Best Starter Songs for Guitarists

The results for best beginner rock track are just in, and it's a Top 15.

Best Starter Songs for Guitarists
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Another Friday, another UG Top 10! As you might remember, for this week's traditional Wednesday Question we asked you guys to name the best beginner song for all the aspiring guitarist out there. You brought up quite a few classics, so the list was extended to a Top 15.

And for all you smartypants, Animals as Leaders also made the list with "CAFO," they even reached No. 4 based on votes, but no, that's not a starter riff. Anyhow, on to the list!

15. Pink Floyd - "Wish You Were Here"

"Good basic chord changes done brilliantly" is what Mr third(-)eye had to say about this one, and we couldn't help but agree. Here's the link to chords or tab.

14. Weezer - "Island in the Sun"

Very basic, yet very effective - Weezer and "Island on the Sun" are up next (chords, tab).


13. Oasis - "Wonderwall"

Not sure you knew this, but "69% of people who learn this song on guitar will only know this song." Thanks to Elegitii for the stats. Learn the tune here - chords, tab.

12. Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Californication"

Both the riff and solo are easy to pick up on this one. The lyrical content is not the topic here, but "Californication" actually deals with the dark side of Hollywood, and is not just another laid-back tune as some might think (chords, guitar tab, bass tab).

11. Blink-182 - "All the Small Things"

It's hard to get more basic than this. Works like a charm though, learn to play it here - chords or tab

10. Cream - "Sunshine of Your Love"

Simple, yet very, very tasty. Tasty enough to make rock history books. Tab here, chords here.

9. AC/DC - "Back in Black"

It's worth noting that "TNT" also took a lot of votes, but "Back in Black" it is. In general, AC/DC is just one of those awesome starter bands, whether it's for guitar players or guitar fans. Learn to chug the tune here.

8. Judas Priest - "Breaking the Law"

Simple, melodic, perfect for your first scale rundown. Tabs here

7. Green Day - "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)"

Another song that caught a lot of attention was "Brain Stew," but "Time of Your Life" emerged as the Green Day representative. Check out how to play it - chords, tab.

6. Metallica - "Enter Sandman"

Maybe "Nothing Else Matters" would be a better fit, but "Enter Sandman" it is! Check out the tab.

5. Ramones - "Blitzkrieg Bop"

Back to the punk realm, it's the Ramones and "Blitzkrieg Bop." Also, funny how Sex Pistols weren't even suggested in comments. Ramones tab here.

4. Black Sabbath - "Iron Man"

"Paranoid" also fetched quite a few of your votes, but "Iron Man" still emerged as the victorious Sabbath representative. Zappo the UG user nicely pointed out this one: "The main riff yes... but as a whole song I'd recommend 'Paranoid' over 'Iron Man.'" Would you agree with Zappo? Oh yes, tab.

3. The White Stripes - "Seven Nation Army"

Kicking off the Big 3, it's one of those all-time classics that just stun you with simplicity (chords, tab).

2. Nirvana - "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

Nirvana were actually the most successful band in the vote, seeing that both "Come as You Are" and "Lithium" also scored a hefty amount of votes. However, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is No. 1 (view tab). 

1. Deep Purple - "Smoke on the Water"

We'd honestly be surprised if this wasn't the No. 1 track for this week. Here's a neat fact - Ritchie Blackmore actually got the inspiration from the opening of Beethoven's "5th Symphony." As the guitarist explained, he just took the intro and played it backwards. Anyway, tab for the songs is here.

