Intermediate Guitar Songs – 8 Songs You Can Use To Challenge Yourself

Looking for intermediate guitar songs that are a step above the easy beginner stuff? We’ve got you covered…

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

In this guide you’ll find:

  • 8 intermediate guitar songs that are fun to play
  • 4 useful challenges for intermediate players
  • Some of our best tips for exploring the instrument more deeply

So you want to learn intermediate guitar songs…

At some point in your guitar journey you’re going to feel ready to challenge yourself.

Maybe you’re bored of standard open chords and simple strumming and want to take your playing to the next level.

If this sounds like you, you’re in the right place!

In this lesson we’re going to show you 8 epic intermediate guitar songs that will boost your repertoire.

Intermediate-Guitar-Songs

Intermediate Guitar Songs #1 ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ by The Beatles

As catchy and singable as most Beatles songs are, they did not make themselves legends by writing songs that were easy for beginning guitar players.

They did however turn out quite a few intermediate guitar songs, like “When I’m Sixty-Four.”

This song is in the key of C major. The verse chords are C, G7, C7, F. Then, on the last line the chords change to F, Fm, C, A7, D7, G7, C.

The bridge uses Am, G, E7, Dm, F, G, C.

Full F Chord

Intermediate-Guitar-Songs

Fm open and barre chords

Intermediate-Guitar-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!)

To strum, you can use alternating bass strumming. To do this, on the 1st and 3rd beat of the bar, instead of strumming on these beats, pick the lowest note in the chord instead.

Intermediate-Guitar-Songs

 

Intermediate Guitar Songs Challenge #1 – Working Out Single Notes By Ear

One of the best ways to improve your guitar playing is to train your ears.

Working something out ‘by ear’ is when you listen to a piece of music and work out how to play it with just your guitar and ears.

  • A good way to start this is to work out a simple melody from a song.
  • Many of the intermediate guitar songs in this guitar lesson have a short melody or riff that you can figure out if you know how to play the major scale in the key that the song is in.

As this song is in the key of C major, you can use the C major scale to figure out the opening melody in this song.

If you know how to play a C major scale, you can find nearly every note in the intro.

For help with the C major scale, check out our article on major scale guitar.

As a challenge, try this:

  • Listen to the intro 5 times.
  • Write notes about the intro and think about the following: do the notes go higher or lower in pitch, how long are the notes held for, do the notes have any techniques in such as bending, vibrato?
  • Listen to each note individually and then find it out on your guitar.
  • Do this with every note until you can find them all.

Eventually, you’ll be able to do this with whole phrases. But to begin with, start with individual notes to train your ears.

Intermediate-Guitar-Songs

Intermediate Guitar Songs #2 – ‘Driver 8’ by REM

REM’s “Driver 8” is a great introduction to playing from tablature. The riffs are simple but fast, so add this one to your growing intermediate guitar songs collection.

The verse of the song is in the key of E minor, and the chords are Em, Am, G, D/F#.

The chorus of the song changes key to D major, and the chords are D, D/C, D/B until ending with an arpeggiated Em7.

D/F#, D/C, and D/B are slash chords, which start cropping up in intermediate guitar songs. The chord shape is modified so that the lowest note you hear in the chord is some note other than the root.

D/F#

Intermediate-Guitar-Songs

D/C

Intermediate-Guitar-Songs

D/B

Intermediate-Guitar-Songs

The bridge of the song is in the key of G major, and the chords are Am, C, G, D.

  • This song mentions a train in the chorus. You can use constant down-up strumming with a straight rhythm to evoke the sound of a train.
  • If you would like to make it a bit more interesting, strum a little louder on the second beat of the measure: one two three four!

For a refresher on strumming for your intermediate guitar songs, check out this lesson:

How To Strum A Guitar

Weaving riffs into your strumming is a new skill in many intermediate guitar songs. “Driver 8” has two of them: one kicks off the song, and the other wraps up the chorus. Check these out:

Intermediate-Guitar-Songs

Pro-tip: When learning riffs, you’ll need to slow WAY down to get the mechanics of the riff.

  • It may take a while before you can get your fingers to do things in the order that you want them to, so be patient.
  • Take it slowly until you can play the riff with control, then gradually increase the tempo.

Intermediate-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.

Intermediate Guitar Songs #3 – ‘In Your Eyes’ by Peter Gabriel

“In Your Eyes” is on Peter Gabriel’s 1986 So album.

The chords in the verse are Bm, D/F#, G, A. The pre-chorus goes back and forth between A, D/F#, and G. The chorus is A and E.

Bm

Intermediate-Guitar-Songs

Syncopation is when accents, or stronger strums, happen between the beats. It is what gives songs drive, funk, and coolness, and syncopation is an essential strumming tool to master for intermediate guitar songs.

