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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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The 7 Best Bass Guitar Songs to Learn

Best bass guitar songs to learn

Dreaming of playing the bass? This list of the best bass guitar songs is sure to inspire you.

A bass player can hold a band together and it is often the most distinctive sound you hear in any song. It is a known fact that the bassist is always the “coolest” guy in the band. So when things get rough within a band, it’s the bassist that keeps his cool and keeps the band going.

And the best part about being a bass player is you will ALWAYS have a gig!

So to all the seasoned bass players out there, if you’re just starting to learn the bass, here are seven of the best bass guitar songs to learn – with the most recognizable and hip bass lines in music history.

The 7 Best Bass Guitar Songs to Learn

Queen – “Under Pressure”

Difficulty level: 2

This bass line is a staple of the instrument. Its distinct rhythm and groove is instantly recognizable and it is surprisingly not difficult to play at all. Let’s not forget that there is some controversy over whether the pop artist Vanilla Ice used this line for his hit “Ice Ice Baby.”

Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Give it Away Now”

Difficulty level: 6

This line is probably more suitable once you have a little more experience under your belt. With a line like this, the term “funk” is instantly incorporated into the music. One has to feel the funk to get down with a bass line of this caliber.

Michael Jackson – “Billie Jean”

Difficulty level: 5

You can tell from the way that Michael dances in this song that he is getting his groove from this groovy bass line. It’s a not-so-difficult line to play but it’s always moving so you have to keep the groove up.

Primus – “American Life”

Difficulty level: 9

This is one of the best bass guitar songs on this list. When you hear the bass lines you’ll automatically think “I want to play that!” Les Claypool’s bass lines are more like guitar licks or melody lines.

He gives the bass a distinct sound and a dominant role in any song he plays in, which also makes his bass lines on the more difficult side.

Pink Floyd – “Money”

Difficulty level: 4

The bass line that comes in after a variety of clicking sounds is an unforgettable one. This popular song by Pink Floyd is a hit in anyone’s playlist and this bass line, with its rhythm of 7/4, is one every bassist should know how to play.

Johann Pachelbel – Pachelbel Canon in D Major

Difficulty level: 3

This is not generally a song thought of when talking about bass lines. However, this line known as the basso continuo is in fact a legit Baroque period bass line.

It is so legit that it is even featured in more familiar songs, such as Coolio’s “C U When U Get There” and Green Day’s “Basket Case.” This is a rockin’ canon and exemplifies how far back bass history really goes.

Herbie Hancock – “Chameleon”

Difficulty level: 2

This funky/jazzy bass line is a standard and staple of the bass repertoire that every bass player should know. If bass lines had a holy grail, this might be it.

This line is smooth, classy, and above all, groovy. Herbie made this song popular, but it was the bass line that made it immortal. It’s not difficult to play, so why not learn it?

These are some of the best bass guitar songs to learn, and they all helped in making the bass the immense instrument that it is today. The songs here give any bassist some good grooves to learn that will develop his or her skills.

ChristopherS.Christopher S. teaches bass guitar and composition in Jamaica Plain, MA. He received his Bachelor’s from Humboldt State and is currently working toward a Master of Music degree. Learn more about Christopher S. here!

 

 

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Photo by: Ethan Prater

7 Easy Jazz Guitar Songs for Beginners

Beginner jazz guitar songs

Looking for some easy jazz guitar songs to get you started? Jazz music can sound very complicated, at first. It requires a combination of skills like speed, precision, and endurance. There are many great jazz guitarists that can attest to that.

While advanced jazz can take quite a while to work up to, beginner jazz guitar songs aren’t difficult or time-consuming to learn. In this article, we’ll provide videos and tabs for seven jazz songs that any beginner can start learning today. Let’s jump right into it!

7 Easy Jazz Guitar Songs for Beginners

Summertime

“Summertime” is a catchy jazz standard composed by George Gershwin. It was originally written for the opera Porgy and Bess. Sublime’s “Summertime” is based on this piece.

This eerie melody will stick in your head all day! Below is a simplified tutorial. I think this person does a good job breaking it down (even better than reading tabs):

Jazz musicians like to embellish simple melodies. Here is a more advanced version of “Summertime”:

Autumn Leaves

“Autumn Leaves” is medium tempo jazz piece by Joseph Kosma. Here is a nice recording by Eric Clapton. Listen to the song, and then learn the chord progression.

Be sure to look up any chords you’re unfamiliar with. Strum along with the recording and pay attention to the tempo! It’s not very fast. Take a look at the chords here.

Fly Me To The Moon

“Fly Me To The Moon” is a jazz standard made famous by Frank Sinatra. The steady quarter note pulse is a great way to practice changing 7th chords, a staple of jazz music.

This is one of our favorite easy jazz guitar songs. Watch this video of the Jason Mraz version to find out why! You can find the the accompanying chords here.

Blue Monk

“Blue Monk” is a B flat blues piece written by Thelonious Monk. Try learning both parts and playing it with a friend! Look here for the chords and tabs. Here is an advanced version of the piece:

Next, check out this simplified version:

Blue Bossa

“Blue Bossa” is a bossa-nova piece with an infectious groove. (Bossa-nova is Latin-influenced jazz).

Here are the chords and tabs to the song. Watch the video below and familiarize yourself with the melody. Notice the choppy way the chords are being played:

So What

This is a famous piece by Miles Davis. “So What” is a piece of modal jazz, which is built on modes rather than major and minor scales. If you’re not sure what a mode is, ask your guitar teacher for a lesson on them!

Check out the tabs for this song. This video is a great example of the main theme on guitar:

I also recommend you watch this video of Miles Davis and John Coltrane ripping the piece apart in 1959:

Nuages

“Nuages” is a piece of gypsy jazz by Django Reinhardt. Django played at incredible speeds with only two fingers! He lost his other two in a fire.

Django’s solos and improvisation move at intimidating speeds, but the main melody of Nuages is easy to understand. Here is a version of the piece for solo guitar.

“Nuages” is based on a classical piece by the same name, composed by Claude Debussy. Look up that piece and see if you can hear the similarities. Here is a recording of Django:

If it’s too difficult to play the chords and melody at the same time, just play the melody. You can do this by only playing the highest note in each chord cluster. Here is a close up version with a simplified melody:

As you begin to learn beginner jazz guitar, don’t worry about the improvisations and embellishments (the fast, fancy stuff). Start by making sure you understand every chord in the song, then move on to the melody.

