10 Easy Electric Guitar Songs

Published Categorized as Free Guitar Lesson Reviews, Songs

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Practically any song can be played on the guitar, to more or less effective results. This is certainly more true for an electric than an acoustic guitar, the latter of which boasts unparalleled freedom of experimentation with sound. In fact, I would argue that what makes the electric guitar so special is the fact that it can so vividly mimic such a panoply of other instruments: sitar, you got it; horns, no doubt; even the human voice is very well mimed by Jeff Beck’s melodic and tasteful tones.

Regardless of your preferences or which instruments or guitarists you are trying to sound like, it seems to be a truth universally acknowledged that it’s best to start with simple songs. This is especially true for those who might be transitioning from the simpler and less complicated acoustic guitar to the electric guitar, which provides more options and room for error, and this is even before we get into the matter of electronics, which can even complicate easy electric guitar songs!

There’s no shame in relying on easy electric guitar songs when you are first paving your way as a guitarist. It’s in leaning on these signature favorite songs of ours that we form a picture of who we are as musicians. Even those musicians who feel they can manage playing less easy electric guitar song will often return to these simple staple songs, if only for the fact that they just feel good to play.

There is a joy imbibed in simple things that the most complex and florid descriptions more often than not struggle to capture, and this is scarcely more true anywhere else than in the power of nice and easy electric guitar songs. Take your pick and let’s get pickin’!

10 Easy Electric Guitar Songs

1. ‘Zombie’ by The Cranberries

There are rarely more real examples of the power of easy electric guitar songs to pack an emotional and meaningful punch than in this 90’s hit, laden as it is with sonic and thematic intensity so aligned that they are one and work together to deliver their message across air waves and across great seas of unknowing.

The song was first released in 1994 as the first single from the Cranberries’ second album, No Need to Argue. Being an Irish band at such a politically turbulent time, it would have been loathe for them to ignore the contemporary climate of hate and terrorism.

Thus, this single is particularly bent on the political and reads at its most literal as a protest song, a protest song particularly aimed towards the attacks of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (or the IRA), who ravaged Ireland in 1993 and before with acts of terrorism in the name of their cause.

The song became such a big hit that it can be easy to forget the message, though the emotional potency still remains after all these years, the song roaring throughout with a desperate fury.

The chords ought not be too difficult for any beginner, besides the F#m which can be difficult at first, but is very valuable to learn, seeing as so many songs are formed along the lines of guitar songs with 4 chords that don’t all fall among the roster of open chords beginners are so fond of. Since the chord is minor, you won’t need to use your middle finger to fret the major 3rd, so it shouldn’t be too difficult. If you’re really struggling, just try playing this chord on /its own until you get the hang of it and it sounds right.

2. ‘Last Nite’ by The Strokes

This is certainly one of those more left field and independent easy electric guitar songs, though no more difficult as a result of this. Those who do know the song always have strong memories of it, often fond, and can tell you exactly where they were when they first heard it spinning, round and round…

This song was brought into the world in between March and April of 2001, recorded at the studio Transporterraum in New York City, released on the 23rd of October that same year. This was the second single from their seminal debut album Is This It, that took critics and fans alike by storm that year and spawned several imitators, not to mention an entire garage rock revival. Not bad for a bunch of easy electric guitar songs!

Despite being such a big hit for the band, the song is in fact heavily inspired by (borderline based) the song ‘American Girl’ by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, both in the opening guitar riff and the overall structure of the song. Petty himself had this to say on the matter: ‘The Strokes took ‘American Girl’ [for ‘Last Nite’], there was an interview that took place with them where they actually admitted it. That made me laugh out loud. I was like, ‘OK, good for you.’ It doesn’t bother me.’ In an ironic turn of events, the band were invited to be the opening band on several dates of the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tour in 2006.

The song itself sticks to the same key elements throughout, though there is a raucous guitar solo inspired by the American blues guitar legend Freddie King. Don’t be afraid to leave this out for the time being, though grappling with this kind of thing head on would certainly have you well on your way to guitar mastery. No one would blame you for giving it a miss for now, however, as it is really rather complicated and full of the character of the guitarist, what makes his style his style, what makes it tick.

3. ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ by The Beatles

While one of the lesser known easy electric guitar songs by the popular music behemoths known as The Beatles, this is no less a hit for it. Something firmly baked into the ingredients has this song bubbling up and rising like a well formed piece of pastry, there is an excitement in the rising vocal harmonies of the chorus that seems to perfectly capture that welling of ecstasy when looking at a loved one, the first trajectory of love’s flight.

