If you’re a beginner on the acoustic guitar, there’s no better place to start than by learning some of your favorite songs. In the songs that follow, I’m sure you’ll find some artists and bands that you love and songs that you recognize.
All the songs are beginner-friendly and translate very well onto the acoustic guitar (most were originally played on acoustic when recorded).
To make learning the songs as easy as possible, I’ve also included chords, tabs, and video lessons for every song where available.
If you need more help learning acoustic guitar, check out my official guide post for doing so.
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).
I hope you enjoy this guide to The 30 Best Acoustic Guitar Songs for Beginners (with Chords & Tabs):
1. Waiting In Vain – Bob Marley
“Waiting in Vain” was written by Bob Marley and recorded by Bob Marley & The Wailers on their 1977 album Exodus.
Released as a single, the song went on to hit number twenty-seven in the UK Singles Chart.
I particularly like the rare 19-minute long acoustic version is available on YouTube.
2. Old Time Rock n’ Roll – Bob Seger
This song, perhaps Seger’s most famous, is a sentimentalized look back at the music of the original rock ‘n’ roll era. It has often been referenced as Seger’s favorite song.
The song gained renewed popularity after being featured in the 1983 film Risky Business.
Since then, it’s become a standard in popular music and ranked number two on the Amusement & Music Operators Association’s survey of the Top 40 Jukebox Singles of All Time in 1996.
3. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
“Sweet Home Alabama” is a song by the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd that first appeared in 1974 on their second album, Second Helping.
The song was released as the band’s second single.
The song was written in response to Neil Young’s “Southern Man”, which was released in 1970, because Young’s song took the entire South to task for the bloody history of slavery and its aftermath.
Young is name-checked in the lyrics to “Sweet Home Alabama”.
4. Glory Days – Bruce Springsteen
Springsteen’s “Glory Days” tells the tale of a man who now ruefully looks back on his so-called “glory days” and those of people he knew during high school.
The lyrics to the first verse are autobiographical, being a recount of an encounter Springsteen had with former Little League baseball teammate Joe DePugh in the summer of 1973.
5. You Are My Sunshine – Jimmie Davis
According to BMI, “You Are My Sunshine” has been recorded by more than 350 artists, and translated into 30 languages.
In 1977, the Louisiana State Legislature decreed that “You Are My Sunshine” would be a state song, to honor two-time governor Jimmie Davis.
6. Wild Thing – The Troggs
“Wild Thing” is a song written by American songwriter Chip Taylor, but popularized by the English rock band the Troggs.
The song was originally recorded and released by the American rock band the Wild Ones in 1965, but it did not chart.
The Troggs’ single reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and number two on the UK Singles Chart in 1966.
7. Free Fallin – Tom Petty
“Free Fallin’” is the opening track from American musician Tom Petty’s debut solo album, Full Moon Fever (1989).
The song was written by Petty and his writing partner for the album, Jeff Lynne, and features Lynne on backing vocals and bass guitar. The duo wrote and recorded the single in two days, making it the first song completed for Full Moon Fever.
“Free Fallin'” is one of Petty’s most famous tracks as well as his highest- and longest-charting.
8. More than Words – Extreme
“More Than Words” is a song by American rock band Extreme. It is the fifth track and third single from their 1990 album Pornograffitti.
It is a ballad built around acoustic guitar work by Nuno Bettencourt and the vocals of Gary Cherone (with harmony vocals from Bettencourt).
The song is a detour from the funk metal style that permeates the band’s other records.
9. Everlong – Foo Fighters
“Everlong” is a song by American rock group Foo Fighters. It was released in August 1997 as the second single from their second studio album, The Colour and the Shape (1997).
The song reached number 3 on the US Billboard Alternative Songs chart and the Canadian (RPM) Rock/Alternative chart.
It remains a signature song for the band.
10. Big Me – Foo Fighters
“Big Me” is the fourth single by the Foo Fighters from their self-titled debut album.
Released in the spring of 1996, the song became a crossover hit for the band on pop radio, when it reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay.
11. Franklin’s Tower – The Grateful Dead
Franklin’s Tower is one of the best songs off the Grateful Dead’s Blues for Allah album, a hallmark release for the band.
As Jerry Garcia said of the album: “We’re working on creating styles, rather than just being eclectic or synthesizing other styles. Thus, it’s a little bit more difficult, and considerably more experimental.”
The main riff of “Franklin’s Tower” was partly inspired by the chorus of Lou Reed’s 1973 hit “Walk on the Wild Side.”
12. Old Man – Neil Young
“Old Man” is a song written and performed by Canadian rock singer-songwriter and guitarist Neil Young from his 1972 album Harvest. “
The song was written for the caretaker of the Northern California Broken Arrow Ranch, which Young purchased for $350,000 in 1970.
The song compares a young man’s life to an old man’s and shows that the young man has, to some extent, the same needs as the old one.
James Taylor played six-string banjo (tuned like a guitar) and sang on the song, and Linda Ronstadt also contributed vocals.
13. Three Little Birds – Bob Marley
“Three Little Birds” is a song by Bob Marley and the Wailers.
It is one of Marley’s most popular songs and has been covered by numerous other artists.
