Easy Guitar Tabs for Beginners

Roz Bruce

Easy Guitar Tabs for Beginners

Easy Guitar Tabs For Beginners

When you’re first learning to play guitar, the key to confidence is largely in playing songs that you know and love.

It can be hard to know exactly what is within your current limit, though. And the last thing you want to do is discourage yourself after picking a piece that is just too technically advanced…

There are an abundance of songs which use less than 5 chords, as well as a lot of nice traditional and classical tunes you can pluck. If rock music is your thing, there are also many, many songs which combine power chords with short and simple lead parts and riffs, which are easy to play.

Here are some simple chord songs, pleasant melodies and rock tunes that will get you playing in no time at all!

3 or Less Chord Songs:

These are by no means all of the popular 3-or-less chord songs out there, but they’re a selection of the most popular and seemingly timeless ones.

‘Horse with no Name’ – America

This 1971 gem is probably the easiest chord song to play on the guitar! It uses just 2 chords, E minor and D6/9.

The first, E minor, is a both simple and common: it uses just two fingers (either index and middle or middle and ring), on fret two, of the A and D strings, to play one of the most popular chords in guitar music.

The second, is also simple but much less common! It also uses two fingers, on fret two, this time on the E and G strings. It’s kind of like your fingers ‘do the splits’! The finger you’ve used on your A string jumps up to the E string, and the finger you’ve used on your D string jumps down to the G. Simple, isn’t it?! Strum strum strum and have some fun!

Here’s your chord sheet: https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/america/a_horse_with_no_name_chords_59609

‘Wild Thing’ – The Troggs

This rock classic is great fun to play, and uses just A, D and E chords.

Start off by strumming the A chord twice, then switch to D for two faster strums. Ready for a secret?

If, after your two fast strums on the D chord, you take your fingers off and strum again (that’s right, with no fingers on the fretboard!), it will give you chance to mentally and physically prepare for your E chord.

Once you’re in the E chord, you strum twice in the same rhythm as you did with your A chord, then back to D for the two fast strums and the ‘secret’ ;).

This will get you through the verses, the “Wild Thing I think I love you!” parts go G4 – A – G4 – A – but G4 only uses one finger! It’s still a 3-chord song, honestly.

Here’s the chord sheet:


‘Johnny Be Goode’ – Chuck Berry

Though most iconic for its slightly more intermediate intro lead guitar, this song’s rhythm part can be played in the key of A using just three chords: A, D and E. If you’re dying to play along with the original – in Bb Major – just whack a capo on fret 1 and voila!

This works best when strummed as quavers, and the chord pattern is standard 12 bar blues!

Here’s the chord sheet:


‘Three Little Birds’ – Bob Marley

Don’t worry ’bout a thing! This 3-chord song also uses just A, D and E!

It’s also a great way to get into reggae-style strumming. Which is simple: rest, strum, rest, strum, rest, strum, rest, strum… When you rest, ensure to karate chop your strings to kill the sound, and when you strum, do it upwards in order to feel the rhythm more readily.

Here’s the chord sheet:


4 Chord Songs:

‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ – Bob Dylan

This song alternates between the pattern: G, D, C and G, D, Am7 and is a great way of training your ears to hear subtle differences (C and Am7 are very similar chords).

It’s a chilled out, strum-and-sing-along kind of tune, which you can have great fun with and is perfect for playing around the campfire.

Here’s the chord sheet:


‘Good Riddance (Time of your Life)’ – Green Day


This song can be picked or strummed and uses just G, C, D and E minor (which are, incidentally, the same 4 chords that you need to play Ed Sheeran’s ‘Perfect’!).

It probably sounds best and more like the song if you combine picking and strumming, try playing the first two strings of each chord by themselves, and then strumming the chord. This will give you the rhythm of the song.

Here’s the chord sheet:


‘Zombie’ – The Cranberries

This irresistible song uses Em, C, G and introduces you to D/F# (which is another chord that Ed Sheeran likes using!). This involves bringing your thumb round to the E string and playing the 2nd fret with it at the same time as your D chord. Pretty cool!

Here’s the chord sheet:


‘No Woman, No Cry’ – Bob Marley

Another opportunity to try out your reggae skills!

C, G, Am and F go round and round in this one. You can really get into the groove. Have fun!

