10 easy guitar songs any beginner can learn

22.12.2021 Ben Maloney Guitar

This list of easy guitar songs for beginners has been compiled to meet the needs of new guitar players looking for songs that are fun to play and helpful to learn. 

There are so many pieces out there and so many guitar sheet music options that looking for material can easily get messy - downloads, purchases, tabs, chords, and so on. Forget all that. With this guide to just ten easy songs and direct links to premium editions of each one, we’re making things simple for you.

As ever, there are a range of works on show, designed to appeal to all players out there. These beginner songs encompass a range of genres, styles and types of sheet music - traditional notation, guitar tabs and chord diagrams. There’s something for everyone.

Despite this, they all have two things in common: they’re all high-quality tunes and they’re all easy to play. You won't find any dazzling guitar solos here, but if that's what you’re after, then check out the list of hardest guitar songs afterwards.

If you need any help figuring out chord voicings, have a look at this chord chart.
 

Easiest songs for beginner guitar players to learn
 

  1. ‘Wonderwall’ by Oasis
  2. ‘You Send Me’ by Sam Cooke
  3. ‘Rolling in the Deep’ by Adele
  4. ‘Hallelujah’ by Jeff Buckley
  5. Ericeira by Jean-Jacques Fimbel
  6. ‘Sweet Caroline’ by Neil Diamond
  7. ‘Swing Guitar’ by Django Reinhardt 
  8. ‘What’d I Say’ by Ray Charles
  9. ‘River’ by Joni Mitchell
  10. Minuet, Op. 44 No. 14 by Fernando Sor

1. ‘Wonderwall’ by Oasis

‘Wonderwall’ appeared on Oasis’ 1995 album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? Ever since, it's been a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, its classic E-minor intro instantly recognisable. It also happens to be one of the great acoustic guitar songs and is really straightforward to play.

It consists of three primary sections: verse, bridge and chorus - the classic building blocks of a popular song. Here verse and chorus utilise similar chord progressions. Every single chord voicing features a D and a G fingered on the upper two strings, which usefully function as an anchor when moving your middle and index fingers. 

The bridge meanwhile features an arpeggiated melody, notated by the tab. Combining chordal textures as well as melodic riffs, ‘Wonderwall’ is a song that’ll help you to develop your rhythm-guitar skills as well as your abilities as a lead player.

2. ‘You Send Me’ by Sam Cooke

Sam Cooke was one of the great soul vocalists of all time, whose career was cut tragically short at the age of just 33. ‘You Send Me’, the opening track on his debut album of 1958, perfectly captures what his musicality was all about. 

Cooke wrote the song himself, and guitars feature prominently in the arrangement that he recorded. It’s a lyrical ballad structured around recurring F chords and closely related harmonies. Towards the end of the song, there are some opportunities to learn more adventurous voicings, but they aren’t too demanding to play.

The diagrams here outline the harmonies you can hear in the recording, and parts of the melodic bass line are also played on guitar - try them both out. If you’re keen to engage as a player with the soul genre and rhythm and blues styles more broadly, then this is a great track to start learning with. 

3. ‘Rolling in the Deep’ by Adele

Once upon a time, Adele was an exciting young talent. Behind her was a studio album and before her was a promising career. Then ’Rolling in the Deep’ came along. The best-selling digital single of all time, a track that catapulted her into the pop music stratosphere.

The 2010 single showcases the influence of rock and blues on Adele’s artistry. A hallmark of those musical styles is the power chord, which underpins the first two verses. If you’re interested in getting to grips with these genres, power chords will feature prominently in your guitar-playing. Working through this song gives you the chance to practise them. 

The harmonies then broaden, introducing more chords into the mix. The straightness of the song’s rhythms certainly make things easier, and allow you to focus on getting fingerings right and making your chord changes as smooth as possible.

4. ‘Hallelujah’ by Jeff Buckley

Originally written by Leonard Cohen‘Hallelujah’ was first featured on the singer’s 1984 album Various Positions. It’s courtesy of Jeff Buckley’s 1994 interpretation, though, that the song enjoys legendary status today. 

Buckley’s cover version has been transcribed here in this tab version. His is an intimate arrangement featuring only voice and electric guitar. The latter does all the harmonic legwork as a result, and the part is marked by wide, sparse harmonies and slow-moving arpeggios. 

The song is a long one, so it might take you a bit of time to work through. But there’s no material that you shouldn’t be able to master after some dedicated practice. Alternatively, you can focus on the chords instead of the tablature, and put together a more personal performance. 

5. Ericeira by Jean-Jacques Fimbel

If you’re keen to discover some classical guitar repertoire, then it’s worth checking out Jean-Jacques Fimbel. A composer and performer, Fimbel has written prolifically for the guitar, and a number of his works are suitable for beginner players.

As its title suggests, Fimbel’s 2009 collection Quatre amusettes très faciles comprises four works for solo guitar. Ericeira is the third of them. Without making the piece too technically difficult to play, the notation has a useful range of playing instructions that can help you to get acquainted with the nuances of classical notation. 

