24 of the greatest acoustic guitar intros in the history of the universe

Guitar Intros are a wonderful thing. A well-crafted introduction can provide a song with a huge chunk of its identity and serve as a hook. We guitar fanatics can think of oceans of great songs that have tremendously good guitar intros. Many times, these intros come in the form of a riff and many of the most famous of these intros are performed on an electric guitar but when you stop and think about it, there’re many great guitar intros that were performed on acoustic guitars too. When we think of the great guitar intros, the acoustic ones are often underappreciated so in this article, we will be looking at some of the greatest acoustic guitar intros of all time.

This list is in no particular order and the list is not exclusive so make note of the term “of the” in the title before emailing me to tell me about how I missed off guitar intro X or Y because I’ll definitely ignore you.

Now let’s dive right in with one of my personal favourites and an intro that was partly responsible for me picking up a guitar in the first place.

greatest acoustic guitar intros

Greatest acoustic guitar intros #1 Here Comes the Sun the Beatles

This is a long list of acoustic guitar intros and Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles is one of the best of the lot. I promise I will only say this once during this article but this is what an acoustic guitar is meant to sound like. George Harrison was never shy of an incredible guitar part and the intro to this song is one of his best moments. This intro is as warm, bright and pleasant as the sun itself.

Greatest acoustic guitar intros #2 More Than a Feeling Boston

Boston’s More Than a Feeling was the lead single from the group’s debut album and to say it’s a big song is probably an understatement and the strong and unrelenting acoustic intro more than holds its own. It’s a strong intro that refuses to be overpowered in one of the greatest rock songs of all time.  This is an intro that lets you know what you’re in for.

Greatest acoustic guitar intros #3 Solsbury Hill Peter Gabriel

The intro from Peter Gabriel’s Solsbury Hill is more than just an ear worm and a hook. It’s also delightfully clever and by far, the best acoustic guitar intro in the 7/4 time signature on the whole list. Sure, it’s the only intro in 7/4 on the list but that just makes it all the better because it has a uniqueness that none of the other entrants have.

Greatest acoustic guitar intros #4 Pinball Wizard The Who

acoustic guitar intros the who pinball wizard

Pinball Wizard is a 1969 song from The Who’s rock opera album Tommy and it features an acoustic intro that showcases just how many chords can be played with an F sharp bass note. Despite being described as a clumsy piece of writing by Townsend, Pinball Wizard is a successful and brilliant track with an intro that creates an interesting backdrop for the story that follows. Kinda feels like opening credits to an epic movie.

Greatest acoustic guitar intros #5 Hotel California The Eagles

We all know how iconic the song Hotel California by The Eagles is and the almost minute long guitar intro is a big part of why that’s so. The whole song is a musical masterpiece and a journey but that journey starts with the intro that does a great job of setting the mood. It’s an intro that paves the way for everything that follows, and we all know what follows.

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Greatest acoustic guitar intros #6 Wish You Were Here Pink Floyd

Wish You Were Here is the title track of Pink Floyd’s 1975 album of the same name. It’s widely considered to be one of the great classic rock tracks and it also features a longing and lengthy acoustic guitar-based introduction where you can close your eyes and listen to acoustic guitars singing like birds. This one is truly acoustic heaven if you ask me.

Greatest acoustic guitar intros #7 Crazy on You Heart

Crazy on You is a song by the band Heart and it comes from their debut studio album Dreamboat Annie from 1975. It was later released as a single and is considered one of the band’s signature songs and it’s easy to see why because that intro is in a class of its own. I’d go as far as to describe it as mind blowing. It’s completely off the wall and nuts. Definitely lives up to the first word of the song title.

Greatest acoustic guitar intros #8 Angie The Rolling Stones

The next entry takes us a couple of years further back in time to the year 1973. Angie was the lead single from The Rolling Stones album Goats Head Soup. I don’t know what goats head soup tastes like but the intro to this track has a delicate flavour to it. It’s not as big and flashy as some of the other entries but it has a certain tenderness and sensitivity to it. Beautiful really.

Greatest acoustic guitar intros #9 Scarborough Fair Simon and Garfunkel

Simon and Garfunkel aren’t exactly strangers to the odd piece stunning music and their Scarborough Fair recording is the perfect piece of evidence for that and the short but sweet intro sets the stall out early. Sure, this intro isn’t a big monster hook but it’s light and gentle and has a floaty magical feel to it that’s almost impossible to match. 

Greatest acoustic guitar intros #10 Good Riddance (time of your life) Greenday

I think I’m right in saying that Good Riddance (time of your life) by Greenday is the most contemporary entry on the list so far. It’s from their fifth album Nimrod and it served as the second single. The inro of this song (I can’t keep writing song titles with brackets) is just a few short bars, but in that short time, you hear an acoustic guitar sound that embodies this kind of music and it has a charming reminiscing feel to it. I look back on this guitar part fondly.

Greatest acoustic guitar intros #11 Mama I’m Coming Home Ozzy Osbourne

The names Ozzy Osbourne and Zak Wylde aren’t exactly the first that come to mind when you think acoustic intros and nor do they come to mind when you think power ballad but they do it well despite it not being their usual bag. The acoustic guitar intro In Mama I’m Coming Home starts with a lovely little lick and then becomes a calm and warming hook that draws you in instantly.

