Songs for Beginners on Electric Guitar (Easy Tunes to Master Quickly)

Photo of author
Written By Gary Daws

Chief Music Officer

Learning to play the electric guitar can be an exciting and rewarding journey for both new and experienced guitarists. Starting with songs that are suited for beginners can make the process more enjoyable and help build the skills necessary for tackling more advanced pieces. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best songs for beginners on the electric guitar, as well as why they are well-suited for those just starting out.

The songs featured in this list have been carefully selected based on the simplicity of their chords, structures, and tunings. These factors contribute to a smoother learning curve for the novice guitarist. Several popular genres such as rock and blues will be included, showcasing the versatility of electric guitar music.

Among the beginner-friendly songs referenced here, electric guitar enthusiasts can expect to find popular hits such as “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple, “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin, and “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes. These iconic tunes are known for their catchy riffs and recognizable melodies, making them both enjoyable to learn and rewarding to perform.

Choosing the Right Songs for Beginners

Identify Your Genre Preference

When starting on the electric guitar, it’s important to identify your genre preference. Different genres have distinct rhythmic patterns, techniques, and chord progressions that can influence your learning process. Experimenting with various genres, such as rock, blues, pop, or metal, will help you find the style that resonates with you and keeps you motivated to practice.

Easy Songs with Simple Chords

As a beginner, it’s essential to learn songs with simple chords for a smoother learning curve. These songs typically have only a few basic chords, which allows you to focus on developing rhythm and coordination. Some easy songs with simple chords for beginners include:

  • “Free Fallin'” by Tom Petty
  • “Last Nite” by The Strokes
  • “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks

Songs with Recognizable Guitar Riffs

Learning songs with recognizable guitar riffs not only boosts your morale but also helps in familiarizing yourself with popular electric guitar techniques. These riffs often involve slides, bends, hammer-ons, and other essential skills that you will use throughout your guitar-playing journey. A few songs with notable guitar riffs for beginners are:

  • “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath
  • “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream
  • “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin

Remember, the key to mastering the electric guitar is practice and consistency. Start with easy songs and gradually progress to more challenging tunes as your skills improve. Embrace the learning process, and enjoy the journey of becoming a proficient electric guitar player.

Basic Chords and Strumming Patterns

Open Chords for Beginners

For beginners learning to play electric guitar, it is important to focus on mastering a few open chords first. These chords form the basis of many popular songs and are crucial for building a strong foundation in guitar playing. Some of the most common open chords for beginners include:

  • A Major
  • D Major
  • E Major
  • C Major
  • G Major
  • Am (A minor)
  • F Major

Practice these chords regularly, making sure to get comfortable transitioning from one chord to another smoothly.

Power Chords and Palm Muting

Power chords are essential for electric guitar playing, especially in rock and heavy metal genres. These chords consist of only two notes, the root note and the fifth, making them easy to learn and play. Here are a few popular power chords to start with:

  • A5: A and E notes
  • D5: D and A notes
  • E5: E and B notes
  • F5: F and C notes
  • G5: G and D notes
  • C5: C and G notes

Palm muting is a technique often used in conjunction with power chords to create a tight, rhythmic sound. To achieve this, gently rest the side of your picking hand on the strings near the bridge while playing the chords. This technique gives more control over the chord’s sustain and is ideal for creating dynamic contrast in your guitar playing.

Fingerpicking Techniques

Fingerpicking is a versatile technique used in various styles of music, from folk to rock. It involves using the fingers of the picking hand to pluck the strings individually, rather than strumming them simultaneously with a pick. This creates a more melodic and intricate sound. For beginners, try incorporating simple fingerpicking patterns into your practice. Here are a few fundamental fingerpicking patterns to get started:

  1. Thumb-index-middle-ring pattern
  2. Alternating thumb pattern
  3. Pattern with bass notes on beats 1 and 3

As you become more comfortable with fingerpicking, explore different patterns and techniques to expand your playing capabilities.

By practicing the chords and techniques outlined in this section, beginner electric guitar players will have a solid foundation to help them progress in their musical journey. As with any skill, regular practice is key to improvement.

Popular Beginner Electric Guitar Songs

Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple

“Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple is an iconic classic rock song that has an instantly recognizable guitar riff. This song is great for beginners because it uses simple power chords that are easy to learn and play. The riff consists of only a few notes and is a perfect starting point for those new to electric guitar. As you progress, you can also explore the more advanced techniques found in the song, such as palm muting and string bending.

Iron Man – Black Sabbath

Another classic rock tune that is ideal for beginners is “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath. This song features a catchy and easy-to-learn guitar riff, making it a great starting point for those new to the instrument. The power chords used in “Iron Man” not only sound powerful but also help beginners build familiarity with the fretboard. Furthermore, this song is a prime example of the heavy metal genre, providing an exciting introduction to the world of electric guitar playing.

Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin

“Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin is another excellent choice for those just starting on electric guitar. The song’s main riff is comprised of power chords that are straight-forward for beginners to learn and play. Distinctive and groovy, this riff will not only have you sounding great but also feeling confident in your skills. Additionally, Led Zeppelin’s unique style and techniques can introduce aspiring guitarists to different sounds and approaches in rock music.

Seven Nation Army – White Stripes

The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” boasts a simple yet infectious riff that is perfect for those just beginning their electric guitar journey. This well-known tune uses only a few notes, making it an accessible and fun option for novices. Learning this song can also help you build your finger strength and dexterity, integral aspects of playing electric guitar. Moreover, “Seven Nation Army” serves as a gateway to the White Stripes’ distinctive sound and other alternative rock bands.

