When you’ve just started learning to play guitar, it can be easy to get to a point where you ask yourself “what song should I learn next?”
Here are 10+ rock songs that sound great and aren’t that difficult to play. If you’re a rock player and you’re looking for something new to sink your teeth into, have a look through here and see if there’s something you haven’t tried yet!
Breaking the Law – Judas Priest
One of Judas Priest’s best known songs is also one of their easiest to play. It’s a mid-paced rocker that opens with a single note line, and has some sparsely arranged power chords ringing out through the verses and the bridge. The choruses consist mostly of some very simple palm mutes, and playing through this part will be a helpful basis in the technique for most anybody, but particularly for people who want to delve further into hard rock and metal. 3 decades on this song remains tough and authoritative, and yet extremely accessible and infectiously catchy.
Roll Over Beethoven – Chuck Berry
One of the classics from the birth of Rock. The lead licks in the introduction here will seem extremely familiar to you even if you’ve never really listened to this song a lot before – this is because big-name guitar players have been borrowing from them for decades, and still do today. This song has 3 chords.
Born to Lose – Johnny Thunders
A classic ode to alienation and life in the big city with rhythm guitar patterns that recall boogie blues and early rock and roll. This song has 2 chords in the verse and 2 chords in most of the chorus. Things get slightly more complex with a 3 chord turnaround on the vocal hook. The chord progressions in this song are rock and roll staples so learning this song will help with a lot of others too.
Look What the Cat Dragged In – Poison
A great little 3 minute rocker about the wear and tear of dirty living. This has a great, mid-paced palm muted riff in the verses, and some open chords leading into the chorus. Warning: the solo on this is rather difficult and contains some fast alternate picking phrases that are really quite a lot for a beginner to tackle. But if you skip learning the solo, it’s a very easy song so I’ve still included it in this list.
Satisfaction – Rolling Stones
It’s hard to think what to say about this song, because there really just isn’t that much to it. Most of the song is just a 3 note vamp, repeated through out. Only the verses have a little more going on in them, and even that isn’t that much. And yet, it remains one of the most iconic statements in modern music – this really has to be one of those that brings meaning to the phrase “less is more”
Wild Thing – Originally by The Troggs, written by Chip Taylor
This song has 3 chords, and.. umm.. that’s about it? One of the most recognisable 3 chord songs ever written. Well okay, there might be an extra one in the verse. Be sure to get the rhythm down properly, or you’ll end up play Louie Louie.
House of the rising sun – The Animals
This song was originally an american folk song, but it’s The Animals version with the brilliantly arranged open chord arpeggios that I’m recommending here. It’s at a relaxed pace and has 5 chords throughout.
Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
One of the most recognisable riffs can be a little intimidating at first, but there’s actually not too much to it. Just learn to palm mute the root note and play through the chords – then learn the lead-in patterns in between the chords one by one. There is a single note line in the first verse, repeated again just before the third verse, but even that’s not too hard. This is a great song to learn to inject some groove into your playing.
Touch too much – AC/DC
This is one of the easier AC/DC songs out there, and while it isn’t one of the most widely known, it is one of the best. It mostly consists of open chords that are left to ring out – other AC/DC songs tend to involve a lot of muting, and while they’re often not spectacularly complicated, they do need to be delivered very tightly and precisely to sound convincing, which can make them frustrating material for complete beginners to learn with. The solo in this is one of the easier Angus Young guitar solos to play – and like Chuck Berry, Angus Young is a player whose lead licks can often come in handy later on.
Hey Joe – Jimi Hendrix
5 open chords covers this whole song. When you’ve got those down, you can add the short and simple intro and turnaround licks. The last bit to learn then is the ingenious ascending chromatic that follows the chord changes. You could try learning the solo as it’s recorded, but even better is just to make one up on the spot – after all, Jimi did exactly the same thing when he played this song. This song is a great one to improvise over. You can improvise over the whole thing with a simple E blues scale, and you can also use the chord progression to explore lead lines that start in an E natural minor and then move to an E major or mixolydian over the last chord of the progression. If that last sentence didn’t make any sense to you at all, don’t panic – this is good song for players of all levels.
Sin City – AC/DC
This song has the same 4 chord riff in the verse and the chorus.. the right hand just hits the chords a lot harder and the left hand lets them ring in the chorus. During the verse, just hit the strings a little softer, and remember to mute the chords. The prechorus is the only bit where you have to move to a different progression.. but that is just one chord hammered repeatedly, and then another one, and from there it’s back to the chorus. There is a half beat feel against the drums in this song.. this sound is common to most AC/DC songs, and to a lot of hard rock songs generally. The rhythm might seem a little counterintuitive to start with, but just count your way through the bar and pretty soon it will be easy. The solo on this is far from easy, but apart from that the song is about as simple as it gets.
Heading out to the highway – Judas Priest
The palm muted intro/turnaround riff here is about the most difficult thing in the song. Most of the song is just some slamming power chords held for several beats. The lead parts in this song are very simple, but incredibly tasty. You get bonus points for learning both parts of the twin guitar harmony.
Sunshine of your love – Cream
The riff to this song is the first thing that a lot of people learn on guitar. The good news is that there’s not a lot more to this song. The riff changes up a little bit, and then there’s a really easy power chord riff in the chorus. It’s basically a 12 bar blues, and even the solo is pretty easy.
Every rose has it’s thorn – Poison
The glam rock band’s best known ballad is basically just a couple of open chords. Rounding it off are some lead breaks that are probably a bit much for a lot of raw beginners, but are nevertheless remarkably simple and understated by C.C Deville’s standards.
I love rock n roll – Joan Jett
Ex-Runaway Joan Jett’s best known song is also extremely easy. There are two power chord riffs, and a lead part played over the chorus section.
We’re not gonna take it – Twisted Sister
This anthem to teenage rebellion has one of the most iconic music videos of the MTV era – the intro is almost as long as the song itself! Ringing chords repeat through the chorus and verse, with a different progression in the pre-chorus. The lead section is a nice touch, with a simple melody played once, and then repeated with a second guitar.
Smoke on the water – Deep Purple
The intro on this song was the only thing the band managed to track at the Montreux casino they were booked to record in. The building complex burned down shortly after, inspiring the song’s title and lyrics. The double stops on this riff are played with fingernails – Ritchie Blackmore reputedly gets annoyed to see people play it with a pick.
All right now – Free
A hard driving, two chord, four on the floor verse riff leads into a simple, short chorus. Some languid noodling in the middle section rounds off an incredible memorable song very nicely.
Black hole sun – Soundgarden
This is a good one to impress people with. The haunting, arpeggiated chords that open the song and carry the verse and chorus sound much more difficult than they really are.
I remember you – Skid Row
An epic power ballad with just a few chords in it. The fills in the acoustic guitar section at the start can take a bit of work on the left hand to get down. The solo contains a pedal tone run that might take work for beginners to tackle, but learning it will be rewarding practice that will be useful for tackling more difficult solos later.