When you start out learning how to play the guitar, one of the main goals (obviously) is to learn songs. One of the most common questions that I get from new students is when they will be able to play songs.
The truth is, you can play a song with simply two chords. As a matter of fact, you can actually play a song with just one chord. With a good teacher, you will be able to play easy guitar songs in no time. However, what exactly IS an easy guitar song?
From my experience, most new students want to play their favorite rock songs. Luckily, a lot of classic rock songs are very simple, use basic first position chords. This make learning the songs very easy.
A very popular song which is easy to start learning early on is “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. That songs has 3 chords which are D, C and G.
All you have to do to play that song somewhat successfully is to strum twice on D, twice on C and four strums on G. This is the whole song.
Of course there are some riffs and melodic phrases that require you to master some technical elements. But, keeping it simple is fine and can be very gratifying indeed.
Another song that I often teach very early on with a new student is “Knocking On Heavens Door”, by Bob Dylan. This is a great rock anthem also made popular by Guns N’ Roses, so by learning this song, not only are you able to play some folk music, you can also claim to be playing an authentic rock n’ roll song.
“Knocking On Heavens Door” only has 4 chords. And guess what! Three of them are G, C and D! Yes, the same chords as we had in “Sweet Home Alabama.” All you need to learn is an extra chord which is A minor, and you are ready to play the song.
It is advised to play songs that are slow in the beginning. Although “Sweet Home Alabama” is medium tempo, slowing it down will still be fine and will sound good. “Knocking On Heavens Door” is in fact a slowly paced song, so although there are 4 chords in the song, it is quite easy as long as you take your time and play it at a tempo which suits you and that you are comfortable with.
If you feel that you are a fast learner, perhaps you should try “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton. Again, the chords used in that song include G, D, C, and you might already know those chords from having learned the two previous songs. “Wonderful Tonight” simply includes an E minor chord, ant that is it. This is also a song that is to be played slowly, so you can take your time and really master it with the proper tempo and speed.
The truth is, that once you have learned just a few of the chords in the first position, you will be able to play a ton of songs with the greatest of ease. G, C and D are really the key chords to learning songs in all kinds of genres ranging from straight up rock n’ roll, to reggae.
Speaking of reggae, a super easy song to learn in this genre is No “Woman, No Cry”by Bob Marley.
So, master a few chords in the first position and you will be learning some easy, yet great songs and hits in no time.