55 Super Fun Songs To Play On Guitar (With Videos)

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55 Most Fun Songs to Play on Guitar (with Videos)

Playing guitar is fun, period — Even mindlessly running through scales is a better time than most if you ask me.

But there are certain songs with that little something special, something that makes them extra enjoyable to rip out both live and during low-key bedroom jams.

These are the songs that keep you coming back to your instrument, the ones that energize you, the ones that inspire a big, cheesy grin as you play them, and I’m going to be showing you 55 of them here today. These are the most fun songs to play on guitar, hands down!

Contents

“Killing In The Name” — Rage Against The Machine

Tom Morello accidentally wrote the legendary riff of “Killing in the Name” when showing one of his students how dropping your E string to a D changes the way you approach songwriting.

Little did he know that his off-the-cuff musings would eventually become the groovy backbone of one of the most defiant and angsty songs ever written.

And good news for us guitarists… it’s super easy to play — Hooray!

That said, it requires a couple of choice bits of gear, which may be something of a hurdle for newer guitarists.

You’ll need a phaser pedal to get that whooshing sound of the big D chords at the start, and you’ll need a Digitech Whammy pedal to nail the broad harmonic shifting during the solo.

I consider this track to be one of the best introductions to the use of percussive, muted notes to add a punchier, funkier timbre to the music.

It can be tempting to crank your gain for a track such as this, but Morello’s tone is actually quite clean, so resist the urge to dime your distortion. The more saturated your sound becomes, the less punchy your notes will be, and Morello is all about that punch!

“Master of Puppets” — Metallica

“Master of Puppets” is the thrash metal anthem and a must-learn for every guitarist, no matter what kind of music you’re into, but obligation doesn’t in any way detract from the fun of playing this insane song!

Enjoying something of a renaissance thanks to Stranger Things season four in which character Eddie Munson shreds it out in “the upside down” to distract a storm of bloodthirsty bat-things, there’s never been a better time to learn “Master of Puppets”.

Be warned, though; it’s not the easiest track to play on guitar, mostly because James Hetfeild’s right hand is truly next-level. Believe it or not, almost all of “Master of Puppets” is played using downstroke eighth-notes at 212 BPM.

That amounts to 7 down picks a second!

“Nocturne” — Julian Lage

When Julian Lage picked up a guitar at the age of four, he never put it back down. The very definition of a prodigy, he quickly became one of the world’s greatest young guitar players and is now considered one of the greatest jazz guitarists of all time.

He’s by no means a shredder, but his hybrid picking technique and highly musical approach to playing the guitar means he’s almost impossible to imitate — I figured out his live in LA “I’ll Be Seeing You” intro about four years ago, and I still haven’t mastered it.

But “Nocturne” is Julian at his most tempered, so you won’t have to dedicate years of your life in monkish study to get it down, although that’s not to say there aren’t some tricky elements to chew on here.

Julian’s use of dynamics is insane on this cut. Some notes are played so softly that they melt into the backdrop of the song, and it takes some close listening and incredibly refined playing to hear and repeat them.

The key to nailing this track? Restraint.

“House Of The Rising Sun” — The Animals

In my opinion, “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals is a rare example of a perfect song, although it’s a 19th century folk standard, so technically not their song.

It’s not overly complex, in fact, it’s rather simple, but it’s breathtakingly powerful and effortlessly cool. It’s also the best way to familiarize yourself with rudimentary arpeggiation, something you’ll want to add to your skill set early on as a guitarist.

Arpeggiation, for those that don’t know, is when you break a chord down into separate notes rather than strumming them simultaneously. Listen to this track and you’ll hear arpeggios all over the place, but don’t let that intimidate you.

The chords are all very basic (Am, C, D, Fmaj7), so you can wrestle with this new concept quite easily.

Once you can play it, find yourself a singer who can handle the bestial wails of Eric Burden, then get yourself some gigs pronto!

“Catacombs” — At The Drive-In

If you’ve ever seen At the Drive-In live or checked some of their shows out on YouTube, you’ll know how wild these dudes go on stage, and they can do so because their riffs are conducive to one hell of a good time!

They’re the kind of riffs that benefit from violent, sloppy playing, which makes them super fun to play while rocking out to the fullest extent.

There are only four quite simple parts to learn, the rather off-the-wall chords being the trickiest of the bunch, and once you get the fingering down, you’re free to let the energy of the sounds take over as you play your heart out.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” — Nirvana

The parallel power chord transitions of Nirvana’s world-beating song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” make it a delight to play. The energy of this cut is almost primal in its raw intensity, and you can revel in it by learning four very simple chords.

This is the tune that made grunge the biggest genre on the planet and is to hair metal what that big old meteor was to the dinosaurs. It frequently ranks as one of the best riffs and songs ever written in prestigious tier lists, and y’know what… I can’t argue with that.