167 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    theclassicrock
    Smells Like Teen Spirit gave me a lot of trouble when I was starting out because of the muting.
    TomM96
    Same, Smells Like Teen Spirit is actually quite difficult for starter guitarists to get the song right, as you need a fairly good strumming technique in order to do it properly. It's kinda funny how it's often associated with beginners but I've never ever heard a good full-band cover of it
    triface
    Because nobody focuses on it long enough to really learn it... "Oh awesome my intro sounds exactly like the song [it doesn't]. Time to move on to Metallica!"
    third(-)eye
    One of the first songs I learned was Toxicity by SOAD, had the same issue.
    CJSchecter96
    one of the first I learned was welcome home by coheed and cambria and lets just say there were a lot of issues for a few weeks haha, I eventually mastered it though.
    vikkyvik
    Always thought "About a Girl" was the easiest Nirvana song to learn. Certainly the first one I learned. "Come as You Are" was probably the 2nd.
    RedLabelRecords
    Same here until I heard it on a bootleg an e realized he doesn't worry about them at all. That goes for many songs. Heading them live reminds me not to sweat the small stuff.
    Shreddaboi12
    I remember learning this when I was starting out and I focused more on the chordal movements first before the strumming pattern. I think it's a great starter song to get your hand moving around the neck.
    crazyhorse174
    I learned Bullet with Butterfly Wings last night and it was also a piece of piss. And I'm universally awful on the guitar.
    siamesedream777
    Cherub Rock is pretty hard though
    triface
    When you play it though, it feels pretty bitchin'. Only issue for me is the sound effects (or however he makes his solo sound like that).
    woody182
    As if Dammit by Blink-182 wasn't up there. Every pop punk fan in the world learned that as soon as they started playing guitar
    DanTheHobbit
    Definitely. I worked at a local music shop throughout uni, and that was one of the most-attempted songs.
    seance
    Yeah, a lot of millennials starting playing guitar almost solely because of Blink 182.
    Josh100_3
    Can actually say that throughout my years of Guitar I did indeed learn every damn one of these songs. Well played UG
    KerryKing01
    But do u no angel of deth? u r not a trve gutar player till u hav dat mastered!
    metallideth88
    Angel of death....from the laserated sky!!!!! Bleeding in Orror! Angel of death!!!!! *Plays modem connecting to internet solo*
    chyld fan
    yea ok, whos this Kerry king??? didn't he quit the music seen yrs. ago to go and make Mexican fenders????? What a hack
    azrael667
    Half of these songs have solos that will frustrate every newbie and even slightly advanced players. Sorry UG users, that is not a good list.
    MattHessing
    You're not a good list!
    BlackRose93
    You know,you can always learn the rhythm section and play that during the solo.
    azrael667
    That's a cop out.
    acdcfan34
    You're a cop out.
    azrael667
    You're all just downvoting me because you can't play a single song in full. Oh and remind me, how many guitarists do Deep Purple and Black Sabbath have? Hint: there is no rhythm guitar during the solos.
    BlackRose93
    The highest rated guitar pro tab for Smoke on the Water on UG has a rhythm guitar tabbed out.I'm too bored to search if the actual song has a rhythm guitar recorded,but usually bands with one guitarist record a simple rhythm section during the solo,even if it doesn't end up being played live.And for the record I know how to play a good amount of songs start to finish.We downvote you because you are wrong.
    aerosmithfan95
    Actually, he's right, you know. When learning a FULL song, you learn every part of it. You learn the solo as well as what's played UNDER the solo. If you ever jam with a friend, you'll need to know the rhythm section under the solo. I mean, if two guitarists are playing Sweet Child, I'm sure they won't both be soloing at the same exact time.
    BlackRose93
    I don't disagree completely with that,but sometimes you don't need to learn a full song.Let me explain:In my music school there used to be another guitarist with whom I played with during a portion of my class.We were on about the same level but our music tastes were really different.However when one of us was to learn a solo the other one would learn the rhythm to accompany them.There was no reason for us to learn each other's solos because you know,we had our own material to focus on.And while obviously learning the rhythm isn't as hard as learning the solo it can still teach you very important things. Now back to the topic.Don't forget we are talking about begginers here.A begginer doesn't have to learn a solo because that's way too early for him to do so and can cause more harm than good.He can still learn by playing rhythm.He can always come back later when he has developed better technique to learn the solo and "complete" the song. And as I said earlier what's the difference between learning a "sololess" song and learning one that has,but playing the rhythm instead.You still end up learning the same thing basically.
    HitmanJenkins
    Agreed, if there's two guitarists then they should learn their respective parts, there's not much need to learn everything unless the other guitarist can't play the gig for whatever reason or you're the only guitarist in the band. I'm in a covers band where I play mostly rhythm guitar and the other guy plays lead, but there are some occasions where I do have a lead or two. I actually didn't bother that much with learning how to solo until I started doing my A Levels and even then I can only solo over certain styles. I can't shred or play really complex solos to save my life, but you can count on me when it comes to some Jazz, Blues or a really melodic Rock solo, especially when there's a lot of room for improvisation.
    third(-)eye
    I've always felt like solos were meant to be customizable and individual to the performer. I'd only copy someone else's solo note for note if it was really iconic.
    Izzy-Sweet
    Yes, because all newbie guitarists learn solos right away...
    azrael667
    Umm yes? The worst thing you can teach a newbie is that it's okay not to learn the whole song.
    BlackRose93
    You learn,or better you develop good techique through exercises.And you learn songs to cover the thing exercises can't: Playing music.ANY music that you learn to play is beneficial,newbie or not.Even if it is just two bars it's still better than nothing.
    azrael667
    That way you'll just end up knowing hundreds of riffs but never a full song. Start what you finish. There's nothing worse in music than an unfinished song.
    BlackRose93
    Say's who? And as I said you can always play through the whole song just by playing the rhythm guitar when the solo comes.It is no different than choosing to learn an easy song that doesn't have a solo.
    BlackRose93
    Say's who? And as I said you can always play through the whole song just by playing the rhythm guitar when the solo comes.It is no different than choosing to learn an easy song that doesn't have a solo.
    Izzy-Sweet
    I hope you don't teach guitar, I can't think of anything that would make someone quit more than being forced into solos when learning their first 4-chord song.
    Thrash Addict
    Id like to see a newbie nail the Back in Black solo, I nominated Highway to Hell for a reason lol
    Theophillis
    I agree. Absolute beginners trying to play the bends in the rhythm part of Back In Black,....? THIS is why guitar teachers need training.
    THE BULGE
    I agree, Smoke on the Water is rarely played correctly by anyone I have heard in guitar stores etc. If you listen closely the timing is always out.