23 Easy Guitar Songs for Beginners to Learn — And How To Play Them

Whether it’s working your way through guitar tabs of Beatles songs or taking your time to first learn chord shapes and read music, learning easy guitar songs is a great way to learn how to play, develop rhythm and become a better overall musician.

With more than 20 years of guitar-playing experience under my belt, I still find new songs to master, which help develop my technique. 

What I notice, though (and you will, too!), is that many songs use the same chord structure or transition between verses and choruses. 

Once you pick that up, you’ll realize how quickly you can learn new songs and almost predict what’s about to come next in the piece.

So, I scoured top guitar tab sites, like Ultimate Guitar, to find the easiest guitar songs to learn.

But I just didn’t pick songs that were easy, though. I made a concerted effort to find songs that are recognizable and popular. 

When you learn how to play them, you’re sure to have a big smile on your face and plenty of guitar-playing confidence.

In no particular order… 

Here Are my Favorite Easy Guitar Songs for Beginners to Learn:

Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple

Why it’s good for beginners:

This hard rock classic is great for practicing barre chords.

How to practice it:

Work through each chord shape first before practicing the transition from the E chord to the G and A chords.

What to look out for:

The intro of this song is all about playing really powerful chords, but when you get into the verses, you have to mute the strings with the side of your strumming hand and shoot for a really intense percussive sound. 

• • •

Louie Louie by The Kingsmen

Why it’s good for beginners:

Three chords is all you need to make it through this 1963 hit by The Kingsmen — and easy ones at that.

How to practice it:

Learn the shapes of the three chords — A, D and Em — and then work on the transitions. The good news is they just keep repeating and repeating and repeating.

What to look out for:

Once you’ve mastered the chords, you can focus on keeping rhythm with the song. When there’s repetition with chord progressions, it’s critical to focus on staying on beat.

• • •

Let it Be by the Beatles

Why it’s good for beginners:

This Beatles classic takes a little time to learn the chords, but once you have it down, you can feel how the chords walk up and down the C scale, allowing you to melodically connect the verse to the chorus.

How to practice it:

In tandem with learning the chords, run through the song by only playing the bass note with your thumb. This will allow you to feel the rhythm of the song before adding those chords back in.

What to look out for:

Depending on which tabiliture you’re looking at, you may see some major seventh and major sixth chords in the versus. Ignore those while learning the song and simply play the major chord.

• • •

Perfect by Ed Sheeran

Why it’s good for beginners:

This modern pop song is the ultimate song to play and sing to a special someone. Thankfully, it’s also a consistent pattern with only four chords to really worry about it. It’s also a nice introduction to fingerpicking as opposed to strumming.

How to practice it:

After learning the shapes, fingerpick the chords from the bass to the treble strings. Eventually you’ll feel how those chords all connect.

What to look out for:

This song is actually recorded in the key of G#, which makes chord shapes significantly more difficult. If you buy a capo, however, you can easily put it across the first fret and stick to your comfortable G, C, D and Em chords.

• • •

All of Me by John Legend

Why it’s good for beginners:

It’s a great introduction to songs with a verse, chorus, pre-chorus and bridge because it retains the same chords, just in different orders.

How to practice it:

Break this up one section at a time. Focus on perfecting the verse before moving to the pre-chorus and chorus sections.

What to look out for:

This is another song that you should capo the first fret in order to shape less complicated chords.

• • •

Wonderwall by Oasis

Why it’s good for beginners:

You’ve seen the memes, but Oasis’ Wonderwall is the ultimate song to play on the guitar you bring (or find) at a party.

How to practice it:

The chords in this song — Em, G, D and an A7 — aren’t too difficult to learn. It’s the strumming pattern you need to practice. Try playing along with the original Oasis recording to master it.

What to look out for:

While you could simply play a C chord in its place, it’s important you learn what a Cadd9 chord looks like. The 9 signifies the note in the scale, which would be a D, located on the third fret of your B string.

• • •

Hey Jude by The Beatles

Why it’s good for beginners:

You can learn some more complicated chords, including Bb, without getting too frustrated.

How to practice it:

The rhythm is what’s most difficult about this piece. The chords aren’t too bad. Practice slowly before trying to play along with John, Paul, Ringo and George.

