Most music enthusiasts start their journey as guitarists with an acoustic guitar, but starting with an electric guitar can be more fun and motivating. Electric guitars offer a more comfortable playing experience with their thinner strings that ease the fingers and smaller necks that provide an easier grip for the fretting hand.
While any song can be played on an electric guitar, it is better to start with some more straightforward tunes if you are a beginner. This way, you can build a proper technique while you move on to more complex songs. Playing some simple tunes will also give you confidence and motivation, which will drive your progress forward.
You will learn and master some crucial techniques along the way, such as bends, hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, different picking techniques, and many more. Playing some simple songs will also help with your sense of rhythm and teach you some pieces of musical theory as well as other basics of electric guitar playing, which will guide you greatly through your journey as a guitarist.
Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
As one of the most famous songs of Nirvana and the rock genre, Smells Like Teen Spirit is one of the most played songs by beginner electric guitar players. Released in 1991, the tune has an iconic riff that is incredibly entertaining to play.
Mastering this riff will require learning some techniques such as palm mutes and power chords. It will also help your hands with strumming and quickly transiting between power chords. When you are comfortable with the rhythm, you can try playing the introductory solo of the song, which is an excellent solo for beginners with easy positions, basic techniques, and slow rhythm.
Sweet Child O’mine – Guns N Roses
Don’t miss the chance to learn this easy-to-play classic! Guns released this track in 1988, appearing on their great album Appetite for Destruction. Slash’s melody and the solo on this song will always be a must for beginner guitarists to learn.
This classic should be played in half-step-down tuning, to begin with. There is the intro and the main melody to learn first. And later, the actual guitar solo comes, which you can easily learn to play.
If you feel you are not ready to play these riffs, you can check an easier list such as Top 40 Famous&Easy One String Guitar Songs For Beginners – Tabs Included
Do I Wanna Know – The Arctic Monkeys
One of the most memorable guitar riffs of the 2010s is Do I Wanna Know from the famous English indie rock band The Arctic Monkeys. The tune is built around the stomping guitar riff that is easy and extremely fun to play.
Repeated many times throughout the song, the riff is the core of the tune and features many essential techniques like slides and hammer-ons. It is a great riff to play with some overdrive, ideal for beginners.
Zombie – The Cranberries
Released in 1994, Zombie is the globally famous hit by the Irish band The Cranberries. The tune was composed as a protest against the attack of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) in 1993.
With clean open chords, power chords with overdrive, easy solo partitions, and transitions, the tune has everything a beginner guitarist would crave for. It is educative as well as entertaining, a perfect song to master.
If you like metal you will probably love the following list as well Top 60 Famous Easy & Intermediate Metal Riffs Ever – Tabs Included
It’s My Life – Bon Jovi
The tune can be played with power chords entirely. The intro melody, the verses, and the chorus are all played with distorted power chord variations. In addition, the song has a relatively easy and short solo that you can master and add to your repertoire.
Back In Black – ACDC
ACDC’s famous hit Back In Black is well-known for its rock-solid guitar riff, celebrated as one of the greatest guitar riffs of all time. It may be a little challenging for absolute beginners to play all the riffs, but it is entertaining to learn and play this tune.
It is played with distorted chords, and solo fills in between the partitions. The solo may not be suitable for beginner guitarists, but the riffs and the chorus parts are great for novice players.
Eye Of The Tiger – Survivor
Eye Of The Tiger by Survivor is mainly known as the song of the Rocky. The iconic riff is filled with adrenaline and inspiration, making it a cool and extremely fun song to play.
The riff features mutes on the same note with a steady picking technique. As the song is an excellent practice for the picking hand, you should start slowly and build up the speed.
If you want to play tunes with plenty of distortion to feel like a rock star, you should check out my list Top 55 Famous&Easy Punk Guitar Songs For Beginners – Tabs Included
Beat It – Michael Jackson
Here is one of the most iconic guitar riffs on an MJ song. This big hit was released in 1983 and rocked the world in no time. And you can find it on Jackson’s album Thriller.
