Just picked up a guitar? Maybe you’ve been fooling around with a few chords. So what’s next? Learning a few songs will give you a massive confidence boost. Some songs are very easy to learn, like really simple! I’ve put together a few of the easiest songs to learn on guitar to get your started. I’ll provide all of the open chords you’ll need and links to the tab so you can start playing in no time. Learn a few of these and you’ll have an arsenal of songs impressive enough for any campfire or open mic night. Let’s get started!
The Chords You’ll Need
You may already know a few chords. If that’s the case then congrats, you’ve got a head start. If not then spend some time studying the chords provided. They’re all very basic, but if you master them you’ll be able to strum along with most songs. The chords we’re going to be working with today are:
- A Major
- A Minor
- B Major
- C Major
- D Major
- D Minor
- D7 Major
- E Major
- E Minor
- F Major
- G Major
So if you don’t know any chords, by then end of this post you’ll know 12 new chords and be able to play 7 new songs!
I’ve ranked these songs in order from easiest to hardest. Although all of them are easy to play. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a bit of practice, it’ll soon click and you’ll be playing like a pro in no time!
Breakfast at Tiffanys – Deep Blue Something
This is a regular in my set lists. Very easy to play and crowds love to sing along. You can easily play this with just one guitar and it works really well on the acoustic too. There are only three chords in this whole song. The intro and verse is D major, G major and A major in that order. Then when you get to the chorus it changes slightly to D major, A major and G major. That’s it, that’s the whole song! Super simple and guaranteed to get people tapping their feet. You can see a tab for this song below, which will give you the lyrics too. Not enough? Check out the video, which also includes the lyrics!
Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Another super-simple three chord song. And it uses the same three chords as Breakfast at Tiffanys! The strumming pattern is a little more involved, but then it’s a little off-time in Breakfast at Tiffanys too, so you’ll soon get used to it. The intro and verse is D major, A major and G major, with the chorus progressing through G major, D major and then A major. It’s another one that’ll get people tapping their feet. Another stalwart in my set list, although I always make sure my voice is warmed up before playing this one. Warning, you might be a little tired after playing this one as it’s quite fast and furious!
Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash
I usually play this song using a capo on the first fret. If you don’t have a capo, check out my article on accessories for beginners. You can pick up a capo for a few dollars from most music shops and online. This song introduces B major, which is a slightly more involved chord. With the capo acting as the nut, you’d play this on the third fret. If you can’t fret all of the strings, you’ll be fine to use the power chord version. Use your index finger to fret the third fret of the A string and your fourth and fifth fingers to fret the fifth fret of the D and G strings respectively. You’ll get the root of the note that way and it’ll still sound good. This is one of my warm up songs that I usually slot in towards the beginning of a gig. It’s a great upbeat song and people love a bit of Johnny Cash!
Times Like These – Foo Fighters
Stepping it up a little now, this song uses four chords. It’s still really easy. We still use D major, but we’re introducing C major, A minor and E minor to the fray. C major might take a little time to get right, but this song is great for practicing it. A minor and E minor are nothing to worry about. This song also makes my set list. It’s brilliant to play the chilled version on the acoustic guitar. The timing is a little funny, but you’ll soon get used to it. It’s one of those songs that people forget they like, so it gets a great reaction when you play it. The video for this one is the acoustic version. If you want to get the effect Dave Grohl uses in the intro, simply lift your index finger off the G string and then replace in line with the rhythm 🙂
Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
We’re getting more advanced! This song uses 5 chords, three of which you’ve already seen. We add G major and D7 major. They’re nothing to worry about either! This is a really great song to play live, audiences love it. It’ll be popular at your next open mic night. You can get a little funky with your strumming pattern when it comes to the bridge to fill in that part. Otherwise it’s smooth sailing! The D7 major is a really easy chord to play, but it only comes up a few times in the song. For the most part you’ll be switching between G major, C major and D major. Predictably, this is another one that makes my set list on a regular basis. The tab includes the intro too, in case you want to bag the whole song!
Save Tonight – Eagle Eye Cherry
I’ve ranked this one here only because of the introduction of the F Major chord. F Major can be a little tricky for a beginner. It’s the first chord where you have to “barre” the whole of a fret. The chord takes the shape of E major, except you place your index finger across the first fret for all six strings. Effectively your index finger becomes the nut of the guitar. This makes sense when you consider the change from an E to an F is a half a step (i.e. one fret). it’s worth putting in some practice with the F Major to build up the strength in your fretting hand. Once you’ve got that down the rest of the song is a piece of cake. There’s no change in the chord progression from intro, to verse, to chorus. It’s always A minor, F major, C major then G major. The only difference is that you palm mute (i.e. place part of your strumming hand over the strings near the bridge) part of the chords in the intro and verse.
This is another song that I use to warm up when I play. It’s upbeat and people seem to really like it. Another one of those toe-tappers. If you’re really struggling with the F major chord, here’s a modified version that doesn’t require you to barre the whole first fret. Jut make sure you don’t play the low E or A strings if using this version.
Scar Tissue – Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Although this song only uses three chords, I’ve ranked it here because there’s some quick chord changes. It uses just three chords, F major, C major and D minor. I think this is a great gateway song to get into playing a bit of lead guitar too. The riff is pretty simple and the solos are easy to pick up too. You could lay down the chords using a looper pedal and then play the lead and solos over the top. This is one of the first songs I learned to play, although I didn’t have a looper pedal when I started. I’d listen to the song and play the respective parts over the top of the track. How technology has progressed! I don’t tend to include this is my set list anymore, and it’s probably one to play with another guitarist at open mic, rather than on your own. That said, if you’ve got a looper pedal you could easily show off 🙂
If you’re anything like me you want to be able to measure your progress quickly. When you first pick up a guitar, it can be pretty intimidating. You can wonder how you’ll ever be able to play any songs. Although structured practice is great, I learnt a lot about playing the guitar by diving right in and learning to play a few simple songs. With a bit of practice you’ll be able to nail these 7 simple songs and try your hand at open mic, or just show off around the campfire. I hope you’ve found this post helpful. Feel free to leave a comment, or get in touch via my contact page. Now, go learn some tunes 🙂