Learning how to play the guitar, especially at the beginning, can be quite challenging. You want to play your favorite songs, but they are either too difficult to play due to barre chords or need a capo.
Naturally, the best way to get over this hoop is to improve your strength and understanding of how to use barre chords and capos.
However, for those looking to get a list of super-easy songs that you can learn right away, here are some of my favorite songs for beginners.
Bob Marley – Three Little Birds
Three Little Birds is the famous Bob Marley song from the Exodus album released in 1977. The song became a massive hit after its release, hitting the top 10 lists in many countries.
With its positive atmosphere and happy melodies, it is one of the most popular songs of Bob Marley and the reggae genre in general. With only 3 chords, A, D, and E it is exceptionally easy to play.
The strumming pattern is characteristic of the reggae style with strokes between the beats. It may take some time for beginners to get used to this, so listen to the rhythm carefully and start slowly. When you get the feeling this song will enrich your repertoire with a pattern that is extremely fun to play.
Bob Dylan – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door is a song by American singer-songwriter and legend Bob Dylan. He wrote this song for the 1973’s film Pat Garret and Billy the Kid. However, this song became one of his most recognized and acclaimed songs.
Several artists have covered this iconic song, including Guns and Roses, Eric Clapton, and Randy Crawford. It is a quite simple song in the key of G and has only for chords: G, Am, C, D.
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door has very simple chords, very simple strumming patterns and is one of the best songs for beginners to learn.
U2 – One
One is a song by the legendary Irish rock band, U2. It was part of their third album Achtung Baby and was released as the record’s third single in 1992.
Interestingly enough, while U2 was recording this album, tensions were high. The band members all had a different idea of how the band should proceed musically and almost broke up.
This song came at an ideal moment where they were able to unify their efforts and go on to become one of the most recognized brands in rock history.
One is in the key of C and the acoustic version allows you to not have to barre the F chord.
Tracy Chapman – Talkin’ Bout A Revolution
Talkin’ Bout A Revolution is a song by American singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman. It was released as her second single for her self-titled debut album.
Internationally, this single became a big hit, reaching the Top 40 in several countries, including France and New Zealand. This song became one of Tracy Chapman’s signature songs.
As for the song’s chord progression, it is in the key of G and includes all open chords. A great thing about this song is the tensions the chords use, giving you different flavors and variety to your stock chords.
Muddy Waters – Mannish Boy
Mannish Boy is a song by blues legend Muddy Waters. He recorded this song in 1955 as an answer to Bo Diddley’s song; I’m A Man.
This blues standard is a call and response between the singer and the instruments, a classic form in blues music.
Mannish Boy is one of the most iconic blues songs in music history. It is a super simple song to learn since it is only composed of pentatonic licks. Ideal for those who are looking to begin studying the blues world.
AC/DC – T.N.T
T.N.T is a song by the iconic Australian rock band AC/DC. It was part of both their second studio album, also named T.N.T and their first international album release, High Voltage. This song worked as their third single.
This song is in the key of E and does a mix of two power chords, E and A.
T.N.T has one of the easiest rock riffs you can learn on guitar. The solo is a bit more complex but also has some great licks for you to learn.
Bryan Adams – Summer Of 69
Summer Of ’69 is a song by Canadian singer-songwriter, guitarist, and artist Bryan Adams. It was included in his fourth studio album Reckless and is one of his most recognized songs
This song talks about a character (himself) facing the dilemma between becoming a rockstar or settling down to a more calm life.
This song is in the key of D and is a great song to develop alternate picking. Since it has several sections with arpeggiated chords rather than strum chords, it is great practice for your picking hand.
Foo Fighters – Times Like These
Times Like These is a song by the American rock band Foo Fighters. This song worked as their second single of their fourth album One by One, released in 2002.
Times Like These reflect on those tumultuous times the band had after a three-month hiatus. Lead singer and frontman Dave Grohl’s uncertainty about the band’s future drove him to write this song.
