If you’re learning to play the guitar – or teaching a teen to play – you may be wondering which numbers to use to get started. Having a tune you love will help you stayed motivated as a learner. Or perhaps you want to accompany yourself but only have basic playing skills.
Finding easy pop songs on guitar will ensure you’re not playing pieces that are too challenging. You can take baby steps as you learn and not get overwhelmed. It’ll turn your musical journey into a much more enjoyable experience and encourage you to stick at it
Read on to find out which 20 new and classic songs will help you develop faster and make the process more satisfying.
Easy pop songs on guitar
The guitar is a fantastic instrument to learn because it’s so versatile, portable and can be used while singing. While it’s a great beginner’s instrument, it’ll work for you right through your life – even as a full time professional, best-selling musician. Learning guitar has been a smart move for hundreds of famous singers from across all genres, including the likes of Lady Gaga, John Mayer, St Vincent and Usher.
The best first songs to play will also be memorable and ones that you like – many of which won’t be as complicated as you might have thought. You’ll need to play the song, and sections of the song over and over again so you get the hang of it. You have a wide choice of song types from which to choose, so a good place to start is with your favourite genre.
What are the easiest songs to play on the guitar?
Some tunes are easier than others, so picking an achievable beginner guitar chord songs will help you develop without becoming frustrated. Doing anything for the first time can be daunting, and it’s common to start learning to play an instrument, then give up on it. To prevent this, give yourself the best possible start. A major part of that is picking the right song with a low number of chords to grasp. The good news is there are loads of great guitar tracks – old and new – that you can master with very few skills. You’ll feel great and want to keep playing.
You need to pick tunes that have easy chords at first and a simple chord progression. Once you’ve mastered the basics of a song, try working on your dynamics, this is what will turn you from an average guitarist into an outstanding one. Before you know it you’ll be ready for a live gig. If you have experience of another stringed instrument, such as a ukulele, you might want to start with something slightly more challenging.
Guitar songs for beginners
We’ll begin with the most common and as the name would suggest, popular, type of music. Pop songs are generally easy to master and if you already know the number, you’ll find it comes to you faster – especially if you have a musical ear.
Pop songs to learn on guitar
#1 Budapest by George Ezra
Another contemporary artist who’s rarely on stage without his guitar is George Ezra. If you’re a singer this is a winner. You just have to learn the chords as backing and sing the melody over the top.
#2 Stand By Me by Ben E. King
The classic pop tune saw a resurgence in popularity after being sung and played at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding. Learn this and you’ll endear yourself to audiences of all ages.
#3 Don’t Let Me Down by The Beatles
Some classic pop next from one of the biggest bands that ever was. The Beatles soared to international fame with a couple of guitars, a drum kit, great voices and some killer tunes. Eleanor Rigby is one for the storytellers and has a quirky topline. But best of all for guitarists, this simple two-chord tune mimics that of another Beatles hit, Paperback Writer. So learn one and you’ll swiftly be able to master the other adding not one, but two numbers to the beginnings of your repertoire.
#4 Hey Soul Sister by Train
This is an easy strum four chord wonder that’s bound to have you tapping your feet and humming along. Like Shake It Off, it’s a feel-good song perfect for keeping you invested in playing. Unlike some other songs, this doesn’t need much more than some strings to fill it out.
#5 Galway Girl by Ed Sheeran
Of course, we couldn’t have a pop guitar list without one of Ed Sheeran’s mega hits. Here’s how to play a simplified version of this tune.
Electric guitar songs for beginners
Perhaps you already play acoustic or want to concentrate on electric from the beginning of your guitar learning journey. There are some songs that need the rocking electric twang to work and you can create some amazing effects with little effort. Another benefit of learning with an electric guitar is that you can plug it into headphones.
Here are some of our faves that sound incredible, have easy riffs and deserve to be played on an electric guitar rather than an acoustic model.
#6 My Best Friend’s Girl by The Cars
This catchy pop hit has some easy riffs and sounds great played on an electric guitar, even by a beginner.
#7 I Ran (So Far Away) by Flock of Seagulls
Have you seen that scene in La La Land where Mia runs into Seb and requests I Ran? It sounds impressive, right? Yet this song is deceptively simple to learn. It was originally a 1980s hit and uses just two chords, making it totally achievable for those just starting out – and it might just become your party piece.
#8 Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix
An electric guitar icon, Hendrix performed some amazing feats. But not all of his tunes were tricky. Try this one for starters.
