Believe it or not, many songs can be played on the guitar using one string. Beginners often start out using this method because it allows them to focus on one string at a time.
If you find yourself looking for ideas for songs that can be played on 1 string, you’re in luck. The following is a list of different melodies and riffs of famous songs that you will have no problems playing.
“Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen
Queen has quite a few songs in their catalog that are instantly recognizable. The song Another One Bites The Dust has a signature bass line that can be easily recreated on the guitar.
This is a pretty easy riff to nail down. It focuses primarily on the low E string with a few notes. In fact, it is so simple that even the newest beginner is likely to have an easy time with it.
You’ll soon be channeling your inner Freddie Mercury with this one. No one can really blame you, it is a pretty catchy song.
“Peter Gunn Theme” by Henry Mancini
This hit theme song from the 1960’s TV show Peter Gunn is a world-famous song. Not familiar with the show? You’ve probably heard it played by the Blues Brothers (of John Belushi and Dan Akyroyd fame).
The Peter Gunn Theme is played on the low E string, emulating the bass line of the song. Find a horn section to play with, and you’ll have your neighbors in the mood to party.
This track has a feel similar to many spy-film soundtracks of its era. You’ll encounter a few more examples of these later in this list.
“Summer Nights” from Grease
The musical Grease has quite the number of songs that have become radio hits over the years. Summer Nights is one of the most easily recognizable, featuring an iconic duet between the two main characters.
This rendition is another emulation of the bass line that underlies most of the song. It has a 50’s rock ’n’ roll vibe that is inherent to many other songs of its era. This can be a fun riff if you have someone to sing the duet part with.
“Thunderstruck” by AC/DC
Thunderstruck has one of the most defining guitar riffs in the entire classic rock catalog. Believe it or not, this intro riff is played with 1 string on the guitar. It also happens to be a staple for learning guitarists to add to their repertoire.
With some practice, you’ll easily be able to dial this riff in. It features a series of hammer-ons and pull-offs, which gives the riff its unique sound. Turn up the distortion and soon your neighbors will be thunderstruck.
“My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion
If you were alive in 1997, you probably remember how much of a cultural phenomenon the film Titanic became. With a star-studded cast, a decent script, and a memorable soundtrack, the film won the hearts of millions.
My Heart Will Go On was one of the staple songs of that soundtrack. Many people don’t have Celine Dion’s vocal range. Fortunately, you can play the melody of the song on 1 string.
Once you learn this melody, you can successfully recreate the famous scene from the bow of any ship. Sometimes it’s all about having the right musical accompaniment.
“Iron Man” by Black Sabbath
This track from Black Sabbath’s 1970 smash-hit album Paranoid is another one of the most famous rock songs ever. If you’ve ever listened to classic rock, you’ve no doubt heard Iron Man.
The song features a very heavy riff (for 1970), hitting like a 2-ton brick when it touches your ears. You can channel your inner Tony Iommi quite easily as the riff can be easily played on 1 string. It’s a bit of a condensed version of the actual recording, but it’s a great starting point for a beginner.
Tab: Ultimate Guitar.com
“Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple
Smoke On The Water contains a riff that is often the very first thing that beginner guitarists learn. In fact, the song has become the basis for the famous internet joke (0-3-5) amongst guitarists. If you’ve ever wondered where that comes from, you’re welcome.
Regardless of its joke basis, Smoke On The Water’s riff is still a great thing for beginners to learn. You can learn this riff in a variety of different ways, including power chords and triads.
Perhaps the easiest way to learn the riff is by using the low E string only. Get this one under your belt and join the club of millions of guitarists. You could say that learning this will give you a free pass to use the joke yourself.
“Running Down A Dream” by Tom Petty
Tom Petty has quite the catalog of radio hits that, when broken down, are fundamentally easy to play. His songs are a great starting point for any beginner looking to add easy songs to their repertoire.
Running Down A Dream is an excellent example of this. The song features a descending riff based on the low E string. If you choose to learn the rest of the song, it consists of basic chords that any beginner should know.
