Ah, the electric guitar. The instrument that has powered countless anthems, ballads, and solos. If you’ve recently picked up an electric guitar, you’re probably itching to play some of those famous songs that inspired you to start.
But where to begin? Well, you’re in luck! We’ve compiled a list of easy electric guitar songs that are perfect for beginners. So, plug in, tune up, and let’s rock!
The Beauty of Starting Simple
Before we dive into the list, let’s address a common misconception. Some might think, “If I’m going to play the electric guitar, I want to play the hardest, most intricate songs right away!” While ambition is commendable, every guitar legend started with the basics. Remember, even Jimi Hendrix had to learn his first chord.
1. “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple
This song is practically a rite of passage for every electric guitar beginner. The opening riff is iconic and surprisingly simple. It’s a fantastic song to get your fingers used to the fretboard and to introduce you to the world of guitar riffs.
How to Play “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple on Electric Guitar
For many budding electric guitarists, the first song they aim to conquer is the iconic “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple. With its unmistakable riff and straightforward structure, this classic tune offers beginners a perfect starting point. Let’s dive in and explore how to master this legendary song.
Understanding the Basics
Before we delve into the actual notes and finger placements, it’s important to familiarize ourselves with a few basics:
Pick Technique: Ensure that you’re holding your pick between your thumb and index finger. This will give you more control over your strumming.
Hand Position: Your fingers should be relaxed but poised above the fretboard, ready to press down on the strings.
The Iconic Riff
The magic of “Smoke on the Water” lies in its opening guitar riff. Here’s a simple breakdown of it:
(Note: The numbers below represent the frets you need to press on. Play these notes on the G (third) string.)
0 – 3 – 5 | 0 – 3 – 6 – 5 0 – 3 – 5 | 3 – 0
Play the open G string (i.e., without pressing down on any fret).
Press down on the 3rd fret of the G string and play the note.
Move to the 5th fret on the same string and play that note.
Repeat the sequence.
For the next part, start with the open G string, then move to the 3rd fret, then the 6th fret, and finally the 5th fret.
Finish off with the 3rd fret and then the open G string.
Once you’ve mastered this sequence, practice playing it repeatedly, trying to maintain a consistent rhythm.
Transitioning to Chords
As you get comfortable with the riff, you might want to explore the rest of the song. “Smoke on the Water” mainly utilizes power chords, which are two-note chords that give rock songs their distinctive sound.
The primary chords used in the song are:
G5 Power Chord: Played on the 3rd fret of the E (lowest) string.
B♭5 Power Chord: Played on the 1st fret of the A (5th) string.
C5 Power Chord: Played on the 3rd fret of the A (5th) string.
You can find chord diagrams and lessons online to guide you in forming these chords. As you become familiar with switching between them, you can start playing along with the song.
Practice Makes Perfect
Remember, the key to mastering “Smoke on the Water” or any guitar song is consistent practice. Spend time daily, even if it’s just a few minutes, practicing the riff and the chords. Over time, muscle memory will develop, and playing the song will become second nature.
2. “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath
Another classic song with a memorable opening riff. This hard rock anthem is built around straightforward power chords, making it a great song for beginners to tackle.
How to Play “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath on Electric Guitar
Stepping into the world of electric guitar with the mighty riffs of Black Sabbath is an exhilarating experience. “Iron Man” is one of those anthems that has inspired countless guitarists over the years. Its heavy tones, combined with those distinctive power chords, have made it a staple for beginner electric guitarists. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to conquer this hard rock classic.
Understanding the Basics
Before launching into the deep tones of “Iron Man,” a few foundational points are essential:
Tuning: Ensure your guitar is in standard tuning (E A D G B e).
Pick Holding: Your pick should be held securely between the thumb and index finger, allowing for controlled strums.
The Opening Riff
The backbone of “Iron Man” is its iconic opening riff, recognized even by those new to rock music. Here’s how to play it:
(Note: The numbers represent the frets you need to press on. All these notes are on the low E string.)
7 - 9 | 12 - 5 - 4 7 - 9 | 3 - 2
Start by playing the 7th fret on the low E string.
Move to the 9th fret and play that note.
Transition swiftly to the 12th fret and then work your way down to the 5th and then the 4th frets.
Repeat the sequence from the beginning.
For the latter part, after playing the 7th and 9th frets again, go to the 3rd fret and finally the 2nd.
The true essence of “Iron Man” is captured through its power chords. If you’re new to power chords, they are typically played using the root note and the fifth, spanning two or three strings.
