Welcome to this jam packed beginner guitar lesson. In this lesson, I will be showing you how to play 3 easy guitar songs. This lesson is similar to one I wrote a couple of months ago. In that lesson, I showed you how to play 3 easy songs on guitar but the easy guitar songs in this lesson are aimed specifically at beginners. These easy guitar songs are all tremendously fun to play and with a bit of practice, any guitar player out there will be able to master them. Put on your strumming hats folks.
3 easy guitar songs in 1 lesson – before you begin
Before you move on, be sure that you meet the requirements of this lesson. In order to master the songs in this lesson, you’ll need to know the following.
You’ll need to know how to place your fingers in the correct positions for basic guitar chords. This is one of the first things a guitar player learns so if you haven’t done that yet, take a few steps back.
You also will need to know how to read guitar chord charts and you’ll need to have at least a basic command over changing from 1 chord to another.
Finally, you’ll need to have a basic understanding of strumming and knowledge of how to perform downward and upward strumming is a requirement. As is the ability to follow basic strumming instructions.
Why beginner guitar players should learn these 3 easy guitar songs
The main reason for learning how to play a song in guitar is usually because you like the song and you’d like to be able to play it. Well that’s the reason for me at least and perhaps that’s why many of you are actually here.
There are naturally other reasons for learning how to play songs on guitar, such as learnings songs for a cover band, but the beginners out there won’t be concerned with that just yet.
What will interest those who are newer to the guitar is the potential benefits of learning these easy guitar songs. Will learning these songs make a beginner a better guitarist? Yes, quite possibly.
All of the songs in this lesson will help with the following.
Strumming is one of the largest elements of rhythm guitar and guitar playing as a whole. It’s therefore imperative that you have a command over strumming. Learning these 3 easy guitar songs will allow you to practice your strumming in a musical way.
Improved chord changes
Having the ability to strum is frankly useless musically if you’re unable to change from chord to chord fluidly. This is one of the most difficult hurdles that beginner guitar players have to jump over and sadly many don’t get past it. The lesson I linked to above on practicing chord changes is enough to get people through this stage, but at some point, you have to apply those chord changes to music. These easy guitar songs are a great place to start the process of executing chord changing in a musical context.
Improved sense of timing
Timing is everything. Playing in time is a crucial part of music performance and the easiest way to get the hang of playing in time is by playing songs like these. Jamming along with the record and keeping in time with it will give you a dramatic boost to your sense of timing.
There are other benefits to learning the songs in this lesson but for the beginner, the above are the most important. Next, we will move on to actually learning the songs. We will tackle one at a time and by the end, you’ll know how to play 3 new easy guitar songs from start to finish.
There is one reason why you should learn these songs that I haven’t mentioned though which is worth pointing out. All of these songs are great. Everyone knows them and they’re all very enjoyable both for the performer and the audience alike. Let’s dive in.
3 easy guitar songs for beginners #1 Knockin’ on Heaven’s door Bob Dylan
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan was originally written for the soundtrack of the 1973 film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. It was released as a single shortly after the release of the film and it became a worldwide hit, reaching the top ten in multiple countries. The track became one of Bob Dylan’s most popular and it has been covered many times and by big artists too such as Guns N’ Roses and Eric Claption. Now it’s your turn to cover it.
3 easy guitar songs – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door guitar chords
The first thing that you need to know is the chords that are used in the song. There are only four in total and they’re all open chords that I’d hope you already know at this point. If not, check out this lesson here on the first nine guitar chords that guitar players should learn.
The G major chord that you see above maybe different to what you’ve already learned. I always recommend this shape of the open G major chord for efficiently of movement reasons but it’s ultimately up to you. If you’re used to playing a different open G major chord shape, you can continue to use that if you wish. Otherwise, give my version a try.
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door verses and choruses
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door has just two sections that you need to learn. Those sections are the verses and the choruses. Let’s start with the chorus sections.
The chords for the chorus sections are G / D / C / C. That’s one bar of G major followed by one bar of D major followed by two bars of C major. Simple right?
Next, the verses. The verses are slightly more complex than the chorus parts, but you’ll figure them out fairly quickly.
The verse parts alternate between two chord progressions.
G / D / Am / Am is the first chord progression and that is immediately followed by G / D / C / C. In other words, you play G major for one bar, D major for one bar, A minor for two bars, G major for one bar, D major for one bar and finally, C major for two bars. Alternate that for the whole verse.
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door Strumming
So you have the chords and you have the progressions required for the different sections. Now all you need to do is learn how to strum those chords.
The good news is that this is a track that you can groove to. You don’t have to always follow a rigid strumming pattern. That said, there is one that you can follow as a starting point and that strumming pattern is D D DU.
If we were to fit that into the 4/4 rhythm (4 beats per bar), the first downward strum would last for two beats, the second downward strum would last for one beat and the final two strums (down up) would last for half a beat each.
Like I said, this is a track where you can play with the strumming. I like to use the above strumming pattern for the first 2 bars in each chord progression and then play around a little more when I reach a repeated chord (the A minor or the C major).
Here is an image of the strumming pattern aligned with the beats within a bar.
The intro and the outro
The intro to Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door is simple. Just play the verse until the vocals kick in. At that point, you’re officially in the verse / chorus loop.
As for the outro, there’s a fade out. God how I hate fade outs. Keep it simple. Play the full final chorus through as normal and then end on one final downward strum of a G major chord. Easy.
1 down 2 to go.
3 easy guitar songs for beginners #2 House of the Rising Sun the Animals
The House of the Rising Sun is a traditional folk song. It tells the story of a person’s life gone wrong in the city of New Orleans. The most successful version recorded was from the year 1964 by the Animals. It reached number one in the UK, the USA and in Canada. We won’t be copying the Animals version today. We will be creating our own beginner friendly version that’s based on the Animals version.
