G’day mate! Are you ready for 6 of the quickest and easiest songs to learn on the guitar? Some super simple serenades?
Excellent. I’m glad you’re here, because I’ve got a collection of super easy songs for you to learn to play.
They won’t take you long to master. But more importantly, I’ll show you what it takes to make ‘em sound real good.
Before you try playing the songs, it’s a very good idea you understand what makes a song easy to learn. That way, you’ll be able to pick and choose the best ones for your level without going down a hard learning path.
Are you ready? Let’s get learning.
What makes a song easy to play?
Let’s talk about what makes a song easy. It all starts with the chords.
We need to choose songs that use simple chords. There’s no hard and fast rules around this – simple chords are the chords you can play right now. If you can’t play guitar at all, a course like my 10 day online guitar course is a quick and painless introduction.
I’m constantly amazed at the recommendations that come up on the internet for the ‘easiest songs to learn on the guitar’. Either they’re done to death and boooooorrrrring, or they’re deceptively challenging songs.
Like this example, from an article entitled Top 40 Easiest Songs To Learn On Guitar:
What the hey now? 8th note strumming? G/B?
I’ve been teaching guitar professionally for 25 years and there’s NO WAY I’d encourage a beginner to learn a song like this.
But it’s not the only one around.
You’ll find lists of ‘simple’ songs with hidden complications like this one from an article entitled 10 Easy Songs For Beginners:
5 chords in a single song? Different progressions for the chorus and verse?
That’s not exactly easy.
As far as the song goes, Nirvana’s live version of Polly is excellent. But it demands swift chord changes, much too fast for a beginner. Certainly not what I’d class as easy learning.
Also, it’s not necessary or productive to start your learning with chords that end in a number like E5, E6, E7.
There are 2341 playable chords on guitar. But most guitarists only use 20-30 of them. And as a beginner, you only need a few easy chords to start playing great songs.
And why on earth would you start with something that challenging, when there’s such thing as a one chord song?
Start with one-chord songs
One chord guitar songs are the best place for beginners to start.
They are, quite literally, songs with only one guitar chord in them. Super easy! I teach some rather cool ones in my guitar courses. There’s free preview lessons of one chord songs which you can get started on right now.
While you’re there, you’ll also find free preview lessons for the simple chords you’ll need to play them. And lyrics too, coz #singingiswinning. Plus a few important beginner tips in the video lessons.
Here’s another one chord song you can start with:
#1 - Run Through The Jungle
This is a simple one chord song by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The original song is played in the key of D.
If you can play a D chord, you can play along with the recording above.
As you start to develop your musical ears, you’ll notice that the D chord sounds far too happy (or major) for this song.
My recommendation is that you learn the lyrics and then you can play and sing it on your own in any key. I like it played with the E chord shape, which is a little moodier and more suitable for the song.
Learn two-chord songs next
Cool, so once you’ve got a couple of one chord songs under your belt, and you can do that as soon as today, then you’ll be ready for two chord songs.
Learning in stages like this is so much better than overloading yourself with fancy songs that belong in the too-hard basket.
Two chord songs are a great way to get you moving between your new chords, and playing things that sound really truly like you know how to play guitar.
It’s important that those two chord songs you learn aren’t too fast, and aren’t too lengthy. It’s also important that they’re in easy keys, not like this stuff:
There’s a heap of good two chord songs out there, but surprisingly not a whole lot of them are beginner friendly.
Often they have quick or oddly-timed changes. If you’re looking for easy songs, you need simple, repetitive patterns.
I ended up writing an easy two chord song called Stormy Outside for my course students to learn from. Another great, simple two chord song called Ain’t Gonna Work was written by a great singer-songwriter and friend of mine Jack Mancor.
I’ve tested both songs on my absolute beginner students, and they work like magic. Two easy chords, a simple pattern and you’re playing full songs immediately. Clear and easy-to-follow video tutorials for both of these songs are in my guitar course.
