It’s relatively simple to go from being a newbie to becoming an intermediate guitarist. Learn a few scales, chords, and songs, and you’re basically there.
But what should you learn once you’re an intermediate player? That’s a bit trickier.
The good news is, it’s common for almost everyone to feel this way and to hit plateaus along your journey as an intermediate guitarist. I want to make the process easier by recommending some of the best intermediate guitar songs!
These will help you further develop your skills and overcome guitar playing plateaus. I’ve also included chords & tabs to make them easier to learn.
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).
Also: you will need a capo to play some of these songs. If you don’t have a capo (or want to upgrade to a better one) here’s my favorite capo (on Amazon).
With that in mind, here are THE 20 BEST GUITAR SONGS FOR INTERMEDIATE PLAYERS:
Aerosmith – Walk This Way
Aerosmith is an American rock band from the ’70s that wrote this song about a schoolboy reminiscing his first sexual encounter with a high school cheerleader. The lyrics are electric, much like the guitar played in the song and the music itself.
Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight
Wonderful tonight is a ’70s favorite slow lovesong, famous on mixtapes and radios. Eric Clapton wrote this song in 1977 when waiting for his girlfriend (then future wife) to get ready and how he felt after he saw her.
This slow romantic song is a sure way to a girl’s heart, and the electrical chords are slow enough for you to learn and win your partner/crush’s heart.
Foo Fighters – Everlong
Everlong by Foo Fighters might be the best rock love song. Though born out of a painful breakup, it’s difficult to talk about “Everlong” without seeming overly sweet.
It’s a four-minute work of emotional turmoil, a sky-high chant to love as a cheering and clapping moment of bliss and tranquillity.
Jimi Hendrix – All Along The Watchtower
All Along the Watchtower is a song by Bob Dylan that appeared on his 8th studio album, John Wesley Harding, in 1967. Dylan wrote the song, which Hendrix later covered.
This song is about changing founded society, and it starts in the middle of a scene among 2 people (the Joker and the Thief) talking. The Thief sympathizes with the Jester, who wishes to break free from his life situation and despises societal norms and values.
John Mayer – Waiting On The World To Change
Mayer’s second studio album, Continuum, included the song “Waiting for the World to Change” (2006). This song portrays how most people on this earth deal with troubles.
When John sings, “Me and all my friends, we’re all misunderstood, say we stand for nothing, but there’s no way we ever could,” he’s referring to his generation’s lack of faith in the system – all we could do would be to wait.
It appears that everybody is waiting for the world to improve, but all we can do is sit back and watch as the political establishments seize power.
Led Zeppelin – Black Dog
“Black Dog” is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, and it appears as the first track on the group’s untitled 4th album (1971).
The guitar strumming in this song is quite simple for an intermediate player to get a hold of.
Led Zeppelin – Rock And Roll
Rock and Roll is one of the simplest songs by the English heavy metal band Led Zeppelin, and it was released in 1971 as the 2nd track from the band’s fourth album.
Since it had a more folk-inspired, gentle acoustic sound, the twelve-bar style of music song seemed to have lyrics that were delivered as a response to critiques that panned Led Zeppelin III.
The guitar playing is impeccable, proving why Led Zeppelin is one of the best.
Bon Jovi – Wanted Dead Or Alive
The power ballad Wanted Dead or Alive is by the American rock band Bon Jovi is from their 1986 album Slippery When Wet, and it’s THE song that began the “Unplugged” movement. Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora managed to perform this with just their acoustic guitars at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards, giving the system the concept for the “Unplugged” series.
This song is about the story of a rock star’s lonely life. Bon Jovi sings about performing in front of a large crowd. The track’s title alludes to Jon’s admiration for Old West heroes and how he recognizes them as both hated and adored, “wanted dead or alive,” so to speak.
Dave Matthews Band – Crash Into Me
Crash into Me is a song thought by many to be about worshipping women, but Matthews clarified that the song is all about a peeping tom or stalker observing a girl at night through a bedroom window.
The song appears to be very flirtatious, but a closer listen confirms that it is not the man you would like to make contact with. He’s madly in love with her but in a monomaniacal, creepy way.
Although the lyrics contain numerous red flags, this song is an excellent choice for an intermediate guitarist to learn.
Eric Clapton – Layla (Unplugged)
“Layla (Acoustic)” is the unplugged version by Eric Clapton from the album Unplugged released in 1992.
The song isn’t particularly difficult, but it could be challenging for a beginner. But, keep on playing. If you’re an intermediate player, you should be fine.
Eric Clapton – Tears In Heaven
Clapton’s Tears In Heaven is among the most heartwrenching songs, inspired by the tragic death of his son Conor, who died after slipping from a 54-story apartment building when he was 4.