Tune your guitar to half-step-down tuning and set up a great amp tone with an 80s distortion style. There are 3 guitar riffs on this one: First, learn the main riff, then go into the intro lead and the riff for the verse.
Livin On A Prayer – Bon Jovi
Livin On A Prayer is another hit song by Bon Jovi, released in 1986. The song became one of the most famous songs of the ’80s with its killer riffs and lyrics.
The tune features a basic riff with palm mutes and open notes on the upper strings, repeated throughout the verses. The chorus features power chords, and there is an intermediate-level solo that is fun to play for experienced guitarists.
Otherside – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Otherside is the third single from the Red Hot Chili Peppers album Californication, released in 1999. It is one of the most famous tunes of the American band.
This tune features a straightforward riff along with some barre chords and a straightforward melodic solo. It is an excellent tune to practice soloing and the barring technique.
Boulevard Of Broken Dreams – Green Day
The most successful song of the American punk band Green Day, Boulevard Of Broken Dreams, is another great song to play for beginner electric guitar players. Played with power chords, it is a straightforward song to play.
There is nothing complicated with this tune; just grab your guitar, add some tremolo effect if you have a processor, and enjoy playing this iconic tune.
There are also some amazing indie riffs that are suitable for beginner guitarists, do not forget to check out my list Top 50 Famous&Easy Indie Guitar Songs For Beginners – Tabs Included
Creep – Radiohead
The 1992 Radiohead piece, Creep, is another great choice for beginner guitarists with its easy chord progression and picking pattern. The famous song has everything for you to rock the audience.
The key part of the song is the fingerpicking technique. The chords are arpeggiated through the verses before power chords with overdrive come in during the chorus.
Sex On Fire – Kings Of Leon
Kings Of Leon’s successful piece Sex On Fire rocked the world when it was released in 2007. The tune offers fun to play rhythm guitar partitions with different power chord variations.
The single-picked power chords and double stops with steady strums are a joy to play, especially when you add some overdrive and delay.
Come As You Are – Nirvana
Another successful Nirvana hit, Come As You are from 1992, is well known for its intro melody, guitar tones, and melodic yet straightforward structure.
You will have to tune your guitar a whole step down to match the recording. But luckily, the actual playing part is much easier than the preparation. The main riff is simple to play with only 2 strings included, and the chorus has straightforward power chords.
If you wish to play more beginner-friendly songs, check out my other article Top 60 Popular & Easy Guitar Songs For Beginners – Tabs Included
Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
One of the most famous, covered, and chanted melodies of music history, Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes, is a fantastic melody with a basic structure. The popular riff became a crucial pop culture element.
The riff played throughout the song is perfect for absolute beginners. Grab your guitar, add some overdrive, pick each note with the right timing and enjoy this cool melody.
Heart Shaped Box – Nirvana
Another fun-to-play Nirvana piece is Heart-Shaped Box from 1993. The tune features some cool rhythm guitar partitions but may need some practice before playing it correctly.
The verse is played through arpeggios on the upper strings before they leave the place to the iconic chorus with power chords followed by the half bend on the 3rd string.
Everlong – Foo Fighters
The mid-tempo love song Everlong by Foo Fighters is considered one of the band’s best tunes since its release in 1997.
The piece is played with palm mutes and power chords in an upbeat tempo. It’s not challenging to play, but you will need a solid strumming hand to catch up with the rhythm.
Reptilia – The Strokes
Indie rock band The Strokes’ most famous hit, Reptilia, can be an excellent choice to play for beginner guitarists with its basic rhythm and lead guitar partitions.
You can either play the song’s simple melody following the lead guitar or go on with the rhythm guitar partitions, consisting of various power chords variations. The part with muted 3rd and 4th strings can be challenging for absolute beginners, so consider playing them as open strings if you like.