House of the Rising Sun strumming pattern
As you can hear, the Animals version of House of the Rising Sun contains lots of arpeggio like picked chords. We’re not going to do that. Instead, we’re going to strum the chords. We’re going to use one single strumming pattern throughout and it looks like this.
D DUD D DUDU
This strumming pattern is easier to understand once you realise we’re using the 6/8 time signature. In other words, without going into music theory, we have six beats per bar. The best way to explain this is probably with an image as I did with the previous song.
As you can see, this is more complex than the previous song but hopefully you can see the logic there. Perhaps the first thing to do is count the bars along with the track in your head and see if you can get a feel for where the chord changes occur.
You can clearly see which strums last longer and which ones are shorter in this example and the one before. Getting a feel for rhythm and timing is one of the hardest hurdles to cross alongside getting the chord changes executed on time, so don’t be discouraged if this takes a little while to get your head and your hands around. Keep at it.
3 easy guitar songs – House of the Rising Sun guitar chords
We have the strumming pattern that we’re going to use throughout the song, but what are the chords? Well, here they are.
We have a similar set of chords to the previous song here but they aren’t exactly the same clearly. There’s five chords in total, including that pesky F major chord that many beginner guitarists have trouble with toward the beginning of their journey. For those of you which that applies to, the only way to overcome that issue is with practice.
House of the Rising Sun chord progressions
House of the Rising Sun has just three chord progressions that you need to learn.
The first progression looks like this.
Am / C / D / F / Am / C / E / E
The second chord progression for House of the Rising Sun looks like this.
Am / C / D / F / Am / E / Am / E
Finally, we have the third chord progression which is a modification of the previous one. It looks like this. It’s the same as progression two, but two bars have been cut off of the end.
Am / C / D / F / Am / E
If you can play those three chord progressions suing the strumming pattern above, you’re able to play the song. All you need to learn is the structure.
House of the Rising Sun arrangement
House of the Rising Sun will perhaps feel like it has a quite complex or confusing arrangement. The truth is, the arrangement is quite simple. We start with an introduction. That intro is simply a full play through of the second chord progression.
After that, a pattern emerges. You play chord progression one followed by chord progression three and finally, chord progression two. Keep looping the order of one three two and you’ll soon find yourself at the end of the track.
The outro does remove itself from that structure, but all you have to do is continue to alternate between the A minor chord and the E major chord. Do this for as long as you see fit then end on an A minor chord.
2 down, 1 to go.
3 easy guitar songs for beginners #3 Bad Moon Rising Creedence
Bad Moon Rising is a song written by John Fogerty and performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The track served as the lead single from their album Green River and was released in 1969, several months before the album. The song peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached number one on the UK singles chart and it was CCR’s second gold single.
Bad Moon Rising is easier than the previous entry. This is a nice fun one with just three chords. The chords are this.
3 easy guitar songs – Bad Moon Rising guitar chords
We have a new chord here with the A major chord which you may notice looks slightly different to how many play it. The notes are the same, but the fingers used to play it are different. Again, there are practical reasons for this. Feel free to either take my advice and play you’re A major open chords this way or ignore me and play it however you like. As long as you’re playing an open A major chord, you’re fine. You’ll also notice that I’m persisting with my open G major too.
Bad Moon Rising strumming pattern
Next, we need to learn our strumming pattern for Bad Moon Rising. The strumming pattern that I recommend is this.
D D UDU / D DU D DU
This is a strumming pattern that crosses two bars. If we link it with the beats like we did with the previous tracks, we end up with something that looks like this.
You can substitute the first bar or the strumming pattern for the DDU UDU strumming pattern if you wish.
Bad Moon Rising chord progressions
The first chord progression that you’ll need to learn is this, which we’ll refer to as chord progression one.
D / A, G / D / D
That’s D major for one bar, A major for half a bar, G major for half a bar, then D major for two bars. You’ll notice that the A and G chords fall on bar two which is where the strumming changed.
The second and final chord progression for Bad Moon Rising that you need to learn looks like this.
G / G / D / D / A / G / D / D
This is both easier and harder than the first at the same time. It’s harder because it’s longer and therefore harder to memorise but it’s easier because there’s no split bars.
Bad Moon Rising structure
We don’t need to go into the arrangement much here. All that happens is that the song alternates between the two chord progressions from start to finish, even in the instrumental section.
At the end, just finish on a D major chord.
The three easy guitar songs that we’ve looked at during this lesson are easy on paper but if you’re newer to the guitar, you won’t pick them up within a couple of minutes like more experienced guitar players will. If you’re a novice, the chances are, the songs in this lesson will take a great amount of time and practice to master. My word of advice is simply this. Keep at it. As long as you put in the work, you’ll get there.
House of the Rising Sun is the most difficult of the three and the Bob Dylan track is the easiest. With all three though, the hardest part for a newer guitarist to master will be the rhythm. It’s all about getting those chord changes in the right place and getting those strumming patterns in time with the track. You’ll be surprised just how much music you can play by getting those two fundamental elements of guitar playing to an intermediate level.
You can do it. Remember, Dedication and hard work. Oh, and, use your ears.
That about wraps things up for this lesson on easy guitar songs. These songs are ideal for the beginner guitarist but I know many of you will be past that stage and you’re here just to learn a few songs. If that’s you then check out these song tutorials which are aimed at the more intermediate guitar player.
Hello. My name is Ryan J Mellor and I play the guitar. I’m also the creator of Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat. I’ve ben a guitarist for many years and my guitar playing has been described as “above average”. My guitar and music knowledge is somewhat impressive but most importantly, I have a passion for creating great guitar and music related content.