Every Rose Has Its Thorn Chords – How to Play Poison’s Hit Song

In the mood for a hair metal ballad? We’ve got just the thing – let’s explore Poison’s Every Rose Has Its Thorn chords.

Over 100,000 guitar-learners get our world-class guitar tips & tutorials sent straight to their inbox: Click here to join them

In this free lesson you will learn…

  • An easy way to break down songs for easier learning
  • How to commit songs & chords to memory more easily
  • How to pivot between chords
  • How to play Every Rose Has Its Thorn by Poison

Poison’s Every Rose Has Its Thorn Chords Are Easy To Play

When we think of the hair metal bands of the 80’s, we usually think of a few things right away:

  • Big hair
  • Hairspray
  • Tight pants
  • Awesome guitar riffs

These are the obvious ones, sure, but there’s one more thing that comes with almost every hair metal band of the 1980’s:

Ballads.

That’s right folks – a slow, brooding song you can slow dance to and sing to the guy or girl you’ve been crushing on since high school.

Every-Rose-Has-Its-Thorn-Chords

Ballads became an unlikely staple in hair metal bands.

For a single song, the band would hang up all their attitude, slow down the tempo and serenade the audience in a way that would make you think just for a second that any one of them might be worth bringing home to meet your parents.

As funny as that might sound, it was a thing that many heavier bands did to garner themselves radio popularity, and it worked.

Poison was no exception to this marketing rule of thumb, and their unforgettable tune “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” skyrocketed their success in a big way.

The Every Rose Has Its Thorn chords are simple and easy, and we’re going to take you step-by-step through every aspect of the song today.

Click here to listen to the track.

Every-Rose-Has-Its-Thorn-Chords

Wait a minute – Before we begin!

This song is not tuned to standard tuning, although it might look like it from the chord shapes you’ll see. Poison tune their guitars one half-step down from standard tuning, so your strings should look like this:

Eb

(If you don't understand the above image please read our article "How To Read Guitar Chordboxes In 60 Seconds". It will make everything clear!)

Ab

Db

Gb

Bb

 

Learn the 12 EASIEST beginner chords with our famous FREE guide

  Stop struggling. Start making music.

  Learn 12 beginner-friendly versions of every chord.

  This is our most popular guide and it will improve your chord ability quickly.

Every Rose Has Its Thorn Chords I – The First Two Chords

When it comes to learning songs, there’s a process that will always stand to push you further ahead, quicker:

  1. Learn the chords one-by-one
  2. Learn the strumming pattern
  3. Practice your chord transitions
  4. Learn the lyrics
  5. Put it all together

It can be easy to want to learn all the things about a song all at once, but it doesn’t get us far.

We’re going to practice this process today with this lesson on the Every Rose Has Its Thorn chords by first looking at the order in which the chords pop up.

Every-Rose-Has-Its-Thorn-Chords

The Every Rose Has Its Thorn chords are centered mostly around G major and Cadd9 for the bulk of the song, which gives us an amazing advantage toward learning it.

Where these two chords are concerned, you can simply leave your pinky and ring fingers on the B and high E strings at the third fret.

This will let you focus your energy on your index and middle fingers, who will have to switch back and forth between string groups to accommodate each chord.

Let’s start by practicing the motion back and forth between these two chords:

G MAJOR

C ADD9

Every Rose Has Its Thorn Chords II – Completing the Progressions

We’ve only got three other chords we need to master in order to be able to play all of the chords in this song.

Easy, right? Fairly. The other Every Rose Has Its Thorn chords are ones you might already know.

After the initial back and forth of G major and C add9 for the first three stanzas, we see a D major chord pop up at the beginning of the last line of the verse (“though I tried not to hurt you…”).

This one is easy enough to take care of (see the diagram below), but we’re faced with a C major chord immediately afterward. This transition is worth taking some time on.

D MAJOR

 

When you move out of D major, lead with your ring finger down to the A string on the 3rd fret and allow that to help you set up the rest of the C major chord.

Pro Tip: Many times, leading a chord transition with the finger that takes the lowest note of the next chord can help set you up for success much more easily.

Before we move into the next section of the Every Rose Has Its Thorn chords, it’s a good idea to give these four chord transitions some practice altogether.

Let’s take a few minutes to rehearse our transitions from:

  • G major to Cadd9
  • Cadd9 to D major
  • D major to C major
  • C major to G major

To start with, strum each of the Every Rose Has Its Thorn chords and hold for a count of “1-2-3-4” before switching to the next chord.

It’s worth noting that we see an E minor chord pop up later on in the bridge, so take a bit of time to get that one under your fingers as well if you haven’t already.

C MAJOR

E MINOR

Every Rose Has Its Thorn Chords III – The First Strumming Pattern

Now that we’ve mastered the chords we need to play this whole song, we can move on to the rhythm.

Rhythm is how we carry the groove of the song, and so it’s important to pay attention to how the song flows.

Remember: Guitar isn’t just about the chords you play, it’s about everything put together. You can play some wonderfully defined chords, but they need to have rhythm behind them in order to go somewhere.

Thankfully, the strumming pattern that accompanies the front-end of the Every Rose Has Its Thorn chords is super-straightforward.

We’re going to count in 8th notes for this chord progression, and it looks like this:

Every-Rose-Has-Its-Thorn-Chords

Why do we count this way?

8th notes leave room for stressed and non-stressed strums to ring out, giving us plenty of room to learn the strumming pattern.

The strumming pattern for the intro and first verse of the Every Rose Has Its Thorn chords goes like this (with the count):

D         D          D                U          U   D          D    U          U

1          &          2          &          3          &          4          &

Did you see how some of the strums land in between the beats?

This is an important concept that we can master easily with some practice – keep reading to find out how.

Every-Rose-Has-Its-Thorn-Chords

Try This: Counting in 8th notes like we have above, take a G major chord and strum down for every number you count, and up for every & that you count. This should give you a consistent down-up pattern.

From there, strum only on the downbeats (1, 2, 3, 4) – then only on the upbeats (&).

Finally, try strumming in between the beats to get a feel for how playing between the beats works.

As you can see, this is a technique we need to employ to play through the Every Rose Has Its Thorn Chords effectively, so give this exercise a good shot!

Every-Rose-Has-Its-Thorn-Chords

Every Rose Has Its Thorn Chords IV – The Second Strumming Pattern

First and foremost, if you’re a beginner there’s one thing we should clear up:

You don’t necessarily need to play this second strumming pattern to effectively play the Every Rose Has Its Thorn chords, but it helps to put a variation in your back pocket regardless.

If you’re feeling like smashing some goals, keep reading to learn the second pattern.

The first strumming pattern for these chords gave us some room to play in between the beats, and this pattern does the same.

You’ll hear the following pattern prominently in the 2nd verse, choruses, bridge and solo sections.

D         D          D    U         U    D         D          D     U         U

1          &          2          &          3          &          4          &

Although only slightly different than the first strumming pattern, this pattern puts a little bit more push in our Every Rose Has Its Thorn chords which serves to drive the song a little harder – not a bad thing at all!

Before we move into the next section, take some time to practice your chords that you’ve learned so far with these two strumming patterns. Check out the diagrams below:

G MAJOR

CADD9

D MAJOR

C MAJOR

E MINOR

Every Rose Has Its Thorn Chords V – Practicing Chord Transitions

Okay, so this is where it gets fun and where we start to put things together.

This might seem like we’re rambling on about the fine details of the Every Rose Has Its Thorn chords, but deconstructing a song in this way really is the most effective way for us to learn about all its moving parts.

The more we learn, the better we play. Period.

As we discussed above, moving from G major to Cadd9 isn’t that big of a deal, but we can hash a few more details out with the other ones.

Try moving from Cadd9 to D major first.

CADD9

D MAJOR

C MAJOR

E MINOR

When we position our fingers in the shape of Cadd9, our ring finger should be on the 3rd fret of the B string.

We can keep that finger in that same position as we move to play D major.

This is commonly known as pivoting – where you use one common finger between two chords to pivot from one to the next with increased stability. You’ll see this technique pop up a bit between the Every Rose Has Its Thorn chords you’ve learned.

Pro Tip: Pivoting isn’t always an available option to move between two chords, but it’s a good idea to look out for commonalities between chords to use it when possible.

As we said above, we can use our ring finger to lead us from D major to C major, setting up the rest of the chord simply by working backwards.

D MAJOR

Every-Rose-Has-Its-Thorn-Chords

C MAJOR

Every-Rose-Has-Its-Thorn-Chords

C major and E minor are another two Every Rose Has Its Thorn chords that we can pivot between, this time using our middle finger as the pivot finger instead.

Now that we’ve mastered the chords, strumming patterns and chord transitions, we can begin to put it all together and turn this progression into a song!

C MAJOR

Every-Rose-Has-Its-Thorn-Chords

E MINOR

Every-Rose-Has-Its-Thorn-Chords

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

Every Rose Has Its Thorn Chords V – Four Sections/Four Progressions

As we’ve said, most of the bulk of this song relies on the interplay between G major and C add9, but we’re going to lay out the chord progressions of each section for you so you’ve got all your goalposts sorted for this song.

Remember: Practice each chord progression individually before you attack the whole song – you’ll spend less time going back and forth on chord formations and more time feeling like a rockstar.

As with every song, learn to master the Every Rose Has Its Thorn chords individually as well and you won’t miss.

Intro & Verses:

G major & Cadd9

End of Verse 1 (“Though I tried not to hurt you…”):

D major & C major

Chorus (laid out with lyrics for reference):

G                             Cadd9

Every rose has its thorn.

          G                                   Cadd9

Just like every night has its dawn.

                    G       D                      C                 G

Just like every cowboy sings a sad, sad song.

G                   C

Every rose has its thorn.

Pro Tip: Notice the placement of the Every Rose Has Its Thorn chords over specific words in each line? It’s important to take note of this so we can accurately measure the amount of time needed between chords.

Bridge:

(4 beats per chord evenly)

E minor – D major – C major – G major

E minor – D major – C major

Every-Rose-Has-Its-Thorn-song-lesson

Solo Section:

G major – Cadd9 – G major – Cadd9

Eminor – D major – C major – G major

Eminor – D major – C major – C major

G major – Cadd9 – G major – Cadd9

Pro Tip: If you want to be really clever about learning the Every Rose Has Its Thorn chords, play the track back and strum once per chord as the song plays while you count 8th notes like we have above.

This will help increase your time feel, as well as your sense of rhythm on the whole.

Once you’ve done this a few times, start working in the strumming pattern!

Every-Rose-Has-Its-Thorn-Chordboxes

Putting It All Together

Want to know the best way to master any tune?

Practice repeatedly and sing along!

Repeated practice helps us internalize the chord progression, while singing along will help us place the chords in their appropriate spots a lot more easily.

Throughout this lesson we’ve tried to break everything down into small steps that will not only help you master the Every Rose Has Its Thorn chords, but master the formula for practicing new music as well.

The more we learn about a song’s individual parts, the easier it is to learn it as a whole.

Remember: Every song is just a series of moving parts, and as we master each of them the bigger picture of the song itself becomes clearer.

Every-Rose-Has-Its-Thorn-on-guitar

Want More Out Of Your Every Rose Has Its Thorn Chords?

These same chords are used in a massive amount of other songs.

While it’s great to learn them just for this song, it’s a good idea to take some time each day to practice these chords separately as well. The more songs you learn, the more you’ll realize just how common these chords are in popular music.

Practice will take you farther than anything else, so make sure to keep picking up that guitar!

Recommended Resources

If you enjoyed this lesson, you’ll be happy to know that there’s plenty more to choose from.

Take a look at some of the awesome lessons we’ve got for you below:

What Type of Guitarist Are You?

Take our 60-second quiz & get your results: Take The Quiz

Want free guitar tips and video lessons delivered to your inbox?

Join over 100,000 other guitar learners and subscribe to our guitar-tips-by-email service. (It's free.)

We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

Learn how everything fits together quickly, easily and effectively. We share ninja tips (for instant fun!) but also timeless fundamentals that will deepen your understanding.


Popular Lessons

How To Learn Guitar: An 11-Step Programme For Beginners

10 Easy Songs For Beginners

How To Strum A Guitar

How To Choose The Perfect Beginner Guitar

Guitar Notes Explained: A Guide For Beginners

How To Play Lead Guitar

3 Easy Ways To Play Bm

More Cool Guitar Stuff

Learn about the National Guitar Academy: About Us

Visit our YouTube channel for fun guitar videos.

Join us on Facebook for daily guitar tips.

Listen to our Learn Guitar Podcast for rapid guitar progress.