Try learning one of these songs with a friend so you can both practice trading lead and rhythm.

Bonus!

Want to hear some advanced jazz? Check out this video by Snarky Puppy! There’s a cool guitar riff at about a minute in:

Once you learn some of these easy jazz guitar songs, you’ll be ready for more advanced playing. Even better, you’ll be better equipped to write your own jazz song. Have fun with your playing and make sure to practice every single day!

Post Author: Dylan P.
Dylan P. teaches guitar, music theory, and music performance lessons in Independence, MO. He has trained in many genres of music and has experience teaching students with learning disabilities. Learn more about Dylan P. here!

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Photo by Oliver

The 50 Best Guitar Songs Ever (From Different Eras & Genres)

best guitar songs

Everyone’s list of the “best guitar songs” will be different, but there are certain moments in history when we all seemed to fall in love with the same music together. These songs have stood the test of time, and become enshrined as the classics of guitar repertoire.

Although the following list is by no means comprehensive, it is a representative sample of some of the best guitar songs of all time – including everything from classical to rock.

The 50 Best Guitar Songs of All Time

Before we dive into which songs made the list and why, check out this clickable infographic for a preview of 25 top guitar songs.

Best guitar songs of all time

Best Acoustic Guitar Songs

Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd


This popular song was destined to some form of greatness because of Pink Floyd’s established reputation. The fact that the main acoustic guitar riff is so playable has also helped this song become a staple for many beginning guitarists.

Fire and Rain – James Taylor


This song was one of the singles off James Taylor’s second album that made him particularly famous in the 70s. To this day, he still frequently plays “Fire and Rain” in concert. It’s known to both older and younger audiences who are familiar with his music.

Hotel California – Eagles


A reflection on the excesses of the Rock ‘n Roll lifestyle, this song features both acoustic and electric guitar work that stands out and complements each other.

Blackbird – Paul McCartney


An ode to struggling Black women in Detroit, the unassuming charm of this song makes it a favorite for beginning guitarists. The unusual left hand intervals make it challenging but not unattainable.

American Pie – Don McLean


An enchanting (and sometimes cryptic) ode to Rock ‘n Roll history, this song is still popular as a tune for beginners to learn their basic guitar chords on.

Wonderwall – Oasis


Released on their second album, “Wonderwall” has become Oasis’ biggest hit. It’s the most streamed song released before 2000, and it’s the archetypal example of 90s pop chord playing.

More Than Words – Extreme


Ironically the most popular song of a much heavier band, this song was released in 1991 and has since forced its writers to embrace their softer side. Known for their heavy, funk-metal style, Extreme reached a much wider audience with this vulnerable ballad.

Dust in the Wind – Kansas


Another crowd pleaser on this list of best guitar songs, “Dust in the Wind” particularly hit a nerve during the spiritual seeking of the hippy era. The intro has charmed fingerpicking beginners since the song’s release.

Redemption Song – Bob Marley


Taking inspiration from Marcus Garvey, Bob stripped away all the rich instrumentation of his reggae roots and reduced this song to simply the acoustic guitar and singing. The song has remained popular both as a protest song and a staple among beginning guitarists.

Sound of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel


This song begins with a simple but haunting guitar hook that is immediately recognizable to fans of the folk-pop duo. Paul Simon’s fingerpicking technique remains a great teacher for beginners of the craft.

Best Rock Guitar Songs

Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin


The song every guitar teacher gets tired of teaching, but still listens to in secret and quiet admiration of its epicness.

Sweet Child o’ Mine – Guns ‘n Roses

Another perfect example of a heavy band whose most famous song is a vulnerable love song. This one somehow manages to maintain its epic rock quality amidst all the intimate lyrics.

Voodoo Child – Jimi Hendrix


This is one of several songs Jimi did that changed rock history. The raw power that he holds together with his indescribable talent made this a piece that captured the imagination of rock guitarists for generations.

I Love Rock ‘n Roll – Joan Jett


A perfect integration of power chords and simple blues licks make this an ideal introduction to rock guitar. It’s also great for getting people to sing with you in a bar!

Sunshine of Your Love – Cream


Another song that is often used to introduce rock guitar to beginners, this song has a soulful punch that continues to draw Clapton fans back to his early days.

Back in Black – AC/DC


Of the tremendous library of ridiculously catchy riffs in the AC/DC canon, this one stands out near the top.

Seven Nation Army – Jack White


Many millenials who didn’t grow up with the early rock records find this song to be the gateway to the rest of the rock experience. Easy to play, easy to love!

Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana


This is another song that is famous partially because of its poignant lyrics that spoke to the rebellion of a generation. It’s also a perfect song to learn power chords on.

Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple


This song gets a bad rap because so many guitarists know the first hook but not the rest of the song. The rest of the song is certainly worth a listen, though!

Crazy Train – Ozzy Osbourne


This song has both one of the easiest power chord riffs and one of the hardest guitar solos. It’s a song that fans love to sing and guitarists love to play!

Best Folk Guitar Songs

Sweet Home Chicago – Robert Johnson


This unassuming folk blues song comes to us only from field recordings, but it was incredibly influential on many British rock stars. Johnson’s raw guitar style and troubled lyrics heavily influenced the Stones, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, and others.

The Times They Are a-Changin’ – Bob Dylan


This unapologetic protest song summarized the rebellion of the hippy generation and became a folk standard that is still sung and played to this day.

If I had a Hammer – Peter Paul and Mary


Sung by many folk artists, this metaphorical song served as a rallying cry for social change and remains a campfire favorite.

Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright – Bob Dylan


One of Bob Dylan’s more personal songs, the intricate fingerpicking in this tune lends a unique quality to lyrics about love gone wrong. Have a listen and you’ll quickly find out why this made our list of best guitar songs. 

Alice’s Restaurant – Arlo Guthrie


Many audiences wonder if Arlo made up the verses on the spot. In any case, the 16 bar guitar loop is the jumping-off point for a lengthy political rant that anyone with a sense of humor can enjoy.

Scarborough Fair – Simon and Garfunkel


Based on an English poem, this song is accompanied by Paul Simon’s mysterious fingerpicking and a vocal melody that many remember as a childhood lullaby.

Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell


This song is definitely a foot-stomper! It has had activists singing the charged lyrics since its release – at the height of the environmental movement in 1970.