Try strumming “In Your Eyes” with a sixteenth-note beat, this is when you strum four times within a single beat.

  • Think of it like this, if you have the following beats: 1 2 3 4
  • In between each of these beats, you would strum four times.
  • The best way to think of it is to think of the word “caterpillar”. For every beat, say the word “caterpillar” and that will give you your sixteenth note rhythm.
  • Once you’ve done this and you understand what a sixteenth note ‘feels’ like. Try strumming each note with a down and up motion with your pick.
  • This helps intermediate guitar songs that have a slow tempo, like this one, keep moving.

For ideas on how to strum “In Your Eyes” and other intermediate guitar songs, check out this lesson:

Strumming Patterns: 5 Essential Patterns

Intermediate-Guitar-Songs

Intermediate Guitar Songs #4 – ‘Give a Little Bit’ by Supertramp

Everyone should know how to play “Give a Little Bit” by Supertramp. It is one of the greatest intermediate guitar songs of all time, and it is also a mandatory singalong.

Intermediate Guitar Songs Challenge #2 – Working Out Chords By Ear

For this song, we’re not going to tell you what the chords are.

All we’re going to tell you is that the song is in the key of D major and that it mainly uses the chords in the key of D major (with a couple of exceptions).

Intermediate-Guitar-Songs

Give the song a little listen and see whether you can figure out the chords. Listen for the major and minor chords and see if you can figure them out.

Here are a few tips and tricks which will help you figure out the chords:

  • Try and work out the bass note. Experiment with different notes on the E and A strings and see if you can find one that matches up.
  • Listen to the ‘quality’ of the chord. If it sounds happy, the chord is major. If it sounds sad, the chord is minor.

With these two tips combined, you should be able to find out what the chords.

Strumming In ‘Give A Little Bit’

“Give a Little Bit” is one of many intermediate guitar songs that work very well with a “chugging” rhythm.

It sounds like down, down up down, down up. To accommodate this rhythm, you may want to change your chords in the verse a half beat early. Listen to the song and try to copy the rhythm and you’ll get it!

The Outro

This song has a fantastically satisfying outro, featuring the twin benefits of sounding very cool and being surprisingly easy to play, which makes “Give a Little Bit” one of the most universally impressive intermediate guitar songs.

Move the D shape to the seventh fret, and then the ninth fret, and then back down the same way. That trick is interspersed with D/C and G/B.

D/C

Intermediate-Guitar-Songs

G/B

Intermediate-Guitar-Songs

At the very end of the song, your final D is played on the 14th fret, which is still a D.

Intermediate Guitar Songs #5 – ‘Cinnamon Girl’ by Neil Young

The opening track from Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s 1970 album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, “Cinnamon Girl” is a heavy rocker and one of five great intermediate guitar songs on the album.

What makes “Cinnamon Girl” a heavy song is the double drop D tuning. This tuning turns half your guitar strings into D and creates a nice drone. All you have to do is tune both of your E strings down a whole step to D. So, your guitar will be tuned as follows:

  • D (6th string).
  • A (5th string).
  • D (4th string).
  • G (3rd string).
  • B (2nd string).
  • D (1st string).

The verse chords are D, Am7, C, and G. Only the D and G need to be modified. In the bridge, the chords are C, Am7, Gm7.

Modified D

Intermediate-Guitar-Songs

Am7

C

Modified G

Modified Gm7

The strumming for “Cinnamon Girl,” of all the intermediate guitar songs in this guitar lesson, is the simplest. You will get the most out of the double drop D tuning by playing an eighth note rhythm with all down strums.

The main reason this is one of the greatest intermediate guitar songs out there is that there are three rocking riffs to play throughout. You can find these riffs in the downloadable PDF.

Pro-tip: Do not be afraid of alternate tunings! Especially with intermediate guitar songs, alternate tunings are there to make it easier to play a song in a certain key with just a few simple chord shapes.

intermediate-guitar-lesson

Intermediate Guitar Songs #6 – ‘Wish You Were Here’ by Pink Floyd

The intricate introduction to “Wish You Were Here” is what makes it one of the most popular intermediate guitar songs.

The verse chords are simple: C, D, Am, and G.  In the intro, the chords are Em7, G, A7sus4.

Em7 (022033)

G major (320033)

A7sus4 (x02233)

Intermediate Guitar Songs Challenge #3 – Strumming and Tab Challenge

One of the trickiest parts about learning this song is learning how to strum and read the tabs.

So as a challenge to you, we’ve provided you with the chords and the tab, but it’s up to you to work out the strumming patterns on your own.

  • As well as this, take care with reading the tabs and see if you can figure out how to play it.
  • Doing exercises like this will vastly improve your guitar playing and will turn you into an intermediate guitarist in no time.

guitar-songs-for-intermediate-players

Intermediate Guitar Songs #7 – ‘Tennessee Waltz’ by Eva Cassidy

“Tennessee Waltz” is a simple and timeless beauty by Redd Stewart and Pee Wee King.

The version that will stick in your repertoire of intermediate guitar songs is this beautiful fingerstyle arrangement by Eva Cassidy.

“Tennessee Waltz” has two chord progressions: G, C, E7, A7, D7; and G, B7, C, E7, A7, D7.

What makes “Tennessee Waltz” one of the staple intermediate guitar songs is the combination of fingerstyle pattern and fills. Use the example above to build your fingerstyle arrangement.

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.

Intermediate Guitar Songs #8 – ‘Stormy Monday’ by The Allman Brothers

The next of the intermediate guitar songs for you is the Allman Brothers’ version of “Stormy Monday.”

This song is a 12-bar blues with some tasty modifications, which may make it one of the more challenging intermediate guitar songs.

The progression is:

G7  C9 |G7 Ab7|  G7 |

C9  C9 |G7  Am7|Bm7 Bbm7|

|Am7  Bbm7 Bm7|  Cm7 |G7 C9|G7  D+|

“Stormy Monday” is a slow blues that does not need to constantly move. Use scratch strumming to fill in the rhythm.

If you record yourself playing “Stormy Monday,” you can play it back and use the progression to learn to improvise. You are in the key of G major, so you can use the G major or minor pentatonic or blues scale to create some classic blues licks.

To learn more about pentatonics, check out our article on it below!

Pentatonic Scale – The Essential Guide

advancing-beginner-guitar-songs

Intermediate Guitar Songs #9 – ‘Just the Two of Us’ by Bill Withers

To introduce more jazzy chords into your intermediate guitar songs, here is “Just the Two of Us” with Bill Withers and Grover Washington, Jr.

This song is recorded in the key of D flat major, which is a horrible key for guitar, but there are thousands of inconvenient guitar songs that can be turned into comfortable intermediate guitar songs with the use of a capo.

  • If you put your capo on the first fret, you can play this song in the key of C major.
  • The chord progression for the verse is simple and repetitive: Cmaj7, B7, Em, Dm7, Dm7/G, Cmaj7, B7, Em.
  • The chords for the instrumental break are Cmaj7, B7, Bb, A, Ab, G, Cmaj7, F 6/9.
  • Try using a sequence of barre chords for the string of chords in the instrumental break.

open Cmaj7,

open F 6/9

When intermediate guitar songs have very frequent, fast, or fancy chord changes, it’s best to keep the rhythm simple to let the harmony come out.

Intermediate Guitar Songs Challenge #4 – Transcribing Other Instruments

If you fancy an extra challenge to develop your guitar playing. Try figuring out the saxophone solo by ear.

We’ll give you a clue, it uses a descending pattern of four notes in the pentatonic scale that can be easily played over two strings.

Intermediate Guitar Songs #10 – ‘Learn to Fly’ by Foo Fighters

The final cut in your first 10 intermediate guitar songs is “Learn to Fly” by the Foo Fighters.

This song is in the key of B and has five chords: Bsus4, F#m7, E, G, and A. The Bsus4 to F#m7 change is a neat trick:

 

Bsus4 (x24400)

and F#m7 (x44200)

Nobody thinks of “Learn to Fly” as having a calypso beat, but the rhythm in this song can be tricky for some guitarists. Listen to the song carefully and try and replicate this epic strumming pattern.

non-beginner-guitar-songs

Where To Go Next?

When working on intermediate guitar songs, it’s important to make note of what skills you are developing. If you’ve learned every song in this guitar lesson, you will have developed the following skills:

  • Alternating bass strumming.
  • How to play chords and riffs.
  • The pentatonic scale.
  • How to work out melodies by ear.
  • How to work out chords by ear.
  • How to work out melodic notes from other instruments.
  • How to work out strumming patterns.

These are crucial elements of learning the guitar and will allow you to progress into an advanced guitarist in no time. Remember, to take hold of these concepts and apply them into other songs. You’re a guitar arranger!

Recommended resources

Here’s some more National Guitar Academy lessons you may enjoy!

How To Play Bar Chords

Intermediate Guitar Lessons: An Essential Guide

CAGED Guitar System: How To Master Chords

Rhythm Guitar Lessons For All Guitarists

How To Skip Strings While Strumming

How To Read Guitar Tabs

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
Enter your email address to learn our best guitar tips and tricks today!