In this lesson, I will be showing you how to play 3 easy guitar songs. This guitar lesson was inspired by another lesson that I wrote recently where I teach you how to play Hey Ya by Outkast. That’s a song that utilises the same simple chord progression from start to finish.
One of the cool things about that song, aside from the interesting usage of time signature changes, is that you can learn it very quickly. That lesson shows you how to add a really well known track to your repertoire in just a few short minutes.
Hey Ya isn’t the only song which fits that criteria. The 3 songs that I’m going to teach you in this guitar lesson are exactly the same as Hey Ya in that you can learn then very quickly. Follow the guidance below and you’ll be playing these easy guitar songs in no time at all.
The songs that we will be learning are Sing by Ed Sheeran, Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke and Paperback Writer by the Beatles. These songs all have a different vibe and they’re all great fun to play on both acoustic and electric guitar.
Easy guitar songs part 1 DISCLAIMER
This is a lesson that contains instructions for 3 songs. This is different to my normal approach of teaching just 1 song in depth. This is just something that I’m trying out. Expect the guidance to be less detailed and more to the point.
Easy guitar songs #1 Sing by Ed Sheeran
The first of our easy guitar songs that we’re going to learn is a song by the ginger Ed Sheeran called Sing. Sing was produced by Pharrell Williams who also provided backing vocals for the track. It was released in the year 2014 and was the lead single from Sheeran’s second studio album which was named after the year in which it was released. The song topped charts in multiple countries and also reached the top 20 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
This Ed Sheeran hit is based around just two chords. These chords are the A flat minor chord and the D flat minor chord. Here are the shapes.
Sing by Ed Sheeran guitar chords
Now that you have the chords, let’s discuss the structure. Sing opens with a 4 bar intro of A flat minor. The rhythm of that section is simple enough and you should be able to pick up where to play the chord by simply listening to the track.
The rest of the song follows the exact same chord progression without deviation and that chord progression is this.
Sing by Ed Sheeran chord progression
A flat minor / A flat minor / A flat minor / A flat minor
D flat minor / D flat minor / D flat minor / D flat minor
The track concludes at just under 4 minutes at the end of a loop of that progression. Knowing the chord shapes and the progression combined with that little intro at the start means that you know how to play Sing by Ed Sheeran on guitar.
Sing by Ed Sheeran rhythm and strumming
The above is probably enough to get most of you through the track easily as many will be able to play a similar rhythm by ear but some extra guidance won’t hurt.
To play this song, all you need to do is strum based around 16th notes, incorporate a percussive feel and utilise a few hammer ons with the chords. There are points in the song where you may want to be more specific and copy the original but generally, as long as you follow the same feel, you can just have fun with this track, experimenting where to me more percussive and where to let the chords ring more.
Another tip is to develop your own specific strumming patterns for the verses and choruses rather than just improvising the strumming throughout. It’s easier to get lost in this progression than you think.
Sing by Ed Sheeran on guitar – technical guidance
So, I mentioned a couple of things before. Firstly, hammer ons with the chords. I’m not instructing you to add extra notes to the chords via hammer ons here. We’re just using the notes already there. To do this, instead of placing all the fretting fingers into their position, position just the full barre and then hammer on the other notes afterwards simultaneously. I love this approach to rhythm, and you can hear Ed doing it in the recording also.
The other two instructions I mentioned were to base your strumming around 16th notes and to incorporate a percussive feel. Firstly 16th notes. For those who aren’t knowledgeable about such things, 4 16th notes will fit into each beat of the bar. In terms of strumming, that would be “DUDU”, X4 per bar.
I’m not saying to do that throughout the whole track necessarily, but generally base your strumming around that theme.
Incorporating a percussive feel can be achieved by simply lifting the fretting fingers off the strings so that the strings are muted during the strumming. Most would have experienced that already. It’s just a matter of experimentation. Palm slaps can also be used to great effect.
Sing by Ed Sheeran on guitar is all about playing along to the track and locking into that rhythm with your strumming. After playing through it with the record a few times, you’ll start to get a feel. This is one that you can really get into and have fun with so go give it a try.
Easy guitar songs #2 Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke
Easy guitar songs #2 Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke
Next up, we have Blurred Lines, a song by American singer Robin Thicke. Blurred Lines also features American rapper T I and, just like the previous entry on the list, Pharrell Williams who produced the song. Again, like the previous entry, Blurred Lines served as a lead single, this time for Colin Thicke’s 2013 album entitled 2013.
Blurred Lines is a song that came under a lot of criticism for its perceived subject matter, but it was a huge success commercially, topping the charts in over 20 countries and reaching the top 5 in more. It certainly had staying power. Blurred Lines would remain at the top of the Billboard 100 for 12 consecutive weeks. It would also become one of the best selling singles of all time and break the record for largest radio audience in history.
