Ultimately reaching the point of playing your first song or first batch of songs is really important for beginners. The biggest reason behind this is that it shows your tangible progress in applying the skills you have been working on to develop as a guitarist. This is rewarding and encouraging fuel for the next steps.
Well, the good news is that there are many fantastic songs that you can play with just 4 simple chords. The list consists mostly of open chords thus perfect for beginners.
The songs are picked from various genres to enrich your chord and strumming vocabulary and have fun while learning some new chords and rhythm patterns. It does not really matter if it is an easy song or a complex one, beginner or experienced; any player can entertain a crowd playing some of these songs on the list.
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Shape Of You – Ed Sheeran
The first list on the song is the dancehall infused pop song Shape Of You written by Ed Sheeran. The song hit number 1 on the lists in more than 30 countries and became the most-listened song of 2017.
The song is perfect for absolute beginners with its open chords and elementary strumming pattern. The chord transition is always the same with an Em, Am, C, D progression.
Since it is one of the most popular songs of recent years, it is a great choice to play for an audience. You can also sing along the lyrics and whistle the main melody of the song.
Radioactive – Imagine Dragons
Radioactive is the famous song of Imagine Dragons that became a massive hit worldwide back in 2012. The song was a huge success, becoming a vital aspect of popular culture, hitting number one on international lists and winning a Grammy Award.
It was used constantly in important events, popular commercials, and remixes of Dj sets. The song has a beginner-friendly acoustic version that is very fun to play with 4 easy chords, Am, C, D, and G. The strumming is conventional with steady down strums, ending with an up-stroke.
Significantly, the chorus is very entertaining to play and sing along with its nice melodic structure.
If you are liking this list so far you probably will like my other list 15 Famous & Easy Guitar Songs With 3 Chords For Beginners
Zombie – The Cranberries
Released in 1994, Zombie is the first single from the second album, No Need to Argue, by the Irish band The Cranberries. The song was created to protest the attack by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) in 1993 and became the biggest hit of the band.
The song is beginner-friendly with its four elementary chords Em, C, G, and F#m. However, f #m is a barre chord that can be difficult to play if you are not familiar with barre chords. In that case, you can try to play the easier versions of the chord without using the barring technique.
The song is entirely played with the same chord transition and has a traditional down-down-down-down-up strumming pattern. It is an entertaining song to play and good to practice the barring technique.
You Belong With Me – Taylor Swift
You Belong With Me is a country-pop song released in 2008 and performed by the American singer Taylor Swift. As Swift’s one of best-selling singles, the song received great feedback and was nominated for a Grammy in 2009.
The song is pretty straightforward to play with four elementary chords; D, A, Em, and G. The verse is played with 8-beat muted downstrokes while the chorus is played with 8-beat open up and down strokes. With basic chords and more basic strum patterns, it is a great song to learn for beginners.
It’s My Life – Bon Jovi
It’s My Life is the most successful and famous hit from the American band, Bon Jovi. The song became a massive hit worldwide and is considered the great anthem of the band.
Although the song seems more complicated, it can be played easily with only 4 elementary chords; Em, C, D, and G. To get closer to the original recording, you will need a capo on the 3rd fret.
You can play the song with a simple classic strumming pattern; just try to raise the dynamics in the chorus section.
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Where Is the Love – Black Eyed Peas
The 2003 hit of American pop band Black Eyed Peas, Where Is The Love, immediately hit the top of the lists in many countries. The song is remembered with its fantastic video clip and lyrics talking about discrimination, racism, hatred, and the lack of compassion we face in the world and demands change.
The chords to play the song are conventional and basic with Am, C, G, and F. The F chords is a barre chord so you might consider looking for easier versions of the chord or simply practicing it. So grab your guitar feel the rhythm and learn the chords and lyrics to play this touching song.
I’m Yours – Jason Mraz
I’m Yours is the hit song by Jason Mraz from 2008. With its catchy riff and simple progression, the tune immediately became a big hit and eventually nominated for Grammy.
The song is very easy to play from the beginning to the final point. The four open chords used in the song are G, D, Em, and C. This progression is played throughout the song except for the short bridge part.
Although the strumming pattern originally consists of triplets and mutes, it can be challenging for novice players; thus, you can adjust the pattern as you feel comfortable.