Check out our free chord lessons.

 

Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Guitar Tutorials – Your Ultimate Guide To Top-Quality Guitar Education At Any Level!

Guitar tutorials help us learn and improve our skills. We’ve compiled a list of some of our best guitar tutorials to help you level-up your guitar playing. Let’s dive in!

 

Over 100,000 guitar-learners get our world-class guitar tips & tutorials sent straight to their inbox: Click here to join them

In this free lesson you will learn…

  • Proper posture & how to hold a pick
  • 8 Scale-based lessons
  • Major and minor chords as well as their intermediate cousins
  • How to find the best guitar tutorials on our website!

Guitar Tutorials Help Us Improve At A Faster Rate Than Learning On Our Own

Everyone needs a push in the right direction every now and again when it comes to their guitar journey. 

When it comes to the Internet however, many pieces of information can be misleading and often downright wrong.

  • Some guitar websites unknowingly teach bad guitar habits, or explain concepts in a way that can be extremely confusing to the beginner guitarist.
  • Confusion takes the fun out of learning guitar and leads to frustration – nobody wants that.

At National Guitar Academy, we’ve spent ages constructing guitar lesson content that is geared toward the beginner guitarist.

guitar-tutorials

We try to keep our explanations straightforward so that you can get the most out of your online guitar tutorials while avoiding confusing and conflicting information.

However, we know you don’t have all the time in the world to cruise our website looking for the best lesson to push you forward to the next stage of your guitar journey.

With that in mind…

guitar-tutorials

We’ve Compiled A Number Of Free Guitar Tutorials For You Right Here

Not only that – We’ve categorized them for you to make the right ones easier to find.

  • From the very beginner fundamentals like how to hold a guitar all the way up to lead guitar technique and music theory.
  • We make a point of creating guitar content that will steer your playing in the right direction and point you down the road of effective practice and progress.

We didn’t just want this to be another list-style article like all the others you see on the internet, so we’ve scattered brief little tidbits of guitar advice into this article with links to other guitar tutorials that will elaborate on those pieces of advice.

guitar-tutorials

The Internet has enough list-style guitar articles as it is, so we figured we’d make this one fun for you.

  • Grab your guitar and some paper as well as a pen and get ready to do some serious learning.
  • Whether you’re just starting out or getting ready to shred up your next venue on tour, we’ve got something for you to push your playing forward.

Let’s dive in!

guitar-tutorials

Learn the 12 EASIEST beginner chords with our famous FREE guide

  Stop struggling. Start making music.

  Learn 12 beginner-friendly versions of every chord.

  This is our most popular guide and it will improve your chord ability quickly.

Guitar Tutorials – Fundamentals

Sometimes ‘start at the beginning’ just doesn’t cut it. 

  • Thankfully, we’ve broken down ‘the beginning’ pretty well in this guitar tutorials rundown.
  • If you haven’t yet purchased a guitar, click here for some tips on what to look out for.
  • Once you’ve found your ideal ax, start with learning proper posture as well as how the right way to tune the guitar.

These may seem like boring concepts that don’t mean much, but posture and tuning will take you a lot further than you might think.

Your back and ears will thank you further down the line – we promise.

guitar-tutorials

Getting a good start on the guitar can be difficult, so we’ve outlined 5 tips for a great start to your guitar journey here.

  • This lesson outlines the need-to-know fundamentals like the parts of the instrument and the note names.
  • Take the time to learn these concepts early, as they will help you communicate better later on in your musical journey.
  • Don’t forget about learning the different types of guitar notation such as chord charts and TAB – these concepts will carry you far on your guitar journey.

Lastly, our 11-step method for learning guitar will help keep you on the right track with proper instruction on things like how to hold a pick, how to avoid frustration and how to find the perfect guitar teacher.

Pro Tip: Developing proper pick posture is important and will help to keep your playing fluid and smooth. Pay attention to the way you hold your pick!

guitar-tutorials

Guitar Tutorials – Learning Basic Chords

Chords are the foundation for pretty well everything in music. The more chords we know, the bigger our musical vocabulary becomes. 

  • It’s important to focus on chords early on in our guitar journey. Contrary to popular belief, learning more chords will not just help you as a rhythm player, but as a lead guitarist as well.
  • Chords give our ears something to latch onto, and it’s important to learn how to play them well.

Our mini-program for learning guitar chords effectively will help you learn how to articulate your chords with precision and musicality.

guitar-lessons

Learning the ‘easy versions’ of chords first can help us to break them down easier and understand them quicker.

  • In this free guitar lesson here, we break down the regular and easy versions of 14 popular chords to help you get started.
  • Lastly, if you’re still having trouble playing your chords well, we’ve got a lesson for you on correct hand placement and finger technique for playing chords.

This lesson helps build good habits in your hands, so don’t pass it up!

free-guitar-lessons

Guitar Tutorials – Beginner Songs

Developing our library of guitar songs is important, and these guitar tutorials will help you tighten up your chops in no time.

  • Not all songs are difficult to play – in fact some are just two or three chords!
  • This lesson on 5 guitar songs for beginners gets your fingers primed with plenty of chord practice on some famous songs you probably already know.

When you’re done with those, you can hop on over here for another set of guitar songs that will get your fingers moving comfortably through the chords you have learned.

free-guitar-tutorials

If you want another round of easy guitar songs, this 2-chord songs lesson should do it for you.

Pro Tip: The guitar may come off like a complicated instrument, but some of the best and most memorable songs are quite simple in their structure.

Learning two and three-chord songs helps us to grasp the concept of simplicity in music early on, which helps us to build a better learning foundation.

Many guitar tutorials that you will find online will preach this same concept – Keep it simple.

Complexity can come later – make sure you get the fundamentals down first before you get too crazy.

online-guitar-tutorials

Guitar Tutorials – Beginner Rhythm

Ah yes, rhythm – the backbone of any piece of music.

Rhythm is a crucial part of music as well as guitar playing, and we’ve got some great guitar tutorials that will help you tighten up your playing.

  • Counting as we play is important, and can help us gain a better sense of timing as we progress.
  • This lesson on how to play in time provides some good instruction on the fundamentals of timing in music, so don’t skip out on this one!

Pro Tip: Learning to tap your foot to keep time early in your guitar journey is a lifesaver further down the line. If there’s one thing you should be practicing regularly, it’s your rhythm and timing. Stay on it!

how-to-play-guitar

Guitar Tutorials – Strumming

Another essential part of rhythm for guitarists is strumming.

Strumming is how we convey the vast majority of our rhythm on guitar, and so we’ve got a few guitar tutorials to help keep you on the right track with your strumming.

Your first stop should (obviously) be our lesson on how to strum a guitar. This lesson will break down all the essentials you need to get your pick hand in shape for any campfire or jam session.

beginner-guitar-tutorials

Once you’ve gotten a feel for playing in time as well as strumming, you should check out these 5 strumming patterns that will help enhance your sense of rhythm.

Pro Tip: When learning a new song, experiment with the strumming patterns! You don’t have to play the song exactly how you hear it – Instead, you could use that song as an opportunity to see how it sounds when you play it differently.

Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Guitar Lessons Price – The Ultimate Guide

What is an appropriate cost for guitar lessons? Let us break down your average guitar lessons price for you.

 

Over 100,000 guitar-learners get our world-class guitar tips & tutorials sent straight to their inbox: Click here to join them

In this free lesson you will learn…

  • The average cost of guitar lessons
  • What makes a good guitar teacher
  • The different types of guitar lessons available
  • Why online guitar lessons are almost as good as in-person lessons

A Fair Guitar Lessons Price Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive

There are loads of apps and websites you can use to learn to play the guitar, including our own!

  • Free apps in particular are very attractive, for obvious reasons: cost, pace, and convenience.
  • It’s possible to learn a fair bit as a beginner from these apps and sites, and some of them even give you a bit of feedback so you can measure your progress.

For some examples of free guitar lessons that you can take online, we’ve got some  breakdowns below:

The Best Online Guitar Lessons

The Best YouTube Guitar Lessons

Additionally, we’ve got loads of free course material right here on our website for you!

Check out our guitar lessons index here.

guitar-lessons-price

At some point however, your progress as a musician will absolutely depend on finding a human being to give you guidance and feedback.

Guitar lessons are amazing. You become part of a lineage of guitar lessons – learning from your teacher, who learned from their teacher, who learned from their teacher and so on.

Guitar lessons give you a game plan for practicing and achieving small musical goals in the service of bigger musical goals.

Needless to say, good guitar lessons are worth every penny – but how many pennies are we talking about, exactly?

guitar-lessons-price

Types Of Lessons & The Impact On The Guitar Lessons Price

When we are talking about guitar lessons in this context, we’re talking about having a live teacher.

There are different types of lessons that can impact the guitar lessons price, based on how many people are in the lesson.

  • You could have a private, one-on-one lesson. You and your progress are the entire focus of this type of lesson.
  • You could have a semi-private lesson, where you and one or two other students are with a teacher. The teacher provides help to each of you individually, but you are both learning the same concepts at the same pace.
  • You could be part of a guitar class, where you are in a room with anywhere from three to ten other students. These classes provide some individual attention, but that may not happen in every class. Each student is provided with the same learning material.

guitar-lessons-price

Learn the 12 EASIEST beginner chords with our famous FREE guide

  Stop struggling. Start making music.

  Learn 12 beginner-friendly versions of every chord.

  This is our most popular guide and it will improve your chord ability quickly.

Guitar lessons are typically scheduled weekly.

  • Where private lessons are concerned, your teacher may let you schedule more per week upon request.
  • The private guitar lessons price ranges between $20 and $80 – depending on duration, location, and the quality or teacher’s credentials.
  • The semi-private guitar lessons price tends to be a bit less expensive per person, and there is a bit more flexibility in pricing.
  • You and a friend could take lessons together and share costs, which can run anywhere between $30 and $100.

Guitar classes generally happen at community centers, music schools, or local colleges, with the price ranging between $15 and $25 per class.

It’s important to note that group guitar classes also give us the benefit of having a collection of people to study and make friends with.

The people in your class are all as excited as you to be learning guitar, so don’t hesitate to put a study group together!

guitar-lessons-price

How Do I Know How Much I Should Be Paying?

If you are looking at a list of guitar lessons price quotes and you’re unsure how to evaluate the prices and lessons, you are not alone.

  • It’s a little difficult to figure out how lessons should be priced, especially if you are a beginner or are unfamiliar with your teacher in question.
  • Setting expectations for ourselves and our lessons can help us solve this problem efficiently.

It’s best to be as clear as you can on your goals, budget, and commitment level when you set out to sign up for guitar lessons, even if your goal is just wanting to fit the guitar into your life.

Here are some factors that you can consider, and questions that you can ask to help you determine whether the teacher and/or guitar lessons price is a good fit for you.

guitar-lessons-price

The advantages of guitar classes:

  • Everyone is in there helping each other and asking questions.
  • They tend to be less expensive than private guitar lessons.
  • Good guitar classes are wonderful places to go if you are a beginning to intermediate student. They are loads of fun.

The advantages of semi-private lessons:

  • Because you have a fellow student, you also have a practice buddy.
  • You and your fellow student can work on the type of music that interests you.
  • Having a fellow student takes a bit of the pressure of individualized attention off of you.

The advantages of private lessons:

  • Your curriculum and the music you learn is tailored to your tastes, for the most part.
  • Your teacher’s time and attention are devoted entirely to you during your lesson.
  • Your progress is only limited by the amount of time you have to practice between lessons.

guitar-lessons-price

Pro-Tip: When researching guitar lessons price ranges, be sure to ask about the cancellation policy. 

Good teachers are busy and do not always have a lot of scheduling flexibility if you have to cancel a lesson, but every professional teacher has a consistent and well-conceived cancellation policy. You should know what it is ahead of time.

Location & Guitar Lessons Price

When you are looking at guitar lessons price ranges, consider how and where your lessons will fit into your life and what that’s worth in terms of how much you can invest.

  • Schools can be the least expensive, and music schools have everything you need for a lesson: tuning and string changing services, stands, and playback devices.
  • Sometimes there are jamming spaces and extra jamming events during the course of the week that you can attend for zero (or minimal) extra charge.

Lessons in the teacher’s home or studio tend to be less expensive than lessons in your home, because a teacher’s commuting time and expenses are always built into the guitar lessons price.

guitar-teacher

Your geographic location impacts your guitar lessons price in terms of teacher availability as well.

  • If you’re living in a remote location, it may be difficult to find a reasonably well-qualified and compatible teacher near you, whether or not that teacher can come to your home.
  • This may make it more expensive to find a teacher to travel to for regular lessons, but you can always discuss the possibility of scheduling less frequent and longer lessons.

