Ten Songs to Help Teach Yourself Guitar
- By Claire Foley -
I’ve been playing guitar for almost two years now, and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Playing guitar has served me well as a creative outlet, stress release, and even as a way to make friends and become part of communities I otherwise wouldn’t have joined. For many, learning a new instrument may seem like a distant or impossible goal, but I promise that with the help of the internet and maybe a friend or two who can give you tips, it’s absolutely possible. So, I’ve put together a list of ten songs that will guide you on your journey to teach yourself guitar!
Who’s Got The Crack - The Moldy Peaches
One of the first songs I learned on guitar, "Who’s Got The Crack" is the perfect beginner song because of its simple and repetitive chords and strumming pattern. The group who wrote it, The Moldy Peaches, is a great resource for just getting into guitar, because they have several other songs like this one that are extremely simple and easy to learn (you might know their song "Anyone Else But You" from the movie Juno).
Sad 2 - Frankie Cosmos
(Last song on the album)
It is a fact that I would not have learned guitar without Frankie Cosmos. I could have easily made this article “Ten Frankie Cosmos Songs That Will Teach You Guitar.” Greta Kline’s songs are perfect for a beginner, but many of her songs teach you valuable skills and introduce you to new tricks along the way - as well as just being really fun to play. "Sad 2" is a great early song to play because the chords are simple, there’s more of them than in "Who’s Got The Crack", and it has a more deliberate strumming pattern. I strongly recommend that if you like this song that you check out other Frankie Cosmos chords.
Proud - Alex G
With Alex G’s "Proud", we begin to notch up the difficulty a little bit. As well as having some more complex chords,"Proud" will allow you to dip your toes into the water of incorporating picking with your strumming.
Let Her Go - Mac DeMarco
I’ve included "Let Her Go" in this guide because while it is pretty simple, it contains some new chords as well as a super fun riff for you to learn!
Lights Out - Angel Olsen
If you’ve made it this far, "Lights Out" is going to look like a piece of cake. But, there’s a twist! While this song contains almost exclusively simple and repetitive chords, it will be introducing you to your first barre chord! Barre chords may come easily to you, or may be extremely challenging, but once you start to get the hang of them you’ll enter a new chapter of learning guitar and be able to play a much wider variety of songs.
Cool And Refreshing - Florist
Cool And Refreshing is a beautiful song that will give you practice with an intro riff, as well as simple barre chords.
NMSS - Elvis Depressedly
Elvis Depressedly’s "NMSS" is a unique song in this guide because it contains only picking. It is fairly basic, but also will incorporate some finger movement techniques that might be familiar to you from "Let Her Go."
Headsgiving - Porches
Headsgiving by Porches is going to ratchet up the difficulty again, because not only does it contain a repetitious and little more complex of a riff, but also several barre chords in a row. It also has tricky strumming patterns at times, but with patience and practice you’ll get it! (I find that if I’m having trouble with a song, taking a break and coming back to it later helps.)
Out of the Woodwork - Courtney Barnett
"Out of the Woodwork" is another super fun song because not only will it give you good practice with barre chords and faster chord changes, but it also is a dynamic song that doesn’t stay in one place.
Leonie - Frankie Cosmos
Did I mention that I love Frankie Cosmos? "Leonie" is one of my all time favorite songs to play on guitar, and it was a long time coming because when you’re just learning, this song isn’t easy. It’s full of barre chords and fast chord changes, but learning this song will be so rewarding and a great show of how far you’ve come as a musician.