The “I saw here standing there” began life as an adaptation of a number of different songs, a modern take on the traditional folk song ‘Seventeen Come Sunday’, while also repurposing the bass line from the Chuck Berry ‘Talkin’ About You’, which The Beatles would perform several times in these early days. McCartney began the work, though Lennon interjected at the right moments to save it from what he might have deemed a humorous flop, modifying such lyrics that he otherwise find laughable.

The song starts with an unexpected count in, which would usually be edited out of performances on record, though was kept in to make a statement: this is a live band first and foremost, and producer and fifth Beatle George Martin wanted to create the effect that this was indeed a live performance.

The effect is more than effective, the energy almost sickening, more than most easy electric guitar songs, that’s for sure. It has been liken to the iconic count in from Elvis Presley’s ‘Blue Suede Shoes’, the first track on his debut album seven years prior.

4. ‘Iron Man’ by Black Sabbath

Though it can sometimes be hard to remember, heavy metal was once supreme and relied on the simplicity of easy electric guitar songs. This song, able to play on acoustic or electric guitar, can be played with power chords on the 6th string.

This song had a goal to communicate its awesome messages of socio-ecclesiastical subversion, the satanic opposite to religion coming to represent key tenets of sexual and gender ambiguity as direct subversions of their Christian counterparts. Black Sabbath themselves are named after a tainted Sabbath day Sunday, so go figure!

The riff came to be, and upon first hearing it, singer Ozzy Osbourne said that it sounded ‘like a big iron bloke walking about.’ Soon after, the title became the ‘Iron Man’ we know today, with bassist and primary lyricist Geezer Butler, writing lyrics around this title.

The lyrics tell the tale of a man who sees an apocalypse in the future. Attempting to warn the human race, he is first turned into metal by a magnetic field, and thus his attempts are duly mocked by the public. Shunned and neglected, this metal man plots revenge on all human kind, in a circular way causing the vision of apocalypse that he initially saw.

Geezer Butler had this to say: ‘I liked the Hammer horror films in the 1960s and magazines such as Man, Myth and Magic, but I had a few supernatural experiences as a child and dreams that came true and that, more than anything, shaped my interest in the occult.’

‘What I always attempted to do with my science-fiction plots was to make these relevant to the modern world at the time, so I brought war and politics in. It was also an era when the whole issue of pollution was starting to get attention, and this affected my thinking quite a bit.’

5. ‘Roxanne’ by The Police

Much like ‘Iron Man’ above, this is another of those easy electric guitar songs that belies with its simplicity the delivery of an important and serious message. Again, the form and format of a simple song being used to convey a topic that needs more attention in a popular medium, without once losing an ounce of potency.

Lead singer and bassist, Sting, was inspired to write the song by the prostitutes he saw working near the band’s seedy hotel in Paris, where they stayed in October of 1977 while performing at the Nashville Club. The eponymous title character’s name comes from a character in the play Cyrano de Bergerac, a poster of which was hanging in the foyer of this very hotel.

Originally conceived as a bossanova, drummer Stewart Copeland is credited with suggesting its final rhythmic form of a tango. Sting had this to say about the recording process:

‘We went into Surrey Sound Studios and it was working pretty well. We recorded a few tracks, one of which I wrote more or less as a throwaway. That was ‘Roxanne’, I didn’t think much more about it until we played the album to Miles Copeland who is, of course, Stewart’s brother and a bit of an entrepreneur, though he’d never been particularly interested in The Police.

In fact, he’d kept away from it to say the least. He did come along to the sessions while we were putting the first album together but more or less just to offer brotherly advice to Stewart. He heard the album and quite liked it. When we got to Roxanne, we were a bit embarrassed because the song was a bit of an anachronism, because compared with our usual material it was slow, quiet and melodic. Far from saying he thought it was a piece of shit, he said it was amazing. I thought, ‘He likes this song. This is fantastic!’

6. ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ by Ramones

This is another of those easy electric guitar songs that has become far more than the sum of its parts. It has snowballed out of control since its initial release, the signature chant ‘Hey! Ho Let’s go!’ taking on new life as a rallying cry at sports events, or even imbibed within the techno capitalist rhetoric of an advertisement for a delivery company. The ways of the world and the routes art takes are a mystery. A once rebellious and snarky tune about teenage energy is thus subsumed by the corporate machine to lose all potency.

The song came to life in 1976, the main lyrics being written atop already existing melodies and ideas by drummer Tommy Ramone while he was on the walk home from the grocery store. Written firmly in the punk style of the period, the song uses merely four chords (A major (I) – B minor (ii) – D major (IV) – E major (V)) and is in standard, albeit rather rapid, 4/4 time.

