The 8 Best Acoustic Guitar Songs to Learn First

The 8 Best Acoustic Guitar Songs to Learn First

The best acoustic guitar songs aren’t the hardest ones. Nor the most popular. 

In fact, while it’s nice to play songs people know, it’s pretty boring to play exactly the same songs everybody else plays on guitar.

And it’s boring to learn them too.

Lucky for you, I’ve been gathering a collection of the best acoustic guitar songs for the past 20 years. Below is a sampling of the most beginner-friendly ones, complete with chords, original tracks and tips  to help you play them better. 

If you find learning these songs a bit tricky, or you’re completely new to playing, check out my 10 Day Guitar Crash Course. Or if you want more guidance, there’s also a complete guitar course.

In the meantime, let’s dive on in and get you started!

The Best Acoustic Guitar Songs You Can Learn Right Now

Something In The Way

Nirvana

Nirvana guitar Something In The Way

Something In The Way first graced our ears as the last song on Nirvana‘s 1991 album Nevermind. One of the easier rock songs to play on guitar, it’s just two chords.

DIFFICULTY: Easy

CHORDS: Em C

STRUM: Down Strums

Below is a very popular live version of the song for you. If you want to play along with the recording, put a capo on the 1st fret.

* TIPS TO PLAY THIS SONG BETTER *

I’ve provided you with the live version above to play along with instead of the original, because the original recording on Nevermind is out of tune. You’ll find this happens sometimes when artists intentionally use out of tune instruments, strange tunings or on very old recordings. But that’s ok, you don’t need recordings to learn guitar.

Roving Gambler

Nora Jones & Billie Joe Armstrong

easy songs to learn on guitar

Roving Gambler is a traditional folk song first collected in 1909. It’s been covered by many artists, but my favourite version is this one by Norah Jones & Billie Joe Armstrong from their 2013 duet album ‘Foreverly’. And it’s just one chord!

DIFFICULTY: Easy

CHORDS: E

STRUM: Little Big Strum

Below is the original song for you to play along with the recording.

* TIPS TO PLAY THIS SONG BETTER *

You can either play this 1 chord song using a D chord or E chord. If you’re using the D chord shape you’ll need to use a capo to bring it up to the same key. The recording above uses the D shape chord to get that high-happy tone, but if you find the E shape chord easier for you right now, that’s totally fine – and then you won’t need a capo. A one chord song is one of the best acoustic guitar songs to learn first. Learn that chord and you can do it right now. 

Tree Hugger

Kiyma Dawson

Kimya Dawson guitar

I first discovered Kimya Dawson‘s song Tree Hugger on the 2008 soundtrack to the movie Juno. The chords are straightforward, the beat is fun, and the lyrics are gorgeous. Give it a go!

DIFFICULTY: Easy

CHORDS: G C D

STRUM: Down Strum

Below is the original song for you to play along with the recording.

* TIPS TO PLAY THIS SONG BETTER *

You have two options to strum this song as a beginner – lots of fast down strums or a mixture of up & down strums. I’d advise you to do what comes naturally to you for now. It’s a good challenging speed to play along to, but the song is quite raw and forgiving, so just have fun with it!

Jane Says

Jane's Addiction

Songs For Beginners

An oldie but a goodie. Jane Says is a simple two chord song released in 1988 by Jane’s Addiction. It’s relatively well known, and one of the best acoustic guitar songs to add to your beginner repertoire.

DIFFICULTY: Easy

CHORDS: G A

STRUM: Intuitive

Below is the original song for you to play along with the recording.

* TIPS TO PLAY THIS SONG BETTER *

What makes this song work is the rhythm of the strumming. If you’re just starting out, use whatever basic strum you can do. As you master the chord changes, start to incorporate more interesting strumming patterns that reflect the energy and rhythm of the song.

Jorge Regula

The Moldy Peaches

super easy guitar songs for beginners

If you haven’t discovered The Moldy Peaches yet, you really need to check them out. This song, Jorge Regula, from their 2001 self-titled album is a simple acoustic song to learn – perfect for practicing switching between your G and C chords.

DIFFICULTY: Easy

CHORDS: G C

STRUM: Intuitive 

Below is the original song for you to play along with the recording.

* TIPS TO PLAY THIS SONG BETTER *

Intuitive strumming makes this song sound great. I teach a full tutorial on this song and strumming style in my Acoustic Guitar Revolution course. If you’re extremely new to guitar, you can just do a simple down strum for now.

Fade Into You

Mazzy Star

Mazzy Star Easy Acoustic Guitar Chords

When it was released Mazzy Star‘s fuzzy, dark tune Fade Into You wasn’t a number one hit. But it did get to number three on Billboard’s Modern Rock charts. Over the last quarter century years it’s featured in 28 movies and television shows. It’s grown in popularity, and is a nostalgic cult hit helped that define the 90s generation. It’s also a beautifully simple song to play. 

DIFFICULTY: Easy

CHORDS: G D Am

STRUM: Intuitive Strum

Below is the original song for you. If you want to play along with the recording, capo on the 2nd fret.

* TIPS TO PLAY THIS SONG BETTER *

Leave plenty of space, it adds to sweet melancholy of the song and means it will be simpler to play as one of your first songs to learn on guitar. 

Riptide

Vance Joy

Riptide guitar songs for beginners

Riptide is a well known song by Australian artist Vance Joy. It was released in 2013. Although the recording is on a ukulele, it works great on a guitar.

DIFFICULTY: Easy

CHORDS: Am C G

STRUM: Down Strum

Below is the original song for you. If you want to play along with the recording, capo on the 1st fret.

* TIPS TO PLAY THIS SONG BETTER *

You can check out my free Riptide guitar tutorial to help you get this song just right.

Loser

Beck

Beck-Acoustic-Guitar

One chord songs are the best. You’ve got time to learn to strum, you build stamina holding chord shapes, and you can sing along with ease. Loser, by Beck, was first released in 1994 on his Mellow Gold album. Give it a crack.

DIFFICULTY: Easy

CHORDS: D

STRUM: Down Strum

Below is the original song for you to play along with the recording.

* TIPS TO PLAY THIS SONG BETTER *

If you want to give this song a bit of a fatter sound on acoustic guitar there’s a really neat trick of tuning the E string (the thickest string) down to a D note. It’s not necessary, but it will give the song a little bit of extra oomph.

Summary

So now you know 8 of the best acoustic guitar songs I recommend for beginners.

I hope you’re enthused by this collection. Pick the ones that excite you most and get cracking. Or line up with a teacher that shares your enthusiasm, and let the fun times begin! Check out my online guitar course for no-fluff, streamlined learning. 

Either way, if you want to learn guitar, don’t put it off. Start right now.