Using basic chords known to every guitarist and often used to teach chord progressions and strumming patterns in guitar lessons, these easy guitar songs are some of the most iconic songs in the genres of classic and alternative rock and may be played on both acoustic and electric guitars. Simple to learn and fun to play, these classics range from light and lively hits to moody and existential ballads, allowing a young guitarist to express every side of their blossoming rock star persona.
- “Take It Easy” by the Eagles. The first single released by the Eagles, "Take It Easy" was released in 1972 and proved to be one of their most memorable hits, remaining one of their most requested signature songs to this day. The song lives up to its name– an easy guitar song with a lively, easy going chord progression that embodies the Eagles’ country-infused rock stylings. A simple song to be played on any guitar, "Take It Easy" uses some of the most basic chords in the guitarist’s lexicon: G, D, C, Am, and Em. Adding to the ease of play is a simple, flowing strumming pattern– down, down, up, up, down– as well as only a few, smooth chord changes.
- “Patience” by Guns N’ Roses. A seminal favorite for any classic rock fan, “Patience” was released by Guns N’ Roses in 1989. A slow, sweet ballad inspired by the troublesome relationship between Guns N’ Roses lead singer Axl Rose and his then wife, “Patience” is an easy guitar song for any beginner and lends itself beautifully to an acoustic guitar as it was originally performed and recorded using three acoustics. Soft, yet infused with Axl Rose’s pained, signature squealing vocals, “Patience” uses the same basic chords (although arranged differently) as "Take It Easy"– G, D, C, Am, and Em– and also utilizes the same, simple strumming pattern– down, down, up, up, down– with very little chord changes.
- “Runway Train” by Soul Asylum. A moody, yet impassioned song by 90s alternative rock band Soul Asylum, “Runaway Train” was released in 1992 and won the band a Grammy Award for Best Rock Song in 1994. Synonymous with Soul Asylum, "Runaway Train" proves to be the first of only two hits. An easy guitar song with little changes during the verses and the chorus, this song, again uses simple chords known to any beginner– C, Em, Am, and G– while using an F chord in the chorus. The chord progression is slow and smooth (aside from the change to F which can be a bit tricky) with a simple strumming pattern of down, up, down which is sped up for the change into the chorus. The song itself serves to showcase not only burgeoning talent, but also the softer, poetic side of any hard-edged beginning guitarist.
- “Losing My Religion” by R.E.M. One of the greatest and most memorable hits for the 90s alternative rock band R.E.M., “Losing My Religion” is another powerful, thought-provoking ballad. Released in 1991, this existential piece remains R.E.M.’s highest charting hit and propelled the band into superstardom. The song uses almost the same chords as “Runaway Train”–Em, Am, G, and F– while throwing in a melodic Dm chord in the bridge. The strumming pattern proves to be a bit more complex, while still making for an easy guitar song– down, down, down, up, up, up, down, down, up– changing to a repeating down, up, down, up, up, down pattern in the chorus.
- “Turn the Page” by Bob Seger. An easy guitar song using only a few chords and chord changes, “Turn the Page” is the quintessential classic rock anthem, released by rock icon Bob Seger in 1973. An exceptionally moody, autobiographical ballad about the life of a rock musician on the road, “Turn the Page” uses only four chords, basic to all budding guitarists– C, D, Em, and A– and one of the easiest strumming pattern of any of these songs– down, down, up, down. A rock mainstay, “Turn the Page” is deep and brooding, while also lending itself most beautifully to a lone acoustic guitar perfect for any guitarist who loves the dark, smoky bars and a good, captivating tune.