If you have ever struggled to find a good list of beginner guitar songs for acoustic guitar (along with the complete tutorial on how to play them), then this post is for you.
Today, I will share with you some of my favourites and simply the best (no, that Tina Turner classic is not on the list!) beginner guitar songs for the acoustic guitarist along with the complete video lesson on how to play them.
I have linked all of these songs to my free YouTube lessons and all these songs fit the criteria of being a classic song, sounding brilliant, being instantly recognisable and a lot of fun to play for beginners.
Unlike any other list posts I have done before, this list of songs is a mixture of beginner fingerpicking AND strumming songs and unlike most other list posts you will see, I have linked to the video tutorial of me playing and teaching the actual song in full (aren’t you lucky, haha). Therefore, I’d use this list as a reference guide, bookmark it and come back to it regularly.
By the way, each song is awesome. There is no “Three blind mice” on this list!
The Order of These beginner Guitar Songs…
I’ve ordered the songs in terms of popularity. I have taken the thoughts of my students in person, my 14,000 subscribers and via YouTube comments and likes. If you like these videos don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel to be informed of more acoustic (and sometimes electric) songs and lessons for the beginner student.
There are a lot of views (getting close to a million for my videos on YouTube now) for all these videos in total and many thousands of likes so you know you are in good hands and one thing that makes me happy is that many of you like my step-by-step way of teaching these songs.
Every song has something a beginner guitarist can play but just like any song, each one will take some effort, but it’s fun effort!
1) Simon & Garfunkel – April Come She Will
You all love this one. This is one of my most popular videos on YouTube and the stunning first few bars show why. It is a lot of fun to play and learn. It also is one of those great songs that sounds harder than it is (but remember nothing is ever really “easy” so go slow).
2) Tracy Chapman – Fast Car
This is a great one. It actually combines a lovely and relatively simple fingerpicked part with some nice big strumming! It’s one of my older videos taken from the time before I had a studio but it’s still a really good one for you to learn, and to be honest it will always be a fingerpicking staple I teach to students.
3) The Beatles – Blackbird
This is definitely one of my all-time favourite songs to play. It’s one of those staple songs I love to jam especially when picking up a new guitar. The melodies in the guitar part are stunning. One everyone should learn in my opinion!
4) Amy Winehouse – Love Is a Losing Game
It was such a tragic loss when Amy Winehouse passed away at 27. What a voice and what a lovely modern take on a classic style of music using beautiful Major 7 chords for a soulful jazzy touch. Why do all the good ones go young? I suppose Ed Sheeran will live forever (kidding, kind of).
5) J.S. Bach – Toccata and Fugue (in D Minor)
This is actually one of the most recognisable and famous pieces of music ever! It’s the vampire/haunted house/scary tongue-in-cheek music you hear in films. I love playing and teaching classical when it’s this good!
6) Coldplay – Clocks
A classic piano song played on the guitar. I teach a harder and easier way of playing this one from when Coldplay was good. I heard the song “Something Just Like This” earlier on the radio. Oh dear, Chris Martin and Co. – what happened!
7) Simon & Garfunkel – Scarborough Fair
Oh man, Paul Simon (and his buddy – only kidding, Mr Garfunkel you were a big part of the band really) really knew how to create special music and is an underrated guitarist. I love how they took this traditional song and made it into something else that has stood the test of time. Just ignore my big chubby face from back when this was filmed. (Embarrassing!)
8) Oasis – Half the World Away
A great song by a band that most people tend to love or hate. Forget about the oversized parka jackets, Mancunian bad boy attitude (which was all a bit tongue in cheek anyway I reckon) this is a classic song and good fun to play. I love it as a good example of mixing up a bit of “pick strumming” for a very cool sound.
