Have you ever been stumped on what to play when someone asks you to play a song? We’ve all been there. Fortunately, there are many classic songs that are relatively easy to play.
Whether you are a beginner guitarist or someone that just wants to add more songs to their repertoire, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will cover a wide range of different songs that you can bust out at a moment’s notice.
“About A Girl” by Nirvana
The opening track on Nirvana’s Unplugged album is a powerful start to an emotional performance from the band. About A Girl might not be the most recognizable song, but if you’re a Nirvana fan, you probably know this song.
I have to admit that this is one of the very first songs I ever learned on the guitar. The song only has a few chords to worry about, which makes it great for a beginner. For the most part, the song revolves around an E minor and G chord progression, with some barre chords to round out the song.
“Use Me” by Bill Withers
Use Me is a classic song that is instantly recognizable by its iconic riff that pushes the song along with Bill Withers’s soulful vocal delivery. If you’ve wanted to add a bit of funk to your repertoire, this song is low-hanging fruit.
The song centers around 2 chords, but the key to getting the song down is the rhythm.
“Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton
For those of you who are fans of country music, you’ve likely heard Chris Stapleton’s mega-hit song Tennessee Whiskey. I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of modern mainstream country music, but this song is so smooth and hits right in the feels.
The chords to this song are very easy to play, with the song revolving around 2 different chords. Get these down and you’ll be on your way to singing about intoxicating love.
“Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton
A nice pairing with the aforementioned song is Eric Clapton’s famous track Wonderful Tonight. Unless you live under a rock, you are probably familiar with this song.
The song is built from very common chord progressions, making the song easy to learn, especially if you know similarly chorded songs. A big plus with this song is that the guitar leads are very easy to play, making the song a great gateway to playing both rhythm and lead guitar.
“Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen
Louie Louie is a classic song with somewhat unintelligible lyrics and a catchy chord progression. In fact, the song has very little variation to the progression throughout the entirety of the track.
Get this 4-chord track under your belt and you have the larger task of trying to comprehend what the actual lyrics are. In all honesty, that might be more difficult than playing the actual song.
“Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty
This track from Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever album is instantly recognizable, as it starts out with the simple strumming of the song’s chord progression. In fact, the song relies on this chord progression repeating the entire time, so once you get it down, you have pretty much learned the entire song.
To play Free Fallin’, you will need to put a capo on the 3rd fret. The song opens with a standard D-shaped open chord, transitions to the open G-shaped chord, back to the D shape, and ends on an A with a suspended 4th.
“A Horse With No Name” by America
If you want an example of a song that can be great while only having 2 chords to worry about, check out America’s A Horse With No Name. This track shows how a song can be built with a simple foundation, but the extra instrumentation (whether it be harmonized vocals, percussion, etc.) really fill the song out.
As mentioned, the song is comprised of 2 chords, which are E minor and D6/add9/F#. Don’t worry, the second chord is much easier to play than what the name implies.
“Stand By Me” by Ben E. King
You most likely have heard Ben E. King’s classic song Stand By Me. It features an iconic bass line that plays through the entire song, which outlines the chord progression played on the guitar.
This is one of my favorite songs to play as it only contains 4 different chords. The real trick to pulling off this song is being able to incorporate the bass line into your playing. To get it down, it’s best to start slowly with the chords only. You will be naturally inclined to play the bass line out of familiarity.
“Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley & The Wailers
If you’re a reggae lover, Bob Marley’s classic song Three Little Birds is a very simple song to play. The song revolves around 3 different chords: A, D, and E.
The real trick to getting the feel of the song down is to emulate the reggae-style guitar playing, which emphasizes the upstroke on the offbeat. Rhythmically subdividing the song into “1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and”, the upstroke would play on the “and” of the beat.
“Yellow Submarine” by The Beatles
This iconic song by The Beatles is easy to play, with the song consisting of verses of a variating 4-chord progression, and a 2-chord chorus. Each verse has a progression that goes: G, D, C, G, E minor, A minor, C, D. The chorus is nothing but G and D.
“Helpless” by Neil Young
Neil Young is a master at writing powerful simple songs. Helpless, which appears on CSNY’s album Deja Vu is an easy song to learn.
The song consists of the chords D, A, and G. The rhythm is fairly straightforward as well, with the lyrics primarily being the main focus of the song.
“Hey Joe” by Jimi Hendrix
If you are a Hendrix fan, you might be pleased to know that the song Hey Joe is relatively easy to play. The entire song has a chord progression of C, G, D, A, and E.
Of course, nailing the guitar solo in the song is a little bit of a different story. At the very least, by knowing how to play the song, you can convince Joe to put his gun away.
