Looking for easy rock guitar songs to practice in your next session? Look no further than this definitive list!
We know that you would like to go straight to the guitar solos, but one of the best methods to learn to play an instrument is to learn to play songs. Some songs are easier, or that have simplified numbers that have few notes. And there are more complicated songs.
In this article, we will see some easy rock guitar songs, picking from the pool of the many contemporary and classic rock music. These legendary rock riffs will get you moving as you practice!
The Best and Easy Rock Guitar Songs
As these songs show us, great rock music doesn't have to be technically challenging. Try practicing these and see for yourself:
Deep Purple – Smoke On The Water
This hard rock classic from 1972 by Deep Purple should of course not be missing right at the beginning. The riff originally played on a Strat by Ritchie Blackmore is probably familiar to almost everyone. A survey found that Smoke on the Water is the most popular song for the American people, just after the American national anthem.
By the way, the fingered two-part fourths, which are wrongly interpreted as ordinary power chords, are extremely striking for the effect of the riff.
Blur – Song 2
“Song 2” was just the working title of this song by the band Blur. Nevertheless, it ultimately persisted and brought the British a great success in 1997, although it had little in common with the style of the band.
Originally intended as a parody of the grunge wave tending to end, the song was ironically and particularly well received by the listeners of this sound. The riff can be played entirely on one string. The slides that are created automatically underline the character.
Nirvana – Come As You Are
The song Come As You Are by Nirvana was released as the second single from the 1991 album Nevermind, which made the band world-famous and kicked off the grunge wave of the 90s. The main riff of the song is played by the guitar and the bass in unison. It is therefore very popular with beginners on the bass.
The chorus effect is crucial for the right tone. When playing along with the original, note that Kurt Cobain had tuned his guitar two semitones down.
AC/DC – Highway To Hell
Another one of the greatest rock classics is the song Highway To Hell from AC/DC's album of the same name, which was released in 1979 and helped the Australian band achieve their international breakthrough.
At the same time, the album was the last that was created with singer Bon Scott, who died the following year. Even if the songs of the band are mostly relatively similar, this riff is probably one of the best reproductions of what the band stands for musically.
The Troggs – Wild Thing
For the song Wild Thing, we dare to jump back to the 60s to Great Britain. Originally, this song was composed by the songwriter Chip Taylor for the American band Jordan Christopher & The Wild Ones. The Troggs, however, made it a hit. The title, which was later often covered, can be seen as a forerunner of the early punk songs of the 70s and is accordingly based on a very simple chord riff.
Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop
A real punk classic should not be missing in our collection. This song from the first album by the pioneering American punk band Ramones was released in 1976 and has everything a good punk song needs: a distorted guitar and three power chords.
Black Sabbath – Paranoid
The British band Black Sabbath and their guitarist Tony Iommi are considered to be the founders of heavy metal. On the second album of the same name, Paranoid appeared as one of the band's most famous songs. The intro riff as well as the main riff are relatively easy to play. For the right sound, a guitar with humbuckers and a wide-open vintage Marshall amp are worthwhile.
CCR – Bad Moon Rising
The southern rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival was surprisingly only active for five years but left behind some songs that are often picked up by cover bands.
This also includes the easily playable song “Bad Moon Rising”, which has very typical characteristics of the band's sound.
Jimi Hendrix – All Along The Watchtower
This song was written by Bob Dylan but got a lot more attention with the 1968 cover version by Jimi Hendrix. Three chords underline the entire song. The underlying rhythm of the chords, which Hendrix has changed, is important for the effect.
On the original recording, the guitars have also been doubled several times, which also contributes significantly to the effect of the song.
Cream – Sunshine Of Your Love
This comes from what was probably the first rock music supergroup. We're talking about the British blues-rock band Cream with its prominent members Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton, and Ginger Baker.
The catchy riff of the song Sunshine Of Your Love, released in 1967, is also one of the absolute classics of recent music history. You can achieve the typical Clapton sound of this decade with a humbucking guitar, whose tone potentiometer is closed, with a moderately distorting amp.
Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love
Whole Lotta Love was the first track on the 1969 album Led Zeppelin II and, along with Stairway to Heaven, is probably one of the band's most famous songs. It ranks 75th on Rolling Stone magazine's “500 Greatest Songs of All Times” list. In March 2005, Q magazine even ranked the song at number 3 on the “100 Greatest Guitar Tracks” list.
Opinions differ about the equipment used by Jimmy Page. Some claim that a 1958 Les Paul Standard in Sunburst was used. In other interviews, however, he says it was a 1960 Gibson Les Paul Custom designed by Seth Lover who he did all of his studio jobs at the time. Still, other sources speak of a Fender Telecaster over a Vox Beatle.
Kansas – Carry On Wayward Son
Even if Kansas was better known for their ballad “Dust in the Wind”, “Carry on my Wayward Son” is one of the classic rock anthems of the 70s, which was even covered by Yngwie Malmsteen and Dream Theater. The song was released in 1976 on the album “Leftoverture”. Guitarist and composer Kerry Livgren used either a Les Paul or Stratocaster for the recordings, with a Strat visible in the video.