Here are the main power chords used in “Iron Man”:
E5 Power Chord: Place your index finger on the 7th fret of the A (5th) string and your ring finger on the 9th fret of the D (4th) string. Strum both these strings together.
D5 Power Chord: Shift the above shape down one string, so your index finger is on the 5th fret of the D (4th) string and your ring finger on the 7th fret of the G (3rd) string.
B5 Power Chord: This is played by placing your index on the 7th fret of the low E (6th) string and your ring finger on the 9th fret of the A (5th) string.
As you move through the song, you’ll be transitioning between these power chords, following the rhythm and structure of the track.
Maintain the Groove
“Iron Man” is known for its heavy, steady rhythm. While playing, it’s crucial to maintain this rhythmic feel. Listen to the original track multiple times to internalize the song’s groove and pacing.
Practice and Patience
Mastering “Iron Man” or any song on the guitar demands regular practice. Dedicate time each day to practice the riff, transitions, and power chords. Start slow, and as you grow confident, increase your speed.
3. “Creep” by Radiohead
This indie rock classic uses only four chords throughout. The arpeggiated power chords in the verses give it a unique sound, and it’s a fantastic song for those looking to branch out from the typical rock guitar sound.
Playing “Creep” by Radiohead on Electric Guitar: A Beginner’s Guide
Radiohead’s “Creep” is a staple in the world of indie rock and a great song for beginner guitarists to learn, especially those eager to transition from basic strumming to arpeggiation. Its simplistic structure, built around just four chords, makes it an accessible yet satisfying piece to play. Here’s a beginner-friendly guide to getting those chords and that unique sound right on your electric guitar.
Understanding the Basics
Before we dive into the specifics, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with a couple of terms:
Power Chords: These are two-note chords, consisting of the root and the fifth. They’re a mainstay in rock guitar and are straightforward to play.
Arpeggiation: This refers to playing the notes of a chord in succession, rather than simultaneously. In “Creep,” this technique gives the verses their distinctive feel.
Chords Used in “Creep”
The song revolves around four main chords: G, B, C, and Cm.
G Power Chord:
Place your index finger on the 3rd fret of the low E (6th) string.
Place your ring finger on the 5th fret of the A (5th) string.
B Power Chord:
Place your index finger on the 2nd fret of the A (5th) string.
Place your ring finger on the 4th fret of the D (4th) string.
C Power Chord:
Move the same shape as the G power chord down one string each. So, your index finger will be on the 3rd fret of the A (5th) string, and your ring finger will be on the 5th fret of the D (4th) string.
Cm Power Chord:
Keep your index finger on the 3rd fret of the A (5th) string.
Place your ring finger on the 5th fret of the D (4th) string and your pinky finger on the 5th fret of the G (3rd) string.
Playing the Verse
The verse uses arpeggiated power chords. Instead of strumming all the notes of a chord simultaneously, pick them one by one. Start with the G power chord:
G Power Chord: Pluck the E (6th) string, then the A (5th) string.
B Power Chord: Pluck the A (5th) string, then the D (4th) string.
C Power Chord: Pluck the A (5th) string, then the D (4th) string.
Cm Power Chord: Pluck the A (5th) string, the D (4th) string, and then the G (3rd) string.
Repeat this sequence for the verses.
Playing the Chorus
For the chorus (“But I’m a creep…”), strum the chords instead of arpeggiating them. The sequence remains the same: G, B, C, and Cm.
Tips for Beginners:
Practice Slowly: Start by playing the arpeggiation slowly to ensure precision and gradually increase your speed.
Listen Actively: Regularly listen to the song to familiarize yourself with the rhythm and feel.Use Clean Tone: On your electric guitar, use a clean tone with a touch of chorus effect to get close to the song’s sound.
“Creep” by Radiohead is a brilliant song for beginners to hone their electric guitar skills, combining simple power chords with the elegance of arpeggiation. With practice, you’ll not only master this indie rock classic but also gain a stronger foundation in guitar technique. Happy playing!
4. “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd
While Pink Floyd is known for their intricate guitar solos, this song is an acoustic guitar-driven ballad that translates beautifully to the electric guitar. It’s a great song for practicing chord progression and strumming patterns.
Learning “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd on the Electric Guitar: A Beginner’s Guide
Pink Floyd, the progressive rock titans, have provided us with some of the most iconic guitar-driven music in the history of rock. While many of their songs feature complex guitar work, “Wish You Were Here” stands out as a heartfelt acoustic ballad that is accessible for beginners.