What to look out for:

This song may feel slow, but the chords actually move a good clip. Practice nice and slowly first.

• • •

Imagine by John Lennon

Why it’s good for beginners:

This iconic song is the perfect tune to learn how to fingerpick. If you can play Imagine, everyone will think you’re a guitar pro.

How to practice it:

Work on the fingerpicking pattern you hear on the record, but ignore the piano part that chromatically climbs the scale.

What to look out for:

If you’ve never fingerpicked before, you’ll have your hands full making your thumb and fingers work together. Don’t get frustrated, though. It’ll come with practice.

• • •

Take Me Home Country Road by John Denver

Why it’s good for beginners:

It’s four chords and the ultimate campfire song to keep in your back pocket.

How to practice it:

This is another song that requires a steady strumming rhythm. As you sing along with your playing, it can be easy to lose your place and rhythm.

What to look out for:

The chorus has lyrics that build into the first G chord. So you won’t strike that chord on the beginning of “Country,” but rather start strumming on the beginning of “Roads.”

• • •

Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Why it’s good for beginners:

A lot of beginner guitar songs consist of strumming chords, but Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” is where you get to have some fun with playing a riffing pattern. That intro might be one of the most recognizable guitar riffs in music. 

How to practice it:

This is one where guitar tabs come in handy. You’ll need to play very slowly at first and build up speed.

What to look out for:

That riff continues through a majority of the song. It’s more difficult to sing the lyrics and riff at the same time.

• • •

American Pie by Don McLean

Why it’s good for beginners:

It’s a challenging opportunity to learn the chord structure of the longer verses Don McLean wrote for this classic.

How to practice it:

The chords aren’t too difficult for this long song. It’s remembering which order they come in, though. Practice running through the verses a lot to get the order right.

What to look out for:

The guitar part of this tune isn’t too bad — it’s the lyrics that will throw you for a loop if you’re planning on singing along.

• • •

Sweet Baby Jaby James Taylor

Why it’s good for beginners:

James Taylor is a masterful guitarist and most of his tunes are quite difficult to learn. Sweet Baby James is one of his easier songs, so it’s your opportunity to play a little like JT.

How to practice it:

Of course, James Taylor puts his own flare on this song, but you can stick to playing the chords as is. Simply work on hitting the chords at the right time.

What to look out for:

This song is composed as a waltz, which means it’s in ¾ time. That can make it difficult to find the rhythm of the piece at first.

• • •

Amazing Grace

Why it’s good for beginners:

Because this song is so old and has been done so often, it’s a great opportunity to put your own spin on a classic.

How to practice it:

Learn the 7th chord in this one. It’s critical to getting the exact sound of how the song was intended.

What to look out for:

Everyone plays this song a little differently and in different keys. You may have trouble finding a recording in the key you desire.

• • •

Yellow by Coldplay

Why it’s good for beginners:

It only requires the knowledge of three chords. And if you throw your capo on the fourth fret, they’re easy chords: G, C, D and Em.

How to practice it:

The best way to practice this song is by playing Coldplay’s original recording of it.

What to look out for:

The bridge and outro throw in some major seventh and minor seventh chords that won’t hurt to learn since the shapes are relatively easy.

• • •

Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra

Why it’s good for beginners:

It’s your introduction to playing jazz and not being intimidated by the ii-iv-i chord pattern.

How to practice it:

You need to learn how to shape a Bm7 chord and practice the ii-iv transition from that Bm7 to an F#7. Once you have that down, the rest of the song is straightforward.

What to look out for:

Jazz songs emphasize on the two and four of the beat, while pop and rock hit on the one and three. If you’re not used to that, there’s a chance this Sinatra classic won’t swing as much.

• • •

Op. 60, No. 1 by Fernando Sor

Why it’s good for beginners:

It’s a classical piece that hangs out on the first three frets of the guitar’s neck.

How to practice it:

Use tablature to work your way through each line and then listen to the Fernando Sor recording to ensure your tempo and rhythm are accurate.

What to look out for:

As you work through the tab, you’ll see times when multiple strings ringout. This is a great effect you should learn when practicing classical songs.

