Top Ten Best Guitar Songs To Learn

What are some of the best guitar songs to learn? Let us break down our top ten list for you!

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In this free lesson you will learn…

  • 10 easy to play guitar songs
  • A Beatles’ song you may not have heard of
  • Open position chords
  • The five guitar-friendly keys

Here Are Your Top 10 Best Guitar Songs to Learn

The best guitar songs to learn are ones that are not only fun to play and sing, but that prepare you to learn other stuff on the guitar.

Better yet, they may teach you something that you will end up using over and over again.

If you have been playing the guitar for a little while, you’ve probably run across quite a few web pages listing the same 25 guitar songs over and over.

Well, get ready for something different!

We’ve gone deep into the teaching vault to give you some of the best songs we’ve taught to our guitar classes over the last 20 years.

You’ll definitely learn something, but mostly we hope you enjoy these songs as much as we do.

best-guitar-songs-to-learn

Best Guitar Songs To Learn: Flaming Lips – “Buggin’”

This is one of the best guitar songs to learn because it’s not very difficult to pick up.

“Buggin’” is from the Flaming Lips’ amazing 1999 breakout album, The Soft Bulletin.

  • The song is in the key of D, and there are only a few chords you’ll need to get through this one.
  • Fortunately, all of these chords take place in the open position, making them much easier to grab quickly.

D (xx0232)

best-guitar-songs-to-learn

(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!)

G (320003)

best-guitar-songs-to-learn

 

A (x02220)

best-guitar-songs-to-learn

E (022100)

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This is the closest thing the internet has to a proper chord and lyric chart for “Buggin’”. Ignore the G minor; it simply doesn’t belong there.

  • The main thing you want out of this song is the cool intro figure.
  • You can play this section with your D chord shape.
  • Move it up to the 9th fret and play the three fretted strings, then move it down to the 7th fret and do the same. From there, move it home to the 2nd fret and do the same.

Notice how you can move one chord shape to multiple positions on the fretboard to make new shapes? Take note of this, as this happens frequently with chords.

best-guitar-songs-to-learn

Best Guitar Songs To Learn: David Bowie – “Modern Love”

For no good reason, our research has not uncovered very many Bowie songs at all in commonly curated lists of the best guitar songs to learn.

Let’s fix that, shall we?

David Bowie left a mark on the musical world that is still felt heavily today.

  • This song came out in 1983 and was co-produced by funk genius Nile Rodgers.
  • You can play this song in the key of C with this handful of chords.

C (x32010)

best-guitar-songs-to-learn

G (320003)

best-guitar-songs-to-learn

Am (x02210)

best-guitar-songs-to-learn

E7 (020100)

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Em (022000)

best-guitar-songs-to-learn

F (xx3211)

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D (xx0232)

best-guitar-songs-to-learn

Here is a complete chord and lyric chart for “Modern Love.”

  • The song goes pretty fast with a driving rhythm, but you don’t have to learn it that fast!
  • Begin playing it as slowly as you need to and gradually bring the tempo up to where you’d like it.

Remember, comfort is key!

A calypso strum works really well with this song.

That looks something like this pattern here:

Down, Down-Up, -Up, Down-Up

best-guitar-songs-to-learn

Learn the 12 EASIEST beginner chords with our famous FREE guide

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Best Guitar Songs To Learn: Ray LaMontagne – “For The Summer”

This is one of the best guitar songs to learn how to incorporate different rhythms into one song.

It’s also a beautiful tune that we think everyone should learn!

This song appears on LaMontagne’s 2010 album, God Willing & The Creek Don’t Rise.

  • It’s a Folk album, if you didn’t notice from the title.
  • The song is in the key of C, but we’re going to do like Ray does and play it in A with the capo on the third fret.

Here are the chords:

A (x02220)

Em (022000)

G (320003)

D (xx0232)

C (x32010)

There are a bunch of cool little guitar tricks you can insert into your arrangement after you get the basic structure of the song down, with the help of this chord chart for “For the Summer.”