It might take a little practice getting the riff up to speed. However, once you do, you’ll be one step closer to running down your dream of becoming a great guitarist.
“Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes
Seven Nation Army is another staple in the common beginner’s repertoire and for good reason. Who can deny the effectiveness of this simple and infectious riff? Jack White and his then-wife Meg hit a grand slam when they released this in 2003.
The first half of the main riff focuses on the A string, which takes place through the majority of the song. The rest of the riff can easily be played with the low E string only.
Why is Seven Nation Army often learned by beginners? Aside from its easy difficulty level, it provides a launchpad for playing power chords.
“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones have a large catalog of mega-hits from the 60s and 70s. Without a doubt, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction is one of their most recognizable songs.
This song is pretty easy to play, featuring a main repeating riff that is played on the A string. In fact, this riff is what makes this song so identifiable. It’s so easy that you can certainly gain a bit of satisfaction by playing it.
When you get this one dialed in, you are free to be both Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. However, it’s probably best to leave your Jagger dance moves behind closed doors.
“Happy Birthday” – Traditional Standard
The song that we sing for someone’s birthday is perhaps one of the most widely known songs in the world. It would be incredibly hard to find someone that hasn’t sung it at one time or another.
Have you ever wished you could play the Happy Birthday song? Well, now you can, as the melody can be played using one string. Of course, if you want to spice it up, it would be suggested to learn the chord version.
However, learning this melody is a great tool to have in your kit. If you ever play live performances, you’re bound to bust it out every once in a while. It’s a great way to make somebody’s day.
“Wild Thing” by The Troggs
One of the most famous songs to emerge from the 1960s is Wild Thing. This track has forever cemented itself within pop culture and has enjoyed decades of play. The song was even featured in the hit film Major League.
Wild Thing is an excellent song for beginners to learn. The main riff can be boiled down to one string (as seen in this example). However, when you graduate to playing chords, Wild Thing is an easy staple to add to your repertoire.
Even at its most rudimentary form, this melody will be recognized by anyone who has heard the song. Receiving acknowledgment and recognition for what you’re playing is a great feeling, no matter what your skill level is.
“Mary Had A Little Lamb” – Traditional Nursery Rhyme
Nursery rhymes tend to be some of the first songs that children memorize in life. Because of this, they are also some of the first melodies learned on a musical instrument. This isn’t something to be ashamed of.
Learning a well-known nursery rhyme such as this can start to give you a good understanding of the guitar. The melodies are often simple enough to figure out. Plus, it helps to bridge the connection between your brain and your instrument.
Translating what is happening musically in your brain to the instrument is often one of the hardest aspects of guitar. Learn this simple melody and you’ll be on your way to playing the Stevie Ray Vaughan version in no time.
“Hedwig’s Theme” by John Williams
Are you a massive Harry Potter fan? Well, you might be pleased to know that the theme song from Harry Potter can be easily played on 1 string.
This version focuses primarily on the B string of the guitar. The unique sound of this melody is a testament to the compositional skills of John Williams. He was also responsible for creating the iconic soundtrack to Star Wars, among many other famous films.
“Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin
Many beginner guitarists are drawn to the musical stylings of Led Zeppelin’s guitarist Jimmy Page. This is a guitarist who has seemed to have an endless supply of iconic riffs throughout his career.
The popular song Whole Lotta Love has an excellent riff that can be played on one string. Once you start playing on other strings, you’ll likely find it more convenient to include them.
“Misirlou” by Dick Dale
Dick Dale is one of the primary guitarists responsible for creating that signature surf-rock guitar sound. One of his most famous songs is Misirlou, which has been featured in many films, such as Pulp Fiction.
There have been historical accounts of Dick Dale shredding a pick into small bits while performing. This is due to his intense tremolo picking technique, which gives his songs that unique sound.
Misirlou takes advantage of this tremolo picking technique. The intro is played solely on the low E string. In fact, most of the song focuses primarily on 1 string at a time.
