When you’re learning the guitar, it’s important to learn songs to apply your knowledge in a useful way. You might be surprised to find that some of the most famous rock songs are relatively easy to play.
In this article, we will cover some easy rock songs you can learn on the guitar. Whether you’re a beginner or an established guitarist, you’re sure to find some songs to beef up your repertoire.
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“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana
Nirvana’s songs are some of the most popular for beginners to learn. Aside from the fact that many of them absolutely rock, they are pretty simple.
Smells Like Teen Spirit is a great start if you’re getting into power chords. The leads in the song are fairly easy to get under your belt as well.
“Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin
Jimmy Page’s guitar antics are often highly revered by beginner guitarists. He is, after all, a master of all things related to guitar riffs.
However, Whole Lotta Love is pretty simple for the most part. You’ll get your exercise in palm muting with this one.
“Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas
This hit song by Kansas is an excellent choice to learn. It has loads of classic licks you’ve likely memorized in your time of hearing the song on the radio.
Carry On Wayward Son also has quite a bit of variety within its guitar parts. You’ll be covering single-note arpeggiations on the acoustic as well as rock riffs on the electric.
“Iron Man” by Black Sabbath
Iron Man features a riff that can be played primarily by using power chords. It also has some lead lines that are pretty fun, not to mention a fun bend behind the nut.
“My Sharona” by The Knack
The Knack’s My Sharona is a very recognizable song, and it’s easy to play (at least the rhythm guitar part). The main riff centers around a G played in an octave with a rhythm that is infectious.
“Brown Sugar” by The Rolling Stones
Brown Sugar is a pretty easy song to learn. Much of it can be played using 2 different chord shapes, one of which uses only 1 finger.
“Cat Scratch Fever” by Ted Nugent
This riff-rock song is a true relic from the 1970s. But, it still rocks as much as it did back then.
You’ll be utilizing primarily some 2-string power chords with this song. There are a few barre chords as well, but it should be easy to figure out.
“Walk This Way” by Aerosmith
Aerosmith’s Walk This Way is another excellent song to learn, as it’s relatively easy. It has an iconic song that is seriously very fun to play.
Give this one a whirl, you likely won’t regret it. If you can’t get the main riff out of your head, the trick is to play it more.
“You Really Got Me” by The Kinks
Looking for a classic song that’s based primarily around power chords? You Really Got Me is the song you need in your life.
The rhythm guitar part is seriously very easy to play. As far as the guitar solo goes…Ray Davies probably doesn’t even know what he played.
“All Right Now” by Free
Free’s All Right Now is a true 1970s power rock song through and through. This track still enjoys quite a bit of radio play.
You’ll be able to pick this up easily if you know your A and D chords. Make sure you get the strumming accents right at the tail of the guitar riff.
“Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix
You might be surprised to see Hendrix here. However, Purple Haze is a perfect entry into blending rhythm and lead guitar techniques.
You’re likely familiar with the song already, which makes learning it that much easier. Plus, you’ll become acquainted with the E7#9, otherwise known as the “Hendrix chord.”
“My Generation” by The Who
Pete Townshend was another guitarist who wasn’t the greatest technical player under the sun. However, he knew his role in the band and created music to suit it.
The Who’s My Generation is a classic example of how simplicity can get the job done. It’s an easy song, just make sure to tune down a step if you want to play with the recording.
“Thrill Is Gone” by B.B. King
This isn’t technically a “rock” song, but it can easily be made into a blues-rock song with attitude. Thrill Is Gone is a true classic and has become a staple amongst top-tier guitarists.
You can spend your time learning B.B.’s licks (and you should) but do learn the chord progression. Doing so will give you an excellent platform to play your own guitar leads.
“Sunshine Of Your Love” by Cream
Sunshine Of Your Love is one of the most famous songs from this supergroup of musicians. It’s also a prime choice for beginners looking to learn more intermediate songs.
For the most part, this song contains simple melodic lines and a lot of power chords.
“Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
When you think of southern rock, there are likely a few songs that come to mind. Perhaps the most defining song from the genre is Sweet Home Alabama.
