6 Classic Pop Songs for Beginner Guitarists

You’ve just picked up your first guitar and you’re already itching to start learning to play some songs. Whether you want to impress your mates, serenade your soulmate or more importantly, start making some music, our Guestblogger Alexousky is here to guide you through six classic pop tracks that you don’t just know already, but are actually really easy to learn. Have a look through, pick something that works for you, and get to grips with a nice and short, classic little riff or an immediately familiar set of chords that you can get your mates singing along to.

Riff-Based Songs

Even before you’ve learned to play your first chords (which I also highly recommend!), you can already start learning the simple melodies of some well-known songs. These are some of the same songs that I learned back when I started playing, and while they’re simple, there’s nothing better than nailing the chords or riff from a song that you know inside out.

Guitar Tab Instructions

How does guitar tablature work? It’s much more straightforward than you might think. Have a look at the short snippets of guitar tab (short for tablature) included below. The six horizontal lines represent the six strings of your guitar, with the high-E string (the thinnest) at the top and the low-E string (the thickest) at the bottom. The numbers you can see written on the lines represent which fret you need to hold the string down at. For example, if you see ‘2’ written on the A-string line, that means you need to hold down the A-string at the second fret. How long you need to hold a note for isn’t so clear with guitar tablature, but that shouldn’t be a problem, since you can find that out by simply listening closely to the track.

Want to know more? Go to: Learning to Read Guitar Tab

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction – The Rolling Stones

We’ll start things off with a really simple but really solid, classic riff from The Rolling Stones. There are only three notes in this riff – B, C# and D – and they’re all played on the A-string. Have a listen to the song, get a feel for the rhythm and then get stuck in. Once you think you’ve got it, try playing along! And then, once you think you’re up for another challenge, move onto the next riff below.

G|-------------------------------------| x2

Come As You Are – Nirvana

One of Kurt Cobain’s classics: I don’t think there’s any guitarist on Earth who hasn’t tried this one. Here, you’ll learn to play the intro to the song, which is played on two strings: the low-E string and the A string. If you look closely at the tablature, you’ll see that the first four notes are played on the low-E string. For the first two notes, the E-string is played open (so, without holding it down), which is represented by a ‘0’. Then, for the next two notes, the low-E string is held down at the first fret, then the second fret. From there, the A string is played open before going back to the second fret on the low-E string and so on. Start very slowly and try to find a pattern in both the notes and the way you move and position your fingers. This will only make it easier to keep up with the rhythm. Once you’ve got this one beneath your fingers, you’re really part of a rich guitar-based tradition!

G|-----------------------------------------| x4

Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes

As well as a classic, driving indie-rock number, Seven Nation Army has joined the football fan canon – it’s also pretty easy to play. Here, almost every note is played on the A string and just one note is played on the D string. This one might even be easier than Come As You Are!

G|-----------------|-----------------| x12 

Chord-Based Songs

Before you can learn to play the songs included below, you will need to know a few basic chords already. For these songs, you’ll only need to know the G, D, Am, Em and C chords.

Don’t know these chords yet? Got to: Guitar Chords for Beginners

Knockin on Heavens Door – Bob Dylan

This is another timeless classic, this time from the divine pen of Bob Dylan. A cover artist’s favourite, this song is made up of the chords G, D, Am and C. This song is not just easy to learn, but it provides a nice little stepping stone to the next song.

G           D           Am
Mama put my guns in the ground

G       D             C
I can't shoot them anymore

That’s really it. Just go back to the beginning and loop through the chords to play both the verses and the chorus, and you’ve learned to play the whole song!

Wonderwall – Oasis

Note! To play this song, you will need to place a capo at the second fret!

Maybe the unofficial ‘90s national anthem, Wonderwall is one of those songs you know the words to, even if you don’t know it. The verse of Wonderwall includes the chords: Em, G, D, and A. Here, we’ll use the simplified chord versions rather than the original chords played by Noel. You’ve got to start somewhere, right? Once you’ve got these chords down and you’re feeling confident, then you can step up to the chords played on the album.

Em       G
Today is gonna be the day

             D                      A
That they're gonna throw it back to you

Em          G
By now you should've somehow

   D                    A
Realised what you gotta do

See the rest of the simple version of this song here, and the song with original chords here.

Zombie – The Cranberries

This is another nineties classic, and if you don’t know it yet, you should! Below you can see the chords for the chorus, but the rest of the song actually includes exactly the same chords and order. The last chord: D/F#, is just a D-chord with an F# add to the bass. To play it, simply hold a normal D chord and then place your index finger at the second fret on the E string. If this still feels uncomfortable, then just stick to the normal D chord.

        Em            C            G             D/F#
In your head, in your head, zombie, zombie, zombie

               Em            C            G             D/F#
What's in your head, in your head, zombie, zombie, zombie


With all these songs, you’ll have more than enough to sink your teeth into and spend a good few hours getting to know your instrument. Take your time and once you feel like you’ve got the hang of one song, move onto the next. Also! Don’t forget to pay attention to the rhythm! This can sometimes be the hardest part to learn for beginners, but get the notes first, learn to control your fingers and the rest will come.

See also…

» Guitar Books
» Song Books
» Capos
» Plectrums

» Want to Play the Blues? Use These Chords, Notes and Tips!
» Learning to Play Guitar: Sheet Music, Chords, or Tab?
» Learning To Play Guitar Chords For Beginners
» Setting Up a Guitar Amplifier: 5 Tips for Beginners
» How Can I Connect a Guitar to a Computer?
» How To Change Electric Guitar Strings
» How to Change the Strings of Your Acoustic Guitar
» Learn how to play with a plectrum!

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