7 Easy (But Impressive) Guitar Songs for Beginners

Struggling to choose your first song on guitar? We narrow down an all-star list of guitar songs for beginners. 

Learning to play guitar songs is a long process that takes patience, focus, determination, and passion. There is a lot to cover before you can play a song – strumming patterns, chords, groove and feel, hand shapes, and so on. 

But when you finally feel ready to apply all your practice to playing music – what song should you play? What’s within your technical ability but still impressive and fun to play? 

This article briefly explains seven easy but impressive guitar songs for beginners. By the time you finish reading, you’ll have a solid set of options to decide where to begin your guitar song journey. 

Stay With Me (Sam Smith)

When you start tackling chords within the context of a song, they must be in a comfortable key for beginners. This beautiful classic by Sam Smith is in the key of C major, which contains lots of easy chord shapes. 

There are only four chords – Am, C, G, and F. Of these chords, the only one which requires more than three fingers on the fretboard is F. This is a slightly more complex barre chord, which you can read more about here. If you like to sing, this song is also a real heart-melter, perfect for belting out while you play the song to someone you love.

Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)

A classic song of prayer which has become a song for all generations, deeply engrained in the canon of pop ballads. It has been covered by everybody (made especially famous by Jeff Buckley) but never gets old – some would even say it has become more beautiful with age. 

It’s in the key of G major, which is probably the most comfortable key for playing chords on guitar. Hallelujah has five chords: G, Em, C, D, and B7 (which is not technically part of the key of G major). Lucky for you, these chords use a maximum of three fingers on the fretboard – the chord Em only uses two! If you want to sing along, make sure you have the lyrics in front of you – the chorus only has one word, but there are A LOT of verses. 

Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles)

Nobody writes incredibly complex and simultaneously super simple songs as the Beatles did. Eleanor Rigby is a perfect example of this – an intricate melody, an unusual metaphoric story in the lyrics, with only two chords! (Well, sort of.) 

The chords of Elenoar Rigby are C and Em. However, there are three variations of Em: regular Em, Em6, and Em7. What’s lucky is that moving between these three variations requires very little movement of the fingers on the fretboard. The feel and rhythm of the song change between the verses and the choruses, so you’ll have to learn a couple of different strumming patterns and practice transitioning between them. Other than that, this tune is straightforward and an eternal hit.  

Chasing Cars (Snow Patrol)

If you were watching Grey’s Anatomy when the medical TV drama first aired, then this song probably makes you cry on demand. It is a strong power ballad with moving lyrics that speak about a yearning to escape to the peace and comfort of a lover. All you need to make this song come to life is a lot of passion, angst, and only three chords! 

This song is in the key of A major, another accessible beginner’s key on guitar. The chords are A, E/G#, and D, each utilizing just three fingers on the fretboard. If these chords come to you easily and naturally, take the song to the next level by learning a couple of easy variations on the D chord: Dsus2 (a two-finger chord) and Dmaj7 (a mini barre chord with only one finger).

Skinny Love (Bon Iver)

This song has become a modern folk classic by Bon Iver and famously covered by Birdy. Its softness makes it the perfect song for a sensitive moment with a loved one or an intimate gathering around a fire. 

Skinny Love is also in the key of C major and comprises five different chords from this key: C, Am, Dm, Em, and F. Other than F, which is a barre chord, these are all basic beginner chords with easy-to-play hand shapes and only two or three fingers. The song is in the time signature of 4/4, so the strumming pattern is not challenging – practice with a metronome, and you should have it under your fingers in no time. 

Free Fallin (Tom Petty)

Windows down, sunglasses on, full gas tank on the highway to somewhere—Free Fallin was made for this! This song is great for beginners because it is easy to master, and once you do, you can strum with all your might and sing your heart out. 

Another classic is the key of A major, which has a few beautiful chord variations to add flavor. Free Fallin’s chords are A, Dadd9, E, and Asus4. You only need three fingers on the fretboard and a strong strumming arm. 

Start by practicing slowly and gently until the chords sit comfortably in your hands – then, you can let go and free fall into a full expressive performance. 

Time of Your Life (Greenday)

Okay, you’ll have to let go of the cynicism and agree to float back into the 90s for this one, but trust us, you won’t regret it. 

Time of Your Life by Greenday is a pop classic with just the right amount of cheese to make you feel hopeful and uplifted. 

It’s in the key of G major, with just four chords: G, C, Em, and D, plus a special variation called Cadd9 if you feel confident. What’s more, is that for beginners is a great opportunity to practice a picking pattern on some easy chords. But don’t stress if you’re not quite ready to pick. 

This song still sounds great with a regular 4/4 strumming pattern. It is an up-tempo song that can be challenging for beginners, so don’t hesitate to slow it down to a softer ballad version if you’re not quite ready for the intended pace. 

guitar songs for beginners

You don’t have to do it alone.

The guitar is not a small endeavor. Seek guidance and help from more experienced players. Our recommendation is the Simply Guitar app, which covers techniques and a step-by-step learning method for learning guitar songs for beginners.