Mr. Bojangles – Jerry Jeff Walker


This song was written in New Orleans when the composer was arrested and put in a cell with a street dancer. The story has been a favorite among folk artists since its premiere on a radio show in 1968.

Minor Swing – Django Reinhardt


First recorded in 1937 by the Hot House Band, this is one of Django Reinhardt’s most famous tunes. It’s also a standard introduction to gypsy jazz.

Guitar Boogie – Arthur Smith


This song was first released in 1945 and has since been played by many other thumb-picking greats, including Tommy Emmanuel.

Best Classical Guitar Songs

Asturias – Isaac Albeniz


A landmark of the classical repertoire, this piece is more reminiscent of flamenco traditions from Andalucia than the northern Spanish region of Asturias. This is probably because it was given its name by a German publisher after the composer’s death.

La Catedral – Agustin Barrios-Mangore


The masterpiece suite by a South American composer, La Catedral is a musical illustration of a grand building and a service within the building.

E Minor Bouree – J.S. Bach


This piece is a popular selection from the Lute Suite in E minor. It often tricks beginners because it sounds good at a slow speed but it’s meant to be played rather quickly.

Etude in A Minor – Dionisio Aguado


Often the first piece a classical student will ever see, this simple fingerpicking etude is a great introduction to the process and pleasure of classical guitar!

Recuerdos de la Alhambra – Francisco Tárrega


This piece is the most legendary of tremolo classical guitar pieces. Using a technique that involves rapidly plucking a single string, the difficulty of this song is matched only by its profound beauty.

D Minor Chaconne – J.S. Bach


One of the most profound pieces in the classical repertoire, this piece was originally written for violin. It has since been transcribed for pretty much any other instrument that has a virtuoso to play it, and guitar is no exception!

Mazurka Choro – Heitor Villa-Lobos


This prolific Brazilian composer had many great pieces, and this one is the first in a suite called “Suite Popolaire Bresilienne.” Give it a listen and see if you can resist the urge to learn all five movements.

Prelude from the E Major Lute Suite – J.S. Bach


One of the most famous and uplifting pieces in classical repertoire, this piece falls under the fingers almost serendipitously and fills a room of any size with the warmest musical bath you can imagine.

Study in B Minor Opus 35 no 22 – Fernando Sor


A gem of the beginner’s classical guitar repertoire, this is a piece that teachers often introduce to their students. Give it a listen and you’ll see why it’s so unforgettable!

Romanza – Anonymous


“Romanza” is another charming piece frequently learned by beginners. The gentle repetition of fingerpicking over the beautiful Spanish melody make this a favorite for both players and audiences.

Best Electric Guitar Songs

Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers


Mournful and rich in feeling, this guitar riff is great for getting early picking techniques going. It’s also an excellent choice when you want to play something recognizable to a lot of guitar fans.

Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits


This is a favorite of music lovers and musicians alike! It includes a rhythm riff that’s not too difficult, along with some solo passages that will give any player a run for their money.

Gravity – John Mayer


John said he was particularly proud of this song because he felt he could apply the lyrics to any situation he found himself in. The soulful guitar work captured the interest of many electric guitarists, both aspiring and established.

La Grange – ZZ Top


This band had a knack for writing hooks, and Billy Biggons had a knack for playing crazy blues solos. Both are reasons “La Grange” made it on our list of the best guitar songs of all time!

Freebird – Lynyrd Skynyrd


Anyone who has played in a band has probably heard more audience members scream “Freebird” than any other song in history. Most people actually request it as a joke!

While My Guitar Gently Weeps – The Beatles


The fact that the lyrics of this song refer to a guitar is almost accidental among its deep reflective nature. Maybe it’s a factor in the song’s popularity with so many guitarists.

Eruption – Eddie Van Halen


“Eruption” ripped open the gates to progressive guitar playing. The song still stands as a staple for aspiring electric guitar virtuosos to master.

Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry


This pioneering piece opened up the sound of early rock to wider audiences. It’s another favorite song for electric guitarists to learn.

Pride and Joy – Stevie Ray Vaughan


This song can be difficult to learn at first because of its muting techniques, but it brings along the full power of the Texas Blues to anyone who masters it!

Layla – Eric Clapton


“Layla” is revered for both its powerful lyrics and its captivating virtuosic guitar hook. Clapton fans expect to hear it at every concert.

Now that you’ve seen our list of the best guitar songs of all time, what would you add? Let us know in a comment below!

These are the songs that inspired most kids to pick up an axe in the first place. If you’re interested in learning the guitar, this list will give you some easy songs to start with as well as some masterpieces to aspire to.

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Mother’s Day Music: 5 Guitar Songs to Play for Mom

MO - Mother's Day Music - 5 Guitar Songs to Play for Mom

Mother’s Day is a day to show appreciation to the special woman who raised you. But flowers and traditional gifts aren’t the only way to show your mom you love her. Here, guitar instructor Matt. K has put together five guitar songs that are perfect to sing for your mom…

When it comes to Mother’s Day and certain holidays, sometimes us musicians can’t afford the traditional gifts, like a bouquet of flowers, but that doesn’t mean we can’t give our mothers something special.

What better way to show appreciation for mom than playing her a song? She will love it more than anything else you can give her. If you don’t end up writing your own Mother’s Day song, there are plenty of songs to choose from.

I’ve put together a list of five guitar songs. I selected from different genres, so no matter what type of music your mom is into, you’re sure to find a song that that she will love!


“Mama I’m Comin’ Home” – Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne is known for his heavy metal and his rock star antics (just search “Ozzy bat incident” on Google), but on his album “No More Tears,” Ozzy decided to slow it down and write a brilliant ballad.

Although this song is not about his actual mother, it’s still one of the best Mother’s Day songs.

Here is the tab of the intro on guitar:

e–12————–|
B—-12————|
G——–13/11–9–|
D——————|
A——————|
E—————–0|

e—0——-0——-0—–0——–0—–0——–0—–0——|
B—-0——-0——-0—–0——–0—–0——–0——0—-|
G-9——-8——8-6—–4—–4-2——1—–1—————-|
D———————————————-4——2——–|
A————————————————————–|
E————————————————————0-|

e|–0——-0——-0—–0——–0—–0——–0—–0——|
B|—-0——-0——-0—–0——–0—–0——–0—–0—-|
G|9——-8——8-6—–4—–4-2——1—–1—————-|
D|———————————————4——2——–|
A|————————————————————-|
E|———————————————————–0-|

e———-0———0——-0——-0——–0—0–0——–0—0–0|
B————–0——-0——-0——-0——–0-0—-0——–0-0—|
G——-9———8——8-6—–4——-4-2——1——1——–1—|
D———————————————————4——-2—|
A———————————————————————|
E-0——————————————————————-|

If you want to learn to play the rest of the song, you can find the tabs here.