Black Sabbath – Iron Man
In addition to Paranoid, which has already been the subject of an episode, Iron Man is certainly considered the most famous riff of Black Sabbath. The song was released in 1970 on the album “Paranoid” and paints a dark science fiction dystopia about a man who has become steel, who wants to destroy humanity out of revenge.
The guitar work is by Tony Iommi, who played a Gibson SG over Laney amps.
Ted Nugent – Cat Scratch Fever
Ted Nugent was one of the most important rock stars in the 70s. And “Cat Scratch Fever” was certainly his biggest hit. Even if Ted is more likely to attract attention these days through controversial political statements, such as his recent comment on George Floyd, he nonetheless created one of the most succinct rock riffs of his time.
The song appeared on the album of the same name in 1977, played with a Gibson Byrdland and a Fender Deluxe Combo Amp.
The Knack – My Sharona
The 1979 song “My Sharona” appeared on the debut record “Get the Knack”, which is a mixture of a double bassline and a chord riff. The song is considered to be the band's most successful track and held number 1 in the charts in some countries around the world.
The guitar work comes from Berton Averre and Doug Fieger, who play Vox amps as well as Les Paul and Strat in the video.
Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar
Naturally, the Rolling Stones have countless rock riffs up their sleeves. In addition to “Satisfaction”, “Brown Sugar” is a trademark chord lick on the 1971 album “Sticky Fingers”. Keith Richards uses an Open G-Tuning here, but it is enough to tune the A-string down to a G, since “Keef” spans the low E-string anyway and the high E-string is not needed.
According to engineer Jimmy Johnson, a Gibson SG and a Fender Tweed were used for the song.
Deep Purple – Black Night
“Smoke on the Water” is considered to be the archetype of the term “riff”, but since this was the subject of another episode, we are looking at a song that was only released as a single from “In Rock” in 1970, and a slight one Depicting variation of the “Summertime” bass line by Ricky Nelson.
Blackmore was using Vox AC30 amps and Fender Stratocaster models at the time.
Aerosmith – Walk this way
“Toys in the Attic” is the greatest commercial success of the Boston band Aerosmith to date. And, in addition to hits like “Sweet Emotions” and the title track, this early work by the band also features the best-known Aerosmith rocker “Walk this way”.
Allegedly, the song was inspired by the New Orleans funk band “The Meters”, who drove a funky-bluesy style with hits like “Cissy Strut” or “People say”. The guitar work is by Brad Whitford and Joe Perry. According to the latter, a Strat was used for the recordings via an Ampeg bass head, which was played via a Marshall cabinet. A Maestro Fuzz provides a slightly nasal tone.
Free – All right now
Even if the creative period of the men around Paul Rodgers was relatively short-lived, the 1970s-released album “Fire and Water” created a milestone of the 70s. In the song “All right now”, you can identify the chord immediately. The guitarist Paul Kossoff takes over the guitar part, who uses a Gibson Les Paul and Marshall JTM45 for his recordings.
Kossoff was considered the new star of the guitar scene, but unfortunately only six years after “Fire and Water”, he died of heart failure at the age of 25 due to his drug and alcohol addiction. While a lot of modern listeners might not know about the band, guitarists still know this as one of the best and easy rock guitar songs of all time.
Jimi Hendrix – Purple Haze
This song was released as the second single on the Hendrix Experience in 1967. Here you can find many elements of the Hendrix sound, the 7 / # 9 chord, the tritone interval, and its typical fills. Even if Hendrix experimented with many guitars and amps in the studio, he is primarily known for the combination of the Fender Stratocaster and Marshall Plexi.
Beatles – Daytripper
The Beatles need no introduction, Daytripper is one of the best-known songs of the whole career of the group. Launched in 1965, the song was an instant hit, like everything the Beatles released at the time. It remains one of the most beloved and easy rock guitar songs of all time.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Otherside
Red Hot Chili Peppers is an American band formed in the city of Los Angeles in 1983. The band consists of founding members Anthony Kiedis and Flea, along with longtime drummer Chad Smith and guitarist Josh Klinghoffer. This song was released in 1999 for one of the band's most famous albums, Californication.
Guns and Roses – Knockin ‘On Heaven's Door
Knockin ‘On Heaven's Door was released in 1973 by musician Bob Dylan. It was released on the soundtrack of the film Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid. Several bands have already re-recorded their version of this easy rock guitar song. The version of the band Guns and Roses is the one that gets more prominence among these different versions.
Pearl Jam – Last Kiss
Pearl Jam is a Seattle alternative rock band formed during the year 1990. This song was released in the year 2000 for the album Last Kiss 6/20/00 – Verona, Italy. It has a very pleasant beat, perfect to be played among your circle of friends and also easy enough for beginning guitarists.
We've seen 24 of the best easy rock guitar songs and you must have asked why there are so many classics. Here's why! In the 60s and late 70s, the electric guitar was a new instrument and there was still a lot to discover in terms of new ways and riffs. Even then, one thing was clear to most guitar heroes: riffs should be simple and concise so that they hit the listener straightaway.
And it is precisely for this reason that these early works in guitar history are very well suited for beginners to get familiar with the instrument and at the same time get the great feeling of being able to play a real milestone. Now, get yourself off to work by learning to use the guitar with these easy cheesy rock guitar songs!