The piano and the guitar are similar instruments in that they can be both rhythmic and melodic simultaneously. When combined in the context of a band, these 2 instruments can truly elevate a song to new heights.
All of the following songs are classic examples of the guitar and piano working together in a band format. These tracks make for excellent repertoire pieces for any band that has both a piano and guitar in the lineup.
Table of Contents
“Let It Be” by The Beatles
Let It Be is a famous, classic example of a song that features prominent piano and guitar parts. Most of the song actually consists of piano until the track’s iconic guitar solo kicks the track into overdrive.
This song will forever be a timeless cosmic hymn that will never go out of style. There’s a good chance that 100 years from now, this song will still be played regularly by music fans.
“These Eyes” by The Guess Who
The Guess Who has a number of tracks that incorporate the piano and the guitar in unique and inventive ways. These Eyes is a classic track that some people might remember from the movie, Superbad.
This song absolutely slaps, even if it is a bit of a joke in that 2007 Hollywood blockbuster comedy. The recording itself is quite complex with its orchestral instrumentation at its peak.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen
Speaking of movies, Wayne’s World is absolutely partially responsible for the shattering success of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. The film’s scene has inspired generations of fans to sing the song in a very similar way.
Bohemian Rhapsody is filled with the signature dramatic flair that Queen is known for. This should be a required repertoire piece for anybody playing cover songs and wanting crowd participation.
“John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” by Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan Stevens has illustrated over the years that he knows how to masterfully craft a song. His track, John Wayne Gacy, Jr., touches a sensitive area of feelings with its delicate nature.
Nothing overpowers anything else in this song. Rather, the piano, guitar, and vocals all work together to provide an impactful (yet soft) punch.
It’s songs like these that helped Sufjan Stevens to cement his status as an indie music legend.
“Open Arms” by Journey
When the piano and guitar are joined together, it’s more than likely going to be in a ballad format. One of the most legendary ballads ever written is Journey’s Open Arms.
Most of the song relies on the piano for its accompaniment, with the guitar coming in for accents and solos. However, the real star of the show here is the vocals, which soar above and beyond imagination.
“How To Fight Loneliness” by Wilco
How To Fight Loneliness is one track in Wilco’s massive song catalog that never gets old. The song has a smoky, downtempo feel that is more potent than what you might initially expect.
Subtle organ lines perfectly accentuate a lightly-played warm acoustic guitar for the backdrop to the song’s vocals. There’s even a heartfelt piano solo toward the end of the song that helps the song’s energy reach a peak.
“Layla” by Derek And The Dominoes
Layla might have one of the most iconic piano parts to ever have been recorded in modern music. It has a cinematic feel that has caused it to be included in countless films over the years.
What’s even better is that the famed piano section wasn’t initially planned to even be in the song. Nevertheless, we’re fortunate it exists as there is some unbelievable guitar work by Eric Clapton and Duane Allman.
“We Are The Champions” by Queen
Queen’s penchant for musical dramatics is on full display with their signature song, We Are The Champions. Sure, you probably know at least the chorus from being included in countless sports events over the years.
Take a closer listen and you’ll hear some genius piano work accompanied by Brian May’s guitar. Of course, it’s his guitar solo that really helps drive the nail of the song home in an unforgettable way.
“A Lack Of Color” by Death Cab For Cutie
Death Cab For Cutie has a number of songs that incorporate piano and guitar together in a tasteful manner. The song, A Lack Of Color, is a fine example of this, incorporating simple guitar lines with piano accompaniment.
This isn’t a famous Death Cab song by any means, but any hardcore fan will instantly recognize its sound. It’s also easy enough for guitar and piano beginners alike to be able to master.
“Money (That’s What I Want)” by The Beatles
The Beatles weren't the first to play Money (That’s What I Want), but they are one of the most famous. It’s almost an ironic song choice considering the stance on materialism some members took later in their careers.
Money (That’s What I Want) is definitely a product of early 1960 pop rock. The piano lays down its signature intro with the guitar joining in for basic rhythmic aspects.
