Do you ever sit down to watch TV at the end of the day and not know what to put on? It’s not like there’s any shortage of great shows and movies to watch, and yet, how can you be sure that the one you pick isn’t going to be a let down - or worse… a waste of your time? Choosing music to learn to play on the guitar can feel the same way at times; there’s literally an endless sea of repertoire to choose from, but how do I know that I’m choosing the right song in the right style at the right difficulty?
Well never fear, because I’ve put together 25 different great songs that span 5 different styles - ordered from beginner to advanced - that are tried-and-true winners. I’ve even included a few teaching points that each category provides really great insight into. Enjoy!
Electric guitar approach/technique
Smoke on the Water - Deep Purple
Voodoo Child - Jimi Hendrix
Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
Day Tripper - The Beatles
Sweet Child o’ Mine - Guns n’ Roses
Blues scale and form
Mannish Boy - Muddy Waters
Sweet Home Chicago - Robert Johnson
Little Red Rooster - Howlin’ Wolf
Boom Boom - John Lee Hooker
Crossroads - John Mayer (written by Robert Johnson)
Sound of Silence - Simon & Garfunkel
Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
Here Comes the Sun - The Beatles
Hotel California - The Eagles
Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley (written by Leonard Cohen)
Jesus Paid it All - Kristian Stanfill (written by Alex Nifong)
Here I Am to Worship - Tim Hughes
From the Inside Out - Hillsong
How He Loves Us - David Crowder
Hosanna - Hillsong
Blackbird - The Beatles
Every Breath You Take - The Police
Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin
Naked As We Came - Iron & Wine
Stop This Train - John Mayer
I personally have taught every one of these songs to students in the past, and in my opinion, they have all served as great representations of the styles and approaches that we hear in their respective genres. I hope you find this list to be helpful. And if you’re still early in your guitar-playing journey, make sure that you’ve got an experienced, professional teacher who will help make sure you learn these songs the right way!
- John Gotsis, Founder/Owner and Music Instructor at Vibe Music Academy.