Below you will find the 76 best beginner guitar songs (in my opinion) that can be used for practice or just to enjoy playing. I decided to break down the list in groups based on the genre of music. The first group, however, are songs I played as a beginner and I think can be the most helpful for you.
- How To Use This List
- The Categories of Songs
- My Personal Favorites & Recommendations
- Rock/Classic Rock/Soft Rock/Folk, etc
- Classic Hymns
- Contemporary Christian Music
- How To Find The Chords For These Songs
- Simplifying The Chords
- Transposing To A “Guitar-Friendly” Key
- What About A Capo?
- Why Transpose A Song?
- Final Words
How To Use This List
I don’t want to just throw a list of songs at you without any guidance. This article is assuming you are hovering around the beginner status as a guitarist, but the term “beginner” can be a broad label so I’ll specify what I mean for the sake of this list.
This list assumes the following.
- You already know how to play G, C, D, Em, Am chords, and can change back and forth between each one. (Or you are working towards that. Practicing some of these songs, will help.)
- Maybe you also know how to play the following chords: A, E, B, Bm, Dm, D7, E7, F.
- You are possibly learning or getting comfortable playing barre chords (chords which require you to “bar” multiple strings on a single fret with a single finger).
- You possibly know what a “suspended” chord is (Asus2, Asus4, etc.), and it doesn’t scare you off when you see it on a chord/lyrics sheet. This shouldn’t scare you off if you see them. You can always play a major chord of that root, and be fine. I’ll explain later.
If you are only at state 1 on the list above, and aren’t venturing into any of steps 2 -4, only focus on the category of “My Personal Favorites” category of the list below. Most of them are basic G, C, and D songs, and some with Em/Am mixed in, although there may be an exception here and there.
The Categories of Songs
Here are the categories I have included in this article.
- My Personal Favorites & Recommendations (Mostly Rock/Soft Rock/Southern Rock/Folk)
- Rock/Classic Rock/Soft Rock, etc
- Classic Hymns
- Contemporary Christian Music
Disclaimer: ALL of these songs may not be for you. I’m throwing a bunch of songs in here. To be honest, I can’t even say I like all of the songs in this list, but I tried to find a bunch of tunes. Hopefully you can find a handful in here to help you get started ; ) Some of the categories like country and reggae are a little scant, but I hope to add to this list over time.
My Personal Favorites & Recommendations
These are the songs I learned how to play in the VERY VERY beginning stages of learning the guitar. They worked well for me and I think they could work well for you. With that being said, most of these are in the folk and rock genres. Lot’s of Neil Young, lots of Allman Brothers, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. (Nevermind the “feud” between Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd).
- Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, Bob Dylan
- Sweet Home Alabama, Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Simple Man, Lynyrd Skynyrd
- All I Can Do Is Write About It, Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Heart of Gold, Neil Young
- Rockin In The Free World, Neil Young
- Unknown Legend, Neil Young
- Harvest Moon, Neil Young
- Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd
- Mother, Pink Floyd
- Eagles Fly, Sammy Hagar
- Seven Turns, The Allman Brothers Band
- Wild Thing, The Troggs
Rock/Classic Rock/Soft Rock/Folk, etc
- Born In The USA, Bruce Springsteen
- Glycerine, Bush
- When I Come Around, Green Day
- Jane Says, Jane’s Addiction
- Don’t Stop Believin’, Journey
- Tuesday’s Gone, Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Free Bird, Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black), Neil Young
- Right Here Waiting, Richard Marx
- Still Loving You, Scorpions
- Soulshine, The Allman Brothers Band
- No One To Run With, The Allman Brothers Band
- Back Where It All Begins, The Allman Brothers Band
- Let It Be, The Beatles
- Break On Through, The Doors
- Beast Of Burden, The Rolling Stones
- With Or Without You, U2
- Blowin In The Wind, Bob Dylan
- Mr. Tambourine Man, Bob Dylan
- Margarataville, Jimmy Buffett
- Cheeseburger In Paradise, Jimmy Buffett
- Waiting On The World To Change, John Mayer
- No One, Alicia Keys
- Viva La Vida, Coldplay
- Clocks, Coldplay
- You’re Beautiful, James Blunt
- I’m Yours, Jason Mraz
- Poker Face, Lady Gaga
- Blurred Lines, Robin Thicke
- Bad Blood, Taylor Swift
- Zombie, The Cranberries
- Hey, Soul Sister, Train
- Achy Breaky Heart, Billy Ray Cyrus
- Jolene, Dolly Parton
- Leaving On A Jet Plane, John Denver
- No Woman No Cry, Bob Marley
- Three Little Birds, Bob Marley
- How Great Thou Art, Carl Gustav Boberg
- It Is Well With My Soul, Horacio Spafford