On the other side of the coin, online lessons are wonderful!

  • Many teachers of all different levels and genres teach via Skype and Zoom, making it easy to connect provided you have a strong internet connection.
  • An additional advantage to online guitar lessons is digital lesson packs.

Many online guitar instructors will send copies of your homework to you digitally following your lesson, sometimes in a PDF and other times in the form of a playable TAB that you can jam along to!

lessons-for-guitar

Another factor with a major impact on guitar lessons price is your current level of skill.

Here is a breakdown of general expectations for guitar lessons by level.

Guitar Lessons Price for Children

If you’re pricing guitar lessons for a child, the lessons may or may not be less expensive than teen/adult lessons.

The same factors apply – duration, location, number of students in the lesson – and there are the added considerations of developmental level and skill level.

A good children’s guitar teacher knows that kids’ developmental progress is a highly individualized thing, and you can work with your potential teacher to create a lesson and practice schedule that best suits the child student.

Children’s guitar lessons are 30 to 45 minutes in length, and can cost $20 to $50.

Children’s group classes are generally 45 to 60 minutes in length and can cost $15 to $25.

guitar-teacher-price

Guitar Lessons Price for Beginner Students

As inexpensive and convenient as online guitar lessons can seem for beginning students, the best time to invest in a teacher who is paying attention to you personally is when you are just starting out.

A 30-minute private guitar lesson for a beginner will likely be priced at between $20 and $35.

In a series of beginning guitar lessons, you can expect your teacher to cover the following subjects:

  • Seated and standing posture
  • The parts of the guitar: strings, frets, note names and directions
  • Basic chord shapes
  • Hand alignment and finger positioning
  • Picking
  • Fundamentals of rhythm, counting & strumming
  • Simple melodies and songs
  • Changing between chords without losing the beat
  • Elementary music theory

price-for-guitar-teacher

Guitar Lessons Price for Intermediate Students

At the intermediate level, your guitar lessons may feel too short at 30 minutes, as there are more skills to work on and different techniques to pursue.

The average intermediate guitar lessons price range is $20 to $40 for a half hour, and $25 to $50 for 45 minutes.

In a series of intermediate guitar lessons, you can expect your teacher to reinforce the concepts you know already, and to cover topics like:

  • Barre chords and moveable shapes
  • The notes on the E and A strings
  • The notes in the chords and some different ways to play basic chords
  • Scale patterns and finding melodies on the guitar
  • Ear training and learning songs from recordings
  • Understanding the interplay between melodies and chords
  • Basic improvisation
  • More intricate rhythmic skills

Guitar Lessons Price for Advanced Students

Advanced students, you’ve got goals! You can dig much deeper into the questions about who your guitar teacher should be and what you would like to learn.

For this reason, the advanced guitar lessons price range is a lot wider.

  • Lessons of 60 minutes can range from $60 to $150, depending on your curriculum and the frequency of your lessons.
  • You can take a single lesson from someone who is a professional at what you would like to do either live or via Skype.

Alternatively, you can set yourself up with an expert in your area for regular lessons to help you achieve your guitar goals.

Advanced guitar lessons can cover such concepts as:

  • Song arrangement
  • New chord progressions
  • Interlocking scale forms
  • Jazz chord colorations
  • Composition

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

Selecting a Guitar Teacher

No matter where you are, there is a guitar teacher available for you.

  • It’s important to remember that not every guitar teacher is right for every student.
  • In many cases, you can look up a guitar teacher’s bio online and find out whether the teacher’s style and tastes seem compatible with yours.
  • You can also check out your regular social media outlets and neighborhood discussion boards to see who other people recommend.

Most independent guitar teachers find many of their students through word-of-mouth.

Your first couple of lessons with any teacher will be partly taken up by getting to know each other and figuring out how best to learn together.

While it’s not a marriage, you may want to give it two or three lessons to figure out whether it’s likely to be a good teacher-student relationship.

Where Do I Go From Here?

When it comes to guitar lessons, the appropriate price comes down to how you want to invest in your progress as a musician.

It’s true that you get what you pay for, but signing up for a $100 lesson with a big name does not guarantee that the big name is also a great teacher.

When you find a teacher who is interested in your progress, who explains things in a way that you can understand, and who inspires you, the guitar lessons price will be right!

Recommended Resources

If you enjoyed this article on the cost of guitar lessons, you’ll love these other free guides we have for you below:

What Type of Guitarist Are You?

Take our 60-second quiz & get your results: Take The Quiz

Want free guitar tips and video lessons delivered to your inbox?

Join over 100,000 other guitar learners and subscribe to our guitar-tips-by-email service. (It's free.)

We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

Learn how everything fits together quickly, easily and effectively. We share ninja tips (for instant fun!) but also timeless fundamentals that will deepen your understanding.


Popular Lessons

How To Learn Guitar: An 11-Step Programme For Beginners

10 Easy Songs For Beginners

How To Strum A Guitar

How To Choose The Perfect Beginner Guitar

Guitar Notes Explained: A Guide For Beginners

How To Play Lead Guitar

3 Easy Ways To Play Bm

More Cool Guitar Stuff

Learn about the National Guitar Academy: About Us

Visit our YouTube channel for fun guitar videos.

Join us on Facebook for daily guitar tips.

Listen to our Learn Guitar Podcast for rapid guitar progress.

Check out our free chord lessons.

 

Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Reading Guitar Tabs: Learn To Read Tab In 5 Easy Steps

Reading guitar tabs will change your life as a guitarist. In this lesson we’re going to show you everything you need to know about guitar tabs.

Over 100,000 guitar-learners get our world-class guitar tips & tutorials sent straight to their inbox: Click here to join them

In this free lesson you will learn:

  • How to read guitar tabs in 5 easy steps.
  • The no1 tab secret that will make turbo-charge your guitar progress.
  • 3 epic tabs that will make you sound amazing.

Reading Guitar Tabs Can Be Difficult If We Don’t Know What We Are Looking At

Often dubbed the “guitarist’s sheet music,” tablature doesn’t look like a lot when we see it for the first time.

  • Tablature, however, is riddled with information that will tell us most of what we need to know in order to play a song.
  • This innovative method of reading music for stringed instruments without notation has been an asset to many guitarists over the years.
  • With the aid of technology, we now have apps and software that can read tablature and audibly play it back for us as well.

In this guitar lesson, we’ll dive into the essential must-knows about reading guitar tabs to get you playing along to your favourite songs in no time!

reading-guitar-tabs

What Are Guitar Tabs?

Guitar tabs (or tablature) is a method of reading ‘music’ without the use of traditional music notation.

  • Although this method has served various other stringed instruments over the years in different forms, it is most commonly associated with the guitar.
  • Tablature traditionally contains six lines, with each line representing one string of our guitar.
  • Our strings our laid out with the thickest string (low E) on the bottom, and our thinnest string (high E) on the top.

This is what our standard tablature staff looks like without notes:

reading-guitar-tabs

Our frets are represented by numbers on the staff. Each of these numbers represent not just the fret itself, but a note also.

The downside of tablature is that we can’t tell how long each note should last for.

When reading guitar tabs of our favourite songs, it’s important to listen to the song while we read to ensure we know the pace and tempo of the song.

Learning to read tabs in this way will help us learn quicker and more efficiently, so make sure you always keep a set of headphones at the ready.

Here’s what tablature looks like with frets:

reading-guitar-tabs

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

Why Choose Guitar Tabs?

Reading guitar tabs takes much less time to pick up and learn than it does to efficiently read traditional sheet music.

As a result of this, learning to read sheet music can be off-putting for many guitarists, and thus they gravitate towards reading guitar tabs instead.

While guitar tablature is straightforward and shows us exactly what to play and where to play it, it also challenges us to use our ears and develop our hearing in a musical context.

Picking apart a song in order to learn it is not an easy task, but reading guitar tabs can help us make sense of complex sections that we cannot learn by ear.

reading-guitar-tabs

The added bonus of reading guitar tabs is that with the help of technology, we have apps that can help us read tablature.

Programs like Guitar Pro by Arobas Music are able to play written tablature and slow down the speed in order to help us practice efficiently and understand more about what we are playing.

  • As a bonus, Guitar Pro also transcribes our tablature into traditional music notation.
  • This gives us the extra opportunity of learning how to read sheet music, which can benefit us as we progress on our journey.

Now, let’s break down some of the essentials for reading guitar tabs!

reading-guitar-tabs

Reading Guitar Tabs – Breaking Down The Essentials

In order to read guitar tablature, we need to understand the mechanics of it first.

  • Tablature is designed to read similar to sheet music, and we should treat it as such.
  • One thing that tablature lacks is bar lines. This means that we cannot divide the music into pieces as easily as we can with traditional sheet music.
  • The upside however, is that we have ears!

One of the easiest ways to learn a song through reading guitar tabs is with the song on hand.

Play back small sections of the song at a time and focus on each part as you learn the song.

reading-guitar-tabs

  • Never forget that listening will always teach you exactly what you need to play, regardless of your skill level.
  • Take the time to listen closely to what your favourite artist is playing, and how they are playing it.
  • Once you’ve mastered one section, move on to the next and work on connecting them together.

Learning music in this way will help us maintain a consistent workflow from the beginning of the song to the end.

This principle can apply to learning music at any level of skill.

Much like traditional sheet music, tablature uses a variety of different symbols to convey different techniques that should be used throughout a piece of music.

Reading guitar tabs with attention to these details will help us learn to play songs as close to the recording as possible.

reading-guitar-tabs

Many tabs that we find online can be written with the bare minimum amount of information.

Some that are made on public forums like Ultimate Guitar can have some minor (or major) mistakes as well, so make sure to always rely on your ears.

If it sounds wrong, it may very well be.

Remember, details matter in music. Listen for them, and always try to replicate what you hear when learning.

reading-guitar-tabs

Reading Guitar Tabs – Horizontal and Vertical Fret Numbers

Our fret numbers are displayed both horizontally and vertically when reading guitar tabs.

  • When we read our frets horizontally, that indicates that those notes should be played one after the other.
  • When we see fret numbers displayed vertically, this indicates that a chord should be played.

Bear in mind that not every chord is six strings in length. Quite often we will see chords that use only three or four strings.

In these cases, it’s important to watch out for the strings we shouldn’t play.

The strings that we should not play in a chord are often marked with an X on their respective string line.

 reading-tablature

It’s important that we adjust our hand and pick to accommodate the amount of strings needed for a chord.

Strumming strings and notes that aren’t in a chord can often result in an unpleasant clash of notes.

Top Tab Tip!

When reading guitar tabs to learn a piece of music, break up the sections so that you can focus on smaller pieces of the song at a time. When we first start out learning to play guitar, reading large passages of music can seem like a heavy task.

This is why it’s important to learn in small sections. Give your brain and hands a chance to get on the same page and you’ll find yourself learning to play guitar more effectively.

Try this exercise below, and play as you read:

 reading-tablature

Learning To Read From Line To Line

Guitar tablature does a great job of teaching us where to play, but one of the more difficult aspects is learning to play from one string to the next.

  • Developing our hand-eye coordination to practice reading guitar tabs while we play is a skill that takes time to craft.
  • We should dedicate a good amount of time to honing our skill of reading guitar tabs while playing.
  • Read slowly, practice effectively and you will find that you’ll start reading guitar tabs more fluidly.

Let’s look at an example that requires us to switch strings every other note:

guitar-tablature

In this exercise, we only play two notes per string on the second and third frets.

Use your index or middle finger to play this exercise, as well as the open strings.

Pro Tip: Using alternate picking in this example will help you to develop a more fluid playing style. Alternate picking helps us smooth out our guitar playing, and develop our speed at a faster and more efficient pace.

guitar-tablature

Intermediate Skills

uitar tablature has its own set of commonly used symbols that are meant to convey different techniques.

It’s important that we become familiar with these symbols, as they will help us to develop our technique in a musical context.

Some of the most common techniques that we will see while reading guitar tabs are:

  • Hammer Ons & Pull Offs
  • Slides
  • Alternate Picking
  • Tapping
  • Vibrato

We can see these examples all throughout classic guitar songs like the ones in the tabs below.

montage 3

Reading Guitar Tabs – Hammer Ons & Pull Offs

‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC is a classic rock song which frequently uses hammer ons and pull offs.

  • For ‘Thunderstruck,’ we want to aim to alternate fingers between the index and ring as we hammer-on and pull-off on the high E string.
  • Like the name implies, we want to hit our string with some force behind our fingers so that the notes will sound out properly.
  • Aim to hit the center of the fret for the hammer-on; then pull off in a quick downward motion off the edge of the fretboard.

