Top 50 Intermediate Guitar Songs Everyone Should Know

intermediate guitar solos

The topic of intermediate guitar songs and solos is a tricky one, because it means different things to different people. Some players learn certain techniques faster than others, and what is advanced to some is borderline-beginner to others.

Nevertheless, songs like “Blackbird” by Paul McCartney, “Can’t Stop” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and “Voodoo Child” by Jimi Hendrix are popular, time-honored classics that you probably won’t learn as a brand new guitarist.

Top 50 Intermediate Guitar Songs

This article will cover acoustic and electric intermediate guitar songs, as well as intermediate guitar solos. Each of these pieces focuses on different styles and techniques. The main thing to remember as you attempt these songs is that they are meant to stretch you.

You may listen to some and think they’re impossible, but moving into the intermediate guitar world means facing up to the universal feeling of “impossibility” when it comes to new techniques. Remember that everyone feels that way at some point, so keep practicing even when you feel like giving up!

Acoustic Intermediate Guitar Songs

1. Space Oddity – David Bowie (Tabs)

Bowie used several special techniques in this acoustic hit. Pay attention to the left-hand chord voicings used throughout the song.

2. Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran (Tabs)

This song is a popular choice for weddings, and a little trickier for most beginners. While practicing, focus on capturing a soulful feeling at a slow tempo.

3. Blackbird – Paul McCartney (Tabs)

This is probably the most popular fingerpicking song. There are a few ways to play this one, but the classically influenced guitar lines will challenge you to think outside of your box a bit.

4. Neon – John Mayer (Tabs)

Some would put this in the advanced category, but it’s actually fairly repetitive and very accessible if you know how to slow down.

5. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You – Led Zeppelin (Tabs)

This might feel like a beginner song once you get the first phrase out, but to play the whole song soulfully takes some precision and passion!

6. Heart of Life – John Mayer (Tabs)

A more advanced pluck-and-chuck song, this is a really good way to get into flicking melodies out.

7. Stop This Train – John Mayer (Tabs)

This song challenges you to combine a melody, bass line, and inner voice into a pluck and chuck pattern.

8. Details in the Fabric – Jason Mraz (Tabs)

This intermediate guitar song uses a fairly intricate strumming pattern that will challenge your ability to hold syncopation!

9. Country Roads – John Denver (Tabs)

“Country Roads” is great song to learn basic four stroke thumbpicking. Focus on the guitar part in the first verse of the original version.

10. I Will Follow You Into the Dark – Deathcab for Cutie (Tabs)

This song mixes alternating bass and thumb slaps with flicks into a fairly easy pattern.

11. Crash Into Me – Dave Matthews (Tabs)

“Crash Into Me” builds an interesting two part guitar texture where you bang out a nice bass line while strumming chords on the treble strings – excellent for developing rest strokes!

12. Leaves That Are Green – Paul Simon (Tabs)

This is a classic thumb-picking song that’s sure to present a challenge to any new, intermediate student.

13. Alice’s Restaurant – Arlo Guthrie (Tabs)

This legendary folk song is just a 16 bar pattern that repeats. See if you can carry on a conversation while pedaling this pattern!

14. The Boxer – Paul Simon (Tabs)

Another legendary thumb-picking song that mixes four stroke patterns with moving chords and walking bass lines.

15. Operator – Jim Croce (Tabs)

“Operator” is a beautiful fingerpicking song that uses some different rhythmic patterns worth learning!

16. The Rain Song – Led Zeppelin (Tabs)

The alternate tuning in this song will get you thinking about the guitar in a new way. It opens up a lot of possibilities while challenging you to break your typical patterns.

Intermediate Electric Guitar Songs

1. Can’t Stop – Red Hot Chili Peppers (Tabs)

Especially suited for mastering the “rock muting” techniques (where you almost strum while muting all but one note), this song is a must for electric guitarists!

2. Under the Bridge – The Red Hot Chili Peppers (Tabs)

“Under the Bridge” mixes several techniques and has a number of different sections that take some thought for intermediate guitarists to master.

3. Layla – Eric Clapton (Tabs)

Some of the rhythm and lead parts in “Layla” aren’t complex, but capturing the anguished sound is at the essence of this song’s challenges.

4. Slow Dancing In a Burning Room – John Mayer (Tabs)

This is another song that integrates several different techniques into one line and needs to be executed soulfully to be convincing.

5. Wild Side – Motley Crue (Tabs)

“Wild Side” is not as difficult as it sounds. The riff is a great introduction to playing fast without being too challenging.

6. Black Dog – Led Zeppelin (Tabs)

The notes in this song are challenging enough, but the timing really throws a lot of players off the horse. Challenge yourself to play this along with the record or even better – a band!

7. Pride and Joy – Stevie Ray Vaughan (Tabs)

On paper it’s not complicated, but the nuances of muting the strings properly to play this song are quite challenging. You may consider getting help from a guitar teacher to master this one!

8. Never There – Cake (Tabs)

This is one of those intermediate guitar songs that is a surprise challenge. The song has some fast notes with string skips that are quite difficult to perfect. 

