Looking for some great beginner guitar songs? Here are First Frets’ top 5 beginner guitar songs you can play right now!

When you start taking guitar lessons or attempt to teach yourself via online lessons or chord sheets, you experience a mix of failure and success, pain and pleasure. When do you experience your first real payoff? The first time you can perform a song you’ve always wanted to play. Going from introductory chords to surprising your friends with a well-played song or two is a shorter distance than you may think. That is because many popular songs have simple chord progressions repeated throughout. Here are five tried-and-true beginner guitar songs you can learn relatively quickly.

Get Started With These Beginner Guitar Songs

#5

“Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton

“Wonderful Tonight” is a tender ballad by Eric Clapton, who in his heyday was better known for his scorchers “Cocaine” and “Layla.” Nonetheless, this memorable, time-tested song is excellent for beginners. Because the song is in the key of G and features basic, introductory chords, you can learn it quickly. It has a nice, relaxed tempo so you don’t have to rush. Neither your strumming hand nor your fretting hand have to work hard or do anything complex, so you can develop both sides of your playing. Also, when you eventually want to learn single-note melodies, this song will come in handy. Overall, “Wonderful Tonight” is a great song with an easy rhythm, and you can impress your friends with it even if you’re in the beginning stages of guitar lessons.

MAIN CHORD PROGRESSION: G–D/F#–C–D

 

#4

“Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple

In a stark contrast to “Wonderful Tonight,” there is nothing subdued about “Smoke on the Water.” One advantage to learning this song is that you get to play power chords early. There is not a lot of complexity to power chords; you’re really just playing two notes. Power chords are awesome because you can use the same shape anywhere on the fretboard. The main riff in “Smoke on the Water” puts the power chord shape in just three locations. This hard rock classic moves quickly, but it’s easy enough to master.

MAIN CHORD PROGRESSION: G5–Bb5–C5 (C#5 to C5)

 

#3

“More Than a Feeling” by Boston

You may not be able to match Boston lead singer Brad Delp’s vocal range on the band’s iconic hit, but you can play the song’s main progressions. The verse is simply D-Cadd9-G, and the chorus is G-C-Em-G. You can also simplify the rhythm (try all downstrokes, with accents on 2 & 4) so you can get it up and running in no time. Plus, once you get comfortable with power chords, you can use them as well to play something that sounds closer to the original.

MAIN CHORD PROGRESSION: G–C–EM–D

 

#2

“Lean on Me” by Bill Withers

Once you learn the most common chords in the key of C, “Lean on Me” should come easily. This time-tested classic feels great the whole way through: the rhythm is relaxed, but has a forward push to keep it from feeling sluggish. (You change from one chord to the next on the eighth-note before the following measure, giving the rhythm some liveliness.) Plus, the bridge to the song has a great pentatonic-based riff that’s easy and fun to play.

MAIN CHORD PROGRESSION: C–F–C–Am–G

 

#1

“Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton

One of Clapton’s best known songs, perhaps because it was written from tragic circumstances, “Tears in Heaven” is in the key of A. When Clapton plays it, he sometimes uses some tricky hand shapes that are probably beyond the average beginner. (In some of his performances of this song, Clapton plays the bass notes of some chords with his thumb. Not uncommon, but also outside the reach of the average beginner.) However, once you learn chords in the key of A, you can play “Tears in Heaven” just as effectively. The tempo is laid back so you don’t have to rush, and you can convey the feel of the tune easily. A strumming pattern with accents on the two and four works well for this song, although you can experiment with adding some rhythmic spice and come closer to the bona fide rhythm once you can play the chords comfortably.

MAIN CHORD PROGRESSION: A–E/G#–F#m–D–A–E

So there you have it, five beginner guitar songs that are a joy to play, and they can also add new elements–power chords, alternative strum patterns, melodic riffs–into your budding guitar skills. Enjoy!

Other recommended songs:

  • “With or Without You” by U2
  • “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals
  • “Back in Black” by AC/DC
  • “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by The Beatles
  • “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Have a song you want to learn? One that you think would be good for beginners? Share it with us in the comments below or send us a message on our website chat!

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