Ever want to play some heavy metal songs and riffs on your acoustic guitar? While the acoustic will never have the same roar as the electric guitar, there are plenty of cool metal songs for acoustic guitar. We’ll be exploring some of the best heavy metal songs you can play on acoustic guitar in this article.
A few of these songs are played on acoustic guitar in the original recordings. Others are metal songs played on the electric guitar in typical fashion, but translate well onto the acoustic guitar. Either way, all of the following are some of the best acoustic metal songs to learn. I’ve included tabs and lessons where I could for each song to make learning even easier.
One final note before we get started: don’t forget to tune your guitar! These songs won’t sound right if your guitar is out of tune… If you need a great tuner, here’s my favorite clip-on guitar tuner (on Amazon).
Let’s get started and jump into the 12 best metal songs for acoustic guitar (with tabs & lessons):
Solitude – Black Sabbath
Technically, the studio version of Solitude uses an electric guitar. But the tone is extremely clean, and really the guitar is rather quiet. This makes it a great song to play on the acoustic guitar… Especially since it’s relatively easy.
As you’ll see in the links above, the song only uses two chords, so it’s one of the easier songs to play from this list. Since it’s a minor tune, it’s also a good change of pace, as acoustic songs tend to be overwhelmingly in major keys.
Voice of the Soul – Death
One of the most well-known metal tracks that feature acoustic guitar is of course Death’s Voice of the Soul. It’s a great example of how the acoustic can still capture the darkness and intensity that metal is known for.
The song is from the band’s Sound of Perseverance album – which was their seventh and final studio album.
Black Pearl – Black Label Society
Black Label Society is a good band to pay attention to for “unplugged” or acoustic metal. I saw the band live once and Zakk Wydle actually plays several songs just by himself on the piano. He also occasionally plays the acoustic guitar, as you can hear in the unplugged version of “Black Pearl” in the video above.
If you’re unfamiliar with Black Label Society, I often describe them as the modern Black Sabbath. Zakk actually played with Ozzy pretty extensively and you can definitely hear the influence in his own music.
Paranoid – Black Sabbath
Speaking of Black Sabbath, Paranoid is one of their best-known tracks. The fast pace of this one will be challenging to replicate on the acoustic, but it’s definitely doable as you can see and hear in the video above.
Wasting Love – Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden is known for their intricate guitar harmony parts and strong melodies. Wasting Love is a good example of this, and of the band’s better songs to learn on the acoustic guitar in my opinion.
The song does feature a lot more chords than many songs, but the chords are very simple and the song is not overly fast or complicated.
Snowblind – Black Sabbath
Snowblind is another great Black Sabbath tune to learn on the acoustic guitar. The chords are extremely simple, especially in the verse. This makes it easy to recreate the song on the acoustic.
You can hear an acoustic version of Snowblind above. If you haven’t heard it before, I also recommend listening to the band Sleep’s electric cover of Snowblind. It’s an excellent version.
Any Song By Ewan Dobson
Instrumental guitarist Ewan Dobson – originally from Toronto, Ontario – currently resides in New Brunswick. Having started his career by winning the 2009 Canadian Fingerstyle Guitar Competition where the prize was to record an album with Candyrat Records. As of late 2021, he has released a total of 17 albums. One of the highlights of his path was being a featured guest on two of Marty Friedman’s (ex-Megadeth) solo records.
The video that put Dobson in the Youtube limelight was “Time 2” released through Candyrat records, amassing over 31 million hits to date. The styles he has represented are video game inspired fingerstyle guitar, acoustic metal, and renditions of the legendary Italian violinist Niccolo Paganini on steel string guitar.
Dobson has toured Europe, Canada, USA and China multiple times. These days he resides next to the woods creating music as well as feeding a variety of wild birds by hand. Recently, Ewan published a video documenting what may be a record for most species of bird to land on a human hand, 25 species in total.
Skeletons of Society – Slayer
This was the first metal song I learned on guitar. I learned it on electric, but a few simple tweaks make it quite simply to play on the acoustic. To do so, I would recommend watching the cover above and using it to create your own acoustic interpretation of the song.
Often times I will learn the “electric version” of a metal song first, and then find some creative way to still make it sound good (yet quite different) on the acoustic guitar. Skeletons of Society is a great song to do that with.
Existence is Punishment – Crowbar
Crowbar is a “sludge metal” band – meaning many of their songs are slower in pace, and yet extremely heavy. This slower feel makes the songs excellent for acoustic guitar.
However, almost every one of their songs is in some form of drop tuning. So you may have to adjust your acoustic guitar accordingly.
Crazy Train – Ozzy Osbourne
Crazy Train is Ozzy’s classic song from the 80s. The song was Ozzy’s first solo single and went on to be one of his best-known and most recognizable songs from his solo career.
(Side note: an amazing solo Ozzy album is Bark at the Moon – it’s my favorite)
The Number of the Beast – Iron Maiden
The Number of the Beast is another one of those classic metal songs that you might think just wouldn’t be possible to recreate on the acoustic.
I actually play it almost exactly the same as the electric version of the song (lots of downpicking, power chords, etc) and find it sounds amazing. However, you can also get more creative than this, like the cover version in the video above. That video is a great example of how you can take these metal songs and really come up with your own original interpretation to make an acoustic version that is uniquely your own.
Beautiful Girls – Van Halen
One of the best tracks from the Van Halen II album, beautiful girls starts with some acoustic harmonics on the studio version. In the live version above, it is played entirely with acoustic guitar, and you can hear that the song still sounds great.
This is my choice if you’re wanting to learn a Van Halen song on the acoustic guitar (assuming you don’t want to tackle challenge the incredibly difficult Spanish Fly, of course).
Ready to Get Better at Guitar, Faster?
Whenever you’re ready to take your guitar playing to the next level, check out a few of my favorite resources below:
The Best Acoustic Guitar Strings – A unique polymer coating makes these guitar strings last for months or even years at a time, making for an exceptional value. They provide the perfect mix of boom, range, twang, and brightness that acoustic music is known for. — CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
The Best Acoustic Guitar – Beloved by everyone from Paul Simon to Gordon Lightfoot, the Martin D-18 is one of Martin’s most legendary guitars ever… It’s an excellent, premier quality acoustic guitar for bluegrass, country, folk, rock and more. This is also what I play myself — CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
Chords, Tabs & Video Lessons for 100 Epic Songs – This free guide that I created for fellow guitarists gives you chords, tabs, and video lessons for the 100 best songs to learn on guitar… I spent many hours putting this guide together to help you get better at guitar, faster. — CLICK HERE TO GET IT FREE
Fingerpicking vs Flatpicking Guitar – Learn which picking style is right for YOU by exploring examples, history, and popular players of each style. Discover essential techniques and pros and cons of each approach. — CLICK HERE TO GET IT FREE