Here on the site we’ve discussed how to get started playing the guitar, how to tune up. But now let’s talk about some easy guitar riffs or easy guitar chord songs you can learn how to play.
In my 10 years of teaching guitar I’ve been asked by many students of all levels how to play a number of songs.
There are many songs that you can learn but listed here are my personal favourites.
With every song listed I’ve included the artist, year and album in case you’re interested in checking out more stuff from them. I’ve also included a link to a guitar tab as well as a guitar tutorial video from youtube.
Come as You Are
An easy riff to play on the lowest strings of the guitar and also repeated throughout the entire song.
Artist: Ozzy Osbourne
Album: Blizzard of Ozz
The intro starts with an eighth note riff in F# minor then into an A major pedal riff. It’s the song that launched Ozzy’s solo career into the stratosphere and put the great Randy Rhoads on the map.
Seven Nation Army
Artist: The White Stripes
One of the most recognizable riffs not only from the 2000s, but arguably one of the most recognizable guitar riffs of all time. Very simple riff only on the bottom string repeated throughout the entire song.
Smoke on the Water
Artist: Deep Purple
Album: The Essential
One of the many riffs that you’ll be asked if you know how to play. A very simple riff played on the A string with power chords. You’ll learn how to move laterally across the neck with this song.
Artist: Micheal Jackson feat. Eddy Van Halen
One of many incredible songs off the legendary album Thriller, this song had it all from a great riff to an incredible solo from the late great Eddy Van Halen.
Artist: The Beatles
From one of the most popular bands in music history comes a great riff. Similar to ‘Beat It’ in how the riff is written.
Sweet Home Alabama
Artist: Lynard Skynard
Album: Second Helping
A great country style riff. Using the open D, A, G chords, this song teaches a bit about arpeggiating the chord to create the riff.
An easier metal riff from a legendary metal band: Metallica. Enter Sandman teaches you to use the 5th and 7th frets of the guitar while using the open low E string.
Killing in the Name
Artist: Rage Against the Machine
Album: Rage Against the Machine
An incredibly groovy riff, this song teaches you how to play in dropped-D tuning.
Artist: Ritchie Valens
Album: Ritchie Valens
Upbeat and catchy? What else could you be looking for in a riff. This is not the easiest intro to play, but the rest of the song consists of playing chords.
Artist: Post Malone
Album: Hollywood’s Bleeding
A simple chord progression coupled with a simple bass line, catchy lyrics and melody make this song a great song to start with if you’re looking for something from the modern era of music.
Artist: Niall Horan
A great song with a simple intro that uses bending technique. The song uses 4 chords throughout the entire song.
Artist: Harry Styles
Album: Fine Line
A simple song with 4 chords and strumming pattern throughout the entire song.
Artist: Vance Joy
Album: God Loves You When You’re Dancing
Another uplifting, happy song played with only 3 chords.
Rolling in the Deep
Played in power chords, with a simple eighth-note feel throughout the song
Artist: Justin Bieber
Album: Love Yourself
An easy song played in octaves on the neck with a simple rhythm.
When You Say Nothing at All
Artist: Ronin Keating
Album: Noting Hill
A pop love song using simple open chords: G, D, C. You can learn how to arpeggiate chords from learning this song.
Artist: Jason Mraz
Album: We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.
A great pop song with a reggae style rhythm. Learn this song for its strumming pattern.
Album: Oracular Spectacular
A very catchy line in the intro that can be easily played on the guitar.
Pumped Up Kicks
Artist: Foster The People
Another song with a 4 chord progression and a simple bassline that can be played on the guitar.
Artist: The Troggs
Album: From Nowhere
Great simple riff.
House of the Rising Sun
Artist: The Animals
Album: Power Company
A great song in a minor key. Learn how to arpeggiate chords with song.
Carry on My Wayward Son
The opening riff is incredible. This one is a bit more challenging than others.
Bad Moon Rising
Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Album: Green River
A great song with only 4 chords
Artist: The Cranberries
Album: Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?
Another simple 3 chord progression for you sink your teeth into.
Artist: Shawn Mendes
This song has 4 chords within a very unique rhythm and turns into a strumming pattern midway into the song.
Sunshine of Your Love
Album: Disraeli Gears
A pentatonic style riff from the great Eric Clapton.
Best of You
Artist: Foo Fighters
Album: In Your Honor
An easy alternative rock song with a simple progression throughout the song.
Eye of the Tiger
Album: Eye of the Tiger
Rock You Like a Hurricane
Album: Love at First Sting
Easy power chord progression.
Here’s one from ACDC’s catalogue of great riffs. You’ll be using power chords on the bottom E string to play this one.
Artist: Black Sabbath
One of many iconic riffs from Tony Iommi. You’ll learn how to slide power chords across the neck.
Artist: Dick Dale & The Del Tones
A very popular and well known riff heard in many movies and samples in pop culture today. You’ll learn how to perform a tremolo style riff on the low E with this song.
Album: Little Queen
This great riff is a great example of a galloping rhythm.
Artist: The Beatles
This great song has only two chords: C major and E minor
Three Little Birds
Artist: Bob Marley
A great reggae tune that only has three chords.
High and Dry
Album: The Bends
Album: Get a Grip
Album: Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
An easy song that uses 4 simple chords
Stand by Me
Artist: Ben E King
Album: Don’t Play That Song
A Classic song with a simple bassline and another 4 chord progression.
And that’s my list of easy guitar songs. If you’re unsure of how to read tabs be sure to check out that article!