This song has iconic licks that are just as effective today as when they were first played. The licks have found themselves sampled into more recent music as well (looking at you, Kid Rock).
“Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Speaking of iconic Lynyrd Skynyrd songs, one simply cannot leave out Simple Man. This southern rock ballad is a true anthem of the genre.
Take your time to get the picking pattern correct as it’s a crucial aspect of the song. Perform this song live and you’ll have people singing the chorus with you.
“La Grange” by ZZ Top
ZZ Top has quite a few staple tracks in their song catalog. When it comes to ease of play, La Grange is a surefire winner.
The main riff that plays throughout the song is pretty easy but insanely effective. The guitar solos with the pinch harmonics are a bit trickier.
“Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple
Yes, you knew that the infamous 0-3-5 song had to be mentioned here. Regardless of the humor, Smoke On The Water is still a great rock song for a beginner.
With a little effort, you’ll be able to play your way through an iconic rock song. What could be better than that?
“Midnight Rider” by The Allman Brothers Band
Another excellent band that carries the banner of southern rock is The Allman Brothers Band. Their track Midnight Rider is very simple to play.
If you play with a few other guitarists, you can have a lot of fun with this one. Each guitar’s part is relatively easy to learn and sounds great in an ensemble.
“Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin
This track from the Led Zeppelin IV album is perfect if you’re getting into riff-based rock music. The riff lines are fairly simple but just tricky enough to push your limits.
You may have a bit of trouble counting this one out if you don’t have someone singing the lyrics. The time signatures are not exactly consistently cut and dry throughout the song.
“Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty
Tom Petty was a true master at creating hit songs using simple instrumentation. This won’t be the last time you see his name mentioned in this list.
Free Fallin’ is a very simple song based around the D-shape of an E chord. The song utilizes chord suspensions to create its iconic melody.
“Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
From the first chord strums, you immediately know when Bad Moon Rising is being played. Though this tune is extremely simple to play, it doesn’t make it any less fun.
You’ll be utilizing simple chords throughout the song. The lead is pretty easy as well.
“Born Under A Bad Sign” by Albert King
Here’s another classic blues track that’s become a staple for musicians to play. It’s been covered by countless guitarists including Eric Clapton (Cream) and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
The main riff is downright infectious. The chords underneath are C# minor, G#7, and F#7.
“Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty
Tom Petty’s Won’t Back Down is another excellent example of how simplicity can be super effective. Any beginner can learn this without any issues.
To get the song to sound right, be sure to palm mute your playing. This will give your guitar that punch that is heard in the song.
“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones
The 1960s saw The Rolling Stones have many chart-topping hits. This track is ultra-famous, especially with the fuzzed-out lead guitar.
Any beginner will have an easy time with this song. You’ll need to know a few open chords. Otherwise, the lead is all played on one string.
“Lithium” by Nirvana
Another excellent track for beginners who love Nirvana is Lithium. This disjointed guitar track is very appealing to the ear with its semi-pop sensibility.
For the most part, Lithium is played primarily using simple power chords. Just make sure to really crank the distortion on during the chorus.
“Gimme Three Steps” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Skynyrd’s Gimme Three Steps is another excellent rock song for a beginner to learn. The song features an iconic riff that is the epitome of the southern rock genre.
Learning the main riff is relatively easy. Playing the song 100% correctly is a feat in itself but is likely manageable for an intermediate guitarist.
“Basket Case” by Green Day
Green Day’s album Dookie is an absolute punk rock masterpiece. Anyone who was at the right age in the 1990s is likely familiar with many of the album’s songs.
One of the standout tracks from the album is Basket Case. This song is an easy one to master if you’re capable of playing power chords.
“Hey Joe” by Jimi Hendrix
Hendrix’s version of Hey Joe is an iconic rendition. It serves as a great example of how he can make an established song his own.
Again, you might be surprised to see this here, considering some of the leads might be difficult. However, the underlying chordal foundation is extremely simple.