She Will Be Loved – Maroon 5
Released in 2002, She Will Be Loved is the third single of the American pop-rock band Maroon 5. The successful hit song was one of the most romantic and melodic songs of the band.
The song is also remembered with its well-made video clip in which stars Kelly Preston.
With four basic chords, Am, G, C, and F, the song is pretty simple for any guitarist. The 8 beat strumming pattern is conventional that you can play intuitively. You will also need a capo on the 3rd fret to play it in the same tone as the recording.
If you feel like these songs are a bit too hard for you, you can try some songs with 2 chords on my following list 30 Famous & Easy 2 Chord Guitar Songs For Beginners – Tabs Included
Get Lucky – Daft Punk
One of the songs that rocked the world back in 2013 was Get Lucky by the French DJ duo Daft Punk with Pharrell Williams. Many people globally loved the song and had a significant role in pop culture, eventually winning a Grammy award.
The chords you will need to play Get Lucky are Am, C, Em, and D. You will need to use a capo on the 2nd fret to play it in the same tone with the recording.
Although this is a beginner-friendly song, the strumming patterns can be hard for absolute beginner players. However, there are two patterns you can try, with the second one simplified if you find the muting technique challenging.
Hey Ya – Outkast
Everyone would remember this song from 2003 with its entertaining video clip and entertaining melody.
Hey Ya is the hip-hop hit that was released in 2003 by the American band Outkast. The song was a massive hit around the world and won a Grammy award in 2004.
The song is played with four open chords; G, D, C, and E. Although the song has a more complex rhythmic structure, it can be played with a traditional down-down-down-up-down pattern. You can slow down the rhythm a little, as the guitar adaptation of the song sounds better that way.
It is an extremely entertaining song to play and is a perfect exercise to master the chords and transitions.
Stand By Me – Ben King
As one of the most famous and romantic songs ever written, Stand By Me by Ben King was released in 1961. With its beautiful melody and lyrics known by everybody, it is a perfect song to learn and play for any audience.
The song consists of four basic chords; G, Em, C, and D. It is a pretty straightforward song to play and master. The strumming pattern is fun and easy to play with its iconic mute on the second beat. Try to give a powerful accent to the mute to make the song sound more percussive and professional.
This song is perfect to play and impress any audience. All you need to do is to memorize the lyrics and master its easy chords, which you will achieve in no time.
If you wish to learn more guitar songs in 4/4 time signature check out my list Top 40 Popular & Easy Songs In 4/4 Time – Guitar Tabs Included
Under Pressure – Queen
The legendary duet between the English rock band Queen and singer David Bowie, Under Pressure, was released back in 1982. The incredibly powerful pop-rock song hit number one on UK charts and considered one of the best collaborations of all time.
Originally the song is played with a bass melody and great arpeggios of Brian May. The chords used are G, D, C, and Em, all open chords.
You can either arpeggiate the chords to make it sound similar to the original track or find a convenient strumming pattern for the song. Either way, it is a great and fun song to play.
Hey Soul Sister – Train
Hey, Soul Sister is a song released in 2009 by the American pop band Train. The song is the most commercially successful song the band has ever had, reaching number 1 in 16 countries and winning a Grammy award.
Although the original recording features a ukulele, playing the chord progression, it can be easily played on a guitar. With C, G, Am, and F open chords, it is an absolutely easy song to play.
The strumming pattern is rhythmic and consists of triplets. Therefore, it can be hard to play if you are not familiar with triplet strum patterns, but just listen to the song carefully and try to replicate it.
Hey Oh (Snow) – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Released in 2006, Hey Oh (Snow) is the melodic hit song by Red Hot Chili Peppers from the album Stadium Arcadium. The song has a much softer melody, similar to the older songs of the band. The fast-paced guitar riff and double breaks on the bass give a unique character to the song.
The song is played with four easy chords; Am, Fmaj7, C, and G. Don’t let the Fmaj7 name scare you since the chord has one of the most basic and comfortable finger positioning.
The original track is played with arpeggios and riffs. You can strum the chords according to the rhythm or try some arpeggios to get closer to the original recording.