Enter Sandman – Metallica

“Enter Sandman” by Metallica is a timeless rock anthem with a guitar riff that has become synonymous with the band’s sound. This riff is relatively easy for beginners to learn and play, using power chords and palm muting techniques that are essential in the realm of electric guitar playing. As you progress, you can delve into the more advanced aspects of the song, including its intricate solos and rhythm patterns. This well-rounded track is a fantastic way for novices to gain confidence and develop their skills on the electric guitar.

Transitioning from Acoustic to Electric Guitar

Adjusting to Thinner Strings

When transitioning from an acoustic to an electric guitar, one of the first things players will notice is the difference in string thickness. Electric guitar strings are typically thinner than acoustic guitar strings, which can make playing easier on the fingers. However, this difference can also lead to some initial challenges:

  • Pressing too hard: Acoustic guitar players may need to adjust their finger pressure when fretting notes. Applying too much pressure on thinner strings can result in notes sounding sharp or causing unnecessary fatigue.
  • String bending: The thinner strings on an electric guitar make string bending more accessible. It’s essential to practice and experiment with various string bends to add expression to your playing.
  • Fret buzz: The lower string tension on electric guitars can sometimes result in fret buzz. Careful attention should be paid to proper and efficient finger placement.

Incorporating Electric Guitar Techniques

The electric guitar also allows players to incorporate several techniques specific to the instrument. To make the most of the electric guitar playing experience, it is essential to familiarize oneself with the following techniques:

  • Palm muting: This technique involves resting the edge of the picking hand on the strings near the bridge. Palm muting can create a tight, staccato sound and is commonly used in rock and metal genres. To practice this technique, try playing a simple riff and experiment with varying amounts of palm pressure on the strings.
  • Hammer-ons and pull-offs: These techniques are also applicable to acoustic guitars but can be more prominently featured in electric guitar playing due to the ease of fretting notes. Hammer-ons involve fretting a note by striking the string hard with a finger without picking, while pull-offs involve removing a fretting finger from a string, sounding another note in the process. Practice both techniques with simple exercises such as trills or scales.
  • Pickups and tone controls: Electric guitars usually have multiple pickups and tone controls that can drastically alter the sound of the instrument. Spend time experimenting with different pickup configurations and tone settings to find the sound that best fits your playing style.
  • Effects pedals: Electric guitar players often use effects pedals to add depth and variety to their sound. Some common effects include distortion, chorus, delay, and reverb. When beginning to use pedals, start with one or two basic effects to avoid overwhelming yourself and gradually expand your collection as your skills improve.

As players transition from acoustic to electric guitar, it is crucial to adjust to the thinner strings and incorporate new techniques specific to the electric guitar. Practice and experimentation are essential in developing a personal playing style and effectively utilizing the unique aspects of the electric instrument.

Expanding Your Electric Guitar Repertoire

When you’re starting to learn electric guitar, it’s essential to have a broad repertoire to help build your skills and keep things exciting. This section will cover rock and alternative songs, blues and classic rock songs, and punk and garage rock songs suitable for beginners. We’ll explore some iconic examples and techniques that can improve your guitar playing.

Rock and Alternative Songs

For electric guitar beginners, rock and alternative songs offer a great introduction to diverse playing styles and techniques. Here are a few examples:

  • The Cars – “Just What I Needed”: This song features straightforward rhythm guitar chords and an easy-to-play, catchy guitar riff. The Cars’ guitar style is perfect for beginners looking to develop their sense of rhythm and arpeggio picking.
  • Radiohead – “Creep”: With its repetitive four-chord progression, “Creep” is ideal for beginners to practice chord changes and strumming patterns. Additionally, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood’s simple but distinctive lead guitar parts are accessible and engaging for novice players.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Californication”: The song’s primary riff is perfect for learning techniques like sliding and bending. Moreover, the easy arpeggio in the verse helps to develop fingerpicking skills.

Blues and Classic Rock Songs

Blues and classic rock songs provide a solid foundation for electric guitar players. These songs often involve timeless riffs that improve your technique:

  • Elmore James – “Dust My Broom”: This blues standard features a classic slide guitar lick that has influenced countless guitarists, from Muddy Waters to Billy Corgan. Learning this song will help you understand the foundations of blues music and slide guitar.
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Sweet Home Alabama”: A classic southern rock song, “Sweet Home Alabama” allows beginners to explore elements of hard rock riffs and pop hooks. Its memorable guitar riff is excellent for practicing palm muting and alternate picking techniques.
  • The Rolling Stones – “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”: This rock anthem includes one of the most famous guitar riffs in music history. By mastering the riff, beginners will improve their sense of rhythm and timing while building confidence in their playing abilities.

Punk and Garage Rock Songs

Punk and garage rock songs are often simple and raw, making them perfect for beginners seeking to develop their electric guitar repertoire:

  • Green Day – “When I Come Around”: This punk classic is an excellent example of power chords in action. The three-chord progression throughout the song is manageable for beginners and helps develop palm-muting techniques.
  • The White Stripes – “Seven Nation Army”: While known for its bass riff, this song also incorporates straightforward guitar parts that are easy for beginners to learn. Try playing the main riff without a capo to practice single-string melodies and octave chords.
  • The Cranberries – “Zombie”: This alternative rock hit features simple chord progressions and a catchy main riff. It’s perfect for developing strumming patterns and getting comfortable with barre chords.

By incorporating these songs into your practice routine, you’ll develop various electric guitar techniques and build a diverse repertoire that is both enjoyable and confidence-boosting.