This song is in the key of D and is a 3-chord song. The great thing about this one is that there are many different guitar parts, which lets you learn several lines, licks, and riffs.
Blondie – Tide Is High
Tide Is High is actually was released back in 1967 by the Jamaican band The Paragons. But the song was unnoticed until it was covered by the American band Blondie in 1980. The song then hit the top position on the UK and US lists.
The 3 chords used in the song are straightforward major chords, A, D, and E. The strumming pattern is an easy reggae pattern with muted downstrokes on beats and accented up strokes between the beats.
With its simple structure Tide Is High is very fun to play and deserves to be in your repertoire.
Buffalo Springfield – For What It’s Worth
One of the most famous anti-war protest songs of all time, For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield, was released in 1967. Shortly after it hit number 7 in The U.S Top Hot 100 Billboard.
The song was used in many TV shows, movies, protests and was covered by many different musicians. The song consists of major chords of E, A, D, C, and G. All of the chords have comfortable finger positions and easy to transit between.
The strumming pattern is easy and slow so you can adjust it to your liking. You can also whistle the main melody of the song while playing the chords creating a nice atmosphere.
Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe
Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen was an enormous hit in 2013. The song was initially created as a folk song but then adjusted to the pop standards. It rocked all the charts around the world, peaking in almost all of the lists in America, Europe, and Australia.
The song also has one of the most-watched videos on Youtube with 1,3 billion viewers. It is effortless to play with 4 chords, G, Em, C, and D. The strumming pattern is also easy with only downstrokes with accents on the strokes between the beats.
It is utterly fun to play and sing along pop song.
Elvis Presley – That’s Alright Mama
That’s Alright Mama is a song performed by the rock king Elvis Presley. However, this song was written and originally performed by blues singer Arthur Crudup, which he recorded in 1946.
This song is a 12-blues standard with a bit of a different structure. However, it is still a 3-chord song in the key of D (A7-D7-E7)
That’s Alright Mama is a great song to learn blues accompaniment.
Bill Withers – Ain’t no Sunshine
Ain’t No Sunshine is a song performed by American singer-songwriter and musician Bill Withers. This song was his lead single for his debut studio album, Just As I Am. It is also one of his most recognized and critically acclaimed songs.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked his debut album at number 304 in their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Ain’t No Sunshine is in the key of Am and is a simple song to learn.
Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl
Brown Eyed Girl is a song by Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. He wrote and recorded this song in March 1967, only to release it in June. It is one of his many iconic songs and has been covered by many artists.
This song is in the key of G and has all open chords. The tabs I’m sharing with you also have some guitar licks and fill for you to learn.
Jimi Hendrix – Hey Joe
Hey Joe is an American song from the 1960s, which was widely popularized by American singer-songwriter and guitar legend Jimi Hendrix.
In fact, this song became a crucial one in Jimi Hendrix’s career, as it was the song that convinced Chas Chandler to manage him and take him to the United Kingdom. It was there where he became the massive legend he is.
While Hey Joe is not an easy song to play, the chords in themselves are very accessible, making this a great song to strum to.
Heroes – David Bowie
Released in 1977, Heroes is the second-most covered song of the great David Bowie. Even though it was not a huge hit when it came out, since then, it became one of Bowie’s signature songs.
The song tells the story of two lovers from the different sides of the Berlin Wall. Bowie performed the song in 1987 in West Berlin, which became a catalyst for the fall of the wall.
It is a pretty elementary song with steady down strums as its rhythm and with its simple chords, D, G, C, Am, and Em.
Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight
One of the most romantic songs ever written is Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton. Released in 1977 in the album Slowhand, Clapton wrote the song for Pattie Boyd, who was married to The Beatles’ George Harrison before marrying Eric Clapton.
The ballad has chords, G, D, C, Em and G7. All of them are very simple chords to play and transit in between. As a slow-tempo ballad, you can let the chords ring and adopt a simple strumming pattern.
It is a very simple and romantic song to play that deserves to be in your repertoire.
Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine
One of the all-time rock classics Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses, was released in 1988 in the legendary album Appetite For Destruction. Immediately raised to the top position on all lists when it came out, it is the most famous song of the band and one of the most famous in rock history.
The song offers many aspects for each level guitar player. It has amazing guitar solos for advanced players, nice melodies for intermediate and easy chord progressions for beginners.
D, G, A, C, and Cadd9 are the chords used with a traditional strumming pattern suitable for beginner players. Although the original version uses half-step-down tuning, you can play the song with standard tuning if you are not going to play along with the original recording.
Gary Jules – Mad World
Mad World was originally composed by Tears For Fears in 1982, but it got famous with the Gary Jules cover for the movie Donnie Darko. The cover stayed in the top position in the UK lists for more than a month.
Originally composed for piano, the song has a straightforward strumming pattern with down strums in every beat and ending with an upstroke for transition. The chords used are also simple 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.
Imagine Dragons – Radioactive
Radioactive is the huge hit of Imagine Dragons that rocked the world back in 2012. The song was a huge success, hitting number one on international lists and winning a Grammy Award.
It was used many times in huge events, 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 down strums and ending with an up-stroke.
Especially, the chorus is very entertaining to play and sing along with its nice melodic structure.
The Doors – Break On Through
The Doors’ classic “Break On Through” from 1967 was the band’s first single. Back then, it didn’t achieve the popularity it has now. As one of the signature songs of The Doors, it is an entertaining song to play with your band or alone 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.
To be able to add the riff partitions and the transitions, it is essential to work for one hand at a time for this song. You have to be sure to get the fingering and picking down individually. Once you can play it straight through, no stops, and up to speed, try to play the song with your friends. Much fun guaranteed!
Johnny Cash – Ring Of Fire
Ring Of Fire is a song by legendary American singer-songwriter Johnny Cash has. June Carter Cash and Merle Kilgore co-wrote this song, which Johnny Cash popularized.
This song became one of the biggest hits of Cash’s career, staying at number one on the country chart for seven weeks.
Ring Of Fire is a quite simple song in the key of G. You only need your basic open G, C, and, D chords. You can also learn the bass line, which is provided within the tab.
Poison – Every Rose Has Its Thorn
Every Rose Has its Thorn is a power ballad by American glam metal band Poison. It was the third single off their second album, Open Up And Say…Ahh! and is their most iconic and successful song.
Lead singer and frontman Bret Michaels revealed he wrote this song in a laundromat right after discovering his girlfriend at the time cheating on him.
This song is in the key of G and has all open chords, which makes it a great song for beginners.
Black Sabbath – Iron Man
Iron Man is a song by the English rock band Black Sabbath. It was part of their second album Paranoid, which was their most iconic and recognized album.
The song talks about a man who travels into the future and sees mankind’s apocalypse. As he returns in time to warn everyone, he becomes a machine and is dismissed and mocked. He then plots revenge, causing the apocalypse he had foreseen.
This is a great song to learn some rock riffs and get familiarized with power chords.
Bruce Springsteen – Fire
Fire is a song by American singer-songwriter and icon Bruce Springsteen. It was not part of any album but was a single for Bruce and his band, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
This song is in the key of G and has throughout the song a rock lick that doubles the bass and uses palm mute. It also has an overdriven guitar doing lock chords and some licks.
You can play the acoustic version of the song easily with C, D, G, and A7 chords, or you can try to play the riffs according to your level. Each way, the song is easy and fun to play.
R.E.M – The One I Love
The One I Love is a song by the American alternative rock group, R.E.M. It was part of their fifth studio album, Document, and was the band’s first hit single in their career.
This rock song is in the key of Em and has a very cool intro lick that incorporates the pentatonic scale and open strings.
You can play this song on acoustic as an accompaniment or learn the lead lines, making this a very complete song for beginners.
The Cranberries – Animal Instinct
Animal Instinct is a song by the Irish alternative rock band, the Cranberries. Released in 1999 in the album Bury The Hatchet it was the top single of the album. It is a beautiful song about motherhood.