“Mama Liked the Roses” – Elvis Presley

In 1970, the king of rock “n” roll released “Mama Liked the Roses.” It was originally released as a B-side, but charted in the top 100, and became an Elvis stand by. It’s a sad, beautiful song about his late mother.

Here are the chords for the chorus:

C Dm G7 C A7
Oh mama liked the roses she grew them in the yard
Dm E7 A7
But winter always came around and made the growing way too hard
Dm G7 C A7
Oh mama liked the roses and when she had the time
Dm E7 A7
She’d decorate the living room for all us kids to see

Click here for the rest of the chords.


“Dear Mama” – 2Pac

Tupac released “Dear Mama” as a single in 1995. The song climbed the charts quickly and is still considered one of his best songs.

It’s about his mother and his appreciation for everything she did for him, and lucky for us, it features a guitar in the hook.

The riff is below, play this along with the video.

E |————————————————–15h17-15-|
B |——————————-14————————–|
G |———–13—-x—————————————–|
D |–15h16————(16)———————————– |
A |———————————————————–|
E |———————————————————–|


“Mother” – Danzig


“Mother” by Danzig does not fit the mold of the other songs. It’s not about how much he appreciates his mom, but rather a warning to mothers about himself.

Definitely not your traditional Mother’s Day song, but it rocks, and it might be funny to play for mom!

Note: I only suggest this one if your mom likes to rock, and has a sense of humor.

Intro:

e|—————————||—————————–|
B|—————————||—————————–|
G|—————————||-o————————-o-|
D|-4——0——2——-4—||——0——–2—–4——-|
A|-2——2——0——-2—||-o—-2——–0—–2—–o-|
E|——–3——————||——3———————-|

Get the rest of the chords here.


 “Dear Prudence” – The Beatles


This is not a Mother’s Day song, but it’s my mother’s favorite song, so I had to add it to the list.

It’s a beautiful song off of the White album, and if you perform it for your mother, you can’t go wrong. Almost everyone loves this song.

I’ve included the tab for the verse and you can find the rest of the song here.

e|2—— ——- ——- ——-|2—— ——- ——- ——-|
B|——————-3———–|——————-3———–|
G|————2——————|————2——————|
D|——–0—————0——|——–0—————0——|
A|0——————————|3——————————|
D|—————-0————–|—————-0————–|

e|0—— ——- ——- ——-|3—— ——- ——- ——-|
B|——————-1———–|——————-3———–|
G|———–0——————-|———–0——————-|
D|——–2—————2——|——–0—————0——|
A|3—————3————–|——————————-|
D|——————————-|5—————5————–|

Whether you’re an experienced guitarist or you just started lessons, you can take your pick from these five guitar songs and give your mom a mother’s day concert she’ll never forget!

Which guitar songs do you like to play for your family and friends? Let us know in the comments below!

Matthew KPost Author: Matt K.
Matthew K. teaches guitar, piano, and music theory lessons in Brooklyn, NY. He studied music composition at Mercyhurst University, and he has been teaching lessons for four years. Matthew is available to teach in-person lessons as well as online via Skype. Learn more about Matt here!

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10 Acoustic Guitar Songs for Beginners That Are Not Even a Little Cheesy

10 Acoustic Guitar Songs for Beginners That Are Not Even a Little Cheesy

Nobody likes trudging through difficult music that they don’t like. If a song is too hard, it’s not going to sound good. And if you don’t like the song, why bother putting in the effort?

To solve this problem for you, here’s a very eclectic list of easy songs to play on your acoustic guitar.

DISCLAIMER: Making music is tricky business. There’s a lot of multitasking and it takes time to get things flowing the way that you want to hear them. Additionally, guitarists all have different strengths and weaknesses, so a song that your friend told you was easy, might be really difficult for you. Don’t get discouraged!

My hope is that this list includes enough styles and techniques that you’ll be able to find something that you enjoy and something that is easy for you.

 

Ventura Highway – America

This is a cool old song with great, simple harmonies and a fun lead lick, that’s a little more challenging. If you’re looking for an easy song to start with, you’ll want to focus on the chords first.

You can get through the whole song using just two chords: Fmaj7 and Cmaj7. If you play the two chords as shown in the link below, the switch between them should be fairly easy.

If you’re still having any difficulty, try keeping the first finger in the Fmaj7 chord down so that you’re playing the standard C chord shape. If you’re playing this along with the recording, you’ll want to capo at the 2nd fret, to make the chords Gmaj7 and Dmaj7 (played using the same shapes and fingerings).

Get the chords: Ventura Highway

 

Bend the Bracket – Chevelle

A little heavier of a song, but still great. Originally played on an acoustic, “Bend the Bracket” uses almost exclusively power chords, which you can just slide around on the fifth string. One tricky bit of business is that Chevelle plays this on a guitar tuned down one half-step.

If you’d rather not worry about retuning but still want to play with the CD, just move everything down one fret. There are no open strings, so you won’t have to worry about that. The one thing that could become difficult with the wrong fingering is the intro. If you play the power chord on the fifth string at the seventh fret (or 6th if you’re moving down a fret), you can reach the sixth string at the eighth fret with your middle finger without having to lift the power chord.

Get the chords: Bend the Bracket

 

Heroin – Velvet Underground

Despite the length of this song, there are only two chords in it, and one can be played with only one hand. How’s that for easy? Similar to the song by Chevelle, Lou Reed also has his guitar tuned down a half step. If you already retuned for the last song, then don’t tune back up yet!

If you can form a D chord with your left hand, you’re already well on your way to playing this entire song. Essentially, he bounces between a D chord in the usually formation and a G which can be played using the open 4th, 3rd and 2nd strings. Of course if you’re already comfortable with a six-string G chord, feel free to mix it in as you think sounds good.

These chords are generally played whole and then picked with the notes separately while the left hand stays unmoved on the chord. The only other part to the song is the ending.

Okay, I sort of lied when I said only two chords, but mostly only two chords. Besides, the chords at the end are played using the same D shape that you’ve already mastered, just slide up to the 7th and 9th frets.