The beauty of this track is that it sounds equally haunting and emotive when played on an electric guitar, offering a different timbre and depth.
The chord progression for “Wish You Were Here” is fairly straightforward and primarily involves the following basic chords:
G Major (G)
E Minor (Em)
A Major (A)
D Major (D)
C Major (C)
A Minor (Am)
The strumming pattern for the verses is consistent and repetitive, which is great for beginners. You can use:
Down, Down, Up, Up, Down, Up
Remember to keep your strumming relaxed and to focus on the dynamics. Some parts of the song are soft and introspective, while others have a more pronounced strum, so adjust your strumming intensity accordingly.
Intro: The iconic intro can be played using single notes on the electric guitar, imitating the original acoustic intro. It involves picking individual strings and sets the mood for the entire song.
Verse: G, Em, G, Em, A, Am, Em, Am, G
Chorus: C, D, Am, G, D, C, Am, G
Tone and Effects: When transitioning this song from acoustic to electric guitar, consider using a clean tone with a touch of reverb to create a spacious sound. If you have a chorus pedal, a subtle chorus effect can also enhance the dreamy feel of the song.
Fingerpicking Option: While strumming is the most straightforward approach, you can also try your hand at fingerpicking for the verses. This technique can provide a more delicate touch to the song.
Solo: The song does feature a solo which, although simple in composition, can be challenging for an absolute beginner. If you’re feeling adventurous, try learning it one phrase at a time.
Practice with the Original Track: Playing along with the original track can help you understand the song’s nuances and dynamics better.
5. “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan
This famous song is a testament to the power of a few chords. With a simple strumming pattern, it’s an easy song that sounds great on both acoustic and electric guitars.
“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan: A Beginner’s Guide to Electric Guitar Mastery
There’s a reason Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” has remained timeless. Its evocative lyrics combined with a straightforward melody make it a staple in the repertoire of guitar players, from novices to professionals.
For those just beginning their journey with the electric guitar, this song is a fantastic starting point. Let’s dive into the essentials of mastering this classic.
Understanding the Basics
Before we delve into the chords and strumming, it’s crucial to grasp why “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” is an excellent choice for beginners. Its magic lies in its simplicity; the song is predominantly based on a few essential chords, allowing beginners to focus on finger placement and strumming without being overwhelmed.
The primary chords used in “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” are G, D, Am7, and C. If you’re new to these chords, take a moment to familiarize yourself with their shapes and finger placements:
G Major: Played with the fingers on the 3rd fret of the 6th string, 2nd fret of the 5th string, open on the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd strings, and 3rd fret on the 1st string.
D Major: Open on the 4th string, 1st finger on the 2nd fret of the 3rd string, 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the 2nd string, and 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the 1st string.
Am7: 1st finger on the 1st fret of the 2nd string, 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the 4th string, and open on the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 6th strings.
C Major: 1st finger on the 1st fret of the 2nd string, 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the 4th string, and 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the 5th string, with open notes on the 1st, 3rd, and 6th strings.
While the song can be played using various strumming patterns, a simple pattern to start with is Down-Down-Up-Up-Down-Up (D-D-U-U-D-U). This pattern brings out the rhythm of the song, and once you get comfortable, you can explore more intricate patterns to add depth.
Bringing It All Together
Once you’ve mastered the chords and the strumming pattern, practice transitioning smoothly between the chords while maintaining a steady rhythm. Remember, it’s not about speed but precision and comfort.
Electric Guitar Nuances
While “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” sounds fantastic on an acoustic guitar, the electric guitar brings its unique flair. Consider playing with a clean tone initially. As you grow more comfortable, you can introduce a slight reverb or a chorus effect to add richness to your sound.
6. “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin, the hard rock legends, have given us many iconic guitar riffs. This song’s main riff is groovy and fun to play, making it a must-learn for every beginner electric guitar enthusiast.
“Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin: A Beginner’s Electric Guitar Tutorial
From the moment the legendary Jimmy Page strikes the first notes on “Whole Lotta Love”, it becomes clear why Led Zeppelin holds an immortal place in rock history. The riff is robust, catchy, and instantly recognizable. For a budding electric guitar player, mastering this song is both an exciting challenge and a significant milestone. Let’s dive into this hard rock classic.
The Legacy of “Whole Lotta Love”
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the song, it’s worth noting the impact of “Whole Lotta Love”. Ranked high on many “Greatest Guitar Riffs” lists, this song from the album ‘Led Zeppelin II’ is a testament to the band’s prowess and Page’s genius. It’s a fusion of blues influences with hard rock, delivering a sonic experience that’s truly Zeppelin.
