If you're a beginner guitarist, learning chords, scale shapes and basic music theory is extremely important. However, it's just as important to start learning whole songs as soon as possible too.
Not only will it expose you to new chords and rhythms, but it will naturally teach you about music structure, melody and harmony.
Most importantly, learning new songs is fun, especially if you learn the songs you enjoy. There's no better way to stay motivated to learn the guitar than to have fun doing it!
In this article, we're going to look at 10 songs that are easy and fun for beginner guitarists to learn, as well as tips on how to play and remember new chords.
1. Bruno Mars – Just The Way You Are
While today Bruno Mars may be one of the biggest pop stars in the world, having won multiple grammies and played at the Super Bowl, it was this song that catapulted him to super-stardom back in 2010.
Comprised of just 3 different chords and an easy 4/4 strumming pattern, Just The Way You Are is an incredibly easy song to learn.
Bruno Mars Just The Way You Are Chords
The entire song repeats the same four chords in this order:
2. The Beatles – Love Me Do
The Beatles are arguably the greatest band of all time. During the 60s and 70s, they became a bona fide cultural phenomenon, dominating the airwaves and becoming one of the best selling groups of all time.
Main writing duo John Lennon and Paul McCartney are seen by many as the greatest pop songwriters of all time and Love Me Do is a great example of what made them so great.
The Beatles Love Me Do Chords
This simple song is made up of just 4 different chords, although the arrangement changes fairly often, giving you a good challenge:
3. Taylor Swift – Shake It Off
Taylor Swift has come a long way since she started her career as a country/folk singer. This Max Martin penned song became one of the biggest hits of 2014.
It is another very simple song, made up of just three different chords played in the same order from start to finish.
Taylor Swift Shake it Off Chords
Although the chord structures are simple, beginners can challenge themselves by trying to play the staccato rhythm of the verses before returning to the standard 4/4 strumming pattern of the choruses:
4. Radiohead – High and Dry
As one of the leading alternative rock bands of the late 1990s, Radiohead has constantly reinvented their sound throughout their 30+ year career.
This acoustic ballad, taken from their 1995 album The Bends, uses a lot of unusual chord shapes, which can seem intimidating at first.
Radiohead High and Dry Chords
Thanks to the song's easy arrangement and strumming pattern, it is a great way for beginners to introduce themselves to this kind of chords:
5. Maroon 5 – She Will Be Loved
One of the biggest hit songs of the mid-2000s, Maroon 5's She Will Be Loved is a great example of how to add lift to a chorus by using a new chord progression.
Maroon 5 She Will Be Loved Chords
Comprised of just 4 chords, this is a very easy singalong song perfect for parties or playing around a campfire with a travel guitar:
6. Blink 182 – All the Small Things
Alongside Green Day, Blink 182 became one of the biggest punk bands in the 90s and 2000s, helping make pop-punk one of the most popular rock genres of recent times.
Blink 182 All the Small Things Chords
While the song is very easy to play, using just 3 chords, beginner guitarists can challenge themselves by learning to play these chords as power chords and trying to match the fast, downpicked strumming pace:
7. Coldplay – Clocks
Lead by singer and main songwriter Chris Martin, Coldplay have become one of the most successful British bands of the century.
Coldplay Clocks Chords
Clocks was one of their earliest hits that helped establish them in America and is one of the more ambitious and complicated songs on this list. It's comprised of 6 different chords, with some unusual chord shapes to boot:
8. Foster the People – Pumped Up Kicks
In 2010 the previously unsigned and unknown band Foster the People exploded onto the global music scene with Pumped Up Kicks.
It became one of the most popular songs of the year, gaining them multiple accolades and awards.
Foster the People Pumped Up Kicks Chords
Composed of just 4 chords, it is another great example of how tying together different vocal melodies over the same chords can be an effective songwriting tool:
9. The Kingsmen – Louie, Louie
Louie, Louie is one of the most famous songs of all time, covered by everyone from The Kinks to heavy metal godfathers Motorhead.
The Kingsmen Louie Louie Chords
Although the song uses only 3 simple chords, it is very fast-paced, giving learner guitarists a challenge with speedy chord changes:
10. Daft Punk & Pharrell – Get Lucky
French electro-pop maestros teamed up with Grammy award-winning producer/singer/musician/songwriter Pharrell for Get Lucky, which became the top-selling song of the year.
Daft Punk Get Lucky Chords
Using only 4 different chords, it is a great example of how changing the chord progression while using similar chords can give choruses a big lift:
How to Learn New Songs Quickly – Easy!
There are a number of things new guitarists can do to speed up the learning process.
When I was a beginner, my guitar tutor showed me a great trick to learn new chords quickly and ensure you're fretting them correctly.
When you come across a new and challenging chord, first fret the chord and pluck each string to ensure it rings out clearly.
Then place your fretting hand palm down on your leg for 2 seconds before quickly refretting the chord shape.
Re-pluck the strings to make sure each note is played clearly and adjust any fingers in the wrong position.
Rinse and repeat until you can quickly re-finger the chord correctly every time.
Another good tip is to try and practise for shorter amounts of time, more regularly.
The human brain struggles to process a lot of information at once, so instead of sitting down for one super long guitar session each week, aim for 15 minutes twice a day, before and after work or school, for example.
Finally, one of the most important tips for new guitarists is to make sure their instrument is comfortable to play and appropriate for their size and skill level.
This will not only ensure that you find the instrument easier to play, which will help you learn faster and keep you motivated, but it will also help prevent tendonitis and other health issues that can arise from playing guitars that are too large or have very high actions.
We recommend looking for guitars designed with new learners in mind to find an instrument that is comfortable and easy to play.
Getting these chord shapes into muscle memory takes a lot of time and commitment, so don't feel disheartened if you don't learn them quickly – no new guitarist does!