Animal Instinct is in the key of Em and has very simple chords, including Em, Cadd9, Am7, G, and D. Contrary to their names, Cadd9 and Am7 are very easy chords to play.
The song has an easy but particular strumming pattern, so listen to the song’s rhythm carefully and enjoy playing this beautiful song.
Snow Patrol – Chasing Cars
Chasing Cars is a song written by Scottish-Northern Irish band Snow Patrol. It is their most successful song and was part of their fourth studio album, Eyes Open. The song was even nominated for a Grammy Award in 2007.
This song is in the key of A and has all open chords, A, Dsus2, and E6. Contrary to their names, these chords are super easy to play.
With its basic rhythm and straightforward chords, Chasing Cars is overall a great song for absolute beginners.
ZZ Top – Tush
Tush is a song by American blues-rock band ZZ Top. It was the second single off their fourth album Fandango! and is one of their top hits.
This 12-bar blues in G was written during a soundcheck, as bassist Dusty Hill recalls. It is a quite simple song in terms of technique, which makes it a great one to learn classic 12-bar blues comping and some licks in the key of G.
Buddy Holly – Not Fade Away
Not Fade Away is a song by American Singer-songwriter and pioneer Buddy Holly. It was part of his band’s debut album, The “Chirping” Crickets.
This song is very simple to play, as it is a 3-chord song. There might be some challenges when it comes to the rhythmic aspect of the guitar comp, but it is still accessible to you.
I’d recommend using your ears to figure out the specific feel and rhythm of the song.
Chuck Berry – You Can Never Tell
“You Can Never Tell” by the father of Rock n’ Roll, Chuck Berry, is a very famous song of its genre. The song has been covered by many artists such as Bruce Springsteen and played in the iconic dance scene of the famous Quentin Tarantino movie “Pulp Fiction.”
The song transitions between C and G major chords, which are easy to play. The strumming pattern is also pretty straightforward, with quarter-note strums, two bars for each chord.
Once you are comfortable with the chord transitions, you can add the G7 chord to make the song sound richer.
Steve Miller Band – The Joker
The Joker is a song by the American rock group Steve Miller Band. It is a part of their eight studio album, also titled The Joker, and is one of the big songs in their career.
Funnily enough, The Joker was actually a sleeper hit. This means that the song got wide recognition several years after its release. This was thanks to a Levis’ advertisement that used the song.
The chords used in the song are D, C, G, and D7. The song was recorded with a whole-step-down tuning, but if you are not going to play along with the original recording, you can play in standard tuning.
America – A Horse With No Name
A Horse With No Name is a song by the folk-rock band America. This song was part of their self-titled debut album and became their first and most successful single.
The great thing about this song is its simplicity. It has 4 different chord shapes, but all only require two fingers to play. This makes it a very easy song to learn but with very interesting sounds.
Horse With No Name is in the key of Em and is a great one for beginners.
The Beatles – Love Me Do
Love Me Do is the first track of the B-side of the Beatles’ first album, Please Please Me. However, they had previously released this song as their first single ever. Consequently, this song was one of their first #1 singles.
Paul McCartney is the main writer of the song, with John Lennon contributing to the bridge of the song.
Love Me Do is a three-chord song in the key of G. It is one of the simplest songs you can learn and is mainly known for its harmonica, rather than any guitar lines from George Harrison.
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bad Moon Rising
Bad Moon Rising is a song by American rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival. Written by its founding member, John Fogerty, this song was the lead single off their third album Green River. It is one of their most successful songs.
This one is in the key of D and only uses the 3 most important chords in that key: D, G, and A. It is a fairly simple song and has some nice, simple licks for you to learn.
These are some of the easiest songs to learn without the help of a capo or the struggle of barre chords. I think this can be a good place to start for beginners looking to get the most immediate satisfaction of learning and playing a song.
With time, your fingers will get stronger, and you’ll have a better understanding of the many advantages both barre chords and capos have.
In the meantime, enjoy this list and get to play some songs.
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