The first songs to play on the guitar are very important for a beginner guitarist. They might shape how you play in the future, and you should learn them properly.
Most reggae songs are not hard to play on the guitar, and their chord progressions are much alike.
Once you learn the off-beat upstrokes and listen carefully to the reggae rhythm, there is nothing between you and your favorite reggae song! Even though there are various styles of musicians in the reggae scene, they all beat as one heart.
Everybody loves the reggae vibe, and it would be cool to be able to play a couple of them anytime. You can either be near a campfire with your friends or in the streets of your neighborhood. Playing a reggae song would cheer up everybody!
UB40 – Red Red Wine
“Neil Diamond originally wrote Red Red Wine” in 1967. UB40 has made this cover version after 21 years. The song immediately became number 1 in the UK that year and later in the United States.
This reggae-flavored version of the song, originally an acoustic ballad, is loved by millions. Neil Diamond himself even performed it later using the arrangement of UB40 rather than the original song.
The song is very easy to play on the guitar. You can play it with open chords by having a capo on the 6th fret.
The whole song goes with the chord transition of G, C, and D. It is played using upstrokes like maybe all of the reggae songs on the planet. Picking only the last 5th, 4th, and 3rd strings would sound better.
Protoje – Who Knows ft. Chronixx
“Who Knows” was released in 2014 and became one of the most popular songs in the reggae scene in recent years. This collaboration of Protoje and Chronixx has been a cornerstone for both of their careers.
The song is for absolute beginners. It’s played only with two chords, Em and D, while you have a capo on 1st fret. The strumming goes like down, up, mute, down -again, an upstroke. Just pay attention to plucking the 6th string when you are playing Em here and the 4th string for D.
If you like these songs, you may want to check my other article as well Top 40 Famous&Easy Funk Guitar Songs For Beginners – Tabs Included
Inner Circle – Sweat
“Sweat” is the most popular song of the reggae fusion band Inner Circle. It was released in 1992 and became a number 1 hit worldwide. It has been played everywhere in the following years. It is like the signature song of so many people’s summer vacations.
Just wait for the weird intro to pass and start playing the chords when the beat comes. The chord progression is like this: C, Am, Dm, and G. The verse and the chorus go the same. Try plucking the 6th and the 5th string if you feel so. It sounds better that way.
Bob Marley – Redemption Song
One of the most known Bob Marley songs of all time. “Redemption Song”! An anthem of a nation and generations. A song that is musically not quite reggae because it is strictly acoustic, and he doesn’t play it with upstrokes. But tell me, what is more reggae than this. Maybe the most rebel, most heartful song from the inspiring reggae artist Bob Marley.
Here is an easy version of “Redemption Song”. The strumming goes like down-mute, down-up, mute-up, down-up. You can play the intro easily by learning from the tab.
The verse goes with the chord progression of G, Em, C, and Am, and a D. The chorus goes like G-C-D x2, Em-C-D, and G-C-D x2. Once you get the strumming and the progression, you can’t get your hand off this song!
Soja – You And Me
“You and Me” was released in 2010 by one of the best new reggae bands called Soldiers of Jah Army, collaborating with the beautiful voice of Chris Boomer. You found the perfect song for the touchy, chill reggae vibes.
The song is very easy to play. C, Em, and D are the only chord progression it has. You can play them as open chords, but it sounds much better as barre chords. And it is how it originally played. Also, you can play the offbeats as downstrokes.
If you want to play some acoustic guitar songs, check out my other list Top 50 Most Beautiful Acoustic Guitar Songs – Tabs Included
Bob Marley – Stir It Up
“Stir It Up” was composed in 1967. It is the first song that was reached widely outside Jamaica by Bob Marley. A classic reggae song almost everybody knows who listens to Bob!
“Stir It Up” is very easy to play and an absolute beginner song. Its chord progression goes like this: A, D, and E. The whole song goes like that: the verses and the chorus with a classic reggae upstroke strumming. Just try to control the non-played strings when you do upstrokes with open chords.
Vanupie – Rockadown
Can anybody forget the perfect subway version video of “Rockadown”? One of the easiest reggae songs to play, and it’s very fun and energetic.
The song has only two chords. The chord transmission goes like F#m and Bm (barre chords). Play them with the tempo accordingly and with upstrokes.