“Heart Of Gold” by Neil Young
This might be considered a soft rock song compared to others on this list. While that may be true, it’s still an excellent rock song that is very easy to play. It primarily consists of basic open chords.
Neil Young is one of those artists that seems to transcend musical genres. Heart Of Gold will forever be one of the great rock classics.
“Learning To Fly” by Tom Petty
More Tom Petty? You bet! After all, you were warned plenty of time in advance.
Learning To Fly is perfect for beginners to learn. This track is played with basic open chords that are in the wheelhouse of commonly known chords.
“Dumb” by Nirvana
Nirvana’s song Dumb is a hauntingly beautiful song. Maybe it’s the vocal delivery, or perhaps it's the cello that accompanies the song.
Either way, Dumb is another incredibly easy song for beginners to learn. Check out the MTV Unplugged version for extra inspiration.
“What I Got” by Sublime
Here’s another song that might not fit the “traditional” rock schema. This song might fit more in line with ska/dub/rock. Nevertheless, it’s an incredibly easy song to play.
Be sure to get the picking pattern right on this one. It’ll pay off dividends as it will sound true to the recording. Anyone that knows this one will be sure to sing along.
“Crossroads” by Cream
Crossroads is another example of how a blues song can easily turn into a rock song. Cream’s version of this Robert Johnson classic is massively famous. It is perhaps even more famous than the original.
The main riff of this song is pretty easy to play. If you can’t play Clapton’s leads, try looping the foundation and play your own.
“Spirit In The Sky” by Norman Greenbaum
Norman Greenbaum might be a one-hit-wonder, but Spirit In The Sky is still a very awesome song. Let’s be real here, that overdriven fuzz tone on the guitar is downright nasty.
There are a few different guitars playing simultaneously, but you might be able to incorporate a few into one guitar.
“Rock And Roll All Nite” by KISS
Regardless of how you personally feel about KISS, there is no denying how anthemic this song is. Anybody who is even remotely familiar with rock music knows the chorus to this song.
You can add this anthem into your bag of songs in a matter of minutes. Its simplicity lends itself to being that much more of an effective song.
“About A Girl” by Nirvana
Nirvana’s song About A Girl is another incredibly simple, yet effective, rock song. You’ll be able to play this using a combination of simple open chords and power chords.
The solo in this song is also easy enough for a beginner who has never played a solo before.
“Brain Stew” by Green Day
Brain Stew is another classic punk song by Green Day. This song is incredibly simple to play, using power chords throughout.
The most challenging aspect of this song might be trying to get the distorted harmonics to come across. Either way, you’re bound to have a lot of fun with this one.
“(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” by Otis Redding
This track by Otis Redding might not be considered a rock song. However, it’s been covered by many rock artists, which serves as a testament to its relevance.
You’ve no doubt heard this song before. Simple barre chords are going to be your friend while playing this easy song.
“Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin
Even if you’re not familiar with Led Zeppelin’s catalog, you’re likely familiar with this song. It’s been featured in many commercials and films since its release in 1970.
Immigrant Song is pretty easy to play, but it can be a little tricky. The hardest part is the stretch between the low E string and the D string. The repetition can get tiring as well.
“Blister In The Sun” by Violent Femmes
Blister In The Sun is a very unique song. It has stylings of punk mixed with a bit of backcountry bluegrass.
The most iconic part of this song is by far the guitar line that plays through the song. Be sure to play it well slowly so you can play it up to speed.
“Down By The River” by Neil Young
Here’s another Neil Young track, except this one has more of a full-out rock flavor. It’s a pretty simple song, though there is a lot you can do with it.
For instance, you can take a page out of Neil’s book and play a 15-minute guitar solo. Either way, this song is as great today as it was when it was released.
“Sample In A Jar” by Phish
Did someone say 15-minute guitar solo? It’s only fitting to mention Phish, the masters of musical improvisation.
Not familiar? They have a large following similar to that of the Grateful Dead.
This is one of their easier songs to play and consists of a few chord-based sections. You’ll also have an opportunity for solos galore. Be sure to catch these guys on the road and you might come out with a tasty Sample of your own.
“Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar
Pat Benatar’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot will likely forever be a radio staple. It receives quite a bit of air time on rock stations in the U.S.
The rhythm guitar part of this song is very easy to play and only consists of simple power chords. If you want to play the solo, it’s going to take a little more work.
“Barracuda” by Heart
Barracuda is a seriously cool song. It has tons of attitude and comes across as the perfect rock song.
If you’ve never played with natural harmonics before, you’ll get your chance with this one.
“Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Here’s another classic CCR song that you’ll find is pretty easy. Its main riff can be played using one string.
If you’re a fan of this song, be sure to check out the original, performed by Gladys Knight & The Pips.
“Communication Breakdown” by Led Zeppelin
This early Zeppelin track is perfect to practice your palm-muting riffage. Your wrist might get a bit tired with this song.
Take your time learning the solo, or else you might have a communication breakdown of your own.
“Ohio” by CSNY
Ohio is the perfect homage to those who died during the 1970 protest at Kent State University. The song is as powerful today as it was when it was first released.
Be sure to channel your inner Neil Young with this track. He is the one who wrote this iconic track.
“Baba O’Reilly” by The Who
This epic track by The Who is super simple. If you know your power chords, you’ll be well on your way. The airy and atmospheric solo is also worth a try.
“One Step Closer” by Linkin Park
Here’s one for all of you Linkin Park fans. This song has an easy iconic riff plus some easy 1 and 2-finger chords.
“Come As You Are” by Nirvana
Even if you’re not a big Nirvana fan, it’s hard not to know this song. Its watery guitar riffs are signature to the grunge sound of the 1990s.
Come As You Are is another incredibly easy song for a beginner to play. Its famous riff and solo are perfect for a new guitarist.
“When I Come Around” by Green Day
This smash hit by Green Day is another fitting song for a beginner. Power chords will serve you well with this one.
Green Day songs are excellent for learning guitarists. When I Come Around has a very simple solo that is suitable for those who have never played one before.
“I Love Rock And Roll” by Joan Jett
Joan Jett’s jukebox classic is a true rock and roll anthem. Any guitarist will likely find this pretty easy to play.
Once you get the main riff down, take a shot at some of the leads. They have a blistery hot sound that is iconic to the genre.
“Zombie” by The Cranberries
The Cranberries smashed this one out of the park in 1994. Crank up your heaviest distortion and let this one rip!
Zombie uses power chord versions of open chords throughout the song. You’ll likely be familiar with many of the chords if you’ve learned your fundamentals.
“You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC
Take a spin with this classic AC/DC song and you’ll find that it mostly consists of simple chords. Even the solo is relatively easy to play. Make sure you get everyone in the crowd to sing along!
“Eye Of The Tiger” by Survivor
Need to pump up a crowd? Try playing Eye Of The Tiger and you’re sure to raise the energy.
This song’s intro would be a great platform to use a loop pedal with. You’ll be able to play both guitar parts effectively.
“Destroyer” by The Kinks
The Kinks have a very new-wave sound with their song Destroyer. Throughout the entire song, you’ll be actively employing power chords to your heart’s delight.
“Whiskey In The Jar” by Metallica
You probably didn’t expect to see a Metallica song in this list. The reality is that this song is very easy to play. Both the rhythm and lead guitar parts are suitable for beginner-to-intermediate guitarists.
“Paranoid” by Black Sabbath
Paranoid is a song that every guitarist interested in rock music should learn. It’s a true classic to the genre.
This song consists of quite a bit of palm-muted power chords. Believe it or not, the leads are pretty palatable for a beginner guitarist to be able to get down.
Easy Rock Songs To Play On Guitar, Final Thoughts
By the time you learn all of these songs, you’ll have earned the title of a disciple of rock music. You’ll also be equipped with foundational skills and an understanding of what makes these songs so great.
The biggest key lies in the simplicity of the composition. However, you shouldn’t let that stop you from learning and playing more complex music.
Side note, do you want to learn to play guitar songs the easy way? Learn how here – results are guaranteed!