Top 10 First Songs to Learn on Guitar

Learning to play guitar, much like learning any other musical instrument- is a process which requires both discipline and patience. The first steps you take on the road to rock and roll superstardom are often the most important. Having the grit to keep picking the guitar up in spite of the severe frustration and sore fingertips it will initially cause you, is paramount. Obviously, everyone is inclined differently when it comes to musical taste and preference- however this list showcases a pick of tunes I was into when I first learned some 7 or 8 years ago.


10. American Idiot – Greenday

I was 13 years old when this song took the world by storm back in 2004. Re-establishing the three-piece punk rock band as a major player within guitar music, the bubonic catchiness of this jaunty hit is made even more impressive when you realise how easy it is to play. Punk rock has been associated since its conception with simple chord progression and song structure- this song being no exception.


9. Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty

OK, perhaps this song isn’t Petty’s greatest/most integrative work- however it certainly is an example of his knack for a hella’ memorable hook. Released back in 1989, shortly after the songwriters jaunt with supergroup ‘Traveling Wilbury’s’, ‘Free Fallin’ was the lead single from the Floridians first album without previous group ‘The Heartbreakers’. Despite its definitive pop leanings, the track is unmistakably a classic and should not be dismissed as an ideal first challenge for any new guitar player.


8. Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana

Pretty much a benchmark standard for every aspiring rockstar of a teenager since its release on Cobain and co’s mainstream breakthrough ‘Nevermind’ in 1991, Smells Like Teen Spirit contains somewhere between four and six power chords and the tiniest bit of string picking during the verse (variation is important). I actually find it hard to enjoy this song as a result of listening to/playing it so much in my former years. The real beauty within this songs guitar part is the awkward strumming/mute pattern of the intro/chorus- the mastery of which will drive you insane yet feel so good to play once you’ve nailed it.


7. Wonderwall – Oasis

I’ve never been once to condone the work of the Gallagher brothers, however if you insist on listening to Oasis it may as well be their stuff from the 1990’s. Wonderwall is undeniably a fantastic song- sound tracking every indie disco on earth since its release in 1995 and very easy to sing along to when you’re drunk. The chords are pretty straightforward, hence its placement on this list, and above anything else the repetition of said chords throughout the piece will certainly help shape those initially defiant hands.


6. Knockin on Heavens Door – Bob Dylan

The first version of this song I heard as a youngster was the Guns N’ Roses one, there have been several others over the years, yet the three chords needed to pull it off have remained intact. G, D, C- repeat until end. It’s a great song and extremely satisfying to master- owing to the ease with which it can be sang simultaneously. Cue hours of repetitive delusion in front of that mirror in your bedroom (bare chest optional).

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