The song is often thought to be named “Don’t Worry About a Thing” or “Every Little Thing is Gonna Be All Right”, because of the prominent and repeated use of these phrases in the chorus.
14. Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Bad Moon Rising” is a song written by John Fogerty and performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
The song has been recorded by at least 20 different artists, in styles ranging from folk to reggae to psychedelic rock.
In 2010, Rolling Stone ranked it No. 364 on its “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list.
15. Let It Be – The Beatles
“Let It Be” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, released on 6 March 1970 as a single, and (in an alternative mix) as the title track of their album Let It Be.
It was written and sung by Paul McCartney, and credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership.
It was the Beatles’ final single before McCartney announced his departure from the band.
16. Songbird – Oasis
“Songbird” is a song by English rock band Oasis, from their fifth studio album Heathen Chemistry, and is the first single by Oasis written by vocalist Liam Gallagher.
During an interview with The Matt Morgan Podcast, Liam’s brother and bandmate Noel Gallagher called the track a “perfect” song.
17. Perfect – Ed Sheeran
“Perfect” is a song by English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran from his third studio album, ÷ (2017).
The song and its official music video received three nominations at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards.
18. Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton
“Wonderful Tonight” is a ballad written by Eric Clapton. It was included on Clapton’s 1977 album Slowhand.
Clapton wrote the song about Pattie Boyd.
19. Let Her Go – Passenger
Let Her Go” is a song recorded by English singer-songwriter Passenger.
The song became a sleeper hit, achieving international success and topping the charts in many countries around the world.
20. Can’t You See – Marshall Tucker Band
“Can’t You See” is a song written by Toy Caldwell of The Marshall Tucker Band.
The song was originally recorded by the band on their 1973 debut album, The Marshall Tucker Band, and released as the album’s first single.
The song, musically, is a cross between country rock and Southern rock.
The lyrics are noted as being dark, reflecting heartache and “a man running as far away as he can to begin the process of healing himself”.
21. Stuck in the Middle With You – Stealers Wheel
“Stuck in the Middle with You” (sometimes known as “Stuck in the Middle“) is a song written by Scottish musicians Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan and performed by their band Stealers Wheel.
22. Give Peace a Chance – John Lennon
“Give Peace a Chance” is an anti-war song written by John Lennon (originally credited to Lennon–McCartney), and performed with Yoko Ono in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
It is the first solo single issued by Lennon, released while he was still a member of the Beatles, and became an anthem of the American anti-war movement during the 1970s.
23. What I Got – Sublime
“What I Got” is a song from American band Sublime’s self-titled third album (1996).
It was the band’s biggest radio hit, posthumously after singer Bradley Nowell’s death in 1996 from a heroin overdose.
It is ranked on the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine at number 83.
24. Two Tickets to Paradise – Eddie Money
“Two Tickets to Paradise” is a song by American rock singer Eddie Money from his 1977 self-titled debut album, Eddie Money.
It was released as a single in June 1978 and reached number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song has since become a staple of classic rock radio, as well as Eddie Money’s signature song.
25. High & Dry – Radiohead
High and Dry” was recorded as a demo during the sessions of Radiohead’s first album, Pablo Honey (1993), and remastered for inclusion on The Bends.
Two music videos were produced for “High and Dry”.
Tom Yorke said the lyrics were about “some loony girl I was going out with”, but became “mixed up with ideas about success and failure”.
26. Stir it Up – Bob Marley
“Stir It Up” was the first Bob Marley written song that became successful outside of Jamaica.
27. Teach Your Children – Crosby Stills and Nash
“Teach Your Children” is a song by Graham Nash.
The song first appeared on the album Déjà Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released in 1970.
The recording features Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar.
28. Working Class Hero – John Lennon
Lennon said of this song:
“I think it’s a revolutionary song – it’s really just revolutionary. I hope it’s about what Give Peace a Chance was about. But I don’t know – on the other hand, it might just be ignored. I think it’s for the people like me who are working class, who are supposed to be processed into the middle classes, or into the machinery. It’s my experience, and I hope it’s just a warning to people, Working Class Hero.”
29. Hotel California – The Eagles
“Hotel California” is the title track from the Eagles’ album of the same name and was released as a single in February 1977. Writing credits for the song are shared by Don Felder (music), Don Henley, and Glenn Frey (lyrics).
Joe Walsh came up with the dual-guitar descending arpeggio part that ends the song: he didn’t, however, get writing credits.
The Eagles’ original recording of the song features Henley singing the lead vocals and concludes with an extended section of electric guitar interplay between Felder and Walsh.
The song is considered the most famous recording by the band, and in 1998 its long guitar coda was voted the best guitar solo of all time by readers of Guitarist.
The Eagles have performed “Hotel California” 1,038 times live, the third most out of all their songs, after “Desperado” and “Take it Easy”.
30. Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
David Gilmour and Roger Waters have praised “Wish You Were Here” as one of Pink Floyd’s finest.
Roger Waters has noted that the collaboration between himself and David Gilmour on the song was “really good. All bits of it are really, really good. I’m very happy about it.”
David Gilmour has playfully called “Wish You Were Here” “a very simple country song” and stated that “because of its resonance and the emotional weight it carries, it is one of our best songs.”
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