Hold The Line – Toto
Hold The Line is a globally famous song by the American rock band Toto, released in 1978. The tune features a moderate tempo melodic structure which is very entertaining, especially for beginners.
The main riff is played with power chords and slides down the fretboard. With a bit of overdrive added, it is an utterly cool melody to play, especially the part when you slide down the fretboard.
Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin’s famous piece Whole Lotta Love features an iconic rock-solid guitar riff with a high tempo, making you feel like a true rock star when playing.
It is played with an E5 chord followed by a single-picked four-note transition. It is a basic melody to play, but the challenge comes with the high tempo of the tune. Your picking hand can struggle a bit, so keep your patience and build up the speed slowly.
Paranoid – Black Sabbath
The very first big hit of the legendary band was released in 1970. It sounded so crazy and heavy for many listeners when it first came out. It was a major shift and a mind-blow for the audience.
Sabbath’s same-titled album features it.
The main riff of this song is one of the top 10 iconic riffs of the band. Most of this tune’s riffs consist of two-note chords and fast-picking techniques. Before you try the solo, enhance the gain!
Song 2 – Blur
The most known Blur song, Song 2, was released in 1977 and appeared on their self-titled album. Everybody knows it is one of the Britpop punk rock classics from the UK.
This track has a famous riff to play. It starts with a clean guitar sound and then shifts into a more aggressive style with drums and a heavy bass sound. The cleaner comes here and there to help the vocals on the verses.
Temple Of The King – Rainbow
The famous rock tune Temple Of The King by Rainbow offers some nice riffs and partitions which can teach you a lot while you have fun playing one of the most iconic songs of rock history.
The iconic riff is pretty straightforward to play, while the rest of the verse is played with strummed open chords. When you feel comfortable playing these parts, you can add the lovely fill-in verse and try your chances with the melodic slow-paced solo.
I Can’t Get No Satisfaction – Rolling Stones
One of the top riffs of rock history is undoubtedly Satisfaction by Rolling Stones. The iconic riff is utterly simple to master with its 3-note structure.
The riff may be essential to play, but it sounds impressive, and you can enrich it with little added nuances. You can play the staccatos and the pull-offs properly to sound more like the recording. With plenty of overdrive added, you can enjoy playing this amazing riff to feel like a rock star.
Smoke On The Water – Deep Purple
Another mythical riff from the ’70s is the famous Smoke On The Water by the hard rock legends Deep Purple. Every music enthusiast on the planet is probably known by every music enthusiast on the planet, the song is easy and extremely fun to play.
The basic verse and chorus sections are played with arpeggiated power chords. Just grab your guitar, add the overdrive and play this song from start to end with joy.
Last Nite – The Strokes
Released in 2001, Last Nite is the indie rock hit by the American band The Strokes. It is an entertaining soft rock tune to play, ideal for beginners.
The song mainly consists of three-note power chords with a simple solo partition that you can try to play.
Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin
One of the first successful hits of the mythical Led Zeppelin is Immigrant Song from 1970. The uptempo tune features some rock-solid riffs along with Robert Plant’s amazing vocals.
The song is played with the main riff on the upper two strings and a bridge with power chords. It is a very entertaining riff to play.
Where Is My Mind – The Pixies
Primarily known as the soundtrack of the movie Fight Club, Where Is My Mind, by The Pixies, it is an incredible electric guitar tune to play for beginners.
The melody is straightforward, with a few different notes on lower strings. The trick is to use an alternate picking style with down and upstrokes consecutively followed by a pull-off to create the transition. You can use a slight overdrive to match the recording.
Self Esteem – The Offspring
Self Esteem is one of the most famous songs of the American punk rock band The Offspring. The tune became a worldwide hit topping the chart in many countries.
It is an extremely easy-to-play tune that can be played with quick tempo power chords. As this is a punk rock song, you should play the riffs aggressively and fast as much as possible.