Get the chords: Heroin

 

Bard’s Song – Blind Guardian

Metal you say? On an acoustic you say? Yes, and it can still be EPIC! Now, I may get some pushback on this being an “easy” song, but like I mentioned before; everyone has their own strengths.

I’ve personally had students for whom this would be less difficult than previous songs on this list. That being said, if fingerpicking isn’t one of your strengths, use this as an easy introduction to improve!

Get the chords: Bard’s Song

 

Disarm – Smashing Pumpkins

This song remains a favorite of mine. You may see versions of the chords of this song listed as G-Em-C-D. While you could play these chords along with the song with no trouble, it would lack some of the sound of the original, and, not to mention, be more difficult.

So in the same vein of keeping it easy and sounding better anyway, let’s look at the real chords. G-Em7-Cadd9-Dsus. If those look more complicated, don’t worry. While they’re more complicated from a music theory standpoint, they allow us guitarists to keep two fingers down for the WHOLE SONG!

Go ahead and plant your ring and pinky fingers on the 2nd and 1st strings at the 3rd fret. The rest of the chords can be formed as follows:

Get the chords: Disarm

 

Dumb (acoustic) – Nirvana


Another song that is all power chords, also known as 5th chords (A5 ). Like some others here, Kurt often played his guitar tuned down a half step. As with the Chevelle song, the power chords make it easy to play a fret lower if you’re in standard tuning.

Get the chords: Dumb

 

One Less Addiction – Embodyment

This is a hauntingly beautiful song that I’m guessing many of you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing before. I’m guess that it’ll also be a breeze for most of you to play.

The majority of the song just switches between these two chords in the seventh position. I like to keep my middle finger planted on the third string at the eighth fret as an anchor between these two chords.

Get the chords: Embodyment

 

Moorish Dance – Aaron Shearer

Another one will be really easy for the left hand, but if you have a hard time playing without a pick, it could be tricky. If you have trouble stretching for chords and getting all the notes to ring, this song will give your left hand a break. You’ll only need it for six, yes six, different notes.

Beyond that, your right hand will alternate between playing the tune with the thumb and playing some higher accompanying notes with the index and/or middle fingers.

Fun story: I was recently talking with a friend and fellow guitar teacher who had broken a bone in a right hand that connected his ring and pinky fingers to his wrist. He mentioned that some of his older students weren’t convinced he could still be a good teacher without all his fingers. He used “Moorish Dance” as his “show-off piece” to prove otherwise.

Get the chords: Moorish Dance

 

Suite: Judy Blue Eyes – Crosby, Stills & Nash

Technically speaking, this is actually a set of four songs, but they’re all played as a complete piece of music and they all use the same tricks to keep it easy on the fingers. This is one of the more complicated songs on this list, but that doesn’t mean it has to be hard!

If you look at a bare and accurate chord chart of this song, you’d see a whole bunch of complicated looking chord symbols with ‘sus’s and numbers and slashes. While you’re all smart players and probably know what those mean, it’s still more information to process and send to our fingers.

The key here, rather than dealing with all of these complicated and frequently difficult to change between chords, is to make sure you’ve got the tuning right. We’ve already covered songs in this list using an alternate tuning (Eb or half step down tuning), but this is a bit more radical. We’ll leave the highest two strings alone, so they’ll remain at E and B, going down from there, we’ll tune the 3rd string down to E, the 4th string **up** to E (always use caution when tuning higher than standard), and finally the 5th string down to E, to match the 6th string.

If you’ve been keeping track, that leaves us with, from low to high, EEEEBE. From there, follow the tab, since your sense of where chords usually are will be totally out of whack. It’s a whole bunch of open and straight barre chords with a few little licks sliding down the first two strings.

Get the chords: Suite: Judy Blue Eyes

 

Cruise – Florida Georgia Line

Were you worried there wouldn’t be any country on here? What good is an easy acoustic list without a little twang! Remember the chords from “Disarm”? Same deal here! If you prefer the sound on the Dsus chord, you can play a standard D shape, but keep that 3rd finger planted! The order is G-Dsus(or D)-Em7-Cadd9. Have fun!

Get the chords: Cruise

 

Hopefully you found a few new things on this list, even just something you can enjoy listening to. With a list like this you’re bound to find a song that suits your strengths and weaknesses.

If you haven’t, this list isn’t exhaustive, so don’t give up! A well versed guitar teacher is a great resource to find the right songs for you. You’ve got a knack for guitar (everyone does in one way or another) and you just have to figure out what it is.

Once you get some traction with that, then go after your weaknesses! There’s no problem in your guitar playing that can’t be fixed.

 


Kirk RPost Author:
 Kirk R.
Kirk is a classical, bass, and acoustic guitar instructor in Denver, CO. He earned a bachelors of music in Guitar performance at The College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati and he is currently pursuing a masters degree in performance.  Learn more about Kirk here!

 

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easy bluegrass guitar songs

7 Easy Bluegrass Songs on Guitar

easy bluegrass guitar songsEven beginners can start playing a little bluegrass guitar. Music teacher Matthew K. shares a selection of his favorite easy bluegrass guitar songs…

When I first listened to bluegrass music, I knew I had to learn the guitar parts. They are very intricate and fun! The patterns weave in and out of each other, creating a sound that is unique to the genre. It can be a daunting sound for any beginner – and it may seem impossible at first – but remember, everyone has to start at the beginning.

There are some bluegrass tunes that are slightly less difficult than others, and easy guitar songs are still fun to play and impressive to listen to. The following are seven of my favorite easy bluegrass guitar songs.

Please note that you should have a general knowledge of guitar chords, and have the ability to use a flat pick in order to attempt these songs. It is always good to listen to the songs, as well.

 

1. “Keep on the Sunny Side” – The Carter Family

“Keep on the Sunny Side” is one of the most famous bluegrass songs. The version I am showing you is in the key of C. It is played with a standard bluegrass-strumming pattern: Down – Down – Rest – Up – Down – Up, then immediately repeat. Below are the chords used in the song and how they are played to the lyrics.