9) Nino Rota – The Godfather Theme
I might be controversial here but does anyone else think Godfather part 1 is way better than part 2 (let’s not talk about 3!) but either way the music is amazing. Learn the main theme, Don Vito Chordeone (terrible pun alert). Anyway, as one student said of the person who disliked the video – they must be from Hyman Roth’s gang. Haha.
10) The Beatles – Let It Be
This is a great strumming song with a recognisable riff thrown in and is played with a capo on fret 5 (in my version) to make it easier for the beginner. It also has one of the most common chord progressions ever which you should learn! Learning this progression will allow you to play many more songs.
11) Ferdinando Carulli – Andantino
A big complaint a lot of guitarists have is that most classical music written for guitar is well, a bit boring. I have to agree to a certain extent (you certainly have to find the gems) but this piece is an amazingly beautiful piece to play and if you struggle with chords it is a breath of fresh air. If you like classical guitar music, Carulli was the man and it’s worth checking out more of his material.
12) Ben E. King – Stand by Me
A great song that uses the “50’s progression” in G Major (which is G Em C D) which is a super popular chord progression. Learning this one is fun (especially with the percussive hit) and once learnt it will unlock more songs for you.
There you go. I hope you enjoyed this varied and fun list.
I have even created you a little playlist with these songs which is worth bookmarking (and sharing with others if you want to). Here is the:
A Word of Warning!
One thing I don’t like about YouTube is that it is easy to get lost in a huge sea of songs. You can easily learn a bit of a song, then a bit of another, and three hours later, not really have learnt anything of substance.
My recommendation for when learning new songs is to sit down, watch a bunch of videos for a few minutes (you can do this when the guitar is not about), and listen and look to see and hear if:
- A) You like the sound of the song and it inspires you (too many beginners learn songs just because some teachers say they should)
- B) The song is learnable at your current skill level, or if it requires just a little or a lot of practice to be able to play it
Then, when you have analysed the songs, you can pick the best one or two (but I don’t recommend any more) and get started learning them.
This way, you will have a song you actually like the sound of which is important (obvious I know, but many forget this!) and one you are capable of playing.
I’m a realist when it comes to songs, and if I’m honest, I don’t like the word “easy”. This word gets thrown about way too much for my liking on the internet.
A lot of beginner guitarists complain that a lot of other teachers go way too fast when teaching songs and lessons. I never get why they do as surely it’s better to teach one song well, than twenty poorly. I always think it is important to teach at the right speed for the beginner or what’s the point!
Don’t be fooled – there are no easy beginner guitar songs, they all take some work
For the beginner guitarist, there is no easy song as all songs are a challenge but with good technique, patience and a bit of love for the song you are learning you will get there. Remember to be patient and enjoy the journey!
These videos don’t have the tab but I go through how to play each one slowly but if you want the tab and you want to learn more songs like this, you have a few choices, you can check out my Fingerpicking Classics course or my membership programme (where there are over 74 songs handpicked for the beginner guitarist at the time of writing).
Many beginner guitar songs with chords can be tough that’s why I like fingerstyle – because often, the chords are played as partial chords taking the load off the fretting hand a little. These mini chord shapes can be great when you struggle with big full chords such as C Major. These are all good songs for the beginner and intermediate guitarist alike.
I’ve recently had a big influx of new subscribers (thanks and welcome!) so for those that don’t know, I’m Dan Thorpe, I specialise in teaching classic fingerpicking, strumming and acoustic songs to beginner students over 50… teaching you to play step by step, pain-free and with joy!
It’s my mission to help over one million guitarists play the fingerpicking and strumming songs they love with more joy and confidence. I would love to know your thoughts on these songs so leave a comment and let me know what your favourite song on this list is!
I love the list! I will most certainly try few of them! Blackbird and Simon And Garfunkel sounds amazing! Also, I hope there will be the rest of Toccata and Fugue! Love your videos!
Dan Thorpe says
Thanks! Oops, just seen this comment. Will certainly look at it for sure, it`s on the to-do list! Glad you enjoyed the videos and keep on playing!