I Got You I Feel Good – James Brown
The globally famous hit I Got You I Feel Good by the soul and funk singer James Brown is an easy and uplifting tune to play for novice guitarists to make the audience dance to the catchy rhythm.
The chords to play the song may be a bit complex for absolute beginners. If you feel the 4-note chords have hard positions, you can play them as 2-note power chords picking the upper 2 strings only.
Breaking The Law – Judas Priest
Here is an easy but crazy track by the heavy metal gods. Who can stand Rob Halford’s captivating vocals? This heavy metal classic was released in 1980 and appeared on the album British Steel.
This track has early 70s metal compositions in terms of playing the guitar. Technically it is not hard to play the riffs on this one. All you need is a pick, a high-gained amp, and your mental attitude!
Rock You Like A Hurricane – Scorpions
German rock band Scorpions’ famous tune Rock You Like A Hurricane features an old-school solid rock riff with power chords. It is an extremely cool riff to play, especially for rock lover electric guitarists.
The iconic main riff in the intro and the chorus is pretty straightforward to play. The palm-muted verses also won’t give you any hard time. It is one of the most effortless and most entertaining electric guitar songs to play with a generous overdrive added.
Roadhouse Blues – The Doors
If you are looking for a bluesy riff to play, you should check out Roadhouse Blues by the Doors’ mythical band. The tune has a smooth and easy riff which perfectly reflects bluesy characteristics.
The riff is more than easy with walks on the upper strings. You can use the palm mute technique for the open string notes. That will make the melody sound more bluesy and more fun to play.
Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand
Take Me Out is the most famous hit song by the Scottish indie rock band Franz Ferdinand. The tune was covered, played, and used in various situations, giving it a significant role in popular culture.
The rhythm guitar parts of the tune can be played with power chords and mutes in between. If you feel comfortable, you can try playing the lead guitar parts, which also are not challenging.
Iron Man – Black Sabbath
The heave metal pioneer band Black Sabbath’s one of the most famous tunes is Iron Man. The tune features the iconic old-school riff known by every rock fan.
The fantastic guitar riff is played with 2-note power chords on the upper strings. It is definitely a riff to learn and master, full of essential techniques like slides, legatos, and single-note transitions. It is also an utterly satisfying riff to play that makes you feel like a rockstar.
I Love Rock And Roll – Joan Jett
I Love Rock ‘n Roll is a famous rock song that got popular with Joan Jett in 1982. The song is widely known for its classic chorus shouting, “I Love Rock and Roll!”
It is completely an easy and fun song to play and sing along with. The main melody repeated throughout the song is quite simple with power chords and a little hammer on, followed by a bend transition.
Still Counting – Volbeat
Released as a single in 2012, Still, Counting is the most successful hit song of Danish heavy metal band Volbeat. It is a great song to add to the repertoire for beginner heavy metal guitarists.
The song is mostly played with power chords with a high tempo. It is a highly entertaining song to play with a generous overdrive added.
Break On Through – The Doors
The Doors’ first single was the iconic Break On Through in 1967. As one of the trademark songs of The Doors, it is an entertaining song to play with its bossa nova rhythm patterns and energetic atmosphere.
The song is mainly in E minor, with occasional D major chords used in some transitions. If you are an absolute beginner, you can use the chords for strumming or try to play the main riff if you feel comfortable.
Don’t Fear The Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
Blue Oyster Cult’s 1976 hit song Don’t Fear The Reaper is yet another hard rock tune with a rock-solid cool riff to play. The Danish tune offers everything you need to feel like a rock star with clean and distorted electric guitar parts.
The main riff is straightforward with arpeggiated open chords. If you feel comfortable playing the song, don’t hesitate to try your chances with the iconic solo.
