Wednesday Question: Best Starter Song for Guitarists

Name the riff that kicked off your guitar journey.

Ultimate Guitar

For this week's WQ, we figured it's high time we addressed all the guitar players out there and ask you guys to trace back the beginning of your musical journey.

There are many songs to choose from and name them that special No. 1 tune ever to jam on a six-string. So here goes the question:

What is the best starter song for guitarists?

Anything goes as long as it's performed on a guitar. Rock and metal tracks are preferred, but there's also nothing wrong with slightly drifting away form it.

Same rules as always apply - only one suggestion per comment, vote up the ideas you support and vote down the ones you dislike. We'll sum up your votes by Friday and bring you another traditional UG Top 10. Show us what you got!

524 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Iron Man - Black Sabbath
    The main riff yes.. but as a whole song I'd recommend paranoid over iron man
    Actually iron man is slower than paranoid. When I was beginner, iron man was easier for me
    Agreed. I found Paranoid to be a workout for my right hand, too, hahaha. Plus, the rest of Iron Man (asides from the main riff) was relatively simple (not counting the solo, of course) yet, sounded really cool, which as a beginning guitarist, really gave me a sense of accomplishment, and made me feel good about my guitar playing, which kept me coming back to the instrument to learn more.
    I remember trying to learn the solo after only playing a few months and wanting to throw my guitar out the window.
    Agreed, Iron Man was the first song that I learned how to play. Except the solo of course.
    Smell Like Teen Spirit!
    Couldn't agree more. Much simpler than Black Dog. Simple power cords,simple verse, and a good intro for beginners to learn a simple lead.
    The muted strings between the intro chords are quite hard for beginners tough
    Very true but when beginners try to play a power chord half of the strings are usually muted anyway since they can't hold the chord correctly, so they're half way there!
    Of all the covers I've seen/heard, no one really ever plays the muting/rhythm correctly inbetween those 4 chords. But yes, all around, that would be a good song for beginners to learn.
    Seven Nation Army
    Actually, it's pretty complicated if you try to play it like Jack White (with the octave down string and the slide).
    I put CAFO on earier and UG didn't keep it? Why? But anyways yes, CAFO is what I learned when I first got my acoustic at the age of 13
    this was amusing but so many people carried the joke on too long below. we need one jokey answer, not just naming every steve vai, satriani and dragonforce song they can
    Brain Stew - Green Day, it gives a beginner time to move to each power chord easily.
    Blitzkrieg Bop - The Ramones
    Exactly! Most of Ramones songs can teach a lot to a newbie.
    That's partially why they're written that way. The Ramones were learning too. They just found out early on that a couple power chords was all they needed to make a good song.
    Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple
    The riff is a good place to start, but 95% of people never bother to learn the actual song.
    And 95% of people learn it the wrong way. The song is played using 4ths.
    G|0-3-5-- D|0-3-5-- Like This? That's how I learnt to play it.
    That's a way to play it, but I'm pretty sure I saw Ritchie Blackmore say its meant to be played... G| -3-5 D|5-3-5 A|5 etc...
    The point Ritchie tries to make in the video is that both notes are picked at the same time, fingerstyle.
    Yep, that's the right way. The reason is you can vibrato the last chord, if it's not open.
    If by "last" you mean the third chord, that one is played the same in both ways, so vibrato isn't an issue.
    really, thats correct? thats how i learnt to play it. i always assumed it was wrong as people famously get it wrong
    The riff is easy, the song is too hard for any newbie.
    Bob Dylans Knocking On Heavens Door. Easy first song, and it gets you acquainted with chords you will always be using.
    I hate that "OMG you're playing it wrong" bullsh*t, when people start nitpicking about the smallest details. The point of playing music isn't to blindly copy the original piece. If what you're playing sounds right, it IS right.
    part of the point of learning a song, is to play it the way it was written. If you are doing a cover of the song, then a little freedom may be afforded
    link no1
    If you're a newbie guitarist, you're likely wanting to play it exactly like the original rather than attempting to do a 'creative variation' of it. And if you're playing something that 'sounds right', it doesn't necessarily make it right, as is the case with most people who learn Smoke on the Water, playing it on the low E with power chords rather than the D with 4ths.
    Come As You Are - Nirvana is a good one.
    Know your enemy - green day The entire green day discography actually, I was having problems with many songs but when I figured out 20 green day songs, it made me feel that I actually could play guitar.
    Personally I'd recommend "Platypus" by Green Day. quite smooth for beginners
    Or you could just learn 20 songs of varying artists which would give you a much more diverse skill set, and teach you all sorts of different techniques so that you actually CAN play guitar instead of just feeling like you can.
    Guns N' Chains
    Maybe he is a Green Day fan and that is where his heart was. I did the same with a lot of earlier Goo Goo Dolls stuff and it definitely enhanced my playing even though the songs were simple probably much like Green Day material. It opened doors for me to push boundaries and challenge myself with harder tunes. Gotta start somewhere and somehow.