Tarrus Riley – She’s Royal
“She’s Royal” is the most popular song by Tarrus Riley. The song was so successful that it was awarded the Song of The Year and Best Reggae Song in 2008.
Again it’s very easy to play. The capo is on the 1st fret, and the chords go like D, G, D, and A. Just watch out for the refrains. It goes like this: D, G, A, and G.
If you want to play songs that are a bit slower, check out my other article Top 40 Famous & Easy Slow Guitar Songs For Beginners – Tabs Included
SOJA – I Don’t Want To Wait
Another popular song from Soldiers of Jah Army. “I Don’t Want To Wait” was released in 2009 and got very successful in the following years.
Have your capo on 2nd fret so you can play it with open chords. The whole song has one chord progression, which goes like Em, C, G, and D. Play them as the rhythm goes with upstroke strumming.
I Don’t Want To Wait Guitar Chords
Gregory Isaacs – Night Nurse
A strict roots reggae song! “Night Nurse” by Gregory Isaacs was released in 1982. It is his biggest hit and was recorded in Tuff Gong Studios, Kingston.
No capo, no alternate tuning. The song has just two chords: Am and G. Just surrender yourself to the beat and play these two easy chords along with the song. You can play them as open chords, but I suggest using barres.
Chronixx – Smile Jamaica
“Smile Jamaica” was released in 2013. One of the first popular songs by Chronixx. A hope-infused song that celebrates Jamaica’s values and says, “Don’t worry!” to the nation.
For playing “Smile Jamaica” you need to have the capo on 1st fret. The song has only four chords, which are G, C, Em, and D. Play this progression both for verses and the chorus with an upstroke strumming.
Bob Marley – Natural Mystic
“Natural Mystic” is the first song of Bob Marley’s well-known album “Exodus.” The album was released in 1977. Especially the bass beats in this album are recognizably revolutionary.
The song is played in standard tuning without using a capo. Play Am for the intro and then Dm, G, and Am as the main chord progression. You can either play them as open chords or barres.
Natural Mystic Guitar Chords
Chronixx – Skankin’ Sweet
“Skankin’ Sweet” is one of the other hits from Chronixx’s debut album, Chronology. With the success of this particular song, the album was number one on the US Reggae Albums (Billboard) Chart in 2018. I like this song very much.
Most of the song goes with the chord progression of Gm, Dm, and C. Play Dm for the intro. Pay attention to the bridge chords; they are changing to Am and Gm. Use upstrokes.
Bob Marley – Three Little Birds
“Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing gonna be all right!” Who doesn’t hear this famous part of Bob Marley’s song called “Three Little Birds”?! Chill reggae vibes from the master of reggae and peace.
“Three Little Birds” is also an easy-to-play beginner song. Just don’t miss any upstrokes and feel the rhythm. The chords for the chorus go like A, D, and A again. For the verse part, play A, E, A, and D, then A, E, D, and A. You can also use open chords, but I think barres sound better.
Three Little Birds Guitar Chords
Collie Buddz – Love & Reggae
“Love & Reggae” was released in 2019 and immediately became popular. Classic new reggae vibes coming from Collie Buddz’s self-produced album “Hybrid.”
It is a straightforward song to play. For the intro, verses, and the chorus, the chord transmission goes like this: Am, G, and F. There is a bridge part before the chorus: Em, Am, F, Dm, and G. Play them with upstroke strumming.
Chezidek – All My Life
Chezidek is a real missionary. He knows how to reach people’s hearts. “All My Life” is his most famous song, which was released in 2013.
The song is very fun to play. The whole song goes with the chord progression of Dm and Am. Play them with upstroke strumming and as barre chords. Just surrender to Chezidek’s voice and the beat, and you will be okay.
Bob Marley – No Woman No Cry
The song was released in 1974 with the “Natty Dread” album. Even the song’s meaning is misunderstood outside Jamaica “if there is no woman, there is no reason to cry” is one of the most successful songs of Marley’s.
The song speaks to women in a “don’t worry, there is no reason to cry” sort of manner.
“No Woman No Cry” has a bit of tricky rhythm, but the chords are easy to play. You have G, C, Am, and F as open chords. Just listen to the song carefully to get a sense of how the chords are changing.