For instance, the first section, with the verse, has a simple chunky rhythm that you can do by picking the root of the chord twice and then strumming once.

  • The chorus has a more flowy vibe to it, so you can use full strums on the beat.
  • The sections in between are syncopated, and you can strum when you sing.
  • This makes our list of the best guitar songs to learn because it forces you to listen carefully.

best-guitar-songs-to-learn

Best Guitar Songs To Learn: The Beatles – “I’m Only Sleeping”

This may be one of the best guitar songs to learn by The Beatles that does not contain barre chords, and it makes this list largely for that reason.

We’re sure that you already know all about this song. If you aren’t, consider familiarizing yourself closely with The Beatles’ discography. You’ll find plenty of interesting and fun material!

Depending on where in the world you are, it can be found on the album Revolver, or Yesterday and Today.

Here is the small handful of chords you’ll need to play “I’m Only Sleeping.”

Em (022000)

Am (x02210)

G (320003)

C (x32010)

B7 (x21202)

Bm (xx4432)

Cmaj7 (x32000)

The B minor chord can be a little bit of a leap if we aren’t used to it.

If it feels weird or unenjoyable, check out this lesson for some modifications:

Bm Guitar Chord for Beginners

There are two parts to the song: the verse and the bridge.

  • If you’re confused by where the bridge is in this song, it’s the part that contains the lyric “Keeping an eye on the world going by my window.”
  • Here is a complete chord chart for “I’m Only Sleeping” so you can play the whole thing from front to back!

To get that authentic Brit-Pop sound that’s part of many of The Beatles’ best guitar songs to learn, you just need to strum down on the beat.

best-guitar-songs-to-learn

Best Guitar Songs To Learn: J. Geils Band – “Love Stinks”

One of the world’s best guitar songs to learn for a singalong is the Valentine’s Day anti-anthem, “Love Stinks” by the J. Geils Band.

Ah, to be alive in the early days of music video-making, when there clearly were absolutely no rules.

“Love Stinks” is in the key of C and uses just four chords and, for the most part, two words.

C (x32010)

F (xx3211)

Am (x02210)

G (320003)

If you’d like to know the rest of the lyrics, here’s a chord chart for “Love Stinks.”

This is one of the best guitar songs to learn how to make more interesting rhythms happen.

If you listen to the main groove of the song, you will hear accented beats that go like this:

One and Two and three And Four and.

  • Hit the beats in bold louder than the others to emulate the rhythm of the recording.
  • If you’re unfamiliar, we refer to the bold beats as accents because of how they accent the rhythm we are trying to communicate.

best-guitar-songs-to-learn

Pro-Tip: When you’re trying to come up with a good rhythm for a song you’re learning, listen to all of the instruments in the recording together.

 

The guitar in a band is sometimes but not always the main driver of rhythm, and you can pick up some cool rhythms from the other instruments to adapt for your guitar arrangement.

Best Guitar Songs To Learn: Weezer – “Island In the Sun”

Weezer might be the band that gives you the biggest collection of the best guitar songs to learn. For example, here’s “Island In the Sun.”

“Island In the Sun” initially wasn’t going to make it onto Weezer’s 2001 self-titled album.

You know who fought for its inclusion? Their producer, Ric Ocasek.

It’s a genius song made up of only five chords, shown below:

Em (022000)

Am (x02210)

D (xx0232)

G (320003)

C (x32010)

If you want to sing anything other than “hip hip” in this song, you’ll want the chord chart for “Island In the Sun.”

This chord chart also includes a pretty good guide to various rhythms you might want to use in the song.

  • When you start playing the intro, you may notice that your chords don’t sound exactly like the recording.
  • If you would like to copy that sound, the chords are played a little bit differently than the standard open chord voicings.

Here’s what you’ll want to use:

Em (xxx453)

Am (xxx555)

D (xxx232)

G (xxx433)

best-guitar-songs-to-play

Best Guitar Songs To Learn: Curtis Mayfield – “People Get Ready”

This is a guitar jam and singalong favorite and one of Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions’ best guitar songs to learn.