9. Wish You Were Here – Incubus (Tabs)

The secret to Incubus’ magic is not so much in the notes but in Michael Einziger’s shoegaze guitar sounds. See if you can get the tone and effects down.

10. Enter Sandman – Metallica (Tabs)

If you want to learn what metal guitar is supposed to sound like, this is an excellent place to start!

11. Thunderstruck – AC/DC (Tabs)

Some would call this song advanced, but the shortness and repetitiveness of this riff make it a really good study piece for hammer-ons and pull-offs.

12. Back in Black – AC/DC (Tabs)

If the last AC/DC song you tried kicked your butt, give this one a try for a more moderate challenge that satisfies the same itch.

13. Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars (Tabs)

Lots of Bruno Mars songs have worthy funk guitar parts, and “Treasure” is just one great choice. Getting used to the syncopation and articulation are the keys to success here.

14. Brick House – The Commodores (Tabs)

This song often gets called for covers, so if you’re in a band it’s best to start learning it now!

15. You Got Another Thing Coming – Judas Priest (Tabs)

Just playing the notes isn’t too difficult, but synchronizing with a rhythm section in a rock band is very telling of your ability to make this song work.

Intermediate Guitar Solos

  1. Something – Beatles (Tabs)
  2. Hotel California – Eagles (Tabs)
  3. Johnny B Goode – Chuck Berry (Tabs)
  4. All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix (Tabs)
  5. Tamacun – Rodrigo y Gabriela (Tabs)
  6. Voodoo Child – Jimi Hendrix (Tabs)
  7. Sympathy for the Devil – The Rolling Stones (Tabs)
  8. Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin (Tabs)
  9. Purple Haze – Jimi Hendrix (Tabs)
  10. Comfortably Numb – Pink Floyd (Tabs)
  11. One of These Nights – Eagles (Tabs)
  12. Belief – John Mayer (Tabs)
  13. Crazy Train – Ozzy Osbourne (Tabs)
  14. One (Intro) – Metallica (Tabs)
  15. Heat Wave – Linda Ronstadt (Tabs)
  16. La Grange – ZZ Top (Tabs)
  17. Mud on the Tires – Brad Paisley (Tabs)
  18. My Sharona – The Knack (Tabs)
  19. Spooky – Atlanta Rhythm Section (Tabs)
  20. Black Magic Woman – Carlos Santana (Tabs)

Each of these intermediate guitar songs and solos made the list because of their popularity and influence. Remember that these songs are likely to present some unexpected challenges. If you want to brush up on your skills, try an online guitar class to get the help you need!

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So You Wanna Play Guitar (pt.XVIII.3)


Here is the latest entry from our San Diego Guitar Teacher Jason M:

In this segment I wanted to breakdown how all of the things that we've gone over so far can affect your playing.  1.) Guitar transcription notes 2.) Ability to recognize chords and play to a track 3.) Discovering the influences of those you are influenced by and 4.) Using similar techniques to uncover signature sounds of those same artists.

This time I wanted to take that one step farther in a piece called:  Unraveling the guitar solo.

Many guitarists 10 years ago loathed guitar solos.  It was just a wanky thing Slash and Santana did to imitate proficiency, right?  Wrong.  But still kinda, yeah… I'll get to that. 

You basically have a few ideas that are common to guitarists skills and ideas and are repeated thereafter.  Rather than bore you with notes and garbage I'll share with you a couple secrets that I've noticed occur during these solos.

The classic bend:  Figure out if you're in Em and whole step or unison bend on the 12th and 15th fret of the high e and B. 

The rock lead bend/chop/hammer lick:  Slash/Santana/Hammett all use it.  Uses the 3 lowest strings.  Bend your ring finger up on the 3rd string, barre the next 2 strings down with the first, hammer on and pull off the ring finger in a sequential order 4 or 5 times in a row.

The pedal or pull off ascension:  Three finger pull offs I've mentioned before, but an open E pedal can be added to sound like pieces of Iron Maiden or Dethlok.  Simply take the high e, tremelo pick it…. and sporadically hit the notes that sound right on that same string.  (you'll probably be in Em, but I said I wouldn't mention notes).

End with a whole step bend on the highest note and shake it with a strong vibrato at the end.  This is a great way to climax, unless you wanna shred down into open position for an aftermath.

Ok, so I mentioned a couple tricks… use em, abuse em.  Now do yo know how to play a Slash solo?  Maybe, but let me bring up the points.

The keys to rote memorization of the solo are awesome because it was designed to sound memorable, if what you're playing sounds like crap instead of Slash you'll know it.  Break it down not only by measure, but by use of technique and also melody.  Those three things are going to help you perfect the tones used. 

Say you have 3 of the 4 techniques involved that I previously mentioned.  Spot em, aniticipate them, and lock down about where they come in.  If there is a measure you just can't get, don't get hung up on it…. you'll hear it again the next time you come into the solo.  Your mind should be able to grasp it eventually.  And last, listen for those moments in the solo that feel like passion.  Those notes are the ones you hold on to, and they're generally not hard to play. 

Secret of the day: If you see 16,000 notes in a measure, it's probably only six.


Jason M Jason