Peter Tosh – Johnny B Goode
Peter Tosh is one of the underrated reggae artists of all time. Even though they created the Wailers together, he never became as popular as an individual artist like Bob Marley.
Here is a perfectly culturally adapted version of “Johnny Be Good.” You are going to love it!
The song has only two barre chords: Em and D. You have G and F#m at the end of the guitar solo and G and A sometimes at the end of a measure. Use upstroke strumming and feel the vibe.
Stick Figure – World On Fire (ft. Slightly Stoopid)
Stick Figure is a reggae-dub band based in California. They have recorded seven albums since 2006. “World On Fire” became immediately popular after release and became an essential reggae-dub song for every reggae bar playlist.
This is an absolute beginner reggae song to play. It has only two chords, which are Dm and C. The chord progression goes like two times Dm, one time C, and one time Dm again. Use upstrokes and barre chords and enjoy the rhythm.
Patrice – Soulstorm
One of the popular songs of german reggae artist Patrice. “Soulstorm” was released in 2005. This ska-infused reggae song is reached so many hearts.
I suggest using barre chords while playing this song. “Soulstorm” is also very easy to play. The chord progression goes like Am, Dm, G, and Am. You have to play the upstrokes a bit faster for this song, even a bit gypsy-punk style for the ska vibe.
Blondie – The Tide Is High
The song is originally a rocksteady song written in 1967 by John Holt. “The Tide Is High” became a number one hit in the United States and the United Kingdom after Blondie released its version in 1980.
“The Tide Is High” has a lot of versions arranged by The Paragons, Gregory Isaacs, Papa Dee, Atomic Kitten, and Kardinal Offishall, a Canadian rapper.
Have your capo on 2nd fret and use open chords for this version of Blondie. The chord transmission is like this: A, D, and E. Play them as upstrokes, and you will be good to go.
The Tide Is High Guitar Chords
Bob Marley – Sun Is Shining
Bob Marley re-recorded this song in 1978 for his beautiful album Kaya. “Sun Is Shining” first appeared on Bob Marley and the Wailers’ album Soul Revolution Part II in 1971. One of my favorite vibes from Bob Marley.
“Sun Is Shining” is a very easy song to play on guitar. It just has two chords, basically, which are D#m and G#m. Notice that the chords are changing really slowly, and the strumming rhythm is slightly different from another classic upstroke strumming. Use barre chords.
Sun Is Shining Guitar Chords
Protoje – Kingston Be Wise
“Kingston Be Wise” was released as a single in 2012 and is a part of Protoje’s second album, “The 8 Year Affair”. The song was widely promoted on social media, and the video became a trend on YouTube among Jamaican users.
It is very easy to play this song on the guitar. You have three chords: Bm, G, and F#. They are major barre chords, easy to play, and fun. Play them with upstrokes according to the rhythm.
Kingston Be Wise Guitar Chords
Bob Marley – Roots Rock Reggae
In my opinion, too few songs can race with “Roots Rock Reggae” in vibrating peace. The song was released in 1976 and is a cornerstone for roots reggae music.
The chord progression goes like two times Bm, one time Em and one time F#. You have to play the classic offbeat upstroke strumming and use barre chords.
Roots Rock Reggae Guitar Chords
Ziggy Marley – Love Is My Religion
As Ziggy Marley carries his father Bob Marley’s heritage to a pop level, he wrote this beautiful song of love. “Love Is My Religion” (also the album title) was awarded Best Reggae Album at the Grammy awards in 2007.
“Love Is My Religion” is an absolute beginner song for guitarists. You have only three chords to play: E, D, and A. They can all be played as open chords.
Love Is My Religion Guitar Chords
Stick Figure – Angels Above Me
“Angels Above Me” is the second hit from Stick Figure’s album “World On Fire.” It is a chill Californian reggae vibe song; singing and playing it is fun.
The song is very easy to play. Use barre chords and classic upstroke strumming. The chord progression goes like G and D. be careful with the bridge part cause it changes to C, G, and D.
Bob Marley – Concrete Jungle
“Concrete Jungle” is the first song of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ album “Catch a Fire.” The album was released in 1973 and listed in Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and Billboard 200. The song is a voice on people’s struggles in city life.