Here’s the chord sheet:


5 Chord Songs:

‘House of the Rising Sun’ – The Animals

The original features some quite fast picking, but you can either pick more sparsely or strum the chords for this song, to get it flowing without the stress of a fast right hand (or left, if you’re left-handed!).

Am, C, D, F and E are what you need in your palette for this one. A lovely bunch!

Here’s the chord sheet:


‘Hey Joe’ – Billy Roberts / Jimi Hendrix

As well as being a great song to get you strumming with the 5 ‘CAGED’ chords: C, A, G, E and D, this song is also a perfect track to try out some E minor pentatonic improvising over.

And the bass line is cool, too!

If you’re really feeling like you’ve got to grips with open chords now, you can even use this song as an introduction to barre chords.

Have fun with this classic!

Here’s the chord sheet:


‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ Bob Dylan

How many chords must a man have nailed, before you can call him a guitarist?

The answer, my friend, is up to you to decide. But I think that strumming along using the 5 chords required for this song will make you feel like one.

Here’s the chord sheet:


‘Hallelujah’ – Leonard Cohen

This timeless, beautiful song uses C, Am, F, G and either Em or E7 – depending on how you’d like to play it / which version you’re trying to match.

It can be strummed or picked, or – even better – a combination of the two. There have been so many versions of this song, I think you’re best bet is to make it your own. The sign of a good song is its ability to work in different styles and contexts, and this song is one of the best!

Here’s the chord sheet:


Traditional / Classical Tabs:


A bit of an ear worm, this piece of music – often attributed to Henry VIII – will make you smile as you play it.

Its recognisable melody can be played using just two strings, and will get you moving right down the fretboard!

Here’s the tab:


‘Happy Birthday’

If you don’t want to be able to play ‘Happy Birthday’, you’re either the grumpiest person on Earth or a complete Hermit. If it’s the former, learning this might cheer you up, if it’s the latter, learning this might encourage you to share your new guitar skills with others!

It’s one of those tunes that is so instantly recognisable, I’d recommend trying to pick it up by ear. Start on an open string, and see what happens… A great way to build aural skills!

If you find this process too frustrating, here’s your tab:


‘Ode To Joy’

You know the tune, you used to play it on the piano when you were a child… Why not enjoy this simple beauty on the guitar?

Here’s the tab:


‘Morning Mood’

Grieg’s morning mood was obviously a very relaxed one.

This simple piece is a pleasure to play and you won’t get complaints from those who hear you practising!

If the bass notes are a struggle, ignore them and just play the high melody. It will still sound lovely <3.

Here’s the tab:


Rock Tabs:

‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ – Nirvana

If the last thing you want to sound is ‘lovely’, this piece is one for you.

It combines power chords, simple melodies and an easy guitar solo to create a simple, rock gem.

Enjoy! Rock out! If you have an overdrive pedal, use it!

Here’s the tab:


‘Smoke on the Water’ – Deep Purple

Dun, dun, derr! Dun, dun, derner! Dun, dun, derr! Dun derr… Or something like that!

You all know the tune, and let’s be honest, you all want to be able to play it, don’t you?

Irritated as we might get with this, the more we hear it, we can thank it for being the tune which has encouraged people, decade after decade, to fall in love with the electric guitar.

And all you need to do to learn it is sing the following numbers, in the tune of the riff that’s already whizzing around your head right now:

0, 3, 5! 0, 3, 6 5! 0, 3, 5! 3 0! … And, once you’ve sung them, try playing the corresponding frets on your guitar! If you want to play it in the same key as the song, playing the numbers/frets above on your D and G strings is the way to do it. If you’re not bothered about the key being the same immediately, try the pattern on your low E first. It will work (and sound like the song) on any string.

Here’s the tab:


‘Basket Case’ – Green Day

Once you’ve nailed the power chord shape, the world of punk is your oyster. Yes, I did just call Green Day ‘punk’. Shoot me!

Have fun 🙂

Here’s the tab:


’20th Century Boy’ – T Rex

A combination of chords, simple lead licks and blues shuffling.

This is great fun to play, and you can learn a lot about how blues and rock works as you have fun jamming along.

Here’s the tab:


Which songs would you have included, that we have missed? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Happy Jamming!

Roz 🙂

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