The Main Riff
The beauty of “Whole Lotta Love” lies in its powerful simplicity. The primary riff revolves around the E pentatonic minor scale, using pull-offs and bends to create its signature sound.
Start on the 7th fret of the A string (which is an E note) with a firm finger placement.
Proceed to play the 5th fret of the D string followed by the 7th fret on the same string.
The key to the riff is the bending technique applied on the 7th fret of the D string. As you hit this note, bend the string slightly to add that bluesy touch.
Return to the 5th fret of the D string, and then play the 7th fret of the A string.
This forms the core of the main riff, and with practice, you can achieve the fluid motion that Page delivers.
The Tone and Gear
The equipment and settings you use play a crucial role in achieving the song’s iconic sound.
Guitar: A Gibson Les Paul or any guitar with humbuckers would be ideal, but most electric guitars will do.
Amp Settings: Aim for a warm, overdriven tone. Crank up the mids, keep the bass at a moderate level, and adjust the treble according to your taste.
Pedals: If you have access to effects pedals, a slight touch of reverb and a good overdrive or distortion pedal can emulate the classic Zeppelin sound.
Listen to the Original: This might sound obvious, but truly listen to the track. Understand its rhythm, feel, and nuances. Jimmy Page’s playing has a lot of feel, so try to capture that essence.
Practice Slowly: Begin by playing the riff slowly to ensure accuracy. As you grow more confident, increase the speed gradually.
Palm Muting: For added flair, you can use palm muting on the E note (7th fret, A string) to give a chunkier sound.
7. “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day
Modern rock has its share of easy electric guitar songs, and this is one of them. With its melancholic chord progression and catchy rhythm guitar parts, it’s a hit song that every beginner should try.
“Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day: A Beginner’s Electric Guitar Guide
Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” from their iconic “American Idiot” album is a modern rock anthem that resonates with listeners even today. Its haunting lyrics coupled with an infectious rhythm guitar part make it an excellent choice for beginners eager to dive into the world of electric guitar. Let’s explore how to play this modern classic.
For a rock song, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” utilizes a fairly simple and recurring chord progression. The main chords you’ll need to know are:
E Minor (Em)
G Major (G)
D Major (D)
A Minor (Am)
The song has a steady rhythm which makes the strumming pattern beginner-friendly. A basic pattern to start with is:
Down, Down, Up, Down, Up, Down, Up
While this is a general pattern that suits the song, don’t be afraid to play around and find what feels most comfortable and sounds best to your ears. Remember, with electric guitar, you can also incorporate some palm muting to give it that distinctive rock edge.
To guide you through the song, here’s a basic breakdown:
Intro: Em, G, D, A (Played twice)
Verse: Em, G, D, A (Recurring)
Chorus: Em, G, D, A (Recurring)
Bridge: Em, G, D, A (Recurring)
Outro: Em, G, D, A
As you can see, the chord progression remains consistent throughout, making it relatively straightforward for beginners.
Tips for Playing
Tone and Effects: “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” has a distinctive tone. If you have a multi-effects pedal or an amplifier with built-in effects, play around with some reverb and a light overdrive or crunch to emulate the song’s tone.
Play Along: One of the best ways to get a feel for the song is to play along with the original track. This will help you understand the tempo, transitions, and overall vibe.
Solo: Once you’re comfortable with the rhythm parts, you might want to venture into the song’s solo. It’s relatively simple compared to other rock solos, but as always, practice makes perfect.
Dynamics: Part of what makes this song great is its dynamics. From the softer verses to the more powerful chorus, focus on the intensity of your strumming to capture the song’s essence.
8. “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
This classic song is not just for acoustic guitar players. The main riff is catchy, and the chord progression is straightforward, making it a fun song for electric guitar beginners.
Playing “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd on Electric Guitar: A Beginner’s Guide
“Sweet Home Alabama” is an anthem in the world of rock, recognizable from just the first few notes. While many associate this classic with acoustic guitar, the electric guitar plays a pivotal role in delivering its unmistakable sound. For electric guitar beginners, learning this song is a rite of passage. Let’s break down how to play “Sweet Home Alabama” in a beginner-friendly way.
Understanding the Basics
First, let’s get familiar with a few concepts:
Main Riff: This is the catchy sequence of notes you hear right at the beginning of the song and repeated throughout. It’s one of the most iconic riffs in rock history.