How To Save A Life – The Fray
How to Save a Life is the massive hit song released in 2006 by the American alternative rock band, The Fray. The song became a massive success with its long occupation on the top of the music charts. The song is also used in many TV Shows and events such as Gray’s Anatomy and Scrubs.
The song is played with G, D, Em, and C open chords. The 4-beat strumming pattern is relatively straightforward.
It is ultimately a fun song to play and sing along with. It definitely needs to be in your pop-rock repertoire.
One Love – Bob Marley
Released in 1977, the hit song One Love by the reggae legend Bob Marley became famous with its call to peace, unity, and harmony for a better world.
This reggae song is easy to play and sing. The strum pattern is classic reggae style with mutes on downstrokes and upstrokes with a staccato technique that you don’t let the strings ring for long.
The chord progression consists of A, E, D, and F#m chords. F#m is a barre chord that can be difficult if you are not familiar with barre chord transitions. But as this is a slow-paced song with a basic structure, it can be a great practice to get more comfortable with them.
Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door – Bob Dylan
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door is the iconic song by American legend Bob Dylan. The song was written for the 1973’s film Pat Garret and Billy the Kid and became one of the most famous and acclaimed songs of Bob Dylan.
Many artists, including Guns and Roses, Eric Clapton, and Randy Crawford, have covered the song and added to its existent popularity. It is a pretty simple song in the key of G and has elementary open chords: G, Am, C, D.
The song features a slow rhythm and traditional 4-beat strum pattern. So, the simple chords and basic strumming pattern; it is one of the best songs for beginners to learn.
Cry Me A River – Justin Timberlake
Cry Me A River is the single from the 2002 Justified album that Justin Timberlake introduced himself to the world. The song got in the top 10 lists worldwide, thanks to its well-made arrangements and musicality, especially in the central motif of the song.
You can adjust this hip-hop song to play on guitar simply with Em, B, C, and Am chords. You will need to use a capo on the 4th fret to match the original recording.
Since the song has a complex rhythm structure with many nuances, you can basically create your own strum pattern for this song. Just listen to the song carefully to find a suitable pattern to play.
Mad World – Gary Jules
Mad World was initially composed by the band Tears For Fears in 1982, but the song received its popularity by the Gary Jules cover for the movie Donnie Darko. The cover hit the top positions in the UK lists for a long time and eventually became a timeless classic.
The main chord progression of the song is slow-paced and originally played piano. Thus, the guitar adaptation has a straightforward strumming pattern with down strums in every beat and ending with an upstroke at the end for transition. The open chords used are simple to play with Em, A, G, and D.
Mad World’s Gary Jules version is a beautiful cover and extremely beginner-friendly song that is fun to play and sing.
Goodbye My Lover – James Blunt
One of the songs that got James Blunt so famous was Goodbye My Lover from 2005. The romantic pop tune became extremely popular with its top position on lists globally.
G, D, Em, and C chords create the easy chord progression in the song. The verse is played with single chord strums, while the bridge and chorus are played with an easy strumming pattern.
The song is perfect for playing with an acoustic guitar in romantic environments.
3AM – Matchbox Twenty
3AM is the single from American rock band Matchbox Twenty’s debut album. The song received pretty positive feedback and became a minor hit globally. The song has a pop-rock character with a rhythmic and melodic structure.
The song has three elementary chords; G, D, Em, and an unconventional chord, Cadd9. Cadd9 is an easy-to-play chord with a similar structure to a C chord. The only difference is you play the third fret instead of the first one on the second string.
Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty
Free Fallin is one of Tom Petty’s most famous tracks with its long presence in the top music charts. The song was released as the first track of Petty’s debut album Full Moon Fever, released in 1989. In addition, the song was used for many movies and TV series such as Jerry Maguire and Sopranos.
With three open chords, A, D and E, along with an Asus4 chord variation played only at the bridge; the song is quite beginner-friendly. However, to match the original recording, you will need to use a capo on the 8th fret.
Let It Be – The Beatles
One of the greatest songs ever made is undoubtedly Let It Be from the legendary English band The Beatles. Composed by Paul McCartney and released in 1970, Let It Be became a massive hit globally, and it is still considered one of the band’s signature songs.