Blurred Lines also isn’t a song that comes to mind when you think of guitar songs. That’s partly why it’s here. Another couple of reasons why it’s here is because it’s really fun to play and fairly easy to learn. It’s all about the groove. Let’s learn it.
First of all, we have the intro. Nice and simple, just play the G note on the third fret of the low E string 3 times. It comes before that “everybody get up” line. Intro complete, congratulations. Keep the notes short like the song, don’t let them ring out.
Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke guitar chords
The chords are once again simple. Everything is based around two chords. The G7 chord and the D7 chord. Here are the shapes that we’re going to use.
You can quite easily play this with just the two chords, but you could also throw in a C7 a, a Db7 and a Gb7. These are used for a kind of walking / sliding function. The shapes are the same, so we don’t need to show them on the chart.
These chords are similar to the chords from the Ed Sheeran song we just looked at in that they’re a 6 string barre chord moving to a 5 string barre chord but we’re obviously using dominant chords now rather than minor chords.
Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke chord progression rhythm and strumming
Blurred Lines is based around the concept of moving from G7 to D7 in 4 bar chunks, again kind of like the previous entry. This is effectively the chord progression so writing it down isn’t necessary. What we need to think about instead is the groove of the track and how we’re playing the chords.
You can play this track on guitar in a similar way to how I taught the song Valarie. Kind of with a ska off beat approach. The chords are generally played as 8th notes on the “ands” between the beats, in a sharp staccato fashion.
Adding extra spice
In my opinion, playing straight off beat staccato chords is fine but fairly generic. What we want to do is spice things up a little. We’re going to incorporate those other chords I mentioned earlier by using them to approach the main chords of the track. This is easier to convey in an example rather than writing but don’t take this example as a set instruction as such.
Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke rhythm guitar example
You don’t have to do it like this. This is simply me trying to sandwich all the ideas into one example. You don’t necessarily need to include that C7 in every loop for example. You could slide in like I do with G7 and you certainly don’t want to be using that riff at the end of every loop. Just play to the song and get a feel for it.
This is pretty much all the info you’ll need for this one. All you need to do is jam to the recording and get the hang of it. Like I said, all about the groove. Use your ears.
Easy guitar songs #3 Paperback Writer by The Beatles
Yes I stole it from Vivo. Sue me. Paperback Writer by the Beatles is the final song for today. This one is credited to Paul McCartney and John Lennon but was primarily the work of Paul. It was released in the year 1966 and reached number one in multiple countries including the UK and US. The subject matter of the track is said to have come from the feedback of McCartney’s aunt who had challenged him to write a song that isn’t about love. The lyrics of the song are in the form of a letter. The letter is from an aspiring author to a publisher.
Before we look at how to play Paperback writer on guitar, I’d just like to let you know that I’ve already written 2 Beatles guitar lessons for Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat. There’s a lesson on Come Together and also 8 Days a Week. Be sure to check those lessons out if you’re a Beatles lover. For now though, let’s take a look at Paperback writer.
Just 2 sections
A riff and a couple of chords. That’s all there is to Paperback writer. It happens to be an extremely awesome riff, but that’s all we need to learn, two parts.
The TAB below shows the main guitar riff and also the small variations that are used during the song. Listen out for where the variations occur.
Paperback Writer by the Beatles guitar riff TAB
Paperback Writer by the Beatles guitar riff variation 1
Paperback Writer by the Beatles guitar riff variation 2
The other part that we need to learn is the rhythm section. The rhythm section has a nice rock n roll feel to it and is based around just two chords, a G and a C. You can see the TAB below.
Paperback writer by the Beatles rhythm section TAB
You don’t have to follow the TAB for the rhythm part exactly. You can play with it a little as long as you remain locked into that groove and you execute the chord changes at the right time. There is also the option of incorporating full G major or G7 barre chords as well as full C major and C7 barre chords so you can do that if you wish but I prefer to do it like I showed you in the TAB.
Structure / Arrangement
On another structure / arrangement related matter, it’s worth mentioning the pace of the track because that’s where your only issue is going to come from. Sometimes, the transitions from part to part are quite fast and at these points, it is easy to slip up and make a mistake. This isn’t anything that can’t be tackled with a little practice.
Easy guitar songs part 1 conclusion
Like I said earlier, this multiple songs in 1 lesson concept is just something I’m testing out. A part 2 will definitely follow though at some point because I found this really interesting. As for the songs themselves, I think you have a set of really enjoyable tracks there. Tracks that are enjoyable to play on guitar and also, enjoyable to listen to from an audience perspective.
It’s very possible that with this lesson, you can add these 3 easy guitar songs to your repertoire in less than an hour. Or at least, that’s the idea. Have fun.
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.