Of course, as something of a Nirvana nerd, I have more love for some of the deeper cuts in the band’s back catalog, but I’ll never forget how this song made me feel when I first heard it.

It’s about as visceral as music can get without delving into more experimental territory, and I will never not enjoy that.

Despite the simplicity of the composition, it’s a fantastic exercise for improving your rhythmic playing, as it has some cool muted string action between each pair of power chords.

“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” — The Rolling Stones

Headed up by a highly singable single-string riff, “Satisfaction” is an absolute riot to rip out any time, any place, and it’s as easy as it is fun — Woo!

The famous riff plays out entirely on the A string, and when you hit the verse, it’s all open-position chords, baby!

There’s nothing too complex to chew on, so just rely on your muscle memory and let the good times roll. This tune is sure to get any party poppin’ off, making it a great option for pretty much any set list, but particularly when you’re trying to cater to a diverse audience.

Everyone, young or old, metalhead or pop, erm… head, knows and loves this song, so don’t let that dance floor become a ghost town. Hit ’em with this classic belter and get some bodies moving!

“Battery” — Metallica

Riddled with lightning-fast e-string triplets, “Battery” is one of Metallica’s most ferocious cuts, and it takes some serious practice hours to get down.

However, once you’ve got the physicality of this song on lock, you’ll be having so much fun, you’ll never want to play anything else.

The track starts out with some lovely flamenco-inspired chords, with Kirk laying down some inspired leads over the top. It’s a nice calm-before-the-storm moment that gives your fingers a 1:05 warm-up before all hell breaks loose.

“Reptilia” — The Strokes

Remember when I mentioned that “House of the Rising Sun” was a perfect song in my book? Well, “Reptilia” by The Strokes is another.

Compositionally speaking, this track is pristine, with loads of stand-out ear-worm passages and intriguing progressions, a far sight from the slightly bland output I was used to hearing from this band.

It offers up the perfect mix of “feel playing” and chops, as the rhythm is mostly just a single chord that gets inverted with every sixteen repetitions, but Albert Hammond Jr.’s lead work is phenomenal, as is Nick Valensi’s chordal work during the pre-chorus and chorus.

And on the subject of that chorus progression, it’s the trickiest part of the song, as you have to mute the D and the G strings while playing a dyad on the A and B strings, all while sliding the chord shape up and down the fretboard.

“Blackbird” — The Beatles

“Blackbird” is another awesome example of the dyad technique kickin’ ass! Like a power chord, a dyad is made up of two notes, but the second note doesn’t have to be the 5th note in the major scale; it can be anything.

The second note of a dyad tends to be further away from the string you’re playing the root note on and results in a very defined and harmonically rich sound.

“Tornado Of Souls” — Megadeth

Dave Mustaine may still be sour about getting the boot from Metallica back in the 80s, but thank the gods of metal that he did, as that’s how we wound up with Megadeth and the glory that is “Tornado of Souls”.

This tune has one of my favorite solos of all time, played by the one-of-a-kind axe-man Marty Friedman. Friedman is to upstrokes what Hetfield is to downstrokes, and his playing style is utterly inimitable, but that’s not to say you can’t play this tune with lots of patience and practice.

The groovy riff that kicks this track off is one of those rolls-off-the-fingers kind of passages. It’s defined by that exotic sound so typical of Megadeth thanks to Mustaine’s dabbling in various interesting modes.

“The Passenger” — Iggy Pop

For a song made up entirely of a single chord progression, “The Passenger” by Iggy Pop is remarkably engaging and super fun to play. You’ll just cycle through Am, F, C, G ad infinitum, but the rhythm of these chords keeps things interesting.

Strummed on the off-beat, starting with an upstroke, this is no normal progression. It’s almost ska-like in its sequencing, which will feel odd at first, but it’s easy enough to wrap your fingers around.

It also gives you the chance to practice more intricate chord articulations, as you’re not just smashing out all six notes every time. You’re mostly aiming to hit the thinnest four strings only, leaving the bottom register for the bass.

“My Own Summer” — Deftones

Steph Carpenter of Deftones was chilling in the studio one day when producer Terry Date told him the band needed another song to fill out their Around the Fur tracklist, so he packed his bong, took a giant hit, picked up his ESP, and let the green muse flow through him.

The result? One of the sickest single-string riffs ever composed and the opening to “My Own Summer”, a heavy, dark, brooding track that helped Deftones distance themselves from the bone-headed nu-metal crowd.

Both lazy and highly creative, the guitarwork in this song is easy to learn and incredibly fun to play. It’s a prime example of how drop D tuning can be used to make super-heavy and articulate riffs.

“Mr. Brownstone” — