There isn’t a sweeter sound in the history of the universe than some beautiful fingerpicking songs played well. Audiences, no matter how small or large love to hear a simple piece of music played on a lovely sounding acoustic guitar.
People love to hear a pretty fingerpicking piece and believe me, it is a very cool sight, watching someone play one of the following pieces.
These songs (or instrumental pieces in the case of “Spanish Romance” and “Andantino”) are, in my teaching experience, the best to learn if you want to mesmerise and stun your audience while the songs are still relatively simple to play.
Fingerpicking for guitar
Yes, I know, I know, not all of them are easy to learn guitar songs, so remember, nothing really is easy with guitar playing, BUT these sound so good they are worth persevering with.
If you are an experienced fingerpicker, these ten fingerpicking songs won’t pose too many problems for you but if you like some of them and come from an electric rock background, you will need to start off slowly and work your way up (especially if your chord changes are a little slower than you would like).
There aren’t really any easy songs on guitar, but this list is as good as it gets, especially when you’re looking for good acoustic guitar songs.
When you do learn these, you will be irresistible to your partner, a better guitarist for it, and have some of the most beautiful songs and pieces of music in your repertoire to call upon at any time.
As a bonus, these pieces of music are some of the most popular to be played at weddings, so once you master them, you may even find work as a live wedding guitarist or you can just romance your other half!
Learning songs without frustration and fuss – why fingerpicking rules!
Before we tackle the list of songs, it is worth pointing out, especially for beginners, that most guitar teachers get it wrong with teaching songs.
They often prioritise strumming songs over fingerpicking songs but, in my vast experience, this is wrong.
- The reason why is, strumming is very hard for beginners, it requires a lot of skill, coordination, timing, fast and clear chord changes, and more.
- Fingerpicking songs, on the other hand, are usually (but not always) slower, and most importantly, you don’t always pluck all the notes in the chord. This allows you to play partial chords and stagger your chord changes a little, meaning there is less emphasis on being so good with your chord changes.
- Fingerpicking songs also sound prettier and more sophisticated compared to strumming songs, as strumming songs require a lot of good technique with the strumming hand.
The 10 best, simple yet beautiful fingerpicking songs every guitarist should know!
When you are learning fingerpicking on the guitar, you should have a list to refer to. I hope this is that list. Here we go. Enjoy!
1) Simon and Garfunkel – April Come She Will
This is definitely one of the best songs for beginner guitar out there. It has a beautiful intro and a very slick and stylish sound throughout. It is also short and doesn’t feature huge sections.
That being said, you have to break up the verse into smaller chunks or it can get a bit overwhelming. In terms of difficulty, it is not too hard.
Learn it below and enjoy.
2) Can’t Help Falling In Love – Elvis Presley
Click HERE to learn Can’t Help Falling In Love
What a beautiful song this is. Here, you will learn it as a solo fingerstyle arrangement. This is where we combine the melody, chords, and bass to create something very cool and stylish!
This tutorial is fun, simple, and very doable for beginners. As long as you can play a tricky B7 chord, you will be well on your way with this one, and if not, I will show you! So put on your blue suede shoes and get to learning some Elvis today!
3) Tracy Chapman – Fast Car
This is a classic fingerpicking song and is usually the one I start all of my students off with when we fingerpick.
It ticks a lot of boxes as it is simple, melodic, fun, and repetitive. I mean that in a good way. The last thing you want when starting out with fingerpicking is a crazy James Taylor style song where there’s a lot going on without much repetition.
This one sounds amazing and is a great one to start with.
4) Coldplay – Clocks
Free lesson – Click HERE to learn Clocks
This is one of my favourite rhythm songs ever. I love the groove.
It is one I call the Alternative groove and you will hear it in modern music by artists such as Ed Sheeran and Foo Fighters, as well as in “Clocks”. It is also a gem of a song in the key of A minor.
5) The Calling – Wherever You Will Go
Click HERE to learn Wherever You Will Go
If you want to learn some easy love songs on guitar, this tune from the early noughties is a great place to start with.
I used to think it was cheesy, in fact, I still do, but it is a great song and I love the singer’s deep, powerful voice. Great guitar work too!
When you want to learn easy guitar songs, you need to be careful that the song doesn’t use any mega awkward chord shapes as these often trip a lot of students up. This could be one of those songs, but I show you how to make the dreaded F chord easier.
6) The Beatles – Blackbird
Free lesson – Click HERE to learn Blackbird
An all-time classic and a stunner of a fingerpicking song. Don’t think I need to say any more on this one!
7) Nino Rota – The Godfather Theme
Click HERE to learn The Godfather Theme
One of the best guitar fingerstyle songs from one of the best films ever. This is a stunning piece of guitar music and one that is memorable for anyone who has seen the film.
Did you know the word “mafia” was never used once in the film the Godfather? Nice bit of pub quiz trivia for you there.
8) Ferdinando Carulli – Andantino
This is a stunning fingerpicking song and one of those magical pieces that will make a sophisticated addition to your repertoire.
It will also charm the life out of any lucky lady or lad in your life!
9) Ed Sheeran – Tenerife Sea
Click HERE to learn Tenerife Sea
I have a love-hate relationship with Ed. Not sure he cares much, though. The thing is, he seems like a great bloke, he can play the guitar well, sing well, and write songs well. The problem is, he doesn’t blow me away in any of those aspects. He’s just solid, and a nice chap.
Also, it doesn’t help that when he first came about, I must have taught his song, the A-team, about 5000 times. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but only a little. Anyway, I’m sure Ed is crying into his millions of £20 banknotes right now, but here is one of the best Ed Sheeran songs on guitar.
It is also a bit of a hidden gem of a song. Learn it, as it is one of the best modern acoustic guitar songs around too.
10) J.S. Bach – Toccata and Fugue
Click here to learn Toccata and Fugue
This is one of the scary but funny guitar songs that most of you will recognise the sound of but not necessarily the name.
It is the haunted house/vampire/creepy cartoon music that is recognisable and makes for an easy kids’ guitar song, but if you’re like me, you’ll love it as an adult too.
It’s a brilliant piece to play, especially if you like playing higher up the neck and getting a very melodic sound.
Three other must learn fingerpicking songs
These are three I highly recommend you learn once you have tackled the above list.
- James Taylor – Mexico – Definitely one of the best fingerpicking guitarists of all time.
- Kansas – Dust In The Wind – One of the best guitar rock songs and one of those Travis picking songs that everybody associates with the style.
- Anonymous – Jeux interdits (Spanish Romance) This is one of the best Spanish guitar songs ever and definitely one of the most well known. It is based around a simple E minor chord and scale and uses a lot of open strings along with a triplet pattern picked in 3/4 time. If that sounds complex, ignore me, it isn’t. It’s actually a simple, but stunning piece of music!
How to play easy guitar songs with good technique
To avoid confusion when fingerpicking, you need to ensure you are plucking the correct strings with the correct fingers.
The ‘rule’ of fingerpicking
Generally, when fingerpicking, your picking hand will pluck the following:
- Thumb plays the bass strings (low E, A, and D)
- Index finger plays the G string
- Middle finger plays the B string
- Ring finger plays the high E string
A lot of guitarists get this wrong, so follow this rule as much as possible. As always, there are exceptions to the rules, but whenever there is an exception, I mention them in the videos above.
How to play songs on guitar – the most efficient way!
This is my advice on how to play the easy guitar songs or those so-called “easy” ones.
- Only learn two songs at a time. You can have more than two that you are trying to improve and play better, but in terms of learning the chords, notes, patterns, etc., and processing the details, don’t learn more than two a time.
- Make sure one is fairly simple for you to play and the other is a little more challenging, using harder chords, patterns, or a faster tempo. Doing one easier and one harder song will give you the best of both worlds – variety and fun with the easier one, and improvements with the harder one. It doesn’t get much better than that! Keep this in mind when looking for easy-to-learn guitar songs.
- Go slowly, and adhere to the five times rule for better guitar practice when learning anything – this is especially important when fingerpicking!
- Be as fluent as possible with your chord changes. Fast and clear chord changes are an integral part of playing any hard or easy pop song on guitar.
- Likewise, get your strumming patterns tidy. “What! Strumming patterns, I’m here for fingerpicking!” – I hear you say. I know, but some pop, folk, and easy country fingerpicking songs on guitar require you to be able to strum various sections, e.g. the chorus.
- Practise some daily fingerpicking exercises – if you do, you will get a better tone and play the songs with more fluency rather than playing them in a disjointed way, like a bad Ed Sheeran rap.
- You can also check out this expert post I made where 15 of the best guitar teachers around the world share their advice on learning faster.
What to do if you find this list of best beginner guitar songs harder than you expect
Use the tips above when learning songs and you’ll improve with the songs faster than ever, but if you find you really struggle, ignore the advice of most guitar teachers where they tell you to learn more songs.
Instead, learn simpler, easier pieces of music, and in fact, searching for easy kids’ guitar songs is a good way to go.
Many of my readers have young children and many more have young grandchildren. Share the love of guitar playing by learning really simple music such as kids’ nursery rhymes, which can be a good place to start if you struggle.
Another thing you can do is check out my Fingerstyle 101 book and course. It contains all of the essentials of fingerpicking that most people miss. Check it out HERE.
Post a comment and let me know your favourite easy songs to learn on the guitar – especially fingerpicking ones!
Write a comment below with the songs you would like me to teach you the most, and let me know what is your favourite fingerpicking song and I will create a video for the one with the most votes.
Have fun with these tunes. They are epic and awesome!
Hurt by johny cash
Hey Rishi, great choice. That`s one I hadn`t thought of… and I love that song!
Bloom is a pretty awesome fingerpicking song (The Paper Kites)
Hey Silas, Thanks for your comment. Beautiful song. That`s one I will definitely consider creating a tutorial for. 🙂
I definitely second that request for Bloom
Zack Aris says
thanks for saying that silas i have a new fav song
I’d just like to add, you play blackbird a way that I have yet to see. I’ve seen it a few different ways and I play it myself a different way. Thanks for the list! Tears in heaven would be a nice addition to the list!
Hi Robert, thanks for your comment. Yeah, the beauty of the guitar and fingerpicking songs in particular is that you can play songs in many different ways. This is the way I have found to be easiest and most efficient for myself and my students. Don`t worry, the video lesson for `Tears In Heaven` will be coming soon. Cheers!
Looking forward to the Let Her Go tutorial. Another one to consider is Older Chests by Damien Rice
Hey Tony, thanks for the comment. Yeah, will be getting on this soon. Good suggestion – I love a bit of Damien Rice. I`ll add it to the list of songs to do. 🙂
I like Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles
Great tune. Will be teaching this one at some point in the future for sure!
Let her go – Passenger isn’t an easy song to learn. Though, I can play it, its only after 10 years of learning that I can.
Hey Drew, agreed. It is tough. It`s on this list as I have a slightly simpler version that sounds almost as good (about 95%) as the full version.
I will be uploading both versions soon.
listen to burning house by cam beautiful song
Yeah, that really is a lovely song. Thanks for introducing me to it!
guys i wanna sauugest River flows in you:) and Canon in C 🙂
I REALLY REALLY want to learn how to play Bonnie Raitt’s version of “That Song About the Midway” I have tried to figure it out by ear to no avail.
ON FINGERPICKING: The very first song I ever learned to play was Neil Young’s “The Needle and The Damage Done” At the time, I did not even know a single chord. I just liked the song so much that I locked myself in my bedroom with my boom box, a cassette tape of Neil’s “Harvest” and did not come out until I could play the song. Its still one of my favorite’s to play on the acoustic to this day.
I love Neil Young and `The needle and the damage done` is a super tune! Great determination and well done learning it by ear. I`ll check out the Bonnie Raitt version of “That Song About the Midway” . Not come across it yet. Thanks for the comment!
Dust in the wind by kansas and More than words by Extreme 🙂
Both superb tunes!
mugulo Michael says
hi Danny.thanks for the products.I’m actually just learning and I’m really serious with your book strumming with passion.please direct me on how to find your videos for strumming such that I can grow beautifully.I have subscribed for the 2 Free e-books and hope to learn more because I’m in love with your teachings.thanks a lot.question.how can your students contact you because some times we have questions which our teacher has answers for?
Thanks for the kind words. If you ever want to get in touch, hit reply to any of the emails or drop me a tweet or Facebook message. Good luck!
Check out “Impressions Of Susan” by John Fahey. Pretty much anything by John Fahey is remarkable. Also check out “From The Morning” by Nick Drake.
Thanks for the suggestions, Charles. I`ll check them out. Nick Drake was a fantastic musician and “From the Morning” is a classic
I know a couple that are really good:
Pay Day – Mississippi John hurt
embryonic journey – jefferson airplane
No expectations – the Rolling Stones
Lotus Feet – John McLaughlin
Guitar rag – sylvester Weaver
Awesome contribution, Fred. Great list of tunes to add. Thanks
Jimmy Page made some nice fingerstyle contributions when Led Zeppelin went through that whole acoustic phase. Check out “Bron-y-aur fingerstyle intrumental. Its very much exemplifies Zep’s ability to cross into different genres
Great suggestion. I love Jimmy Pages`s fingerstyle stuff – from the stunning “Babe, I`m gonna leave you” to the brilliant “Black Mountain Side”. Thanks for the comment. Zep were indeed masters at genre-hopping.
Georgia by Vance Joy is a good one.
Going to california and babe im gonna leave you are two of my bests of zeppelin.
Both great songs! Thanks for the comment
Ed Eichler says
I started finger picking tunes in the early ’60s. Strongly recommend classics from Tom Paxton such as Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound, Ramblin’ Boy, Last Thing On My Mind, many others.
Gordon Lightfoot is my favorite artist. Many of his tunes are finger pickers such as Don Quixote, If You Could Read MY Mind, Miguel (fantastic Spanish sounding song), many ballads.
Vincent, by Don McLean…..great finger style song
Great suggestions, Ed. `Vincent` is a classic and one I always forget to film. Not anymore!
Marcos Paul Real says
I might be a bit late, but I wanted to bring up ‘Never Going Back Again’ and ‘Landslide’ by Fleetwood Mac. They are wonderful and I consider them to be some of the best fingerstyle songs of all time
Dan Thorpe says
Not at all, Marcos. This list is done but I am constantly adding new songs to the Inner Circle where there are almost 30 fingerpicking songs (one of which is Landslide). Many thanks for the comment!
Spencer VanDenEykel says
i really really enjoy tears in heaven by eric clapton. super good time
Alan Johnson P.J says
HAI I am 21 years old guitarist i am learning guitar for 5 years but i only learn sight reading some compositions and some scales and chords. Now i want to master in guiter i want to find my own voice,improvise,slearn finger style and other songs can you give me advice.
Donovan , catch the wind .