playing each part separately, it’s time to put the whole song together.
No matter what song you’d like to play, odds are someone has already posted a YouTube video or a chord chart online. One of our favorite sites for free chord charts and guitar tabs is Ultimate Guitar. All of their arrangements are user-submitted, however, so be warned that you might sometimes come across a transcription of a song that doesn’t sound quite right.
Always remember to keep a positive attitude and have fun with your guitar! Learning to play these easy guitar songs might take some time at first, but you will only get better the more you practice. For more help learning how to play the guitar, sign up for lessons with a private guitar teacher. Your guitar teacher will help you avoid poor technique and bad playing habits. Search for a guitar teacher now!
Photo thumbnail by Rebekka