Chord Progression: The song primarily revolves around three major chords: D, C, and G.
The Main Riff
The riff is what makes “Sweet Home Alabama” instantly recognizable. Here’s a simplified version of it:
Start on the D chord. Play the open D string (4th string) twice.
On the G string (3rd string), play the 2nd fret and then the open G string.
Play the open D string once more.
Transition to the C chord by playing the 3rd fret of the A string (5th string).
Play the open D string and then the open G string.
End on the G chord by playing the open G string, then the 3rd fret of the high E string (1st string), followed by the open G string again.
This is a very basic version of the riff. As you become more comfortable, you can add more nuances to get closer to the original sound.
Chord Progression for the Chorus
For the chorus (“Sweet home Alabama…”), the chords are played in this sequence:
D Chord: You can play a standard open D major chord.
C Chord: This is an open C major chord. However, in the song, the chord often gets a ‘rock’ feel by transforming it into a Cadd9. To play this, place your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the B string (2nd string) and your pinky on the 3rd fret of the high E string (1st string).
G Chord: Play an open G major chord. Keep your ring and pinky fingers on the 3rd frets of the B and high E strings respectively, which makes transitioning from Cadd9 smoother.
The chord progression goes: D – Cadd9 – G.
Tips for Beginners:
Use a Pick: This song sounds best when played with a pick, allowing for crisper note articulation.
Practice with the Original: Play along with the track to get a sense of timing and rhythm.
Dial in Your Tone: On your electric guitar, aim for a clean to slightly overdriven tone. If you have an amplifier with EQ settings, a bit of mid-range boost can help capture the song’s essence.
“Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd is a timeless track that offers beginners a perfect blend of fun and challenge. As you start with this basic guide and continue practicing, you’ll be able to add more of the song’s intricacies. Before you know it, you’ll have this Southern rock classic under your fingers and a great party piece in your repertoire!
9.”Otherside” by Red Hot Chili Peppers
One of the more beginner-friendly songs by the Red Hot Chili Peppers is “Otherside.” This track provides budding guitarists with an excellent opportunity to delve into the band’s style without getting overwhelmed.
Learning “Otherside” by Red Hot Chili Peppers: A Beginner’s Guide
“Otherside” is a melodic song from the album “Californication”. While the song does have its intricacies, primarily due to John Frusciante’s distinct playing style, the main riff and chord progressions are straightforward enough for beginners to grasp.
The intro and the verse of the song feature a catchy, repeating riff. This riff is played on the higher strings, and it’s repetitive, making it great for practice.
Start on the D string (4th string): Play the 8th fret, followed by the 10th fret.
Move to the G string (3rd string) and play the 7th fret, then back to the 10th fret of the D string.
This sequence forms the core of the verse riff. Listen to the original song to get the rhythm and timing right.
Chorus Chord Progression
The chorus (“How long, how long will I slide…”) involves a sequence of power chords, which are a staple in rock guitar playing. Here’s a simplified breakdown:
F Power Chord: Play this on the 1st fret of the low E string (6th string) and the 3rd fret of the A string (5th string).
A# Power Chord: Move to the 1st fret of the A string (5th string) and the 3rd fret of the D string (4th string).
D# Power Chord: Shift to the 6th fret of the A string and the 8th fret of the D string.
Cm Chord: This is a barre chord, and while a bit challenging for absolute beginners, it’s good practice. Barre your index finger across the 3rd fret, starting from the A string. Place your ring finger on the 5th fret of the D string and your pinky right below on the 5th fret of the G string.
The progression goes: F – A# – D# – Cm.
Tips for Beginners:
Play Along: As with any song, playing along with the track can significantly help in grasping the rhythm and structure.
Focus on Clean Transitions: Ensure that your chord transitions are smooth. This is especially crucial when moving between the power chords in the chorus.
Tone Matters: The Red Hot Chili Peppers have a distinct sound. If you have an amp or effects pedal, try to dial in a clean tone with a bit of reverb for that atmospheric feel.
Dive Deeper into the World of Guitar
If you’re looking for more songs to add to your practice routine, check out these lists for additional inspiration:
Starting with easy electric guitar songs is the best way to familiarize yourself with the instrument. From power chords to simple strumming patterns, these songs will help you build a solid foundation. Remember, every guitar hero started somewhere. With practice and dedication, who knows? Maybe one day, someone will be learning your famous songs!
So, pick up that electric guitar, find a song from the list that resonates with you, and start playing. The world of rock guitar awaits!