Beginner Songs for Acoustic Guitar

April 24th, 2010

Regardless of the amount of time you have dedicated to the guitar, a lot of people tend to assess their skill level on the amount of songs they know how to play. While this “side by side” comparison makes sense, it also is not the most accurate way of dictating who can truly play the guitar.

It’s useful to learn songs - just as it’s vital to learn chords, bends, hammer on’s, and solos. Learning to play an actual song is highly valued because it often incorporates one or more of the above techniques while serving as a way to impress friends and loved ones.

For those of you who own an acoustic guitar, the decision of the song you want to learn may be different from one who owns an electric guitar. You more than likely purchased an acoustic guitar over an electric guitar for a number of different reasons. The most common reason people choose acoustic over electric is due to the genre or type of music they eventually want to play.

Acoustic guitars are synonymous with country, folk, bluegrass, and the occasional pop hit. Electric guitars, meanwhile, are more sought after in the modern, hard, and metal rock genres. Thus, beginner songs for the amateur guitarist vary based on the type of guitar you are using. 

The five songs listed below are all fantastic beginner songs for the acoustic guitar. Each of the five songs below only incorporate two different chords throughout the entire song, thus allowing little time to transition while learning a few of the basic chords.

- Beginner Songs for Acoustic Guitar -

1. Oh My Darlin’ Clementine

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If you grew up with the Huckleberry Hound cartoons, then you surely know the song “Oh My Darlin’ Clementine.” The song tells the story of a bereaved lover who lost his darling in the 1849 California Gold Rush and is also a prime candidate for the beginner acoustic guitarist. You can play this song with the D and A7 chords and use a 3/4 strum pattern. ”Oh My Darlin’ Clementine” also sounds nice with a bass strum, as the guitarist will now pick the fourth string on beat one of the D chords then strum twice, pick the fifth string on beat one of A7 chords, and strum twice.

2. Hush Little Baby

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“Hush Little Baby” is a another well-known song that’s easy to play. “Hush Little Baby” is a traditional lullaby in the ‘question and answer’ format. The lullaby was/and still is popular with parents as the lyrics promise all kinds of rewards to the child that is quiet. In order to play “Hush Little Baby,” use the C and G chords and a 4/4 up and down strum pattern.

3. Eleanor Rigby

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You may have thought that “two chord songs” are just for cartoon shows and lullabies, but you are indeed very wrong. Even a band as famous and critically renown as The Beatles used “two chord songs” every now and then. Take “Eleanor Rigby” for example. The song is very simple when stripped down to its musical content, but still a favorite from many of the Beatles faithful (ranked 137th in Rolling Stone’s 2004 list of the “500 Greatest Songs”). The song is a haunting tune about loneliness (from the 1966 album Revolver) and one you can play with the chords C and Em.

4. Paperback Writer

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Paul McCartney’s goal with “Paperback Writer” was to create a song with a melody backed by only a single chord. Well, it turns out, Sir Paul just missed the mark by one chord. ”Paperback Writer” was the Beatles eleventh single in 1966 and went to number one in several countries. McCartney may have missed his goal, but he still left us with a lively and dynamic acoustic guitar song that is perfect for beginners. The verse is played on a single G7 chord until ending on a C.

5. Born In The USA

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“Born in the U.S.A.”, a more recent hit from Bruce Springsteen, is still regarded as one of his greatest songs ever. Widely thought of as a patriotic anthem, the song does in fact educate the audience on the effects of the Vietnam War from the point of view of a veteran. The song ranked 275th on Rolling Stone’s list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

In order to play “Born in the U.S.A.”; utilize the 4/4 time as you alternate between the B and E chords every two lines during the verses. For the chorus, play B for two “Born in the U.S.A.’s”, then E for the third, and finally B for the last.

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