The small numbers above the notes tell you which finger you should stop the notes with, while the Roman numerals indicate the fret that you should barre. Squiggly lines prescribe a broken chord, crossed noteheads instruct you to tap the bridge percussively, and there’s even a string bend in the penultimate bar - a rarity in classical guitar. 

6. ‘Sweet Caroline’ by Neil Diamond

Singer-songwriter Neil Diamond has written and recorded countless hits in the course of his career, but few have become quite as iconic as ‘Sweet Caroline’. The 1969 anthem is just a completely great song, a particular favourite of huge crowds at sporting events.

It’s an especially easy song to play - almost as easy as it is to sing. Changes are few and far between, and Diamond strings together a really simple chord progression using mostly open chords. Seeing that classic verse-bridge-chorus pattern once again, it won’t take long for you to get your head around the structure and learn the material.

‘Sweet Caroline’ is a singalong number through and through. If you want to be the kind of player that can pick up a guitar and play for the room - or the campfire - then this tune is the perfect one for you to learn.

7. ‘Swing Guitar’ by Django Reinhardt

Django Reinhardt occupies a unique place in the history of jazz as well as guitar-playing. The Belgian maestro was Europe’s first real jazz icon, and he was one of the prominent early players and composers for the instrument within the genre.

‘Swing Guitar’ is one of his standout works, and a great piece of music to engage with as a budding player. As its name suggests, the composition utilises a lot of swing, so if you’re keen to familiarise yourself with styles of music that utilise swung rhythms, then this is a perfect work to develop those skills with.

Reinhardt’s melody is written out in staff notation, but if you’re not used to that then you can fall back just as usefully on the chords. In jazz performance, instruments such as guitar and piano improvise chord voicings and rhythms using the harmonies written. Working through this progression will help you to hone those accompaniment techniques. 

8. ‘What’d I Say’ by Ray Charles

One of the most captivating figures in the history of music, Ray Charles engaged with a range of popular-music genres to break new stylistic ground at the turn of the 1960s.  For many, ‘What’d I Say’ is the song that, more so than any other, made Charles a pioneer.

Supposedly improvised during a live concert, ‘What’d I Say’ builds on the classic 12-bar blues progression that all rock guitarists have to master sooner or later. The easy guitar chords in this Faber Music arrangement are dominant sevenths, harmonies that set up a dissonance that needs to be resolved. These inject real forward motion into the music.

With only the chords outlined, you’re free to play them however you want. Have fun coming up with a creative strum pattern to accompany the call-and-response exchanges towards the end of the song, sung by Ray and his backing singers, the Raelettes.

9. ‘River’ by Joni Mitchell

‘River’ is one of the most acclaimed songs from Joni Mitchell’s intimate breakthrough album, Blue. Since its release in 1971, its popularity has continued to soar - in 2020 it was voted the third-greatest album of all time by Rolling Stone magazine.

The song is marked by evocative songwriting typical of Mitchell’s work. Her solo piano accompaniment is understated but it moves through harmonies adventurously, and it's these colourful harmonies that are charted by the chord diagrams in this Faber arrangement.

There are a fair few chords to learn, but by getting your head around them you’ll make serious progress on the road to being a rhythm guitarist. Or, if you hope to be the kind of musician that can accompany their singing with strumming, there are few better artists to look to for inspiration than Mitchell.

10. Minuet, Op. 44 No. 14 by Fernando Sor

Every person that makes the classical-guitar journey will encounter the name of Fernando Sor at some point. The Spaniard was one of the greatest guitar virtuosos of all time, who also composed some of the most famous works ever written for the instrument. 

Guided by his own experience as a performer, Sor composed many educational pieces, designed as practical lessons to help developing guitarists acquire the same skills he’d honed so perfectly. This minuet is one of these teaching compositions, a simple dance piece in triple time. 

Detailed fingering instructions will help you every step of the way as you work through this little work. Bars 8-15, which feature A♮ pedals underneath oscillating quavers, are particularly effective in facilitating independence in players’ fingers, and the ability to articulate several gestures simultaneously. 

Your next steps for guitar music


When you’ve worked your way through this list of easy guitar songs, you’ll have improved a great deal, and will be ready to take on some fresh challenges. 

This beginner guitar music playlist contains a range of easy guitar compositions - including the Fimbel mentioned above. If you want to pursue classical guitar, these works will be really useful for you.

If popular music is more your thing, everything between rock and reggae is on the app too. You'll find plenty of songs in these genres in this collection provided by ClearTabs. Some classical works also feature, by composers such as Isaac Albéniz and Francisco Tárrega.

Perhaps you feel like putting together your own guitar sheet music. If so, this guide to writing guitar sheet music will definitely be of interest to you.

Just keep discovering and keep practising. You might be a beginner guitarist now, but soon you’ll be the virtuoso player you always dreamed of being.

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