#9 Highway to Hell by AC/DC
This epic tune is so much fun and much easier than it sounds – a great way to impress your mates. You can also try AC/DC’s You Shook Me All Night Long.
#10 Cherub Rock by The Smashing Pumpkins
Prefer to learn something that’s not quite such a mainstream hit? Knock this one out of the park without having to do oodles and oodles of practice.
Songs to learn on acoustic guitar
The acoustic sound lends itself well to folk music. You’ll find this genre crosses over a great deal with other genres such as folk-country and folk-rock. It’s also possible to take a heavier song and give it a folk or country twang by doing an acoustic cover.
#11 Landslide by The Chicks
This is where folk meets rock meets country. Learn to play Landslide if you like popular and retro folk songs. This particular number is more of a soulful folk ballad originally recorded by Stevie Nicks, and later by The Chicks.
#12 Knocking on Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan
Dylan was a guitar legend and penned this beautiful three-chord tune. Put heart and soul into it and you’ll make your audience shed a tear.
#13 Half the World Away by Oasis
This iconic 1990s hit is often a popular one for novice players. It’s ever so slightly trickier than those on our list so far in that it’s a five chord song – so if you already play the uke, banjo or have some musical experience it’ll be a good beginner song for the guitar. But it’s a simple and very recognisable melody that will come to most budding guitarists without too much trouble.
#14 Tennesse Whisky by Chris Stapleton
Just two chords are all that’s required for this one – although you will need a capo. (A capo is a device that’s clipped to the neck of the guitar. This shortens the strings and raises the pitch to transpose the sound).
#15 Stir It Up by Bob Marley
How about trying some reggae? Using just three chords, this Bob Marley classic is bound to have you in a summery chilled mood – which in turn will make you want to keep playing longer. This is a great song to strum around a campfire.
Kid-friendly guitar songs
Whether you’re a younger guitarist or teach kids to play, there’s plenty of suitable material. We’ve recommended these numbers for kids, but they can be played by musicians of any age who enjoy simple, fun tunes.
#16 Can You Feel the Love Tonight by Elton John
Lion King fans will relish getting to grips with this one. One of the biggest Disney hits of all time, this is easy enough to sing along to and isn’t too challenging on strings either.
#17 I See the Light from Tangled
From another hit Disney movie, this is a lovely gentle ballad. As it uses six chords this will work better for those who already have some musical knowledge, but who are beginning the guitar.
Here are some handy classics that won’t take ages to pick up. And you don’t need to be a kid to play them. But if you’re a children’s entertainer, learning these simple melodies could earn you more cash.
#18 Baby Shark by Pinkfong
One of the most annoying and yet catchy tunes to have hit the charts in recent times, it’s been a major hit with a young audience. Get your kids excited about playing the guitar by introducing them to this tutorial. You’ll be listening to them practice it over and over in the house, so it may well be worth investing in a pair of earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones!
#19 Hey Ya! By Outkast
This may not officially be a kids song, but it’s mega-popular with children. This uses four chords so is for improvers, but it’s a really easy one to strum – and such a happy catchy tune.
#20 500 Miles by The Proclaimers
If you enjoyed the film Sunshine on Leith, you might like to recreate one of its biggest numbers, by learning to play this lighthearted Scottish anthem. With four standard chords, it’ll be a piece of cake if you’ve already mastered some four-chord pieces.
Has one of these songs piqued your interest in playing the guitar? Learning to play a versatile instrument like this will always stand you in good stead as a musician. It will be invaluable if you decide to write your own tracks in future or you want to accompany yourself at gigs. And, whether you go electric or stay acoustic, you will look and sound super cool.
What should you learn first when playing the guitar?
If you’re a beginner choose a song from our list, If more advanced, pick one that suits your musical style and genre. It should offer just enough challenge to move you forward. Here are some options for improvers and advanced players.
How quickly can you learn guitar?
Depending on how much time you spend practising and how proficient you want to be, it could be anything from 6 months to a couple of years. But you can pick some basic chords up in as little as a few minutes.
Can the guitar be self-taught?
While it’s always easier to motivate yourself with a teacher – and you’re likely to learn faster with coaching, it’s perfectly achievable to learn with YouTube tutorials, an app, or even just a book. The hard bit is sticking to it so we recommend you make a schedule rather than doing it ad hoc.
Which are your favourite easy pop songs on guitar? What was the very first one you learned to play and why did you choose it? Let us know in the comments below.