“Sweet Jane” by The Velvet Underground/Lou Reed
Lou Reed is known for being a musical poet of sorts and the track Sweet Jane is a beloved song. The song is held in the hearts of many people waiting to be surprised with the opportunity to sing the chorus of the song.
Sweet Jane is a relatively easy song to play. For the most part, it is played with barre chords, but the song can be reduced to just power chords. The real trick is keeping in time while also singing the lyrics properly.
“Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
This famous song can be learned in a short time as it is simple and repetitive. Structurally, the song has 2 different chord progressions: one for the verses, and the other for the choruses.
The only chords you need to know for this song are D, A, and G. The rhythm can be tricky, but if you’ve heard the song enough, it is likely to become second nature.
“Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison
Brown Eyed Girl is a song that many beginners learn because the song really only consists of the chord progression: G, C, G, D. This song is a very familiar song to most, so it is pretty easy to pick up in a short amount of time.
The song does have a little bit of a lead intro that is a signature to the song. I encourage you to learn it, as it is very easy to play and can be a nice change of pace from just playing chords.
“Give Peace A Chance” by John Lennon & Yoko Ono
John Lennon was known primarily as a lyricist, and as such, many of his songs are simple templates that allow his lyrics to shine. Give Peace A Chance is a great example of this.
The song really only consists of 2 different chords: D and A. The real trick is being able to sing all of the words in a concise manner.
“Wild Thing” by The Troggs
Wild Thing is perhaps one of the most famous songs to emerge from the 1960s, finding a permanent home within pop culture. This song, like many others on this list, features a predominant 4-chord progression.
The only chords you need to know are A, D, E and G. Take care to get the accuracy right during the verses, which feature a short phrase alternating quickly between G and A.
“Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers
This is another classic song by Bill Withers and has been covered countless times by many artists. The song features a simple progression that can be played in a few different ways with different chord voicings.
For the most part, the only chords you need to know for this song are A minor, E minor, G, and D minor.
“The Joker” by Steve Miller Band
The Joker is yet another song that features an iconic bass line upon which the entire song is built. Fortunately, this song is easy to learn, with only a few chords necessary to play.
To play The Joker, you will need to know how to play G, C, D, and D7. The real trick is being able to play the bass line in between the chords.
“Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young
Teach Your Children was a smash hit from CSNY’s Deja Vu album. The track actually features Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia on the lap steel guitar.
To play this song, you only need to know the chords D, G, A, Asus4, and B minor. Find some friends to sing harmony with you and you’ll have people cheering in no time.
“Friend Of The Devil” by The Grateful Dead
Speaking of Jerry Garcia, the song Friend Of The Devil is a massively fun tune that many people in an audience know and love to hear. The intro is a little tricky, as it has a descending line that gives the song its signature sound.
However, for the most part, Friend Of The Devil consists of the simple chords G, C, D, and A minor.
“Imagine” by John Lennon
Who hasn’t been moved by the lyrics of John Lennon’s song Imagine? While this song is played on a piano in the recording, it can be easily adapted to the guitar.
It can get a little tricky trying to add all of the intricate little changes from the song while playing, so take your time and start out slow. In no time, you’ll be able to play and sing this universal hymn.
“All Shook Up” by Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley had quite a few hits over his career, and All Shook Up is a swinging, upbeat track that is fun to play. To get started, you will need to have a capo, which will be placed on the 1st fret.
The only chords you really need to worry about are A, D, and E. Getting the rhythm right and being able to belt out those Presley-style vocals are going to be key to making this fun for others to hear.
“Down On The Corner” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Down On The Corner is another massively famous song by CCR, which is instantly recognizable by its doubled bass and guitar line that plays through the song. Overall, this song is really easy to play and consists of only 3 different chords.
I encourage you to take the time to learn the main riff that plays through the song. It’s a great exercise based on arpeggios, and can really make the song fun if you happen to play it with another guitarist.
“Love Me Do” by The Beatles
If you’re looking for a simple Beatles song to add to your repertoire, Love Me Do is pretty straightforward. Most of the song revolves around G and C, with the bridge variating a bit with a D chord.
“Knocking On Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is another masterful songwriter whose songs are often fairly simple to accommodate his powerful lyrics. Knocking On Heaven’s Door is a popular song of his, having been covered countless times by other artists in the past.
This song is perfect for beginners as it only consists of 4 different open chords: G, D, A minor, and C.
“Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty
This massively famous song only features 4 different chords: E minor, D, G, and C. As the song is somewhat repetitive, there are only 2 different chord progressions within the song (consisting of the aforementioned chords).
Get this down and show the world that you won’t back down from progressing on the guitar.