In this example, the ‘H’ stands for hammer on and the ‘P’ stands for pull off.

Reading Guitar Tabs – Slides, Bends and Vibrato

understaning-guitar-tablature

In the example for ‘Purple Haze’ by Jimi Hendrix, we want to slide into the first main note of the riff. This slide gives us momentum, and powers the rest of the riff.

In the tab, ‘sl’ tells you that you need to slide into the note.

  • We should aim to play this riff in a smooth fashion, with clear and easy transitions from one note to the next.
  • On the notes that are held longer, we can add some vibrato by moving our finger back and forth on the string. This is indicated by the squiggly lines on top of the staff.
  • Vibrato is a great way to add life and character to our playing – Give it a shot!

As well as this, whenever we see an arrow that points up, this is telling us to bend the note. Often you’ll see these numbers and notes by the bend:

  • ¼
  • ½.
  • Full.
  • 1 ½.

This tells us how far we need to bend the note. Here’s what each number and notes mean:

  • 1/4 – bend this note slightly.
  • ½ – bend this note a semitone.
  • Full – bend this note up a tone.
  • 1 ½ – bend this note up three semitones.

understaning-guitar-tablature

Reading Guitar Tabs – Finger Tapping

In the third example, we see the basic layout for what finger tapping looks like when reading guitar tabs.

In this example the:

  • ‘T’ refers to the note that you tap.
  • ‘H’ refers to the note that you hammer.
  • ‘P’ refers to the note that you pull off.

Remember to use two hands when playing this tapping lick.

Use one finger in your picking hand and one in your fret hand to conquer this lick. In our fret hand, we should use our index finger to tap the 3rd fret.

  • Our index or middle finger is the best one to use when learning how to use two-handed tapping with our pick hand.
  • We can pull-off to the open position from the tenth fret with our picking hand, and hammer-on to the third with our fret hand.

It’s the fine details such as technique that bring these guitar riffs to life, so don’t hesitate to spare some extra time practicing them!

easy-guitar-tab

Where Can I Find Guitar Tabs Online?

The easiest and most accessible place to find tabs online is Ultimate Guitar.

This website features user-submitted tablature for many of your favourite songs, as well as new music to discover.

  • One thing to keep in mind when searching for tablature is the star-rating system that Ultimate Guitar uses.
  • Users are able to rate tabs on the website based on how well-written they are.
  • When reading guitar tabs that were not written by a professional transcriber, there can be some mistakes.

This is why it’s so important that we use our ears when learning music.

easy-guitar-tab

When selecting a tab for a song you’re looking for, try to find one with a five-star rating.

This means that the tab is well-written. and likely contains a lot more detail than some of the user-submitted content you will come across.

Another thing to be mindful of is that some guitar tabs are not available for free online.

  • Many tablature transcription companies such as Sheet Happens Publishing pride themselves on helping musicians transcribe their music for tablature and notation.
  • Bands will then sell these transcriptions as tab books that you can purchase online or at concerts.
  • Even though they aren’t free, purchasing a tab book from your favourite band or artist helps support them and their livelihood.

It’s also a huge compliment to any musician to have someone learn their music!

Where Do I Go From Here?

Want to keep learning more about reading guitar tabs? Fantastic! We recommend:

  • Search for guitar tabs of your favorite songs and learn them.
  • Pick up some Artist-approved tab books over at Sheet Happens Publishing.
  • Try Guitar Pro to be able to hear your tabs and play along to them.
  • Try writing out tablature by hand – You can buy blank tab sheets at your local music shop.
  • Check out our lessons on reading guitar tabs and more here.

Recommended Resources

Looking for more information on reading guitar tabs? Check out some of our other free lessons below:

What Type of Guitarist Are You?

Take our 60-second quiz & get your results: Take The Quiz

Want free guitar tips and video lessons delivered to your inbox?

Join over 100,000 other guitar learners and subscribe to our guitar-tips-by-email service. (It's free.)

We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

Learn how everything fits together quickly, easily and effectively. We share ninja tips (for instant fun!) but also timeless fundamentals that will deepen your understanding.


Popular Lessons

How To Learn Guitar: An 11-Step Programme For Beginners

10 Easy Songs For Beginners

How To Strum A Guitar

How To Choose The Perfect Beginner Guitar

Guitar Notes Explained: A Guide For Beginners

How To Play Lead Guitar

3 Easy Ways To Play Bm

More Cool Guitar Stuff

Learn about the National Guitar Academy: About Us

Visit our YouTube channel for fun guitar videos.

Join us on Facebook for daily guitar tips.

Listen to our Learn Guitar Podcast for rapid guitar progress.

Check out our free chord lessons.

 

Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Types of Guitar Strings: The Ultimate Guide

Types of guitar strings are often tricky to understand, this can be confusing and overwhelming for guitarists. In this ultimate guide we’re going to show you everything you need to know about guitar strings.

Over 100,000 guitar-learners get our world-class guitar tips & tutorials sent straight to their inbox: Click here to join them

In this free lesson you will learn:

  • 6 essential secrets about every type of guitar string.
  • How to find the perfect string type that will make everything easier for you as a guitarist.
  • 3 essential tone tips that are guaranteed to make your guitars sound amazing.

Types of Guitar Strings – What’s Out There?

Our choices in guitar strings can have a major impact on our playing comfort, as well as our guitar tone.

While old and worn out strings can often lose their brightness and tone, keeping up on your guitar maintenance can make a world of a difference for your instrument, your skill development, and most importantly – your hands.

  • By understanding the differences between the types of guitar strings we have the ability to make well-informed buying decisions.
  • This will help improve our playing, and prevent the risk of unnecessary damage and repairs.

Although finding the right strings for your guitar should be a personalized process, we’re here to help you better understand your options.

types-of-guitar-strings

In this article we’re going to look at the different types of guitar strings available to us, as well as the most ideal scenarios for different string gauges.

Let’s go!

Types of Guitar Strings – Gauges

The term ‘string gauge’ refers to the size of the string in diameter.

  • When we buy a pack of guitar strings, the heaviest and lightest gauges will be displayed on the packaging. For example, ‘10-46’.
  • String gauges are measured in 1/1000th of an inch.
  • Therefore, a 46-gauge guitar string (typically a low E) would be 0.052 inches in diameter.

Naturally, guitar strings with a lower gauge will be lighter than a string with a higher gauge.

types-of-guitar-strings

Guitar strings come in all sorts of string gauge varieties, which can introduce a whole world of different guitar pairings and tones.

While different guitar strings can pair better with some guitars than others, a lot of that distinction is up to you as a guitarist and player.

For starters, there are a view basic principles we can observe with different types of guitar strings:

#1 Lighter strings will typically be easier to play, but may also be too easy to play.

Although these types of strings are great for the beginner guitarist, they don’t give us a lot of stability with techniques such as bending and vibrato.

types-of-guitar-strings

#2 Medium gauge strings are great for rock-hard stability

They provide a good amount of push against our fingers and allow us to dig in without losing control.

#3 Heavy and extra-heavy gauge strings are for the guitarist who attacks their guitar with their pick.

Often favored by punk, metal and funk musicians, this gauge of string will fight back when played.

This is a great choice for the advanced and confident guitarist who wants that extra bit of punch in their tone.

types-of-guitar-strings

Learn the 12 EASIEST beginner chords with our famous FREE guide

  Stop struggling. Start making music.

  Learn 12 beginner-friendly versions of every chord.

  This is our most popular guide and it will improve your chord ability quickly.

Types of Guitar Strings – Electric Guitar Strings

These types of guitar strings are most often made from one of three different materials.

#1 Nickel Plated Steel Guitar Strings

  • The most common choice due to its warmth and brightness.
  • Can sustain heavy pick attack with ease.

#2 Stainless Steel Guitar Strings

  • The least prone to string noise when we move around the fretboard.
  • Great for long and sustained notes.

#3 Pure Nickel Guitar Strings

  • Warmer tone than nickel-plated steel with a bit more bass response.

While each material lends its own voice to the guitar, it’s important to experiment with different types of guitar strings to find your own voice on the instrument.

types-of-guitar-strings

Some guitar string companies have begun experimenting with different materials to develop stronger guitar strings.

Ernie Ball has released a brand of string called cobalt (wrapped in 17% iron & cobalt) which they claim attracts the magnets in your pickups better than any other string.

D’Addario’s NYXL strings are made from carbon steel alloy core beneath a nickel winding, which they claim increases your note sustain and keeps your guitar in tune longer.

Pro Tip: Electric guitar strings may appear similar, but they are all made quite differently.

When finding the right type of guitar string, it’s important to listen for the fine details and how a string feels when you play it.

types-of-guitar-strings

Types of Guitar Strings – Acoustic Guitar Strings

It’s a bit easier to tell the difference between different types of guitar strings when playing an acoustic.

  • Since the body of an acoustic guitar resonates so loudly by itself, we don’t need an amp to hear or feel the difference.
  • Acoustic guitar strings originated as steel-string instruments, but over time string companies have improved the formula for better resonance and string definition.
  • Acoustic strings are usually made of 80/20 bronze or a phosphor-bronze wrap.

Typically the core of an acoustic guitar string will be made of brass-plated, high-carbon steel.

Bronze presents a clear and defined tone, while phosphor gives us a warmer variation.

types-of-guitar-strings

Pro Tip: String sets for an acoustic guitar will be heavier overall than they are for an electric guitar. This is because the strings have more body to contend with on an acoustic guitar.

  • Lighter types of guitar strings are available for acoustic guitars, but they can make the guitar sound thin very quickly.
  • These lighter gauges are often labelled as custom light strings.
  • Heavier gauge acoustic strings will give extra boom to our guitar’s sound in the low end, but at the risk of stiffness.
  • This stiffness can also contribute to a lack of sustain in the guitar, so be careful!

types-of-guitar-strings

Types of Guitar Strings – Nylon and Classical Strings

Can you guess from the title what these types of guitar strings are made of?

  • Nylon guitar strings are used on classical style guitars. These strings are mainly used for classical and flamenco guitar  as well as other genres of music.
  • Nylon strings have the softest tone to them and are the easiest to play with the least amount of initial discomfort.
  • These strings have fantastic note definition and easily let the instrument sing clearly.

The three treble strings (G, B & E) are made of single nylon filament. The bass strings are often made of the same, wrapped in a thin, silver-plated copper wire.

types-of-guitar-strings

Nylon strings are favoured by classical musicians as well as many guitarists in the Latin music world.

  • This is primarily due to their ability to react to fingerpicking, especially with guitarists who pick with long fingernails.
  • These types of guitar strings are great to learn on but can often lead guitarists to not develop calluses on your fingers as quickly as other types of guitar strings.

Nylon strings provide excellent resonance and note definition, but they are less often used by beginner guitarists because of their drawbacks with calluses.

types-of-guitar-strings

Other Types of Guitar Strings

Over the years, innovative minds have put their heads together to create better guitar tone through different string materials.

  • Our most common types of guitar strings are referred to as roundwound strings for the way in which they are made.
  • One of the different types of guitar strings favoured in the jazz world are flatwound strings.
  • These strings have a warmer response to them, but also a darker tone that might not be suitable for all styles of music.

Flatwound strings create less string noise when we move around on them, and are ideal for smoother styles of music.

different-guitar-strings

It’s worth noting that flatwound strings are not ideal for the guitarist who enjoys bending their notes, as they have a lot more tension than regular strings.

Coated strings are also very much worth mentioning.

  • Roundwound strings can sometimes be coated with a plastic-polymer material that can increase string life and brightness.
  • Coated strings are great for people with acidic hands, or those who sweat a lot when they play. This coating will keep your strings from rusting when exposed to sweat.
  • Coating can save us time from constantly changing our strings, but they can be almost twice as expensive.

For some, this will save them time and money – for others, it won’t. It all depends on how long your strings last.

different-guitar-strings

Pro Tip: Using string wipes after each practice or jam session is another great way to remove acid and residue buildup. This helps give our strings a long and tone-filled life.

Different Strings For Different Things

One important thing to note is that as you progress on your guitar journey, you may find yourself in need of different guitar strings for the different types of music you play.

It’s okay if not all of your guitars are set up for the same string gauge.

Try and give a unique voice to each one of your guitars. You’ll find a whole new world of tone within your assortment of guitar strings.

What-guitar-strings-are-best

For example, if you play in an indie rock band, you can get away with using light to medium gauge strings.

If you play in a rock band or funk band, you might consider using medium or heavy-gauge strings due to their thickness and tone.