Greatest acoustic guitar intros #12 Give a Little Bit Supertramp

Give a little bit by your mum, I mean, Supertramp is one of those tracks that has more than one infinitely memorable hook. We have the chorus hook and then we also have the hook created on the guitar that we hear right at the start of the track. I love it when musicians take something simple and turn it into something iconic. That’s what this intro does. 

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Greatest acoustic guitar intros #13 Fade to Black Metallica

Okay, so I know that Fade to Black features electric guitar in the intro but that electric guitar is the meat in the sandwich composed with bread of the highest quality. The bread being the acoustic guitar that sits behind the lead. That worked right? The whole thing comes together nicely but that mysterious and creepy acoustic part holds things together at the start and it refuses to be outdone.  

Greatest acoustic guitar intros #14 Roundabout Yes

The acoustic guitar intro of Roundabout is much more than a meme. It’s an elegant and finely crafted piece of music that has me dangling on a string. The harmonics are sublime and cliff hanger licks are amongst the best I’ve heard on an acoustic guitar and then everything resolves so perfectly right at the end of the intro with that little part that we all know and love.

#15 Wonderwall Oasis

Wonderwall by Oasis is a song that in the UK at least, is right up there with Smoke on the Water and Sweet Child O’ Mine for songs that pretty much all guitarists learn. It’s that little chord progression that you hear right at the start which allows even the beginner guitarists to play something that people recognise right away. These chords are so simple but they’re hyper effective and almost hypnotic.

#16 Civil War Guns N’ Roses

Just like Fade to Black from earlier, the intro to the Guns N’ Roses track Civil war is loaded with more elements than an acoustic but once again, for me, it’s that acoustic guitar part that glues everything together and sets the tone and atmosphere/mood for the track and lays the foundation for what’s to come. This is an acoustic guitar intro that’s strong in the context of the mix and also as a stand-alone element.

#17 Fire and Rain James Taylor

Fire and Rain by James Taylor. Isn’t this what Game of Thrones was based on? Either way, I know it’s a 1970 song that was part of James’ second album Sweet Baby James and I know that it’s a song with an acoustic intro that I would best describe as very acousticish. It’s a word now. It’s not a big hook and it’s not a long intro but just like Here Comes the Sun, this is what an acoustic guitar should sound like. I know I said I’d only say that once but I don’t care, it’s my list.

#18 Behind Blue Eyes The Who

Behind Blue Eyes is a 1971 song from The Who’s fifth album Who’s Next and it’s also one of my favourite tracks by The Who. The intro isn’t the first thing that I think of when I reminisce about this song, but it does exactly what it needs to do. It’s short and it’s to the point but it also conveys the perfect amount of anguish and deep-rooted pain in just a few short seconds.

#19 Dust in the Wind Kansas

Oh yes. What a track this is and what an iconic guitar intro. This one is from the year 1977 and it was part of the band’s album Point Of No Return. The acoustic guitar intro in this one features that classic acoustic sound of picky picking mixed with a simple yet extremely effective and pleasant-sounding hook. It also has that deep and meaningful feel that we all love from these acoustic guitar parts. Very nice.

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#20 Fast Car Tracy Chapman

I don’t think anyone reading this would take exception to me saying that Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car is a track that contains one of the greatest guitar parts of all time. This one is definitely in the top handful of this list without question. The main guitar riff is used as an intro to the song and it’s repeated throughout yet it’s so good that it doesn’t become boring for one millisecond. Pure class.

#21 Hurt Johnny Cash

Hurt is a song that confuses me. It’s one of my favourite Johnny Cash tracks despite it not being all that “Johnny Cash” in sound. It’s an emotional and deep piece of music and yet at the same time, the first thing I often think of is The Hangover and perhaps most confusing of all is how the hell can such a simple concept for an intro become such a massive hook? Simple is often best.

#22 Crazy Little Thing Called Love Queen

acoustic guitar intros queen brian may

Here we have an entry from one of the best bands of all time and an acoustic guitar intro performed by one of the greatest guitarists of all time in Brian May. This one is right up my street. There’s nothing fancy going on here. This is purely grab the guitar and strum them chords and I love it. It’s upbeat, it’s performed with conviction and it has a very smiley and positive vibe to it.

#23 Blackbird the Beatles

Another entry from the Beatles is next, but are you really surprised? This one is from the White Album and it’s a true guitar masterclass. We all know how good the guitar is throughout this track and let’s face it, we probably knew after about half a second of our first listen. It’s warm, calm, soft, and instantly recognisable. It’s performed gently and it has a real delicate beaty to it. Like the first song from a baby bird.

#24 Stairway to Heaven Led Zeppelin

acoustic guitar intros stairway to heaven

So, one of these applies to you. A) you forgot about it. B) You knew it would turn up at some point. C) you thought I’d forgotten it or D) you thought I missed it off just to be edgy or something. No, I didn’t forget it and if you did, how dare you because Stairway to Heaven isn’t just one of the greatest songs of all time, it’s also a song with one of the greatest acoustic guitar introductions of all time. Perhaps even the best of the lot. It definitely gets my vote. Only one word can describe it. Good.

What next?

Thanks for checking out this article on some of the greatest acoustic guitar intros in the history of the universe. Do you like this kind of content? If so, you’re a list junkie. Go do something productive. Alternatively, you could cast your eye on these articles. 

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