“People Get Ready” is on everyone’s Top 25 Songs of All Time list, and it’s probably Mayfield’s best-known song.

  • If you’re not familiar with him, this little Curtis Mayfield Wikipedia blurb doesn’t tell the whole story, but it’s a place to start..
  • You can play this song in the key of D or the key of C. We’ll start with the key of D because it sounds just a little bit sweeter.

D (xx0232)

Bm (xx4432)

G (320003)

F#m (xx4222)

Here’s the “People Get Ready” chord chart. It doesn’t have an F#m in it, because it’s more or less optional.

If you’d like to include the F#m, it goes in as the first chord in the last line of the verse, so instead of

D Bm G D

the last line will be

F#m Bm G D

fun-guitar-songs

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.

Best Guitar Songs To Learn: Chuck Berry – “Johnny B. Goode”

This is one of the best guitar songs to learn because you’re learning so much more than just this one song.

“Johnny B. Goode” is more or less the source song for everything that’s happened since it was released in 1958.

It’s a 12-bar blues, which is a standard chord progression that you will begin to recognize everywhere once you know it.

You’re going to play this song in the standard key of A, using these chords.

A (x02220)

D (xx0232)

E (022100)

The 12-bar blues chord progression in the key of A goes like this:

A A A A

D D A A

E E A A

Once you have this chord progression down, you’ll be able to play tons of other Blues songs and Blues-based Rock, Folk, and Jazz songs.

Here is the chord and lyrics chart for “Johnny B. Goode.”

  • The intro is what makes this one of the best guitar songs to learn.
  • Here is a snippet of the “Johnny B. Goode” guitar intro.
  • If you’re new to reading guitar tablature, check out this lesson on how to read guitar tabs.

cool-guitar-songs

Best Guitar Songs To Learn: Tom Petty – “American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ catalog is another treasure trove of the best guitar songs to learn, especially for beginners.

This song is now widely considered a staple of Classic Rock, and a mainstay of the American rock music canon. When it was released however, it was not a big hit.

The song is in the key of D, and here are the chords.

D (xx0232)

E7 (020100)

G (320003)

A (x02220)

Bm (xx4432)

You might not need the lyrics if you already know them, but here is a chord chart for “American Girl.”

This is another good song for creativity in rhythm.

The guitar itself isn’t doing much to drive the rhythm, but if you listen to the drums, there’s a snappy little beat you can copy with your strumming pattern.

Some of the best guitar songs to learn have elements we can pull from other instruments like the drums. This song is no exception!

easy-guitar-songs-to-learn

Best Guitar Songs To Learn: Rolling Stones – “Dead Flowers”

You can’t really go wrong looking through the Rolling Stones’ epic song list for the best guitar songs to learn.

Here’s one that frequently shows up in beginning guitar classes.

“Dead Flowers” is on the Stones’ wonderful 1971 album, Sticky Fingers. The chorus is a true anthemic singalong.

It’s in the key of D and all you need to play it are these three chords.

D (xx0232)

A (x02220)

G (320003)

The chord progression is also pretty easy to memorize. The verse repeats this sequence four times:

D A G D

The chorus alternates this way.

A A D D x2

G G D D x3

D A G D

For a chord chart with lyrics, here’s a good version of “Dead Flowers.”

It’s even got a suggested strumming pattern for you, and you can transfer that rhythm to a lot of other songs.

what-are-the-best-guitar-songs-to-learn

Finding More of the Best Guitar Songs to Learn

A lot of the best guitar songs to learn were written in one of the five guitar-friendly keys: A, D, G, E, and C.

Learning the main chords in these keys will also unlock thousands of songs written on the guitar.

You can begin to tell the key a song is in by the chord that the song “lands” on. Pick a favorite and try to figure out the key! Make sure to pay attention to the chord changes!

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