“Can’t You See” by The Marshall Tucker Band
Can’t You See is an iconic track featuring some superb flute and guitar lines throughout the song, thus making it a fertile ground for jamming with friends. In fact, the chorus is widely known by many people, which often prompts a singalong.
The picking pattern in the intro can be a little tricky to nail if you want to play it right, but otherwise, the song is built from very simple chord patterns based around G and D (with some Dsus2 and Dsus4 thrown in for good measure).
“Twist And Shout” by The Beatles
Twist And Shout is one of the first Beatles songs that I remember hearing as a child. Anyone who has seen the Ed Sullivan performance likely remembers how fanatical the crowd was during the song.
This is a fairly simple song to play, although it does have some signature passing musical lines that help give the song its familiar sound. Fortunately, a beginner can likely play this with a little bit of practice, which can prompt a room to break out in a song and dance.
“Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent
If you’re looking to learn a song that breaks away from the songs built from open chord-based progressions, Stranglehold is an easy choice. The song is based around a core riff and bass line that repeat throughout the song.
Stranglehold might be repetitive, but it’s another song that is primed for jamming. If you have a loop pedal, it might be good fun to learn the foundation of this song so you can practice your leads.
“Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd’s musical catalog is full of hit songs, and this track is one that millions of people connect with on a heartfelt basis. The song is recorded acoustically and features open chords that are easy for any beginner to wrap their fingers around.
If you’re looking for a song that connects with the crowd, write this song on your setlist.
“Cocaine” by Eric Clapton
If you’re just starting to learn barre chords, the song Cocaine is a very easy song to play. The entire song can be played with the 5th-string rooted barre chord.
This is a great song if you are also getting into playing lead guitar. Because you’ve likely heard this song before, it makes it easy to record a loop with a loop pedal and work on your blues phrasing.
“Somebody To Love” by Jefferson Airplane
Somebody To Love was another massively famous song that emerged from the late 1960s, helping to personify the psychedelic music movement that came out of the San Francisco Bay area.
If you’re a beginner, you’re likely going to have an easier time with this song by placing a capo on the 2nd fret. With this method, the only chord shapes you need to know are E minor, A, D, and G.
“Stir It Up” by Bob Marley & The Wailers
Stir It Up is another Bob Marley track that is extremely popular and well known. For those of you that love this song, you’re in luck, because the song is extremely easy to play.
The song consists of the chords A, D, and E. You can play it with open chords, but to get the classic sound, try playing the song using barre chords with a reggae-picking pattern, with the accent on the offbeat.
“Day Tripper” by The Beatles
If you’re at all familiar with classic music from the 1960s, you’ve no doubt heard the song Day Tripper. While the song is not necessarily built around a chord progression per se, it has an iconic riff that is fairly easy to play.
Aside from Day Tripper’s signature riff, the song utilizes some barre chords. These can be easily played if you’ve just started learning how to play barre chords. In fact, this is one of the first songs I learned when bridging the gap between playing strictly chord-based songs and moving to songs that incorporated both chords and melodic passages.
“Cinnamon Girl” by Neil Young
If you thought you saw the last of Neil Young on this list, think again. Cinnamon Girl is a classic track, supposedly written during a fever dream.
This is another song that utilizes both open chords and barre chords. The intro of the song features a riff that is based around the C and D barre chords (of the 5th-string root variety). Play this riff and people who know this song will be immediately drawn in.
“Riptide” by Vance Joy
Vance Joy is a more modern songwriter (compared to the majority of the artists on this list), and the song Riptide is a perfect track for a beginner looking for an open chord-based song.
For the most part, the only chords you need to know to play this song are A minor, G, and C. The strumming pattern is relatively straightforward.
“Let It Be” by The Beatles
More Beatles? You bet. Let It Be is a powerful song that everyone (who loves the song) should know how to play. While predominantly played on the piano, the song fits quite well on the guitar.
This song is probably best for an intermediate-level player or a beginner who has learned quite a few songs, as there can be some tricky spots that emulate the organ line. However, getting this song under your belt is a massive feat for a beginner.
“Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac
Whether you have been long familiar with Fleetwood Mac’s music, or have only recently discovered them, you likely know how perfect of an album Rumors is. The song Dreams is but one of the many signature songs on the album (seriously, every song could be a single).
If you have ever wanted to learn this song, you’re in luck, because it is extremely easy. Feel free to channel your inner Stevie Nicks.
“No Woman No Cry” by Bob Marley & The Wailers
No Woman No Cry is another very popular Bob Marley song that has enjoyed many different cover renditions by other artists in the past. The song is very simple, consisting of the chords C, G, A minor, and F.