“Green Onions” by Booker T. & The MG’s
The organ and piano are almost identical with the exception of the construction of the instrument. For this reason, Booker T. & The MG’s hit song, Green Onions must be mentioned.
This track has some classic organ melodies supplemented by tasteful guitar parts played by Steve Cropper. You’ll want your sunglasses for this because this track is the epitome of cool.
“The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys” by Traffic
Traffic is criminally underrated and overlooked among mainstream audiences who like classic rock. The band has almost everything a fan of modern music could want, including some deep-cut jams.
You’ll find that The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys is primed and ready to go for expansive improvisation. Piano and guitar work texturally in this context.
“Karma Police” by Radiohead
Radiohead is no stranger to incorporating just about any kind of instrument into their sound. The band has evolved to the point of seamlessly blending electronic elements with their complex analog textures.
Karma Police is a staple Radiohead track in the band’s catalog and one that features prominent guitar and piano. This song is also incredibly easy to play and is suitable for most beginners and intermediates.
“Hurt” by Johnny Cash
Some cover songs are better than the original and the same could be said about Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt. Upon its release, those who weren’t familiar with the song were surprised to discover it’s a Nine Inch Nails song.
Cash made this song his own, using the contemplative nature of his age to deliver a potent performance. With this song, the piano is actually the instrument that remains relatively simplistic in its accompaniment.
“I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” by Meat Loaf
There’s a good chance you’ve probably heard I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) at least once. This Meat Loaf ballad was probably the biggest success of the singer’s career and for good reason.
Piano and guitar combine forces here to provide a song that truly marks the sound of 1980s power ballads.
“November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses
Speaking of ballads with piano and guitar, mention must be made of the massively successful track, November Rain. This song showed a much softer side to Guns N’ Roses, who were often somewhat vulgar in some regards.
As you would expect to find in this time period, November Rain’s piano lines function as the main accompaniment. It’s the guitar parts that help to make this such a rock song despite being incredibly soft.
“Purple Rain” by Prince
Another ballad that will go down as one of the best of all time is Prince’s Purple Rain. This song is known worldwide, bolstered by Prince’s film of the same title.
True to ballad formulas, this has plenty of guitar solos to help keep things interesting and not so melodramatic. Anybody who has heard this will likely sing along to the unforgettable chorus.
“Waste” by Phish
Because of the nature of their lineup, Phish has an absolute boatload of material worthy of guitar and piano duets. In fact, 2 of the members thought the very same thing when they sat down for a performance of Waste.
Trey Anastasio and Page McConnell have an uncanny knack for working seamlessly together as one unit. This is what all musicians who play together should work toward.
“Old Love” by Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton’s Unplugged album is definitely one of the greatest releases of the famed MTV series. The album’s success was actually a surprise and helped Clapton’s career regain importance.
Old Love is a fantastic track with a moody guitar line accented by some amazing piano work. Don’t skip the piano solo on this song because it’s pure magic.
“One Angry Dwarf And 200 Solemn Faces” by Ben Folds Five
Ben Folds might be indie music’s version of Elton John, with an edge that’s perfect for modern audiences. Listen to One Angry Dwarf And 200 Solemn Faces and you’ll hear him absolutely slaying the keys with reckless abandon.
It might be hard to hear the guitar but it becomes more apparent toward the build near the end. Simple and minute guitar accents really do help to amplify the potency of this track.
“Transatlanticism” by Death Cab For Cutie
The title track of Death Cab For Cutie’s Transatlanticism is the perfect bookend to a powerhouse album. On this track, the piano plays the primary role in the song’s vocal accompaniment, giving it a distinct ballad feel.
The electric guitar is utilized more as a sort of lead guitar that provides repeating melodic passages for building intensity. By the end of this song, you’ll be longing for something you didn’t know you wanted or needed.
“Roscoe” by Midlake
Midlake is a group that was probably never on your radar, which is kind of a shame. In the early 2000s, Midlake’s album, The Trials Of Van Occupanther received critical acclaim with its folk-tinged indie rock sound.