Money – Pink Floyd
One of the most iconic songs of rock history, Money is the sixth song from the legendary album The Dark Side of the Moon of the mythical Pink Floyd, released in 1972. The song is remembered with its cool bass and guitar riff, along with its amazing lyrics and sound effects.
The tune is played with a simple riff throughout the song, followed by power chords. It has many partitions that may seem complicated, but all the parts, including the iconic solo are not challenging when played individually.
The Man Who Sold The World – David Bowie
David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World has a unique electric guitar riff that is an excellent choice for novice guitar players.
The riff is short and fun to play, with all the notes on the 4th string. The verses are played with strummed chords, and the bridge riff is an excellent exercise for both hands. Perfect song to have fun, make practice, and progress as a guitar player.
The One I Love – REM
REM’s 1987 hit The One I Love is an excellent ballad with mellow melodies. It is considered one of the best ballads of rock history.
The song is played with two guitars, one acoustic and one electric. While the acoustic guitar strums the chords, the electric guitar plays the riffs and arpeggios and some solo transitions.
Humanity – Scorpions
Humanity is the hit song by the German hard rock and heavy metal band Scorpions, released as a single in 2007.
As in many Scorpions songs, the tune features a clean arpeggiated verse line followed by power chords played with heavy distortion on the chorus. It is an utterly inspirational and motivational song to play with amazing riffs to have fun like a rock star.
For Whom The Bell Tolls – Metallica
The brilliant heavy-trash album Ride the Lightning featured this track in 1984. Metallica’s fame grew with the release of this tune, for sure, and they reached a much bigger audience worldwide.
This famous tune is written by the band’s famous bass player Cliff Burton. So the main riff and the progression are based on Burton’s bass riffs and changes. The guitars help it sound wider and heavier with easy power chords and simple riffs.
Joker And The Thief – Wolfmother
In 2006, the band’s self-titled album featured this great hard rock heavy metal track. Especially its music video received a couple of awards, which is worth checking. You’ll like it more if you like the members of Jackass!
This tune is played in Drop D tuning. An AC/DC style intro riff goes for like 24 bars! It sounds great. Then there is a very simple hard rock riff with fuzzy distortion.
Blitzkrieg Bop – Ramones
Blitzkrieg Bop is the most famous song of the punk band The Ramones from the year 1976. The song is considered a milestone for punk and the rock and roll genre in general.
The catchy rhythm iconic to punk style was born with this song. With only 3 power chords used, it is a straightforward song to play. There are no slides or techniques used, just steadily strummed power chords.
Dirty Deeds – AC/DC
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap is the hit song of the Australian legends of Hard Rock, AC/DC, released in 1976. The song features characteristic AC/DC riffs and structure with staccato power chords and melodies on a single string.
With 3-note power chords, it is a simple song to play. So grab your guitar, put on some overdrive, and enjoy the tune.
Man On The Silver Mountain – Rainbow
Another iconic heavy metal tune ideal for beginners is Man On The Silver Mountain by Rainbow. Released in 1975, with Ritchie Blackmore on guitars and Dio on vocals, it is a fantastic song to learn and master.
The song features a riff with inverted power chords just like Smoke On The Water. The amazing riff is repeated in the intro, verse, and chorus, basically in the entire song. Luckily it is a beginner-friendly melody and sounds fantastic with a distorted guitar.
Ace Of Spades – Motörhead
This track is a speed metal legend. There is no bigger path-breaking song for its genre than this one. It was released in 1980 and appeared on the band’s self-titled album.
If you are into crazy, fast, and high-gained solos, then this song is for you. Besides the solo and the licks on the verses, the main riff is the heart of the song.
Mannish Boy – Muddy Waters
As one of the greatest tunes of modern blues, Mannish Boy is a song that is heard by everybody at some point in their lives. It was composed by Muddy Waters in 1955.
The song is played with one of the easiest main riffs of blues history, along with 4 straightforward lead guitar fills. It is one of the best songs to get in the blues world for novice guitarists. The song uses the blues scale, has bends, and slides with a blues rhythm; it has everything to get you to start with playing blues.