The type of string you use is determined by your ears and what you think sounds the best!

What-guitar-strings-are-best

How Much Should You Spend On Guitar Strings?

This question is asked all the time by guitarists however the price of your guitar strings completely depends on you.

This may not seem like the most direct answer, but let us explain:

The types of guitar strings that you end up using depend strongly on your taste and ears, but you should typically budget anywhere from £10/$10 to £30/$30 per pack.

“But can’t I just buy really cheap guitar strings?”

Cheap guitar strings will rust quickly and not hold their tuning the way a well-built guitar string will.

Before buying a new set of guitar strings in a different gauge, you should always consult with your local guitar tech.

best-strings-for-guitar

Getting Your Guitar Set Up for New Strings

This is one of the most crucial points of understanding different types of guitar strings.

  • The reason for this is that changing guitar string gauges too often can damage the neck of our guitar.
  • Every guitar is set up for a certain degree of tension on the neck. This tension is determined most often by the types of guitar strings being put on the instrument.
  • If our guitar is set up for medium gauge strings (10-52) putting on a set of heavy gauge strings may cause unwanted pressure and tension on the neck.

This can make our guitar very hard to play, and can warp the neck. Worse, it can bend the truss rod of the guitar.

best-strings-for-guitar

It’s important to find yourself a good and reputable guitar tech to help you with such things.

  • The best guitar techs often work independently and can be found online or by word of mouth.
  • The next time you meet a guitarist with a well-balanced guitar, ask them who they hire to do their tech work.
  • Make sure to ask around in local Facebook guitar groups as well as your local music shop.

Pro Tip: Behind every great guitarist is an amazing guitar tech who helps keep their instruments in peak-performance condition.

Finding a reliable tech will save you a lot of hassle down the road. Ask around!

guitar-string-types

How Often Should I Change My Strings?

As we’ve said above, different types of guitar strings can rust and damage quicker depending upon our hands and how much we sweat.

  • We can extend the life of our strings by using wipes and other materials, but how often we play can determine how often we should swap strings.
  • If you’re just learning the guitar, you can change your strings every couple of months without worry.
  • For gigging guitarists who are playing regular shows, you’ll need to change your strings a bit more often.

Playing live often means we sweat more and our strings may damage quicker.

Expect to change your strings once a month, or after every other gig if you’re touring with a bigger band.

e6-easy-guitar-chord

If you’ve made the right decision and bought one of the higher-end types of guitar strings, you should see a longer life than you would in a cheaper set.

  • String life is not just made up by the strings themselves.
  • The environment we keep our guitars in also plays a large factor.

Is your guitar kept in a room-temperature area? Do you have a good case for it?

These are just a couple things that affect our guitar’s overall playability and life.

Make sure to take good care of your instruments and keep them stored in a healthy environment!

acoustic-strings

String Brand Recommendations

There are a variety of different string brands on the market, and that can make it difficult to know where to start looking.

We’ve outlined a few recommended brands for each of the three main types of guitar strings mentioned in this article.

Electric Guitar Strings

Acoustic Guitar Strings

Nylon and Classical Guitar Strings

Happy tone-hunting!

Classical-strings

Where do I go from here?

If you want to keep learning about the different types of guitar strings, we recommend:

  • If you play lighter music (jazz, country, indie rock) try flatwound guitar strings
  • If you want a challenge and find your guitar tone is ‘thin’, try a slightly heavier gauge string (consult your guitar tech first).
  • Try a baritone guitar! These guitars use much heavier strings.
  • Try a variety of different brands to find the sound you like best.
  • Watch Ryan Bruce talk about string gauges here.

Recommended Resources

If you enjoyed this article, make sure to check out some of our other free lessons below:

What Type of Guitarist Are You?

Take our 60-second quiz & get your results: Take The Quiz

Want free guitar tips and video lessons delivered to your inbox?

Join over 100,000 other guitar learners and subscribe to our guitar-tips-by-email service. (It's free.)

We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

Learn how everything fits together quickly, easily and effectively. We share ninja tips (for instant fun!) but also timeless fundamentals that will deepen your understanding.


Popular Lessons

How To Learn Guitar: An 11-Step Programme For Beginners

10 Easy Songs For Beginners

How To Strum A Guitar

How To Choose The Perfect Beginner Guitar

Guitar Notes Explained: A Guide For Beginners

How To Play Lead Guitar

3 Easy Ways To Play Bm

More Cool Guitar Stuff

Learn about the National Guitar Academy: About Us

Visit our YouTube channel for fun guitar videos.

Join us on Facebook for daily guitar tips.

Listen to our Learn Guitar Podcast for rapid guitar progress.

Check out our free chord lessons.

 

Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
One String Guitar Songs: 10 Easy Songs That Sound Great

One string guitar songs are great for developing finger dexterity, technique and repertoire. In this lesson we’ll show you 10 of our favourite one string guitar songs.

Over 100,000 guitar-learners get our world-class guitar tips & tutorials sent straight to their inbox: Click here to join them

In this free lesson you will learn:

  • 10 easy one string guitar songs.
  • 5 essential technique tips that will turbo-charge your playing.
  • The top-secret tip that will allow you to learn songs quickly and easily.

Looking For One String Guitar Songs?

One of the best ways to start learning guitar is to learn one string guitar songs.

  • Learning these songs will improve your dexterity, technique and most importantly will allow you to have LOADS of fun on the guitar.
  • Stringed instruments like the guitar are versatile because they can play chords as well as melodies. However, the focus in this guitar lesson is on melodies.

We’re going to teach you a whole load of easy riffs and tunes that will get your guitar journey off to a flying start.

Guitar Hack!

In this lesson, we’re going to be using tablature to teach all of the one string guitar songs.

Tablature, usually called tab, is simplified notation, with lines representing guitar strings and numbers representing frets.

If you don’t know how to read tab, take a look at this lesson: How To Read Guitar Tabs

One-string-guitar-songs

One String Guitar Songs #1 ‘Seven Nation Army’ by The White Stripes

The first song anyone thinks of when thinking of one string guitar songs is ‘Seven Nation Army’ by The White Stripes.

It has been appropriated by sports fans all over the world.

Very shortly, you will be playing that amazing bass intro to the song, which is really the structure of the whole song.

You only need one string and one finger to play this amazing song. Follow this tab to find all the notes.

One-string-guitar-songs

When learning this song, take your time with it. There are a lot of huge gaps between each note of the piece, take your time to fret the notes correctly and you’ll be rockin’ in no time!

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

One String Guitar Songs #2 ‘Running Down a Dream’ by Tom Petty

This classic intro riff for Tom Petty’s 1993 “Running Down a Dream” goes pretty quickly, but with a little practice, you can get it.

This riff happens in the intro and also throughout the song. Here is the tab.

One-string-guitar-songs

It’s significantly faster than “Seven Nation Army,” so don’t be discouraged if you can’t play it at the proper speed right away.

Begin slowly and once you are used to the notes and rhythm, gradually increase your practice tempo until you are at the same speed as the song.

One-string-guitar-songs

Pro-tip: Most of us begin picking one note guitar songs entirely with down strokes with our pick.

However, if you want to advance with your picking, it’s essential that you learn how to alternate pick.

To learn more about alternate picking, check out this lesson: Alternate Picking: The Ultimate Guide

One String Guitar Songs #3 ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ by Cream

When learning one string guitar songs, it would be rude not to include ‘Sunshine of your love’ by Cream.


This riff is perfect for beginners as it uses only one string and can be played with just one finger.

  • This epic riff is played on the D string and actually uses the ‘blues scale’.
  • Don’t worry too much about this for now, just enjoy this rocking riff from one of the greatest rock bands of all time.

If you’d like to learn the blues scale, go here: Blues Scale – 4 Things You Need To Know

Here is the tab.

One-string-guitar-songs

The timing off this riff can be tricky for most beginners, so be careful when attempting this for the first time. Here are a few tips and tricks you can use when learning this riff:

  • Play the riff slowly and make sure all your notes are correct.
  • Listen to the recording a lot for the tricky rhythm.
  • Slow the recording down and play along with it. Once you’re comfortable with playing it slowly, speed it up.

One-string-guitar-songs

One String Guitar Songs #4 ‘Smoke On the Water’ by Deep Purple

One of the first one string guitar songs everyone has been learning for the last 46 years is this simple and heavy rocker from Deep Purple.

Generation after generation of guitar players have learned this main intro riff and that’s why it’s made it onto our list of one string guitar songs.

The riff on the recording is played across two strings. However, to make this riff easier, you can just play it on the G string.

One-string-guitar-songs

If you want an extra challenge you can also play the riff on the G and D strings at the same time.

This is tricky, however, if you persevere you will be able to play one of the great one string guitar songs of all time.

One String Guitar Songs #5 ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC

The next of your one string guitar songs is a bit more lengthy and challenging, but it is completely worth it to have learned this finger-melter by AC/DC.

There are two parts to the intro riff. We’re going to focus on the first one. Here is the tab.

One-string-guitar-songs

Angus Young, king of the rock riff, plays the intro to “Thunderstruck” without using a pick at all, but you can practice this riff with alternate picking, playing ‘down up down up’ on the string.

Keep your hand motion small to avoid hitting other strings.This is a major dexterity and timing challenge, and if you keep at it, it is guaranteed to make you a better guitarist.

One-string-guitar-songs

Pro-tip: Difficult riffs make great exercises! Go very slowly to coordinate your fretting hand and your picking hand.

One String Guitar Songs #6 ‘Mamma Mia’ by ABBA

So far, the one string guitar songs you’ve been exploring have been riffs, part of the song’s guitar part.

For ABBA’s “Mamma Mia,” you’ll be playing the melody of the chorus.

“Mamma Mia” was initially released as the opening track on ABBA’s self-titled album in 1975.

  • It became the title track of a jukebox musical featuring ABBA’s songs in 1999, which in turn became a hit musical film in 2008.
  • Ten years later, the sequel, ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’, was released in theatres in the US and the UK.

Clearly, the song has something going for it, so check out this tab:

songs-on-one-guitar-string

Top Tip! 

Learning one string guitar songs can show you how pitch rises and falls on the guitar. The closer to the sound hole, the higher the pitch, and the closer to the headstock, the lower the pitch.

One String Guitar Songs #7 ‘Perfect’ by Ed Sheeran

The next melody in your one string guitar songs collection is this beautiful ballad by Ed Sheeran.


You’ll be playing the lovely chorus from this song.

The recording is in the key of Ab, which is a terrible key for the guitar, so in order to play with the recording, you can put a capo on the first fret and play it on the G string.

What’s a capo? You’ll need one at some point when you’re ready to move beyond one string guitar songs. Check out this lesson to learn more about capos: How To Use A Capo In 3 Easy Steps

Here is the tab, so you can play this song on the G string.

easy-guitar-songs

What makes a melody fun to sing and play is simplicity. The main melody of the song is very similar to the one you’ve just learned. If you fancy a challenge, experiment with the melody you’ve just learned and see if you can work out the rest of the song.

simple-songs

Learn the 12 EASIEST beginner chords with our famous FREE guide

  Stop struggling. Start making music.

  Learn 12 beginner-friendly versions of every chord.

  This is our most popular guide and it will improve your chord ability quickly.

One String Guitar Songs #8 The Office (US) Theme

While the original version of “The Office” got “Handbags and Gladrags” as a theme song, when it was adapted for US television, a new theme song was written by former member of Spirit and “Thunder Island” composer Jay Ferguson.

This theme moves around on the G string quite a bit, making it one of your slightly more challenging one string guitar songs, but it is a nice catchy melody. Here is the tab.

easy-guitar-songs

Pro Tip!

When notes happen in quick succession, try to minimize your hand movement by using multiple fingers. This melody is a lot easier to play on the melodica, which is the instrument in the recording, but with plenty of slow repetition, you will be able to play this in no time.

simple-guitar-songs

One String Guitar Songs #9 ‘How Far I’ll Go’ by Auli’i Cravalho

This is just a great song. Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the man who brought you “Avenue Q” and “Hamilton,” this number from the movie ‘Moana’ fits nicely into your collection of one string guitar songs.

This melody goes on the high E string. Here is the tab.

easy-songs-on-one-guitar-string

The notes come a little quickly, so try to play the second and fourth frets with your first and third fingers. It will come with practice.

This is your chance to begin piling up one string guitar songs to amaze and delight all of your family members under 12 years of age.

If you are looking for a crowd-pleaser, this song definitely fits the bill!

easy-songs-on-one-guitar-string

One String Guitar Songs #10 ‘Game of Thrones Theme’ by Ramin Djawadi

And here’s a song from the opposite of a Disney movie, the TV show ‘Game of Thrones’.