The song was composed all through Clapton’s six-month sabbatical from music following the unfortunate event in 1991.
The track was released in January 1992, and the song contains 3 verses and a bridge.
James Taylor – Fire And Rain
James Taylor, a five-time Grammy title holder and legendary American folk-rock musician released the sentimental track “Fire and Rain” from his 2nd album “Sweet Baby James” in 1970.
Despite its commercial success, the song is incredibly emotional and private to Taylor. Taylor composed “Fire and Rain” in 1968, and it has 3 verses. The first is about a friend who passed away by suicide, the second is about Taylor’s opiate addiction, and the third is about a mental institution and a music group Taylor founded called The Flying Machine.
Jim Croce – Time In A Bottle
Jim Croce’s hit single “Time in a Bottle” was written after his wife, Ingrid, informed him she was pregnant in December 1970. After that, the single became a hit and remained one for 2 weeks in early January 1974; the album You Don’t Mess Around with Jim remained No. 1 for 5 weeks.
“Time in a Bottle” was used for the title for a mix tape of Croce’s love songs in 1977.
It’s not too hard to play this song, but extending your pinkie finger up to the 4th fret on the Am/G# is difficult. Aside from that, the chords aren’t difficult to play; however, there is a fair bit of them to memorize.
Kansas – Dust In The Wind
Dust in the Wind was released in 1977 on their album Point of Know Return. The track hit a peak at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the week of April 22, 1978, making it Kansas’ only top ten single in the United States.
Dust in the Wind is all about how life has no significance and how our aspirations and passions are meaningless. In terms of playing it, the song uses a Travis pick, and so do many other acoustic finger-picking songs. It’s presumably not as challenging to play as it starts to sound, so don’t be put off if you’re fresh to it; once you learn the primary sequence, it all should work out fine pretty quickly.
Led Zeppelin – Ramble On
“Ramble On” was ranked 440 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2010. The song was ranked fifth on Rolling Stone’s list of the 40 greatest Led Zeppelin tracks in 2019.
It was primarily inspired by the Lord of the Rings and is a deliberate reference to Frodo Baggins after his explorations in Mordor and other places.
This is easy to play for a mellow tune and requires a little energy. The fingerings will not give you too much struggle with a few adjustments.
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
Pink Floyd’s ninth studio album, Wish You Were Here, was released on September 12, 1975, by Harvest Records and Columbia Records. The title track is about Syd Barrett, Floyd’s original lead singer and chief songwriter, who left the band in 1968 after his physical and mental health and dependability started to deteriorate as a result of heavy drug use.
Trying to nail the rhythm for this riff may be difficult for you. Paying attention and listening to the original recording is the best way to learn this one. So consider giving it a few listens to get a sense of how it flows melodically.
Radiohead – Street Spirit (Fade Out)
(Fade Out) Street Spirit is a song by Radiohead, an English alternative rock band. It was released in 1995 as a closing song on their second studio album, The Bends.
Street Spirit, while a well-crafted, mournful melody with a depth of tonality and emotions, also strikes the heart with a sledgehammer’s might. Every plucked string creates a vortex of sheer despair, and the waterfall of emptiness does not stop until the concluding note.
The song is pretty simple to play in standard tuning, as long as you are comfortable using all your fingers!
The Beatles – Here Comes The Sun
The Beatles released “Here Comes the Sun” on their 1969 album Abbey Road. This is a song about hope and how everyone has difficult times and difficult moments in our lives, and some of these moments seem to last forever, like a long, lonely winter.
If you’re ever feeling low, The Beatles’ Here Comes The Sun is the way to go. This song has a soft tune and uplifts your day almost immediately, making you feel better and warm as if the sun had come. Along with being easy on the ears, this song is also relatively easy to perform on the guitar for its simpler and softer chords.
The Beatles – Yesterday
Yesterday is a sorrowful love song about the end of a relationship in which the singer missed the days when he and his love were together before she left over something he said.
McCartney constructed the entire melody in a dream in his house on Wimpole Street home with his girlfriend of the time; when he awoke, he dashed to a piano and performed the tune to remember it.
The Black Crowes – She Talks To Angels
“She Talks to Angels” is a song by the Black Crowes, released in 1990. Chris Robinson explained that the song was inspired by a goth he once knew, a heroin addict and that he composed a sad song while thinking of her.
He wrote about how she is painfully sad and lonely, carries a dark past with her, and only has the angels to talk to. The song depicts a symbol of goodness, love, and spirituality, implying that even though she is in a dark place, she still has a glimmer of hope and wishes for something good to happen.