    i learned a lot of complete songs going through the american idiot songbook. theres plenty of ways to keep things very simple and gradually build until you move onto whats harder to play and i think a green day book is a great place to start because of the confidence it gives. simple, catchy, recognizable melodies and easy to play chords and song structures theyre perfect
    Notice all your down votes by all the lazy little kids on this site gave you who are responsible for the fact that their ilk nowadays cannot play their instruments effectively, cannot sing...autotune, lip sync....your generation has regressed music by at least 60 years...go ahead and down vote me cause you know its true....
    I learnt hotel California pretty early on
    learnt? wtf? "learned" my friend. learned how to correctly spell "learned". Now go change every instance of it on your resume. You're welcome.
    Maybe learn the language yourself first before commenting cretin.
    there's two types of English - one of them is only spoken and spelt in America. Learnt is not of that extraction.
    True, but 95% of audiences only want to hear the opening riff. Then they get bored and want you play Iron Man or Free Bird. At least in my experience....
    What about "Working man" by Rush? yeah the solo is not recommended, but the main riff RAWKS and is ultra easy.
    Quit Playin' Games With My Heart - Backstreet Boys and One Note Song - Tenacious D
    I started with Stairway - I'm just polishing off the solo now
    Is there anybody out there? by Pink Floyd. a very nice sounding intro to fingerpicking. this song was my first attempt at anything without using a pick. In the flesh would also be a good easy song for a beginner
    QOTSA - Songs for the Deaf
    My apologies if I'm missing a joke, but man I can't imagine playing that as a newbie. Some of those chords (will ****ing great) would have been impossible to me when I was first starting out. Again, if I'm missing a joke, my bad.
    Yeah it's a running joke, someone used to post this under every question ever for some random reason and it stayed.
    It was the ug community was obsessed almost with this song so it was just every answer ever
    Yep. It went so far over your head it has altitude sickness Basically, it's the standard reply to any "what song/album" question on UG. It's a bit like "Darude - Sandstorm" is on YouTube.
    Back in Black - ACDC
    Back in Black or You Shook Me. The great thing about learning AC/DC is that the riffs are essentially easy and when you're new at it and suck, their songs allow you to jam power chords and tear about your bedroom like a friggin' star!
    Lithium - Nirvana
    That was one of my first! Most of Nevermind, really. Also, I know we aren't talking about bass, but if we were I would say The Joker by Steve Miller Band. Irrelevant, I know, but it was my first song ever, and I had to share. It holds a special place in my bass heart!
    ISLAND IN THE SUN by Weezer... some basic chord, some power chord, a little solo and some picking perfect song
    Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd Good basic chord changes done brilliantly.
    I do think that the hammer-on's and slides in the first part might be a bit tricky for a beginner, especially the hammer-on's seeing as from my own experience with new guitar players, their greatest lack is sufficient force (and placement!) in their fingers when pressing them down on the fretboard - If they have enough issues with holding chords completely clean (nearly 99% of all beginners), then I wouldn't go for it - Though, it would definatly work as a follow-up song when the basics sit firmly.
    Yeah the solo might be tricky, I think the rest of it is fine, though. It has hammer-ons but they're pretty basic. Good introduction to them.
    Yeah the solo might be tricky, I think the rest of it is fine, though. It has hammer-ons but they're pretty basic. Good introduction to them.
    Enter Sandman or For whom the bell tolls
    For Whom the Bell Tolls for sure. No solos, not very fast. Perfect for beginners. Plus you want to get them into Metallica first, not Nirvana!!!
    Yep. Especially in a band this is gold. It's not too complicated for bass and drums either. Downside is, that for the harmonies in the intro you need a second guitar
    I think the Rolling Stones "Satisfaction" is a great song to start, its a bit old school but a great rock and roll anthem non the less.
    Just about any nirvana or pop-punk song should do.. My vote goes for smells like teenspirit
    Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes. In 2003, everybody would learn this back in high school.
    First song I learned all the way through was Californiacation. Popular song, easy solo, a ton of fun to play and groove to. Also really basic, so when you grow as a guitarist, you can try and add your own flavor to it.
    Come as You Are
    A crimson ghost avatar and you vote nirvana? What about Where eagles dare? What about Halloween? What about skulls? Static age? Do your fellow fiends proud and vote some 'fits.
    Landslide by Fleetwood Mac is a great starter song for playing fingerstyle. I'm curious if all of the votes for "Nothing Else Matters" are talking about anything beyond the first few seconds of the song. Barre chords, 16th note rhythms, and pull-off licks all happen pretty early in the tune. Great song to learn, but definitely not one I would give to a beginning student right away.
    My Generation - The Who I work at a School of Rock and that's one we teach the 6 year olds
    I was playing Rocksmith 2014 and this song was on there. It was way easier than I expected and it's great choice for a beginner song.