• • •

Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton

Why it’s good for beginners:

It’s a great chance to learn the chords of a classic song, in addition to the iconic Clapton riff.

How to practice it:

Pick either the chords or the riff to start with before moving to the next. The riff is going to require you to practice bending strings, which can feel unusual if you’ve never done it before.

What to look out for:

Play the bass notes in the chord and pay attention to the bass notes the song calls for. Often, instead of a D, you’ll see a D/F#, which means they want you to play an F# (second fret on your low E string) in the bass.

• • •

Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty

A skydiver jumping from a plane.

Why it’s good for beginners:

It’s a timeless song you’ll be glad to know, plus it forces you to learn some alternatives to easy chords.

How to practice it:

Study up on sus chords, which stands for suspended chords. This song calls for a Gsus2 and an Asus4.

What to look out for:

The chords are the trickiest part in this song. You really can’t get away just playing the major chord that’s listed — you need to learn these slightly altered chords.

• • •

I’m Yours by Jason Mraz

Jason Mraz playing live.

Why it’s good for beginners:

It’s an easy song for playing and singing at the same time.

How to practice it:

Work on playing the chords on the first beat of each bar. It’s tricky because a vocal note tends to scoop into that first beat.

What to look out for:

If you plan on singing and playing, the words can be a little tricky with this song. Thankfully, the guitar part is pretty easy.

• • •

Have You Ever Seen the Rain by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Girl playing in the rain.

Why it’s good for beginners:

Another fun song to play at a party — and there’s only four chords to worry about.

How to practice it:

Listen to CCR’s original recording and work on mimicking the exact strumming pattern. You’re going to need that in your muscle memory in order to sing along and stay on beat.

What to look out for:

Hitting the chords on the one of the beat is the most difficult part, because the vocals scoop into the second beat in the bar. That’s why learning the rhythm of the song is so critical.

• • •

Iris by Goo Goo Dolls

The Goo Goo Dolls playing live.

Why it’s good for beginners:

It’s a song that can teach you about chord structure. The second line of the verses walk down the G scale, from a Bm to an A to a G.

How to practice it:

Play the bass (also referred to as the root) note of each chord with the Goo Goo Dolls recording to get a better feel for that chord structure.

What to look out for:

Occasionally, the Goo Goo Dolls throw in a Bm/A chord, which can be tricky to shape. Make sure to check it out.

• • •

Highway to Hell by AC/DC

ACDC playing live.

Why it’s good for beginners:

Aspiring rockers only need to know four chords to practice the easy strumming pattern and catch people’s attention.

How to practice it:

This rock song comes down to rhythm and strumming pattern. Listen to AC/DC’s original recording to master it.

What to look out for:

The bridge contains some sustained chords, where you need to throw a high G note on your D chord.

• • •

Hold the Line by Toto

Toto's guitarist Steve Lukather playing live.

Why it’s good for beginners:

OK, we lied. This is more for intermediate players. But if you can master the 22 songs above, you can certainly handle this challenge from Toto.

How to practice it:

The piano in this song makes it feel fast, but it actually rocks pretty steadily. Relax when working your way through these more complex chords.

What to look out for:

The chorus’ strumming pattern is very distinct and requires patience to learn. 

• • •

Practice Easy Songs Today

A guy reading a guitar tab from his computer.

As you dive into these songs, you might be intimidated at first. 

But by taking your time and slowly learning each part of a song bar by bar, you’ll be able to hear it come to life and then work on speeding things up to the song’s intended tempo. 

Remember: consistent practice can go a long way in developing your guitar-playing abilities.
Before you know it, you’ll be playing like these guys.

• • •

Image credits:

John Legend image: Qqqqqq at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons; Hey Jude The Beatles image: Boer, Poppe de, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons; Don Mclean image: JeremyWestby, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons; James Taylor image: Jonathan Schilling, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons; Coldplay image: Ju-x, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons; Eric Clapton image: Ericclapton007, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons; Jason Mraz image: José Goulão from Lisbon, Portugal, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons; Goo Goo Dolls image: Fr. Jeff Lorig, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons; AC/DC image: Ac-dcfreak785 at the English-language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons; Steve Lukather of Toto: Ryanhuntmuzik, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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