Roscoe comes from this album and has an excellent electric piano accompanying some slightly distorted power chords. This is all the perfect accompaniment for some wonderful vocal harmonies.
“Romulus” by Sufjan Stevens
Romulus, from Sufjan Stevens’s Michigan album, utilizes the piano to highlight the track’s folk guitar influence. This entire song has a sort of lackadaisical feel that borders nostalgia with relation to its lyrics.
If you’ve ever driven through Romulus, it’s a guarantee that listening to this song will be a much smoother experience. You won’t have to worry about bottoming out your car while driving through an endless field of potholes.
“Hard To Be” by David Bazan
David Bazan’s debut solo album is an obvious departure from some of the material Pedro The Lion is known for. What isn’t gone is David’s penchant for calling things out as he sees them.
That’s precisely the attitude he takes with the album’s opening track, Hard To Be. This song has a signature piano line, complemented by a guitar, that will get stuck in your head.
“Life On Mars?” by David Bowie
David Bowie is no stranger to writing epic space-themed ballads but Life On Mars? is almost something different entirely. In a way, Bowie managed to capture Queen’s dramatics while still delivering his own signature flavors.
The combination of piano and guitar is especially potent here, with musical passages packed with cinematic elegance. Anyone playing this as a duo should ensure they can deliver the vocals in a way that matches Bowie’s energy.
“A Day In The Life” by The Beatles
Another fantastic selection from The Beatles songbook featuring both guitar and piano is A Day In The Life. For a song that was the product of combining 2 songs together, it remains incredibly impactful.
Both the piano and guitar combined help to portray the sense of existential crisis that is present in the lyrics. Of course, it’s the crescendoing orchestra that helps to spiral the song into an intense point of tension.
“Fire And Rain” by James Taylor
James Taylor’s Fire And Rain should go down as one of the greatest pop songs in modern music history. The guitar takes the front seat as James’s accompaniment, with the piano providing subtle accents.
When you hear this song for the first time, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll be listening to it again. The chorus is especially relevant, no matter the context or the time period of the current day.
“Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” by Looking Glass
Throughout the 1970s, music began to find a sense of smoothness that helped to define the era. Looking Glass might be a one-hit wonder, but that doesn’t make Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) any less enjoyable.
In fact, you’ll still find this fantastic track being played on regular frequent rotation on classic hits radio stations. This is soul and R&B-influenced 1970s pop-rock at one of its finest moments.
“Dancing In The Moonlight” by King Harvest
Speaking of one-hit wonders, King Harvest’s Dancing In The Moonlight is an especially memorable piano/guitar duet. There’s a good chance you can recite more than just the signature chorus from memory.
This song also provides an excellent opportunity to employ some country guitar techniques in a different genre. Intervallic double-stops and pedal-tone bends are used throughout.
“Ride Captain Ride” by Blues Image
Blues Image is another group that could be considered a one-hit wonder with their song, Ride Captain Ride. This song seems to continually build in energy, with each passing chorus another joyous occasion to be a part of.
The piano primarily plays subtle rhythmic accompaniment while acoustic and electric guitars supplement the mix. In a way, this is another instance where country guitar techniques have found themselves outside of country music.
Make no mistake about it, though, the guitar solo is full-on rock and roll. The guitar tone itself is searingly hot, primed for the biggest arena audience possible.
“No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature” by The Guess Who
Even casual classic rock listeners are familiar with The Guess Who’s No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature song suite. There’s plenty to like here, from memorable choruses to iconic and unforgettable musical passages, particularly with the guitar.
The second half of the suite is when the piano kicks in, providing a rolling texture to the song’s pulse. It cannot be overstated how effective the piano part is in this specific role.
Best Piano And Guitar Duet Songs, Final Thoughts
While both the piano and guitar are similar, these instruments are often played in different manners. This variance of approach is what often makes these 2 instruments so complementary to one another.
Whether you play guitar or piano, you would discover some massive benefits in learning the other instrument. Some of these songs might be an ideal starting point in progressing on that journey if you wish.
Side note, do you want to learn to play guitar songs the easy way? Learn how here – results are guaranteed!