 Chord Chord (easy) Chord

C F C

Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side

G

Keep on the sunny side of life

C F C

It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way

G C

If we’ll keep on the sunny side of life

 

2. “Foggy Mountain Top” – A.P. Carter

Here is another very popular bluegrass tune. It can be played quickly with a Down – Down strumming pattern while counting, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2. There is a new chord introduced.

uitar Chord D7

G C G

If I was on some foggy mountain top

D7

I’d sail away to the west

G C G

I’d sail all around this whole wide world

D7 G

To the girl I love the best

C G

If I had listened to what momma said

D7

I would not have been here today

G C G

A lying around this old jail-house

D7 G

A weeping my sweet life away

 

3. “On Top of Old Smokey” – The Weavers

“On Top of Old Smokey” is a slower song, played in ¾ time. It can be played with a Down – Down – Up – Down pattern, while counting to three. It features the G7 chord.

7 Chord

C F C

On top of old Smokey all covered in snow

G7 C

I lost my true lover by courting too slow

F C

But courting is pleasure but parting is grief

G7 C

For a false hearted lover is worse than a thief

F C

A thief he will just rob you take what you have

G7 C

But a false hearted lover will take you to your grave

F C

A grave will decay you turn you into dust

G7 C

And there just isn’t one girl a poor boy can trust

 

4. “Man of Constant Sorrow” – Dick Burnett

This is a song originally written by Dick Burnett, but made famous by The Cinch Brothers, and later made even more famous by the motion picture Oh Brother Where Art Thou. The following is a simplified version that can be played with a Down – Down pattern.

 Chord Chord

D A D

In constant sorrow all through his days

D G

I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow

A D

I’ve seen trouble all my day

G

I bid farewell to old Kentucky

A D

The place where I was born and raised

A D

The place where he was born and raised

D G

For six long years I’ve been in trouble

A D

No pleasures here on earth I found

G

For in this world I’m bound to ramble

A D

I have no friends to help me now

A D

He has no friends to help him now

 

5. “Kentucky Girl” – Larry Sparks

“Kentucky Girl” is a nice song that only features two chords. It can be played much like “Keep on the Sunny Side.” The pattern is Down – Down – Down – Up – Down.

G D7

Kentucky girl are you lonesome tonight

G

Kentucky girl do you miss me

D7

Does that old moon shine on the bluegrass as bright

G

As it did on the night you first kissed me

D7

In a valley neath the mountain so high

G

The sweetest place in all the world

D7

In a cabin with vines on the door

G

Is where I met my Kentucky girl

 

6. “Old Doc Brown” – Hank Snow (“Just a Closer Walk with Thee”)

“Old Doc Brown” is a song that is played very slowly and has spoken word over it rather than traditional singing lyrics. It’s a classic. It was first performed by Hank Snow, but later popularized by Johnny Cash. It shares the same chords as “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” which is a very old hymnal song that bears no author. I chose this song because there are a few new chords introduced.

7 Chord7 Chord

A E A

I am weak but thou art strong, Jesus, keep me from all wrong

A A7 D A E7 D A

I’ll be satisfied as long As I walk, let me walk close to thee

A E A

Just a closer walk with thee, Grant it, Jesus, is my plea

A A7 D A E7 D A

Daily walking close to thee, Let it be, dear Lord, let it be

 

7. “Nine Pound Hammer” – Flatt & Scruggs

“Nine Pound Hammer” is another fast-paced, classic bluegrass song. It can be played with the Down – Down –Rest – Up – Down pattern that we have seen before. The chorus is as follows.

7 Chord

G

Roll on buddy

C7

Don’t you roll so slow

G D

Well, tell me how can I roll roll roll

G

When the wheels won’t go

G

Roll on buddy

C7

Pull you load of coal

G D

Tell me how can I pull

G

When the wheels won’t roll

G

It’s a long way to Harlan

C7

It’s a long way to Hazard

G D

Just to get a little brew brew brew

G

Just to get a little brew

G

And when I die

C7

You can make my tombstone

G D

Out of number nine coal

D

Out of number nine coal

 

Please keep in mind that these seven easy bluegrass guitar songs can be expanded upon greatly. These are merely open chord versions of the songs. The best way to learn is by sitting with a guitar teacher, so that he or she can go through the strumming patterns and fills.

All chord photos are from JustinGuitar.com.

Want to learn even more bluegrass guitar songs and techniques? Working with a private guitar teacher is the best way to improve your skills. Search for your guitar teacher now!

Matthew K

Matthew K. teaches guitar, piano, and music theory lessons in Brooklyn, NY. He studied music composition at Mercyhurst University, and he has been teaching lessons for four years. Matthew is available to teach in-person lessons as well as online via Skype. Learn more about Matthew here!

 

 

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5 Eco-Friendly Guitar Songs to Play for Earth Day

5 Eco Friendly Easy Guitar Songs for Earth DayIt’s always fun to play a few tunes that match the season. With Earth Day bringing in spring weather, why not learn a few easy guitar songs to play as we celebrate our planet? Here are a few songs that make us think about being outside and loving the earth!

Rush – “The Trees”

What better way to kick off our top five list than a song with trees in the title? This classic rock tune by Rush was recorded with fingerpicking throughout the song, but if it’s easier for you, you can play the intro pattern then revert to chords for the remainder of the song.

Rush is an interesting band that composes songs about topics that you might not normally associate with rock bands. However, that unique trait works out in our favor, as this song is a quintessential Earth Day anthem.

Joni Mitchell – “Big Yellow Taxi”

You might recognize this as sung by a different recording artist or group, but Joni Mitchell was the original composer and singer. As easy guitar songs go, this one is a cinch. It is played in open tuning, which means lots of barre chords and open strumming. The hardest part of the song is to get the proper strumming pattern and muffling down.

Joni actually encourages her fans to transcribe her music, and you can check out the transcription for Big Yellow Taxi at her website. Pay close attention to the notes at the beginning and end of the page, as there are a few helpful hints as well.

John Mayer – “Waiting On The World To Change”

In this more modern Earth Day song, John Mayer takes charge with this tune. Mayer’s sound is fairly unique, and the lesson linked above does a fairly good job of teaching you how to play the song while mimicking his style.

Even though John Mayer is an incredibly skilled guitar player, this song can actually be played fairly easily. The chord progression stays constant, and you just need to adjust to the high fret playing and different chord fingerings than you might be used to. If you want to give yourself a challenge, the solo adds a bit more complexity to the piece.

Neil Young – “After the Gold Rush”

Throughout his career, Neil Young has written a number of songs about the environment and been an advocate for environmental causes. Among his most famous songs, “After the Gold Rush” looks back at our planet’s past and ahead to a future when we might have to leave our damaged Earth behind.

You can play this song with just a few simple chords, which makes it very appealing to beginning guitarists. If you’d like to challenge yourself, the tutorial also includes instructions for accompanying yourself on the harmonica.