“For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield
This is another iconic song to emerge from the 1960s and consists of the chords E, A, D, C, and G. Give the song a few listens, and you’ll find that what is happening here is pretty clear.
“Working Class Hero” by John Lennon
Perhaps one of my personal favorite tracks from the 2004 posthumous John Lennon Acoustic album is Working Class Hero. Anyone who is stuck in the 9-5 grind can likely relate to this song.
This song is an easy beginner song, with chords consisting of A minor, G, and D.
“Beverly Hills” by Weezer
For the beginner who is working on barre chords/power chords, the song Beverly Hills is a great song to use them. This song is easy, with the only chords being F, B flat, C, and E.
“I Wanna Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles
The last Beatles track included on this list is yet another classic. Let’s be honest, what Beatles song isn’t a classic?
I Wanna Hold Your Hand is another song that is ideal for a beginner, with the only chords you need to know beforehand including C, D, G, E minor, B7, and D minor 7.
“Cortez The Killer” by Neil Young
Another fine example of how Neil Young can make a great song out of something simple is the song Cortez The Killer. Many renditions of this song have been recorded in the past (one of my favorites is by Built To Spill).
The chords consist of only E minor, D, and A minor 7. This track is another one to pull out for heavy guitar solo action.
“Karma Police” by Radiohead
Radiohead has quite a few complex songs in their catalog but fortunately, the song Karma Police is easy enough for even a beginner to learn. There are a number of different chord changes in this song, so do be patient with yourself as you play through it the first few times.
“House Of The Rising Sun” by The Animals
Another classic song from the 1960s is House Of The Rising Sun, by the Eric Burdon fronted band The Animals. You’ve probably heard this song before, and if you’ve ever wished to play it, the chords are fairly easy.
The progression is fairly long, consisting of the chords A minor, C, D, F, and E. The trickiest part of the song is playing the chords in an arpeggiated fashion, which takes some practice to nail down.
“Leaving On A Jet Plane” by John Denver
You’ve likely heard a rendition of this famous John Denver track. Leaving On A Jet Plane is an easy song for any beginner to play as it consists of all open chords.
The chords you’ll need to know to play this song include C, G, A minor, and D7.
“Only Love Can Break Your Heart” by Neil Young
This track from Neil Young’s album Harvest is a very easy song for the beginner that knows their open chords along with a few different variations of the common cowboy chords.
Take the time to listen to the track to really get the inflections down so you can understand when to play the 7th chords inherent in the song (such as G7).
“Light My Fire” by The Doors
If you long to channel your inner Jim Morrison, then you’re in a fortunate position because Light My Fire is fairly easy to play. This song is ideal for the beginner who is learning minor-shaped barre chords as there is one in the song.
For the most part, the song is based around the chords A minor 7, F# minor 7, G, A, D, B, and E.
“Fifteen” by Taylor Swift
Whether you’re an avid Taylor Swift fan or just someone that wants more crowd-pleasing songs in their repertoire, Fifteen is a pretty simple song that most beginners can learn without any issues. The song is based primarily around open chords without too much moving around required.
“Creep” by Radiohead
For the beginner learning how to play barre chords, Creep is a great song to apply your knowledge. The song only really has 4 different chords (G, B, C, C minor) throughout, so once you get the progression down, you’re golden.
“Let Her Cry” by Hootie And The Blowfish
Those who lived through the 1990s got to experience the heyday of Hootie And The Blowfish. Let Her Cry is a standout track that has stood the test of time, and is perfect for a beginner.
The chords involved are basic chords, consisting of G, D, C, and E minor.
“Hey Julie” by Fountains Of Wayne
Hey Julie is another fantastic song for beginners, especially if you’re just starting to learn how to incorporate open chords and barre chords into your playing. Structurally, the song is easy to play.
The chords you’ll encounter with this song include G, C, D, E minor, and B minor.
“Harvest Moon” by Neil Young
Rounding out this list of easy songs is yet another Neil Young song. However, this one is unique in that it features a drop-D tuning (low E tuned one step lower). The song has an iconic intro that is very easy to play, with the verse and chorus section being pretty straightforward.
Easy Guitar Songs For Beginners, Final Thoughts
If you take the time to learn these songs, you’ll have gone through an immense amount of practice learning how the most iconic songs often have the simplest song structures. If you learn every single song on this list and practice to perfection, you’ll have more than enough songs in your repertoire to play 3-hour gigs on a regular basis.
As with anything that you are learning, be sure to start out slowly. Be patient, and most importantly, be kind to yourself.
Side note, do you want to learn to play guitar songs the easy way? Learn how here – results are guaranteed!