- Amazing Grace, John Newton
Contemporary Christian Music
- How Great Is Our God, Chris Tomlin
- Good Good Father, Chris Tomlin
- Amazing Grace My Chains Are Gone, Chris Tomlin
- O Come To The Altar, Elevation Worship
- Only King Forever, Elevation Worship
- Mighty To Save, Hillsong United
- Scandal Of Grace, Hillsong United
- Your Love Never Fails, Jesus Culture
- 10,000 Reasons Bless The Lord, Matt Redman
- Blessed Be Your Name, Matt Redman
- You Never Let Go, Matt Redman
- I Can Only Imagine, Mercy Me
- Finally Home, Mercy Me
- Bring The Rain, Mercy Me
- This Is Amazing Grace, Phil Wickham
- Jingle Bells
- Joy To The World
- We Wish You A Merry Christmas
- O’ Holy Night
- O Come, All Ye Faithful
- Twelve Days of Christmas
- O Tennenbaum (O Christmas Tree)
- Silent Night
How To Find The Chords For These Songs
Now that I’ve given you this huge list, and assuming you found at least some songs you’d like to play, what do you do? Well we need to go and hunt down the chords for them of course! I’d suggest going to Ultimate-Guitar.com. It’s the best site I know of. Use the following steps.
- Visit Ultimate-Guitar.com
- Using the search bar at the top, type in the name of the song you’re looking for.
- Sift through the results and look for the result that has the highest quality rating and the most ratings, is listed as chords (not Tab, Pro, or anything else). I have circled in red the versions you want to look for. Make sure it says “Chords” to the right, and also has a good rating with the highest number of ratings. Those are most likely the most accurate versions.
- After clicking on the result you want, you have a couple of options that I will outline below…”simplifying” the chords, and transposing the song to a more “guitar-friendly” key.
Simplifying The Chords
Some of the songs may be beginner friendly, but we can make them even friendlier by using a feature on Ultimate Guitar’s website called “SIMPLIFY.” The website has a handy little toolbar at the bottom that allows you to manipulate the chords on the screen.
But don’t worry. We’re only manipulating the chords that will make the songs easier to play for beginners. If you see a bunch of chords that have long names like Asus4, Cadd9, D2, or Dsus2, or Dsus4, we can simplify those chords by clicking the SIMPLIFY button.
This is definitely not the appropriate article for any kind of lesson on music theory or chord construction, but let me clarify what this does. This changes the name of the chord but doesn’t change the tonality of it in a big enough way to change the way the songs sounds.
In other words, it makes it easier for you, as a beginner to still play your favorite songs without getting scared off by long chord names. If you know what those chords mean, and know how to play them, by all means, play them!
Transposing To A “Guitar-Friendly” Key
All of the songs I provided in the list above shouldn’t really have this problem, but you may find that some songs you want to play are not in “guitar-friendly” keys. Guitar-friendly keys are G, C, D, A, and E.
The chords that are written in these keys are usually good for strumming and singing to. Non guitar-friendly keys would be any song in a sharp or flat key. I also don’t think B and F are very guitar-friendly. But fear not! If you find songs written in these keys that you want to play, you may just need to transpose the song to another key.
Ultimate-Guitar has a pretty handy TRANSPOSE tool on the bottom of the page to help with just this task.
Click the + or – button to transpose the song to a key that contains chords you know how to play.
What About A Capo?
Another option is a capo. How to actually use a capo is outside the scope of this article, but it’s a device that you place on the guitar that effectively moves the nut to a different fret. This allows you to play the “open” chord shapes that you’re familiar with…just higher up on the fretboard.
So when you’d be playing a G chord shape, you may actually be playing in the key of Bb (B-flat), if the capo is on the 4th fret. You will see many singer-songwriters using capos while they’re performing.
Why Transpose A Song?
When you transpose a song, it will sound different from the key the song was recorded in by the artist. Don’t worry too much, because when you start strumming and playing the song. You should still have no problem being able to sing along and recognize the song.
Just because the chords are different, they’ll still have the same relationship to each other. Musicians transpose songs to different keys all the time, usually to accommodate the vocalist. Some musicians can sing well in certain keys, but not well in others. It depends on the vocal range. When I play with my church band, we transpose keys all the time on certain songs. It’s a common practice.
There you have it. I hope you will find this list useful! So long for now!