Guitarist Johnny Ramone uses his signature barre chord shapes for playing every chord, specifically with only down strokes on the strumming hand, utilizing near constant double time strums to generate a relentless ‘wall of sound’, much like the eponymous blitzkrieg, German for ‘lightning war’.

Since the song is so fast, this can be difficult at first so I would encourage you to use both upward and downward strokes, especially since they will sound almost exactly the same to an ordinary ear that might not otherwise discern these things.

7. ‘Back in Black’ by AC/DC

What would a list of easy electric guitar songs be without a mammoth stomping slapper by the legendary classic rock music group – AC/DC. Their discography is more often than not a how to guide on the best way to write easy electric guitar songs that are rendered no less potent with their simplicity. And now you get to join their oeuvre, free of charge.

The song was intended as a farewell tribute to the previous and second lead vocalist, Bon Scott, who died the same year of release, 1980. After a night out on London town, specifically in East Dulwich, he was left to sleep in a Renault 5 owned by his friend, alleged drug dealer Alistair Kinnear. Later the following day, he was found lifeless in the car, having passed out and not woken up. The official report of the coroner rendered that Scott had died of ‘acute alcohol poisoning’, labelled ultimately as a ‘death by misadventure’.

Immediately after their second front man and friend’s untimely death, the remaining members of the band considered quitting, unable to imagine going on without him. However, considering the traction they’d already gained as a band, they decided that Scott would have wanted them to continue on, and so with his family’s encouragement the band hired Brian Johnson to step into his shoes.

Five months after his death, the band finally finished the album they had begun with him, releasing Back in Black as a tribute to this untimely death. The eponymous self titled track, ‘Back in Black’ was of course the lead single from the album, charting reasonably well at the time, though in retrospect being acknowledged by Triple M and others as one of the most famous rock tracks of all time, certainly for an Australian band.

Replacement Brian Johnson recalled that in writing the song, the band asked him to write lyrics for the song: ‘they said, ‘it can’t be morbid – it has to be for Bon and it has to be a celebration’ … I thought, ‘Well no pressure there, then’. I just wrote what came into my head, which at the time seemed like mumbo, jumbo. ‘Nine lives. Cats eyes. Abusing every one of them and running wild.’ The boys got it though. They saw Bon’s life in that lyric.’

Metal Hammer magazine had this in particular to say about the iconic guitar riffs and the genre crossovers of the song: ‘There are rock songs that appeal to metal fans. And there are metal songs that appeal to rock fans. Then there is Back in Black – a rock and metal song that appeals to everybody, from dads to dudes, to little old ladies beating noisy kids over the heads with their sticks – and it all hangs on that monumental, no-nonsense, three-chord monster of a riff.’

8. ‘Substitute’ by The Who

The 60s sure were chock full of easy electric guitar songs huh? This was a time when the guitar reigned supreme, when you could scarcely change radio station without coming across one, and when so many pop music ideas had yet to be mined, had yet to be discovered, when the world was still ripe for discovery…

Despite such dejected lyricism on the part of lead vocalist Roger Daltrey and guitarist Pete Townshend, the song at least in terms of tone and timbre boasts these very characteristic so innate in easy electric guitar songs of the period. Recorded in 1966 and released later that same year the song was an instant hit in the UK, reaching the heights of number five on the charts.

The roots of the song are founded upon a 1965 soul single called ‘The Tracks of My Tears’ by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the particular style of pop that The Who mined being heavily indebted to these soul numbers as it is. Guitarist Pete Townshend was particularly obsessed with the line ‘Although she may be cute/She’s just a substitute’, leading him to craft a song entirely constructed around this very concept, using it as its main theme, attacking it from the opposite perspective.

The catchy guitar riff in the verses, too, was founded upon another song, that being the single from the year previous ‘Where Is My Girl’ by Robb Storme and The Whispers. This was even acknowledged by Townshend far into the future.

This was, however, a time when many aspects of song writing were constantly being reinvented. Sure, people wanted to make new things and pave new paths, but there was so much going on musically they couldn’t help but be inspired. Not to mention the simplicity of easy electric guitar songs makes metamorphosing of elements far more common.

9. ‘What’s Up?’ by 4 Non Blondes

One of the more anthemic easy electric guitar songs, this pop rock giant took the air waves by storm in the early nineties, stadium rock for the soul. The song remains a favorite on more generic radio stations, so ubiquitous is its message of friendship and dialogue between companions.

Though they might be considered by some as one hit wonders, the 4 Non Blondes struck gold with this one, for their own royalty purposes and for the sake of the souls of all listeners and fans of a good toe-tapping anthem.