#2 - Jambalaya (On The Bayou)
This easy two chord song by Hank Williams is a pretty fun place for beginners to get started. All you need is a C chord and a G chord. If you listen to the structure of the song, you can hear the chord changes. Remember – there’s only two, so if it’s not one, it’ll be the other one!
#3 - Something In The Way
Here’s a dirge of a Nirvana song for ya. Something in the way is also a two chord song, and it’s not hard to follow along. However, if you listen to the original on Nevermind, it’s in dropped and flat tuning, so you won’t really be able to play along. BUT, if you listen to the live version from the MTV Unplugged album above, and you chuck a capo on first fret, you can play along with your basic E minor and C chords. If you don’t have a capo or know how to use one, just play your E minor and C chords without the recording.
Move on to 3-chord songs
Next we have three chord songs.
Plenty of three chord songs are complicated, with lots of quick chord changes, challenging timing, unusual progressions and fancy fills.
But you’ll be pleased to know these next three are super easy:
#4 - Three Little Birds
A Bob Marley classic, and great start for new guitarists who know a few chords. It’s just three chords – A, D and E. I’ve recorded a very beginner friendly version for you to play along to. If you don’t know those chords, check out my free Three Little Birds guitar tutorial. Keen ears may notice that I’ve simplified the chorus from the original. This is something worth doing when you’re new to songs – keeping things simple and uniform is a great way to build your guitar skills without getting overwhelmed.
#5 - The Tide Is High
Once you’ve learnt Three Little Birds, this song is an easy follow up. A great song by Blondie, it uses a very similar chord progression as the last song. Again, if you’re playing along to the original, you’ll need to capo, this time on the second fret. And if you don’t have a capo, or don’t know how to use one (and honestly, if you’ve just started playing guitar, I wouldn’t suggest you worry about capos yet) you can just sing and play without the recording.
#6 - Riptide
I think this Vance Joy song might’ve just about had its heyday, but I’ll leave it on here anyway because it’s easy enough for beginners to learn. Another three chord song, this one is A minor, G and C. If you’re not sure about those chords, I’ve made a full Riptide guitar chord tutorial for you. Now, if you try to play along with the original recording, you’re going to have big troubles. Firstly because it’s on a uke. And secondly, because the tuning is far from standard. No matter what you do, it’ll sound a bit off. So I’ve recorded a straightforward version for you to play along to, nice and slow, and in normal tuning. Phew!
Now this is a fine collection of easy songs to start with, and I’ve got plenty more great guitar songs for beginners, but pretty soon you’re gonna notice something very important…
Why don't my songs sound good?
If you’ve been attempting easy songs, you might have started to learn a very, very important lesson:
Chords don’t make a song.
That’s right. Chords alone are not enough to make a song sound good. You need to learn how to strum. And then you should learn a few different strums you can use to make songs sound different and interesting.
You also need to learn how to structure songs. You need to learn a few fancy techniques like stops and hangs and how to start and end a song. It’s not hard stuff, but it makes all the difference between a song sounding complete or just fading off into oblivion.
And you need to learn how to sing and play and not be looking at your hands the whole time. I can help you with these things, but you’ve got to be willing to learn in the right order so you don’t get overwhelmed and give up.
Learn easy songs the right way
In my guitar courses, I teach beginner-appropriate songs in an order that allows you to build your skills before getting to the hard stuff – so you’re never overwhelmed.
Depending on which course you choose, there’s a mix of one, two, three and four chord songs, and some really challenging stuff towards the end – but you’ll be totally ready for it by then.
Learning through a structured course is better than random YouTube tutorials that don’t put you on a focussed learning path.
My guitar courses aren’t right for everyone. They’re for guitar enthusiasts who want to learn to sing and play full songs, develop solid rhythm and become confident and competent guitarists. I don’t teach lead guitar solos and overly-technical stuff.
Whatever learning path you take, know that learning guitar can be easy, fun and very rewarding.
Enjoy the journey!