“Eye Of The Tiger” by Survivor
If you’re familiar with the film series Rocky, which features actor Sylvester Stallone, you’ve no doubt heard this song. Eye Of The Tiger is often featured in many sports-related productions. Some schools have even adopted it as their fight song.
You can play a part of Eye Of The Tiger fairly easily on the guitar using 1 string. This song is a great starting point for learning to utilize barre chords and palm muting.
“James Bond Theme” by Monty Norman
The original theme song to the James Bond films is perhaps one of the greatest spy-type songs ever written. This song embodies the cool aesthetic of these films better than most.
If you’ve ever wanted to play this classic, you can easily do so with 1 string. This version focuses primarily on the low E string.
“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” – Traditional Nursery Rhyme
Another excellent nursery rhyme melody to learn on the guitar is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. This melody is known across the world and is a great starting point to translating known melodies to the guitar.
You likely won’t have too many issues figuring this one out, as you’ll likely know the melody quite well.
“I Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
I Heard It Through The Grapevine has enjoyed many different renditions by various artists over the years. The Creedence Clearwater Revival version features a repeating riff that is played on 1 string of the guitar.
Once you’re able to play the riff, try and learn the chords. You’ll be able to play the song in no time, making your own version of it.
“Sunshine Of Your Love” by Cream
The famous Cream song Sunshine Of Your Love is a popular choice for beginners. It features a 1-string riff that is easily recognizable. This track is also a great starting point for learning to utilize barre chords.
You can learn this melody in a number of different ways. Perhaps the easiest way is to use the low E string. However, playing the song as originally written is quite easy as well.
“Pirates Of The Caribbean Theme” by Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer
Are you a massive fan of the Pirates Of The Caribbean film series? Well, you’re in luck, because the theme song can be easily played on 1 string of the guitar.
We can’t guarantee that Jack Sparrow will make an appearance. However, you’re free to engage in your own pirate shenanigans.
“Perfect” by Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran has become quite the famous musician in the pop music world. Many of his songs have enjoyed extreme success, placing him in the ranks amongst other artists such as Taylor Swift.
If you're an Ed Sheeran fan and have wanted to learn Perfect, the melody can be played on 1 string. This version focuses primarily on the G string.
“Faded” by Alan Walker
Alan Walker’s song Faded has a melody that is easy and fairly straightforward for any beginner to learn. This melody is played with the focus on the B string.
Be sure to listen to the original version of the song in order to get the timing down.
“Paint It Black” by The Rolling Stones
Another very famous track from The Rolling Stones catalog is the iconic Paint It Black. This song, while fairly simple, can be pretty complex for a beginner to sink their teeth into.
However, a good portion of the song can be played using the B string. When boiled down to this 1 string, you’ll still retain the song’s iconic melodic passage.
“Game Of Thrones Theme” by Ramin Djawadi
The TV series Game Of Thrones took the world by storm and has enjoyed millions of viewers. While many viewers absolutely love the Game Of Thrones storyline, it likely wouldn’t be the same without its music.
Fortunately, the Game Of Thrones theme can be played on the guitar quite easily using 1 string of the guitar. Once you learn the melody, you can pretty much play it on any string you wish.
“Mission Impossible Theme” by Lalo Schifrin
Another spy-related theme song? You bet. The theme song to Mission Impossible is one of the most easily recognizable songs due to its simple staccato style.
This is another song that is relatively easy to play and can be played on nearly any string. You’re sure to have fun with this one!
Top One String Guitar Songs, Final Thoughts
While it might seem silly, learning melodies on 1 guitar string can help you understand the intervals within a melody. This comes in handy when you start to learn how to play guitar solos (especially when improvising your own).
Learning melodies on 1 string is a great starting point for any beginner. When you build up a repertoire of melodies, you’re likely to bust them out later in your guitar career.
Side note, do you want to learn to play guitar songs the easy way? Learn how here – results are guaranteed!