Although the song was composed for piano, it can be played on a guitar easily with four basic chords; G, D, Em, and C. The strum pattern is downstrokes on every beat with an added upstroke in the ending.
With its lyrics known by everyone and its basic yet beautiful melody, Let It Be is a great song to learn and play for novice players.
Mr. Tambourine Man – Bob Dylan
Mr. Tambourine Man is the hit song written by Bob Dylan and released on his album Bringing It All Back Home in 1965. But the song received its fame with the version sung by The Byrds before Bob Dylan released his own version.
The song is notable for its unconventional structure with its intro with short instrumental partition and chorus.
The song is relatively easy to play with four chords used throughout the tune; D, Dsus2, G, and A. Dsus2 is a D chord variation that the only difference is the E string played open. Additionally, this chord is only played in the intro of the song, while the rest of the song consists of the 3 chords.
Jolene – Dolly Parton
Jolene is the song written and performed by Dolly Parton on her 1973 self-titled album Jolene. According to Rolling Stone magazine, the song is considered one of the best songs of all time with its sad lyrics and melodic structure.
The song was covered by many famous musicians such as Miley Cyrus and The White Stripes.
The song is played with simple open-chords; Am, C, G, and Em. To match the original recording, you will need a capo on the 4th fret. The strumming pattern is also quite basic, with two downstrokes on the first two beats followed by 8-beat up-down-up-down strokes.
I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty
Released in 1989, I Won’t Back Down is the hit song from American rock musician Tom Petty. The song talks about defiance against unknown forces of difficulty and oppression. The tune received positive feedback, topping the rock charts for more than a month.
This song is one of the easiest guitar songs to play with its four basic chords Em, D, G, and C. The strum pattern is also straightforward, with only downbeats twice on every beat, making the song perfectly suitable for absolute beginners.
Run Around – Blues Traveler
Run-Around is the famous song by American jam band Blues Traveler, featured on the 1994 album Four. The song was the band’s breakthrough hit, winning a Grammy for vocal performances in 1996.
The song can be played with G, C, Am, and D open-chords. It is a reasonably rhythmic tune with a fairly complex strumming pattern.
Try to listen to the rhythm pretty carefully to create a strum pattern that works for you. While the track is enjoyable to play, it is an excellent exercise for the strumming hand at the same time.
Wild Thing – The Troggs
Wild Thing is the hit song composed by Chip Taylor, initially recorded by the American band The Wild Ones in 1965 and later by the British rock band The Troggs. The tune got its fame with The Troggs version, which topped the music lists in 1966.
With four major chords A, D, E, and G, it is a song to learn quickly and easily. The song features different rhythmic patterns in different partitions of the song, but all the patterns are straightforward with only downstrokes.
One Of Us – Joan Osborne
Released in 1995, One Of Us by American singer Joan Osborne was a huge hit with its simple and melodic structure along with its lovely lyrics. The song features a great chorus and luscious Neil Young-style guitar riff.
D, Em, C, and G are the chords for the main progression of the song. All of them have comfortable finger positions and are easy to change between.
The strumming pattern is quite straightforward with the 4-beat traditional down-down-up-down-down-up pattern. The song is perfect to singalong for any audience.
Suzanne – Leonard Cohen
Suzann is a song with its lyrics and music written by Canadian poet, writer, and musician Leonard Cohen. The song later became one of the classics of Cohen and was used in many movies such as Breaking The Waves.
This song may have the most challenging finger positions in the list with its E, F#m, G#m, and A chords. With two barre chords, F#m and G#m, it can be challenging if you are not familiar with these kinds of chords. But the tune is a great practice to learn and master the barring technique as the two mentioned chords have the same finger positions in different frets.
Besides that, the song is more than easy with its slow rhythm and basic strumming pattern. So if you feel your time has come to learn the barring technique, this song is the way to go.
It is essential for every guitar player to master the basic chords and strumming patterns to become a successful guitarist. In order to achieve this, you need to learn and play as many songs as you can, enriching your guitar repertoire and building muscle memory for each chord and strum.
Playing the songs on this list will help you build comfort playing around these essential chords, develop your rhythmic sensation to strum more accurately, and most important of all, have fun playing these fantastic songs to your friends or simply to yourself.
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