Kings of Leon – “Radioactive”

Normally when you search for online guitar tutorials, you find a talented guitar player that recorded him or herself in a basement while playing. In this video lesson, you actually can learn from the two guitar players in Kings of Leon firsthand.

While the song can be played on just one guitar, if you can layer two guitars and vocals, you’ll have a great tune to play for Earth Day. So why not try to encourage a friend or two to learn this song with you, and then the three of you can put on a show!

Explore even more guitar songs and techniques by taking lessons with a private guitar teacher. Guitar teachers are available to work with you online via Skype or in-person, depending on locations and availability. Search for your guitar teacher now!

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Photo by  MTSOfan

7 Easy Electric Guitar Songs for Rock & Metal Beginners

7 Easy Electric Guitar Songs to Play Rock Metal Music for BeginnersLooking for easy electric guitar songs? If you’re ready to start laying down some heavy riffs, keep reading.

In this article we’ll share seven easy metal songs on guitar that even beginners can learn to play.

You may not be a Randy Rhoads or a Zak Wylde yet, but if you have something to say then there’s plenty of room on the Ozzfest stage! Let’s start with the top seven easy rock guitar songs.

Easy Electric Guitar Songs for Rock & Metal Fans

1. “Iron Man” – Black Sabbath

This may very well be the coolest, heaviest guitar song ever, yet it’s also just about the easiest one to play. With this simple song, Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath virtually invented this style of guitar!

Have fun trying out this fun song to play that goes at a tempo anyone can master.

2. “Whole Lotta Love” – Led Zeppelin

This is one of our favorite easy rock guitar songs with its timeless, catchy riff that doubles as the hook of the song.

It is estimated this riff made a million 14 year olds pick up the guitar for the first time in 1970, and it made believers out of 38 million fans. It made Page a force to be reckoned with and it can do the same for you at band practice.

It doesn’t even matter if you can play fast lead guitar like Jimmy, because you can learn this opening riff in just a few minutes.

SEE ALSO: 10 Easy Guitar Chords for Beginners

3. “Back In Black” – AC/DC

From the epic opening power chords of this song to the distinctive climbing riff played by Angus Young of AC/DC, this song has it all: simplicity, power, driving beat, and Gollum-like vocals by lead singer Brian Johnson.

The A major, D major, and E major chords comprise the foundation, and it is instantly recognizable.

4. “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” – Judas Priest

Back in the day when albums ruled radio, most folks were strumming their acoustic guitars to the country rock sounds of Laurel Canyon Blvd and Newport Beach.

Then came the aggressive stance of English rockers Judas Priest and their incredible power chords played on Les Paul’s and Stratocasters, and Marshall Amps turned up as loud as possible.

When Rob Halford sang about fighting to get out of poverty in the UK Midlands you knew he meant every word. It was a battle cry for youth worldwide.

5. “Master of Puppets” – Metallica

With its simple walk down style power chords, this song is reminiscent of AC/DC chord choices. And even if you dislike James Hetfield’s wild vocals, you will love his rhythm guitar playing. This song begs for no mercy.

Bonus: Another one of the best easy rock guitar songs is “Kill’ Em All,” which is on the same album. Its brutal relentless attack is a fan favorite.

6. “Lonely Day” – System of a Down

System, or SOAD as they used to be called, play “Lonely Day” in a cool Db tuning, one and a half steps below standard tuning. The song sounds heavier and darker as a result, even though it is a metal ballad.

Anyone can play this one by using fingerpicking on the simple intro parts and letting loose on the power chords. It evokes the utter sadness of men traveling by themselves on tour and watching the world fall apart.

RELATED: How to Read Guitar Tabs for Beginners

7. “This Means War” – Avenged Sevenfold

Avenged Sevenfold’s song “This Means War” includes a slow-paced riff with a fun audience singalong so it is almost an anthem. You could play this easy rock guitar song in your sleep.

A plodding guitar part played on the Sinister Gates model Schecter electric guitar evokes all the angst a metal guitarist can unleash.

Ready to master all of these easy electric guitar songs? If you need help, you can always try working with a private guitar teacher. Search for a guitar teacher today, or get started with some free online guitar classes.

james-walsh-150x150Post Author: James W. teaches guitar lessons in Jacksonville, FL. He specializes in teaching pop, rock, and modern country styles. James has been teaching for 10 years. Learn more about James here!

 

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Photo by Ted Van Pelt

easy guitar songs for beginners

Throwback Thursday: 5 Easy Guitar Songs From The 90’s

easy guitar songs for beginners

Ready for a blast from the past? Guitar teacher Collin K. shares five easy guitar songs for beginners that will take you back to the 90’s…

From grunge to ska punk, the 1990’s were a diverse and exciting time for rock music. Some songs stand out in particular for their highly creative, yet not-so-difficult guitar work. In this article, I will give you the tools you need to get playing five of the most iconic 90’s rock songs!

Before we begin: This article uses chord diagrams and tablature for notation. Tablature is an easy shorthand that shows you which fret on which string to put your finger, but it doesn’t give you any information about rhythm. I recommend listening to the tracks and getting a sense of the rhythm when you sit down to learn. Don’t worry, it’s easy!

1. “Today” by The Smashing Pumpkins

One of The Smashing Pumpkins’ radio hits from Siamese Dream, this track features a powerful wall of guitars and a catchy chorus. It’s also a great way to get accustomed to two guitar techniques that defined 90’s rock: two-string melodies and barre chords.

Two-string melodies, like the intro guitar lick, rely on the player holding his or her fingers down over two strings at the same time so that both continue to ring out after they are plucked. In this case, use your index finger to hold down the eleventh fret on both strings. Then, use your middle finger for the thirteenth fret and your ring finger for the fifteenth fret.