This great song has a nice, slow tempo and moderate rhythms that invite even the most stoic and reticent onlooker to move and hum or sing along. The song’s message is encouraging you to join in and sway arm in arm with a friend, belting out the lyrics no matter how out of tune; as long as you’re singing with others it will always sound good.

As three chord songs go, this is an all out jam, the song’s hook repeating ad infinitum, allowing you to shred along in any way you see fit, with vocal chops or guitar licks or simply smiles shared between friends. The song’s inherent rhythm will come to you even in the space of the first play through for the strumming pattern is so simple as to allow any one to join in. In fact, this seems to be encouraged!

10. ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ by U2

Another of those easy electric guitar songs whose simplicity belies a complexity lurking beneath, a darkness that only keen analysis of the lyrics will fully reveal. Once more I must simply draw attention to this facet of easy electric guitar songs: they have proven time and time again to be the perfect vehicles for sentiments of social change, as generation passes to new generation, baton passed to next of kin, the power of song seems ubiquitous.

This fantastic song is the opening track to Irish rock band U2’s seminal third studio album War, this being the third single, first released on the 21st of March 1983, recorded the previous Autumn and Winter. Along with the track ‘New Year’s Day’ from the same album, this song helped U2 too attain and to reach a wider audience than previously, which depending on your opinion of their later music is either a good or bad thing…

Despite it’s status as one of these simple and easy electric guitar songs, the subject matter couldn’t be further from it. In fact, the elements that make this song so simple and easy to play and digest are precisely those that feed into the lyrical themes of the song, namely the rudimentary, militaristic drum beat, vocal harmonies, and harsh guitar, which pack a simple but brutal punch like warfare itself.

The song is one of the band’s most obviously political, detailing within the various horrors experienced by an observer of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, an ethno-nationalist conflict that took place for around thirty years between ‘Unionists’ and ‘Loyalists’ wanted Northern Ireland to remain in the United Kingdom, whereas ‘Nationalists’ and ‘Republicans’ wanted Northern Ireland to leave this United Kingdom and join a united Ireland.

Instead of attempting to evaluate this panoptic and densely complex issue in one song, the thematic focus is instead on one day in particular, that deemed ‘Bloody Sunday’. On this day in 1972 in Derry, British troops shot and killed unarmed civil rights protestors.

Since many critics have labelled this one of the best political protest songs, I think we can safely rule out any notion that this song is expressing support for such acts of inhumane violence. In fact, lead singer Bono has expressed ceaselessly since its controversial release that the song’s intention is to promote a message of anti sectarian violence.

Final Tones

So there you have it, this roster of easy electric guitar songs for your keen eyes and fingers to digest.

To conclude, I would simply encourage you to keep your ear trained to the air and to the stereo, listening out in your favorite songs for the traits that make these and other songs the easy electric guitar songs they are. Try to list them, and give learning these songs a go by ear! You’ll learn more than you’ll ever know…

FAQs Easy Electric Guitar Songs

What is the easiest song to play on electric guitar?

There are scarcely any objective truths in music studies. Despite its reliance on the mathematics of exists, even Western music theory can be side stepped in favour of another musical language and culture. The same very much goes for this, one person’s easiest song being very different from another’s. My instant impulse is to say ‘Smoke on the Water’ by Deep Purple, because it requires so little of the guitarist, focusing only on one string in it’s most simplified form.

What is the easiest song to play on a guitar?

There are scarcely any objective truths in music studies. Despite its reliance on the mathematics of exists, even Western music theory can be side stepped in favour of another musical language and culture. The same very much goes for this, one person’s easiest song being very different from another’s. My instant impulse is to say ‘Smoke on the Water’ by Deep Purple, because it requires so little of the guitarist, focusing only on one string in it’s most simplified form.

What is a good first song to learn on electric guitar?

‘Smoke on the Water’ by Deep Purple is the riff often off loaded onto prospective guitar students to show them the ropes. As something of an alternative to a song I’m sure we can all agree has been torn to shreds by the ever increasing masses of these prospective students, I might suggest the ‘Peter Gunn Theme’ by Henry Mancini, which I would argue is a lot more fun to play and doubtlessly more stimulating than the mind numbing drone of ‘Smoke on the Water’.

By Nate Pallesen

Nate is just your average (above average) guitar player. He's no Joe Satriani, Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page - wait this site is about acoustic guitars (sorry) He's no Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, or Michael Hedges, wait? who!? He's no Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton or Ben Harper - more familiar? Anyway you get the point :-)

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