The theme was composed by Ramin Djawadi, who also scored the movies and TV shows:

  • A Wrinkle in Time.
  • Clash of the Titans.
  • Warcraft.
  • Prison Break.
  • Westworld.

As one string guitar songs go, the melody in this song moves quickly along the fretboard. So, it’s important to take your time when playing this song.

Fun Theory Tip!

The main melody here is a minor key. This means that it expresses sadness. However, some people describe this melody as ‘beautiful’ and ‘melancholic’.

easy-guitar-songs-to-play

Some guitarists avoid fretting the guitar with the fourth finger, mostly because the pinky is an indolent and unenthusiastic member of the guitar fretting team.

But you should try involving your fourth finger in playing melodies wherever possible, like reaching for the highest fret in this melody.

It takes some time getting the fourth finger accustomed to doing any work, whether participating in a chord or playing a melody, but in the end, it’s better to have four functioning fingers instead of two or three.

easy-songs

Completed All One String Guitar Songs? Where Next?

Some of these one string guitar songs are significantly more lengthy or challenging than others, so be patient with yourself if you don’t get some of them right away.

There are always going to be songs you can pick up straight away and there will be others which may take a little longer.

However, if you enjoyed these songs and want to learn more, check out these lessons:

If you are interested in learning more about how melodies work, you will want to know about intervals and scales. You can start here to learn more about these cool concepts:

Recommended resources

What Type of Guitarist Are You?

Take our 60-second quiz & get your results: Take The Quiz

Want free guitar tips and video lessons delivered to your inbox?

Join over 100,000 other guitar learners and subscribe to our guitar-tips-by-email service. (It's free.)

We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

Learn how everything fits together quickly, easily and effectively. We share ninja tips (for instant fun!) but also timeless fundamentals that will deepen your understanding.


Popular Lessons

How To Learn Guitar: An 11-Step Programme For Beginners

10 Easy Songs For Beginners

How To Strum A Guitar

How To Choose The Perfect Beginner Guitar

Guitar Notes Explained: A Guide For Beginners

How To Play Lead Guitar

3 Easy Ways To Play Bm

More Cool Guitar Stuff

Learn about the National Guitar Academy: About Us

Visit our YouTube channel for fun guitar videos.

Join us on Facebook for daily guitar tips.

Listen to our Learn Guitar Podcast for rapid guitar progress.

Check out our free chord lessons.

 

Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
How To Play Seven Nation Army On Guitar

Learning how to play seven nation army on guitar is a rite of passage for every guitarist. In this epic lesson we’re going to show you everything you need to know about this iconic song.

 

Over 100,000 guitar-learners get our world-class guitar tips & tutorials sent straight to their inbox: Click here to join them

In this free lesson you will learn:

  • How to play seven nation army on guitar (from beginner to advanced!).
  • 3 easy tone tips that will make you sound like Jack White.
  • 5 essential guitar secrets that will help you learn songs as quickly as possible.

how-to-play-seven-nation-army-on-guitar

We’re going to break down the techniques needed to learn how to play seven nation army on guitar.

If you’ve come here because you’re only interested in learning the beloved main riff of the song, read no further!

  • We’ve got it tabbed out right here for you.
  • Start out with your index finger on the 7th fret of the A string, and use your pinky to reach the 9th fret on both the E and A strings.
  • Then simply, move this shape around each fret listed below on the tab.

This is a fantastic way to learn how to play seven nation army on guitar, however if you find this too difficult, you can just play the notes on the A string.

How-To-Play-Seven-Nation-Army-On-Guitar

How To Play Seven Nation Army On Guitar – An Introduction

In March of 2003, Meg and Jack White released the lead single from their fourth studio album Elephant.

The single was titled Seven Nation Army, and it rocked the world’s airwaves.

  • Seven Nation Army enjoyed (and is still enjoying) a long life as a catchy, Billboard-topping Rock tune.
  • The song’s life was further extended in 2017 when it became the most played song in TV commercials (according to Billboard) due to its appearance in Dr. Dre’s “Be Heard” campaign for Beats Headphones.
  • On top of all of this success, this White Stripes classic is also an influential song for many beginner guitarists.

Since its release, learning how to play Seven Nation Army on guitar has been a rite of passage for many musicians.

How-To-Play-Seven-Nation-Army-On-Guitar

Why Is This Such a Commonly Learned Song?

Learning how to play seven nation army on guitar is a straightforward process that uses the same musical idea different ways.

  • This is a great example of how simplicity is often the best tool we have to write music with.
  • The song’s main melody follows a strict pattern in both the verse and chorus sections, with only a few slight differences between them.

This makes this song extremely easy to break down for the guitarist who is looking for a simple song to learn.

How-To-Play-Seven-Nation-Army-On-Guitar

A unique lesson that learning how to play seven nation army on guitar teaches us is that the guitar can play the same notes as its counterpart – the bass guitar.

  • This song begins with what sounds like a bass guitar, but is actually just a guitar being pitched down using an octave pedal.
  • If you’re stressed about not being able to play notes low enough for this song, don’t worry – It will sound the same with a higher pitch.

Let’s start by breaking down the best way to learn songs.

How-To-Play-Seven-Nation-Army-On-Guitar

What is the Best Way to Learn Songs On Guitar?

The answer to this question strongly depends on who you ask, but we’re going to give you our golden rule to learning songs.

It’s simple:

  • Learn everything in small portions.

Not only do you want to approach learning the song slowly, you also want to understand what is happening in each section.

Learning in sections helps us get a better picture of how to play the song as a whole, and the same applies to learning how to play seven nation army on guitar.

How-To-Play-Seven-Nation-Army-On-Guitar

In today’s lesson, this song will be broken down into four sections:

  • Verse
  • Pre-chorus
  • Chorus
  • Solo

It’s important to note that there are only slight differences between the verse and chorus sections.

Top Tip – Remember, to listen first before you play. 

Your ears are your greatest tool as a guitarist. They will never lie to you, and they will always try to guide you in the right direction.

How-To-Play-Seven-Nation-Army-On-Guitar

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

How To Play Seven Nation Army on Guitar – Intro & Verse

The intro and verse sections of this song are identical, which makes it a lot easier to learn and play through.

  • We can start with our index finger at the 7th fret on the A string, and perform this whole riff on two strings to make it easy.
  • Use your pinky finger to get to the 10th fret on both the A and low E strings, and your middle finger on the 8th fret.

When we are learning how to play Seven Nation Army on guitar, we want to pay attention to how Jack White is playing each note.

How-To-Play-Seven-Nation-Army-On-Guitar

We’ve included tablature and notation in this article for you to play along with.

If you’re not hip to reading music, that’s okay too! This is how your note durations should look in the intro and verse:

Long – Short – Short – Short – Short – Long – Long

Make sure to listen to the track while learning how to play seven nation army on guitar.

You will hear these long and short bursts of notes in that order.

Skill Tip: The proper term used for the shorter notes in this riff is Staccato.

For those of us interested in the exact note durations, they are as follows:

Dotted Quarter – 16th – 8th – 8th – 8th – Half – Half

How-To-Play-Seven-Nation-Army-On-Guitar

Skill Tip: This is the only main rhythm played in this song, so take some time to play along now and get it under your hands

We repeat this riff twelve times before moving on to the chorus:

How To Play Seven Nation Army On Guitar – Pre-Chorus & Chorus

The pre-chorus is perhaps the easiest section of this song to conquer, as it only requires two power chords to play. 

We can jump down to our 3rd fret on the low E string and form a power chord using the following finger shape:

E String – Index, 3rd fret

A String – Ring, 5th fret

D String – Pinky, 5th fret

Give this chord a solid eight strums with your pick, then slide up two frets to the fifth fret and repeat for another eight.

How-To-Play-Seven-Nation-Army-On-Guitar

From there, we launch straight into the main chorus riff

  • When we are learning how to play seven nation army on guitar, it’s very important to pay attention to this next riff.
  • While we play only one riff in the verse section, we play two alternating riffs in the chorus.
  • The first riff of the chorus is similar to the verse and takes place over two bars.

Instead of playing single notes, this time we play octaves.

Octaves are simply the same note played on two different strings, and can add thickness to single-note guitar riffs.

How-To-Play-Seven-Nation-Army-On-Guitar

When we play octaves on guitar, we play them across three strings but only use two.

  • The middle string should remain muted. This is easy enough to do by letting our index finger lean back a bit to come in contact with the middle string.
  • Mastering the octave is essential for learning how to play seven nation army on guitar., so take some time now to practice this technique.
  • The following two bars of the chorus riff see us mimic the first two. The difference here is that we add two extra notes to the riff to round it out.

Pay close attention to this section as it is written across the A and G strings instead of the E and A strings.

How-To-Play-Seven-Nation-Army-On-Guitar

The reason for this is because it is much easier to move this octave chord shape across just one set of strings.

  • We’re going to play our way out of this section the same way we played in – with the pre-chorus riff once again.
  • Now that we’ve gotten this far, we know the entire foundation of how to play seven nation army on guitar!

Take a second, stretch and breathe.

Now kick on your distortion pedal, and let’s take on the solo section in detail.

Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
C Minor Pentatonic Scale: The Ultimate Guide

The C minor pentatonic scale is a scale that EVERY type of guitarist must-know. In this lesson we’ll show you everything you need to know about this cool guitar scale.

 

Over 100,000 guitar-learners get our world-class guitar tips & tutorials sent straight to their inbox: Click here to join them

In this free lesson you will learn:

  • 6 essential ways to play the C minor pentatonic scale
  • 3 quick & easy lead guitar hacks that will turbo-charge your solos
  • 5 must-know guitar secrets for intermediate guitarists

What is a Pentatonic Scale?

The pentatonic scale is a five-note scale that can be used for a variety of different melodic purposes.

  • This is an extremely popular scale across many genres of music.
  • The pentatonic scale originates from the diatonic scale (7 notes), and has two fewer notes than its parent scale.
  • The C minor pentatonic scale can be broken down into ‘boxes’ that we can play in, and each box is composed of the same notes played in a different order.

The five notes of the C minor pentatonic scale can provide us with a world of melodic possibilities!

c-minor-pentatonic-scale

The Five Boxes of The C Minor Pentatonic Scale

  • The C minor pentatonic scale (and all others like it) is divided into five boxes. We call the first box the root position.
  • Each one of these box shapes begins on a different note of the C minor pentatonic scale.

Deconstructing the scale this way gives us a better look into where we can play across the fretboard. It’s important to learn each of these boxes first before attacking the whole fretboard.

c-minor-pentatonic-scale

Each of the following positions will be slightly different than the last, but remember that all of the notes are the same throughout.

Each position after the root position begins on a different note of the scale.

For example:

  • The root position begins on the 8th fret and starts with the 1st note of the scale. (C).
  • The second position begins on the 11th fret and starts with the 2nd note of the scale. (Eb).
  • The third position begins on the 13th/1st fret and starts with the 3nd note of the scale. (F).
  • The fourth position begins on the 3rd fret and starts with the 4th note of the scale. (G).
  • The fifth position begins on the 6th fret and starts with the 5th note of the scale. (Bb).

Skill Tip: Always remember when practicing to stretch first before you play. This ensures that we are minimizing the risk of straining our hands when playing. Safety first!

c-minor-pentatonic-scale

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

C Minor Pentatonic Scale – Root Position (C)

The first box shape of this scale begins on the 8th fret of the guitar.

  • We should always lead with our index finger when playing the root position of any minor pentatonic scale.
  • This leaves our ring and pinky available for the notes ahead.

We won’t be using our middle finger for this scale shape, but we can position our other three fingers like so:

8th fret – Index finger.

10th fret – Ring finger.

11th fret – Pinky finger.

Most common scale shapes occur in four fret boxes, which is convenient for our hands.

c-minor-pentatonic-scale

Using the pinky finger when we’re first starting out can be tricky.

  • In terms of the human hand, the pinky is the one finger that doesn’t really have a dedicated use.
  • For example, you hold your pen with your thumb and index finger.

You type with your index and middle. What do you do with your pinky?

(Answer: You play guitar!)

The pinky will naturally have less strength than your other fingers. Take the time to give it the practice that it needs and you’ll be shredding the C minor pentatonic scale in no time.

Skill Tip: Focusing on alternate picking when playing these scale shapes keeps the picking hand strong.

c-minor-pentatonic-scale

C Minor Pentatonic Scale – Box Shape #2 (Eb)

The second shape of this scale makes for great practice in finger independence.

  • Begin with your middle finger on the 11th fret and follow with the pinky finger on the 13th.
  • We start this shape in this way because we need to step back to the 10th fret when we reach the A string.