My Generation – The Who
One of the most known songs of The Who is My Generation was released in 1965. The song features some heavy guitar tones that are considered as an ancestor of the punk rock movement.
It is an easy song to play which mainly consists of power chords and a quick-paced strum pattern. Initially, it is played with two guitars, so if you find a friend to play with, it is double fun.
Low – Cracker
Released in 1993, Low is the hit song of the American rock band Cracker. As the most successful hit of the band, the song topped the charts in many countries.
With a straightforward intro melody and several power chords, it is a very easy song to play. The melody has slides, bends, and alternate picking patterns, which are all essential techniques for playing electric guitar.
Helter Skelter – The Beatles
The loudest song of The Beatles is undoubtedly Helter Skelter. Released in 1968, the tune features a dirty and aggressive tone, considered the beginning sparks of heavy metal and hard rock.
The rhythm guitar partitions of the song are played with power chords and are more than manageable. The lead partitions are also not challenging, with many slides, bends, and legatos. It is fun to play and educative song to learn for beginner players.
Orange Crush – R.E.M.
This 1988 release of the famous band is a beautiful power pop, alternative rock track. It was featured on R.E.M.’s album Green. It peaked at number 1, one of two Billboard lists in the same year.
The song has a very fun arpeggio melody that goes throughout the song. The guitars sound amazing on this one. It reminds me of the classic The Smiths tones but evolved in a way.
Day Tripper – The Beatles
Another The Beatles hit, Day Tripper is based around a single riff, probably one of the most famous guitar riffs ever written.
The smooth riff is repeated in the entire song. The note positions of the melody are very comfortable for the fingers, and the rhythm is easy.
My Best Friend’s Girl – The Cars
The power-pop hit, My Best Friend’s Girl by The Cars is a fun song to play with its rockabilly guitar riff. It is remembered as an uplifting melodic youth-oriented rock song with catchy handclap effects.
You can play the tune with two guitars. The rhythm guitar plays the straightforward power chords while the lead guitar plays the easy melody.
Wicked Game – HIM
HIM cover of Chris Isaak’s famous Wicked Game is another excellent choice for novice guitarists and probably one of the easiest songs to play on the list.
You only need 3 power chords with palm mutes to play the tune, and that is all. It is also the perfect song to sing along with.
Born Under A Bad Sign – Albert King
Born Under A Bad Sign by the American old-school blues guitarist Albert King was released in 1967 and is considered one of the most terrific blues tunes ever made.
The piece has an R&B-style bass and rhythm guitar riff accompanying King’s iconic solo licks. All the partitions are beginner-friendly, with a low tempo and comfortable finger positions. The tune is also great to get familiar with the blues scale.
Night Train – James Brown & The Famous Flame
James Brown performed the 1951 Jimmy Forrest song Night Train in 1961 and replaced the original lyrics with cities from his tour itinerary, giving a personal touch to the song. The version became very famous, and Brown released it as a single in 1962.
The tune features a 12-bar blues progression, and the main riff is repeated in the entire song. It is a great song to get familiar with 12-bar progressions and different scale positions on the fretboard.
Thunderstruck – AC/DC
In 1990, AC/DC released this new big hit in the 17th year of their career. And it was mind-blowing! This hard rock classic is found on the album The Razors Edge.
The song is based on a main electric guitar riff played with hammer-ons, pull-offs, and almost no picking. The second guitar and the other instruments help the main melody grow, and they grow on it too.
Mastering some electric guitar tunes is the best way to progress with your guitar technique and compose skills as you get familiar with different genres and songs. It is also a great way to keep yourself motivated by playing your favorite tunes to remember why you have started walking on this path.
Grab your guitar, learn and practice the tunes to progress faster and you will find yourself playing like a rock star in the blink of an eye.
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