Intro Riff:

Today Intro Riff

 

 

 

Barre chords are based on a movable chord shape, which means you can use the same fingering to play a chord at any fret you want! They also require you to place your index finger down over all strings at the fret you are “barring.” For example, “Today” uses the following chords:
Eb Major, Bb Major, Ab Major, C Minor, F Major, G Major

easy guitar songs for beginners

Eb Bb Ab
Today is the greatest day I’ve ever known
Eb Bb Ab
Can’t live for tomorrow, tomorrow’s much too long
Eb Bb Ab Eb Bb Cm
I’ll burn my eyes out before I get out

F Ab C F Ab Cm
I wanted more than life could ever grant me
F Ab C F Ab G
Bored by the chore of saving face

Eb Bb Ab
Today is the greatest day I’ve ever known
Eb Bb Ab
Can’t wait for tomorrow, I might not have that long
Eb Bb Ab Eb Bb Cm
I’ll tear my heart out before I get out

Eb Bb Eb Ab Eb Bb Eb Ab
Today is.. today is.. today is.. the greatest.
Eb Bb C Ab Eb Bb Cm
Day hee-yay, oo oo ooo ooo ooo…. Day hee-yay-ay, hooo…

Placing your finger down across the entire neck can be tricky at first, but keep practicing, and it will pay off! This technique is very common. If you can’t do it at first (and there’s no shame in doing this!), you can substitute the barre chords for power chords. Power chords are basically just barre chords that omit everything but the first two or three strings, resulting in an “open” sound that goes great with a ton of distortion.

2. “Wonderwall” by Oasis

Everyone’s learned this song at some point – it’s practically THE acoustic guitar song of the 90’s. Central to the song’s playing technique is its exclusive use of G position chords in the verses. These are chords that revolve around the open G Major chord position. Basically, it means that your last two fingers don’t ever have to leave the third fret.
G Major, A7sus4, Dsus4, Em7, Cadd9

easy guitar songs for beginners

This technique sounds really cool, and it makes the song easier to play since you only have to move two fingers!

Oasis plays “Wonderwall” with a capo on the third fret, but this isn’t necessary. Play it wherever you think it sounds good!

Em7 G
Today is gonna be the day
Dsus4 A7sus4
That they’re gonna throw it back to you
Em7 G
By now you should’ve somehow
Dsus4 A7sus4
Realized what you gotta do
Em7 G
I don’t believe that anybody
Dsus4 A7sus4
Feels the way I do
Em7 G Dsus4 A7sus4
About you now

C D Em
And all the roads we have to walk are winding
C D Em
And all the lights that lead us there are blinding
C D
There are many things that I
G G/f# Em A7sus4
Would like to say to you but I don’t know how

Cadd9 Em7 G
Because maybe
Em7 Cadd9 Em7 G
You’re gonna be the one that saves me
Cadd9 Em7 G
And after all
Cadd9 Em7 G A7sus4
You’re my wonderwall

3. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana

No 90’s list is complete without mentioning this track – it should probably always be number one! “Teen Spirit” is all about power chords. They’re played with heavy distortion during the chorus, punctuated by the simplest possible, two-string melody during the verses.

Power chords are notated with a “5” because they consist only of the root note and the note 5 scale degrees above it. Most players play these chords with three fingers: the index, middle, and ring, OR the index, middle, and pinky. Some, however, prefer just the index and ring fingers.
F5, Bb5, Ab5, Db5, E5

easy guitar songs for beginners

F5 Bb5
With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Ab5 Db5
Here we are now, entertain us
F5 Bb5
I feel stupid and contagious
Ab5 Db5
Here we are now, entertain us
F5 Bb5
A mulatto, an albino
Ab5 Db5
A mosquito, my libido

F5 E5 F5 Ab5
Hey!
F5 E5 Db5 Bb5

F5 E5 F5 Ab5
Hey!
F5 E5 Db5 Bb5

And the verse guitar melody:

Teen Spirit Verse Guitar Melody

 

 

 

It’s actually that simple! Use your index finger to hold down both strings at the same time. Halfway through each verse, Kurt speeds it up into double time, so listen for the rhythm!

Another plus – the guitar solo in this song is the same as the vocal melody! Try to sound it out as you play along. Getting used to hearing melodies as you play them will help you quickly improve your soloing skills.

4. “When I Come Around” by Green Day

Like Nirvana, Green Day takes inspiration from their punk rock predecessors in the 1980’s. This means power chords! “When I Come Around” is a very straightforward song, but it’s still so catchy!

Also important when playing this song – the verses make use of extensive palm muting. Palm muting is a technique where you use the side of your right hand to slightly muffle your strings while you strum. Try to keep your picking hand as relaxed as possible, so that you can keep the mute on when necessary and then take it off to let the chord ring out.
F#5, C#5, D#5, B5, G#5

easy guitar songs for beginners

F#5 C#5 D#5 B5
I heard you crying loud
F#5 C#5 D#5 B5
All the way across town
F#5 C#5 D#5 B5
You’ve been searching for that someone and it’s me out on the prowl
F#5 C#5 D#5 B5
As you sit around feeling sorry for yourself

G#5 B5
No time to search the world around
G#5 B5
Cause you know where I’ll be found
B5
When I come around

5. “Santeria” by Sublime

With equal parts reggae and punk rock, Sublime ruled the SoCal scene in the early 90’s. This song is unbelievably fun to play and reasonably simple, too. However, this last technique may take a little while to get the hang of.

It’s called the “ska upchuck”, and it’s what gives a lot of ska (and reggae) music its characteristic guitar sound. After each time the player strums a chord, the picking hand is brought up quickly on an “upswing” to hit the strings once again. This time, however, the strings are muted with your fretting hand, resulting in a “dead, scratchy” sound.

Try it with any chord you like! Listen to Santeria to get the hang of the rhythm. This technique works especially well on the highest three strings, so try these chord positions first:
E Major, G# Major, C# minor, B Major, A Major

easy guitar songs for beginners

E
I don’t practice santeria
G#
I ain’t got no crystal ball
C#m
I had a million dollars but I’d,
B
I’d spend it all
E
If I could find that Heina
G#
And that Sancho that she’s found
C#5
Well I’d pop a cap in Sancho and I’d
B
Slap her down

A B E Dbm
All I really wanna know my baby
A B E Dbm
All I really wanna say I can’t define
A B E Dbm
It’s love that I need
A B
But my soul will have to wait

You did it!

You’re now a master of five 90’s guitar classics! You also got firsthand experience with some of the techniques that defined a decade of music, including barre chords, two-string melodies, power chords, and the ska upchuck. Keep playing along to these songs, and you’ll quickly notice it becoming second nature!

A guitar teacher can help you discover and learn even more fun songs that are right for your skill level and interests! Search for your guitar teacher now!

Collin Klippel

Collin K. teaches in-person guitar and singing lessons in Brooklyn, N.Y. He studied Music Technology at New York University, plays in an instrumental rock band, and writes music for films. Learn more about Collin here!

 

 

 

 

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