This shape will utilize all of our fingers, so make sure each one has its own assigned fret.

Take a look at the scale shape below:

c-minor-pentatonic-scale

c-minor-pentatonic-scale

C Minor Pentatonic Scale – Box Shape #3 (F)

As we discussed earlier, some scale shapes require five frets to play.

  • With only four fingers, this can appear difficult at first – but fret not!
  • Like shape #2 of the C minor pentatonic scale, we can begin with our middle finger, this time on the 13th fret.
  • If your guitar only has access to twelve frets, you can start this scale on your first fret as well.

The move back to the 12th fret can be played with an open G string instead.

Playing in this position is called “playing down the octave.”

c-minor-pentatonic-scale

If we are playing at the 13th fret, we can use our index finger to make the step to the 12th on the G.

  • When we reach the B string, we can use our index finger to step back up to the 13th fret, as we will need our pinky to reach the 16th (or 4th) fret.
  • Making these stretches when practicing helps keep our hand and fingers limber, which in turn helps us play better.

Skill Tip: For the beginner guitarist, you might experience some discomfort at first when playing this scale shape, so don’t be afraid to take frequent breaks!

Get up, stretch, go for a run and come back to it. Your hands will thank you for giving them time to adjust.

Pentatonic-scale-in-C

C Minor Pentatonic Scale – Box Shape #4 (G)

Our fourth shape will take us down the fretboard to the 3rd fret.

  • By this point, we’ve already reached the 16th fret in shape #3, so it’s time to relocate.
  • This shape loosely resembles scale shape #1, so we can play it starting from the index finger.
  • In this shape of the C minor pentatonic scale, we will need our middle finger to play the 5th fret on the B string.

This shape is once again a great practice in finger independence, so make sure you play it slowly the first time through.

Pentatonic-scale-in-C

Remember when playing these shapes of the C minor pentatonic scale that we are only ever playing the same five notes.

The order of these notes changes with each scale shape, but no new notes are added past the five we are playing now.

Skill Tip: Listen carefully when playing each scale shape. Each one has its own unique tone that is useful over different chords in the C minor pentatonic scale.

Try playing each of these scale shapes over this slow blues chord progression here. Take note of how each note interacts with the chords underneath it, and decide what sounds you like best.

Pentatonic-scales

C Minor Pentatonic Scale – When to Use It

The C minor pentatonic scale can be used across a variety of genres.

  • This scale is favoured by many blues, rock, jazz and pop musicians.

The notes of the C minor pentatonic scale are as follows:

C – Eb – F – G – Bb – C

The chords in the key of C minor itself are:

  • C minor
  • D diminished
  • Eb major
  • F minor
  • G minor 
  • Ab major
  • Bb major

Combine any of these chords in a progression and you’ll have something that you can play the C minor pentatonic scale over.

C minor creates a moody and (sometimes) very bluesy feeling.

Classic songs like Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name” are written in this key for that reason.

guitar-scale-in-c

For those of us that love a good guitar solo (who doesn’t, really?), C minor pentatonic fits well over a variety of keys that share the same notes.

C minor, Eb major and C major are just a few examples of keys that we can play this scale over.

Skill Tip: As important as it is to know the notes of the scale you’re soloing in, knowing the chord changes in a song will always give you a better foundation to play over.

Don’t forget to always listen first.

C Minor Pentatonic Scale – Box Shape #5 (Bb)

Our fifth and final scale shape takes place from the 5th fret to the 8th, and we begin on the 6th with our middle finger.

  • Similar to shape #2 but without the ring finger, this shape gives our middle finger a chance to flex its muscles.
  • Once again, we leave the index finger open to handle the work on the 5th fret, and our pinky for the 8th.
  • This shape is a stretch, but can help to develop finger strength quickly if practiced enough.

Take a look at the shape below:

guitar-scale-in-c

Now that we have reached the last scale shape, you will notice that the last note of this shape (on the high E string) is a C.

Congratulations, you’ve successfully played all five shapes of the C minor pentatonic scale!

Skill Tip: Practice all of these shapes in ascending and descending order in order to get to know them better. Playing scales up and down helps us remember not only the positions, but the notes as well.

In the next section, we’re going to put it all together.

C-pentatonic-on-guitar

Connecting The Shapes of the C Minor Pentatonic Scale

Look how far you’ve come! Make sure you take a breather before we move on.

  • Learning all five scale shapes is one part of the C minor pentatonic scale.
  • The other is combining them to give ourselves a complete map of the fretboard.

The best way to practice this is with all of the scale shapes in front of us, so don’t forget to grab the downloadable PDF of this lesson so you have a good reference.

C minor pentatonic scales

Let’s look at an example that will help us string together shapes 1, 2 and 5.

C-pentatonic-on-guitar

It’s important to look at the space that is shared between scale shapes, as it helps us understand how they are all linked.

Effective practice of scales can help us create a seamless ‘mental map’ of the fretboard.

  • This is crucial for every guitarist in order to understand what and where they are playing.
  • For example, you may have noticed that the root position shares the 10th and 11th frets with scale shape #2.
  • Scale shape #2 also shares the 12th and 13th frets with shape #3, and so on.

Take the time to practice and pay attention to all of the fine details – it’s worth it!

C-pentatonic-scale

Learn the 12 EASIEST beginner chords with our famous FREE guide

  Stop struggling. Start making music.

  Learn 12 beginner-friendly versions of every chord.

  This is our most popular guide and it will improve your chord ability quickly.

C Minor Pentatonic Scale Rock Licks

Challenge Time! We can’t let you walk away from this lesson without a few cool licks to play over the next backing track you find, so we’ve drawn some up here for you to play.

These may look difficult, but they really aren’t.

Skill Tip: As always, practicing bar-to-bar is crucial as it helps us understand the ‘bigger picture’ of what we’re playing.

Don’t be afraid to break things down and play slowly!

C-pentatonic-scale

Focus on alternate picking in these examples, as it helps to develop fluid motion in your picking hand. Alternate picking also helps us get from one string to the next a lot easier, so it’s a technique that’s worth practicing and developing.

Skill Tip: These examples work well over a variety of C minor chord progressions, so keep them in your riff library.

As we progress as musicians, it’s important to keep a short list of licks that we like and that work well in musical situations.

pentatonic-guitar-scales

Jazz musicians have done this for years, as a result of this jazz licks have been reused and recycled throughout popular music.

Check out Adam Neely’s video on YouTube where he talks about “The Lick” (skip to 1:25).

Power Tip: If you’re the type of musician that enjoys learning about music theory, Adam Neely is a great YouTuber to watch. He provides insight into a variety of musical topics related to theory, culture and Jazz music. Check him out!

Where do I go from here?

Not finished with your daily practice and want more? We recommend:

  • Pick up a copy of the Guitar Scales Handbook.
  • Find new jam tracks to practice over on YouTube (Check out Quist).
  • Say the name of every note as you play it to memorize them all.
  • Listen to more songs in the key of C Minor.
  • Watch this video from Mangold Project about why Pentatonic Melodies work so well.

Recommended Resources

If you’re looking for more free lessons, we’ve got plenty in stock! Check out a few of our relevant favourites below:

What Type of Guitarist Are You?

Take our 60-second quiz & get your results: Take The Quiz

Want free guitar tips and video lessons delivered to your inbox?

Join over 100,000 other guitar learners and subscribe to our guitar-tips-by-email service. (It's free.)

We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

Learn how everything fits together quickly, easily and effectively. We share ninja tips (for instant fun!) but also timeless fundamentals that will deepen your understanding.


Popular Lessons

How To Learn Guitar: An 11-Step Programme For Beginners

10 Easy Songs For Beginners

How To Strum A Guitar

How To Choose The Perfect Beginner Guitar

Guitar Notes Explained: A Guide For Beginners

How To Play Lead Guitar

3 Easy Ways To Play Bm

More Cool Guitar Stuff

Learn about the National Guitar Academy: About Us

Visit our YouTube channel for fun guitar videos.

Join us on Facebook for daily guitar tips.

Listen to our Learn Guitar Podcast for rapid guitar progress.

Check out our free chord lessons.

 

Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Three Chord Songs – 10 Essential Songs You Must Know

Want to learn the best three chord songs out there? Then this is the place to be! Grab your guitar and get ready to learn 10 of the best three chord songs around.

 

Over 100,000 guitar-learners get our world-class guitar tips & tutorials sent straight to their inbox: Click here to join them

In this free lesson you will learn:

  • 10 easy three chord songs that will make you sound amazing.
  • 7 essential chords which will turbo-charge your guitar playing.
  • 3 top secret tips that will turn you into a better guitarist today.

So you want to learn three chord songs…

One of the best parts about learning the guitar is learning songs. 9 times out of 10 when people pick up the guitar they want to learn great songs.

  • However when most guitarists try to learn their favourite songs they often get stunted by how many chords there are to learn.
  • This almost always stops them from learning and leads to frustration, anger and sometimes leads students to stop playing altogether, this is the last thing we want!

So, to put a stop to this madness, we’ve created a lesson full of three chord songs. These songs are easy to play, fun and will make you a better guitarist.

Let’s dive into learning the best three chord songs around.

montage-1

Three Chord Songs – I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas

‘I gotta feeling’ by the Black Eyed Peas is one of the easiest three chord songs that you can play on guitar.

  • Not only is it super easy to play, it’s also hugely popular amongst audiences all around the world.
  • The song itself was nominated for song of the year at the Grammys and also won a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

Here are a few reasons why it’s perfect for beginners to learn:

  • It only uses three chords throughout the whole song.
  • Each chord is held for the same amount of beats.
  • It’s great for getting to grips with chord changes.

You can listen to the song here:

What are the chords?

The chords for this song are G, C and Em. Here are the chordboxes:

three-chord-songs

Don’t understand this image? Go here: How To Read Guitar Chordboxes

How do I play this song?

Each chord is held for 8 beats. The sequence of chords goes like this:

  • G x8.
  • C x8.
  • Em x8.
  • C x8.

There are a number of different ways to strum this song, if you’re experienced with chords you might like to strum each chord 8 times.

However, if you’re a complete beginner take a listen to this audio clip to hear Jack break down this song:

The chords are too hard! Is there an easier way to play these chords?

Yes! You can substitute each of these chords for ‘stepping-stone’ chords.

  • ‘Stepping-Stone’ chords are easier versions of standard open chords.
  • The stepping-stone versions of G, C and Em are G6, Cmaj7 and Em7.

Here are those chords:

three-chord-songs

For more stepping-stone chords, check out this lesson: 14 Easy Guitar Chords For Beginners

Learn the 12 EASIEST beginner chords with our famous FREE guide

  Stop struggling. Start making music.

  Learn 12 beginner-friendly versions of every chord.

  This is our most popular guide and it will improve your chord ability quickly.

Three Chord Songs – Can’t Stop The Feeling – Justin Timberlake

One of the best three chord songs you can learn is ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’ by Justin Timberlake.

This song is great to learn because:

  • It uses the chords C, Am and F.
  • These chords are used frequently in the verses and choruses of the songs. This means that we can play over 90% of the song with these three chords.

Here’s the song:

How do I play this three chord song?

The chords in this song are: C. Am and F.

Here’s what those chords look like:

three-chord-songs

The chords go like this:

  • C x4.
  • Am x4.
  • F x4.
  • Am x4.

The hardest chord by far in this song is the F chord. If you struggle with barre chords take a look at this video from Mike:

Are there easier ways to play these chords?

As always, you can replace all of the chords above with easier stepping-stone versions.

Here are those chords:

three-chord-songs

Three Chord Songs – Twist And Shout – The Beatles

The Beatles are easily one of the biggest bands the world has produced and were pioneers in creating three chord songs.

  • Ironically, The Beatles didn’t write ‘Twist And Shout’ that was down to writers Bert Berns and Phil Medley.
  • However, there is an argument to say that it was The Beatles who made the song so popular.

Here’s the song:

How Do I Play This Song?

This song uses the following chords:

  • D.
  • G.
  • A.

three-chord-songs

To play this song, do the following;

  • D x 2.
  • G x 2.
  • A x 4.

This song has a few twists and turns and has some tricky elements to the strumming. In this audio clip Jack explains how to play this song in more detail:

Is there an easier way to play this song?

Yes, for this song you can use the following stepping-stone chords:

  • Dsus2.
  • G6.
  • Asus2.

Here are the chord boxes for those songs:

three-chord-songs

Three Chord Songs – Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd

‘Sweet Home Alabama’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd is a country classic. A simple chord progression and some cool country licks makes this one of the best three chord songs around.