“Concrete Jungle” is an absolute beginner song to play on the guitar. The chords are Em, Am, D, C, and G. Use upstroke strumming and barre chords. The chorus goes like Em and Am.
Slightly Stoopid – Wiseman
“Wiseman” was released in 2003. The band is American based in California. They have a fusion style of music. They combine folk, reggae, blues, hip hop, funk, metal, punk, and rock. “Wiseman” is one of the band’s most listened-to songs and reached so many hearts.
The song is easy to play. It is a reggae-style song, but they use downstroke strumming while playing offbeats. The chord progression goes like this: E, C, G, and D. Use barre chords.
Bob Marley – Misty Morning
“Misty Morning” was released in 1977 in Bob Marley and the Wailers’ album “Kaya.” One of Bob Marley’s famous quotes is from this song: “The power of philosophy floats through my head, light like a feather heavy as lead.”
Again, a very easy-to-play song on the guitar. The intro goes like G, A, and Bm as the chorus. And for the verses, play Bm, E, G, and Bm. You can play barre chords and use upstroke strumming.
Bob Marley – Pimper’s Paradise
The song was released in 1980 on the “Uprising” album. Bob Marley’s son Damian Marley also covered this song on his album “Welcome to Jamrock.”
The chord progression for the verses and the chorus are Fmaj7, G, Fmaj7, and Em. Chords change to C, G, Am, and F when the bridge comes.
You can either use downstrokes or upstrokes, and people have been playing this with acoustic guitar and have found different varieties to play its rhythm.
Pimper’s Paradise Guitar Chords
Tribal Seeds – Dawn Of Time
Tribal Seeds is a great reggae band based in San Diego, California, United States. The band was formed in 2005. Tribal Seeds is one of the pioneers of today’s reggae scene.
“Dawn Of Time” is one of their easy-to-play classic reggae songs. The chord progression for verses and the chorus is Em, C, G, and D. And for the pre-chorus, you play G, C, Em, and D. Use downstrokes, or you can arpeggiate if you feel to.
Koffee – Raggamuffin
Koffee is a Grammy-awarded young artist who became so popular in recent years. “Raggamuffin” was released in 2019 on Koffee’s first album, Rapture. The album won the Best Reggae Album title at Grammy Awards that year.
“Raggamuffin” is very easy to play. You can either play A#m, and G# with barre chords or have your capo on 1st fret and play A and G as open chords. Use upstrokes and listen to the beat. You are good to go!
Stand High Patrol – Along The River
Stand High Patrol is one of the original reggae-dub bands of all time. They are so impressive, both lyrically and musically, in my opinion. Don’t miss the chance to learn this song!
Use upstrokes, strumming, and barre chords to play “Along The River.” Besides the interlude, the chord progression goes like this: Am, C, and Em. And for the interlude, play eight times Am, two times C, two times Dm, and four times Em.
Peter Tosh – Legalize It
“Legalize It” is the most popular song by Peter Tosh. After he left the Wailers and became a solo artist, he released this song in 1976.
The song only has two chords, so it is an absolute beginner song for new guitarists. G and F is the chord progression for the whole song. Use upstroke strumming.
Soja – Mentality
“Mentality” was released in 2012 on SOJA’s sixth studio album, Strength to Survive. It is a great song with a sense of changing things in the world.
There are three chords to play “Mentality”: Em, C, and D. For the verse are, the chord progression like this: Em, D, Em, D, Em, D, and C, D. And for the chorus, play C, D, Em, and D repeatedly. Use barre chords and upstrokes.
As a beginner guitarist, you should learn many songs to build good muscle memory for strumming and playing the chords right. Then you also add more songs to your repertoire to share with your friends and play them anywhere you like.
Learning to play different songs gives you more perspective on composing new music as a guitarist. Every artist has a different approach. It is good to experience their way of playing by learning existing songs.
It allows you to discover new ways of playing and composing. Playing different songs is also a great exercise both for warming and developing on the way. As I said, reggae songs are easy and fun to play. They are easy to perform once you get the upstroke strumming.
I hope you find this article inspirational, and if you found this article useful, you may want to save this pin below to your Guitar board.
If you found this article useful, you may want to save this pin below to your Guitar board.