Interested in country guitar? Then check out this cool lesson: Country Guitar Lessons: 4 Essential Lessons

Interestingly, this song was written in response to Neil Young’s ‘Southern Man’ and ‘Alabama’ hence why Young is referenced in the lyrics:

‘Well, I heard Mister Young sing about her

Well, I heard ol’ Neil put her down

Well, I hope Neil Young will remember

A Southern man don’t need him around anyhow‘

You can listen to the song here:

Here are the chords for this song:

three-chord-songs

Notice how the Cadd9 chord and the G chord share a similar shape. When changing between these chords, all you have to do is:

  • Plant your 3rd and 4th fingers on the 3rd fret of the B and E string (2nd and 1st string).
  • Then move your 1st and 2nd finger from the A and D string (5th and 4th string) to the E and A string (6th and 5th string).

To play this song, make sure that you play the chords in this order:

  • D x2.
  • Cadd9 x2.
  • G x4.

To hear this in context, here’s a clip of Jack playing these chords:

Is there an easier way to play this song?

Yep, instead of D, Cadd9 and G, you can use the following chords:

  • Dsus2.
  • Cmaj7.
  • G6.

Here are those chords:

three-chord-songs

Three Chord Songs – Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison

‘Brown Eyed Girl’ by Van Morrison was easily one of the biggest three chord songs of the 60s.

However, despite it being so popular Van Morrison reportedly received no royalties for this song due to a contract which was signed without legal advice.

Listen to the song here:

This is another fantastic song for any beginner to learn, here’s why:

  • The structure is simple and only uses G, C and D chords.
  • It’s a great song to learn if you want to keep audiences on there feet.
  • It sounds fantastic!

Here are the chords for this song:

easy-three-chord-songs

To play this song do the following:

  • G x4.
  • C x4.
  • G x4.
  • D x4.

To hear this in context, here’s a clip of Jack playing these chords:

This progression happens in both the verses and choruses of the song.

If you’re struggling with these chords you can also use the stepping-stone versions, these chords are:

  • G6.
  • Cmaj7.
  • Dsus2.

easy-guitar-songs

Bonus Chord – The Em Chord

When it comes to three chord songs, ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ is one of the most popular ones out there.

However, there is a secret ‘4th’ chord. This chord is Em and it appears in the bridge section. Here’s the Em chord:

easy-chord-songs

Here’s how the bridge goes:

  • C x4.
  • D x4.
  • G x4.
  • Em x4.
  • C x 4.
  • D x4.
  • G x4.
  • D x16.

Here’s how that sounds:

 

Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
2 Chord Songs: 8 Easy Songs That Will Make You Sound Amazing

Learning 2 chord songs is one of the best ways to improve your guitar playing. In this lesson we’ll show you 8 of our favourite 2 chord songs.

Over 100,000 guitar-learners get our world-class guitar tips & tutorials sent straight to their inbox: Click here to join them

In this free lesson you will learn:

  • 8 Easy 2 chord songs. (We’ll help you learn each one!)
  • 3 essential strumming tips for beginners.
  • The no1 secret that will help you learn chords at lightning speed.

Want to learn the best 2 chord songs?

It’s no mystery that practising and playing 2 chord songs helps you get better at guitar.

Learning this improves your timing, chord changes and musicality.

Every one of the 2 chord songs in this list is beginner-friendly and can be arranged to make it as simple or as complicated as you like, let’s dive in!

2-chord-songs

2 Chord Songs – ‘You Never Can Tell (C’est la Vie)’ by Chuck Berry

“You Never Can Tell” is an early rock and roll song that was featured in the movie “Pulp Fiction.” It is also known as “C’est la Vie.”

Top tip!
This is one of the easiest 2 chord songs to play and memorize. When you play, note that the chord changes happen at the end of every other lyric line. Keep this in mind and you’ll soon develop a good feel for when they are about to happen.

The chords in this version of “You Never Can Tell” are G major and D7. However, if you’re struggling with these chords you can use a one-finger G chord and a D major instead of D7.

G major

2-chord-songs

(If you don't understand the above image please read our article "How To Read Guitar Chordboxes In 60 Seconds". It will make everything clear!)

D7

2-chord-songs

D major

2-chord-songs

When strumming this song, be consistent with your strumming and strum with a straight down-up rhythm.

  • Emmylou Harris and Ricky Skaggs covered this song in 1977, and it has been played through the ages by everyone from Ian Anderson to Coldplay.
  • In this version by Bruce Springsteen, you can see Springsteen teach the song to himself and his band before playing it.

It is one of the most popular and enduring 2 chord songs in rock and roll.

Learn the 12 EASIEST beginner chords with our famous FREE guide

  Stop struggling. Start making music.

  Learn 12 beginner-friendly versions of every chord.

  This is our most popular guide and it will improve your chord ability quickly.

2 Chord Songs – ‘Jambalaya’ by Hank Williams

“Jambalaya” is one of many 2 chord songs and other simpler tunes written by Hank Williams, proof that Hank Williams loves beginning guitarists and wants you to be happy.

  • Just like “You Never Can Tell,” this song has two chords that fold into each other.
  • These chords are C and G7.

If you find the G7 too difficult you can always use a regular G chord. This will work perfectly.

C major

2-chord-songs

G7

2-chord-songs

G major

2-chord-songs

Many different kinds of strumming rhythms work on “Jambalaya,” from a simple down strum to a calypso strum, swinging rhythm or straight down-up strumming.

This song has been covered by all sorts of artists, including Jo Stafford, Professor Longhair, the Carpenters, and the Residents, so it’s one of the most timelessly popular 2 chord songs ever written.

Here is the original:

Pro-tip: Changing from C major to G7 is easier than it looks. From C major, move your first finger south (toward the floor) one string, and move your other two fingers north (toward the sky) one string. G7 is just a C major chord shape split apart.

2 Chord Songs – ‘Tulsa Time’ by Danny Flowers

“Tulsa Time” was a 1978 hit by US country artist Don Williams, and it was also popularized by Eric Clapton on his 1978 Backless album and his 1980 live album, “Just One Night”.

The chords in this song are A major and E7. Just like “You Never Can Tell,” the chord changes happen at the end of the lyrical line, so the pattern is relatively easy to pick up and remember.

A major

2-chord-songs

E7

2-chord-songs

Try “Tulsa Time” with a constant down-up strum.

If it sounds familiar, that may be because it is very similar in chord structure and melody to “Achy Breaky Heart,” made famous by Miley Cyrus’s father Billy Ray.

Here is Eric Clapton’s version of Tulsa Time:

2 Chord Songs – ‘Iko Iko and ‘Man Smart, Woman Smarter’

Here is a pair of 2 chord songs that share a similar beat as well as the same harmonic structure.

Quick Theory Tip!
‘Harmonic structure’ is the term used for what chords are involved in a song.

“Iko Iko”, sometimes spelled “Aiko Aiko,” an “Man Smart, Woman Smarter” both have the same chord progression as “Tulsa Time” and “Achy Breaky Heart.”

However, for this song we’re playing in the key of D. This means that the chords are D and A7:

D major

2-chord-songs

A major

2-chord-songs

A7

easy-guitar-songs

Both songs are frequently played with a Diddley beat, named after Bo Diddley.

The Diddley beat is syncopated, meaning that the accented strums sometimes happen in between the beats.

Advanced beginning and intermediate guitarists can check out this short YouTube tutorial breaking down the Diddley beat:

“Iko Iko” and “Man Smart, Woman Smarter” also share a murky history, with the songwriting credits for each song in dispute.

“Iko Iko” was first popularized by the Dixie Cups in 1965, and although the song was initially written as “Jockamo” by James Crawford in 1953, the Dixie Cups are also listed as songwriters.

Here is Dr. John and an all-star crew performing “Iko Iko” – introduced by a rather famous emcee:

“Man Smart, Woman Smarter” was first recorded and probably written by Norman Span in 1936.

Harry Belafonte and the Grateful Dead both had the song as part of their regular performance sets.

You can really hear the Diddley beat by Robert Palmer’s band in this version:

2 Chord Songs – ‘Horse with No Name’ by America

The amazing thing about “Horse with No Name” is that it doesn’t SOUND like the other 2 chord songs.

  • In fact, with the variation in melody between the verse and chorus, it doesn’t sound like a 2 chord song at all.
  • The song is in E minor, and for every bar the chord changes to a D 6/9 over F#.

This may sound like a complicated but don’t worry. The name is harder than the actual chord.

E minor

beginner-guitar-songs

D 6/9 over F# (200200)

Easy-songs-on-guitar

Fun Fact!

The ‘D6/9 over F# chord isn’t used in music very often. So if you wanted to, you could refer to this as the ‘Horse’ chord.

“Horse with No Name” also stands apart from the other 2 chord songs with its swinging strum pattern. Try to copy the strum from the live video below.

Pro-tip: Watch your favorite rhythm guitarists playing to learn how they approach strumming. Being able to recreate their rhythms will help you to develop your own toolbox of strumming patterns. Guitarists keep the steady down-up motion going even when they are not hitting the strings, and this is a very important skill to develop!

2 Chord Songs – ‘Shady Grove’ – Traditional Folk Song

One of the best ways to find 2 chord songs is to listen to traditional folk music.

  • Traditional folk music is often learnt by ear, because of this the songs only ever have two to three chords as well as easy-to-remember repeated lyrics.
  • For “Shady Grove,” use an E minor chord and a D major chord.

The progression is repeated over eight bars like this:

Em   |   D   |   Em   |   Em   |
Em   |   D   |   D   |   Em

E minor

beginner-guitar-songs

D major

2-chord-songs

“Shady Grove” has been recorded by Bill Monroe, Taj Mahal, the Kingston Trio, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Camper Van Beethoven.

Here is a version by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman:

2 Chord Songs – ‘Eleanor Rigby’ by The Beatles

That’s right, even the Beatles wrote some 2 chord songs.

You can use just 2 chords to play “Tomorrow Never Knows,” “Paperback Writer,” “Don’t Let Me Down,” and “Eleanor Rigby”.

“Eleanor Rigby” uses the E minor and C major chords.

Em

beginner-guitar-songs

Cmajor

2-chord-songs

If you are feeling confident with the E minor and C major, you can add these two variants of the E minor chord when you get to “all the lonely people.”

Em7

Easy-songs-for-guitar

Em6

beginner-songs-for-guitar

You can play this song effectively with a straight down strum, four to a measure.

With a little practice, you’ll be playing along with the Beatles!

2 Chord Songs – ‘I’ll Take You There’ by Al Bell

This tune, recorded by the Staples Singers in 1972, is one of countless 2 chord songs in the soul genre.

  • To play “I’ll Take You There,” you need one measure of the C major chord and one measure of the F major chord.
  • If F major is not yet a comfortable chord for you, you can easily substitute the Fmaj7 chord, and the song will sound just as good!

C major

2-chord-songs

F major

F Guitar Chord

Fmaj7

2-chord-songs

Play “I’ll Take You There” along with the Staples Singers in this video:

Moving Past 2 Chord Songs

The 2 chord songs in this article are great for developing your chord changes, rhythm skills and repertoire.

However, if you want to learn some harder songs, check out these lessons:
10 Easy Songs On Guitar
5 Guitar Songs For Beginners
Guitar Tabs For Beginners: 20 Easy Songs That Sound Great

Recommended Resources

How To Strum A Guitar
Capo Chart (Learn EVERY chord instantly!)
Beginner Guitar Chords: 14 Essential Chords
Strumming Patterns: 5 Essential Patterns

What Type of Guitarist Are You?

Take our 60-second quiz & get your results: Take The Quiz

Want free guitar tips and video lessons delivered to your inbox?

Join over 100,000 other guitar learners and subscribe to our guitar-tips-by-email service. (It's free.)

We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

Learn how everything fits together quickly, easily and effectively. We share ninja tips (for instant fun!) but also timeless fundamentals that will deepen your understanding.

Popular Lessons

How To Learn Guitar: An 11-Step Programme For Beginners

10 Easy Songs For Beginners

How To Strum A Guitar

How To Choose The Perfect Beginner Guitar

Guitar Notes Explained: A Guide For Beginners

How To Play Lead Guitar

3 Easy Ways To Play Bm

More Cool Guitar Stuff

Learn about the National Guitar Academy: About Us

Visit our YouTube channel for fun guitar videos.

Join us on Facebook for daily guitar tips.

Listen to our Learn Guitar Podcast for rapid guitar progress.

Check out our free chord lessons.

 

 

Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Where should we send it?
Get our best guitar tips & videos
Enter your email address to learn our best guitar tips and tricks today!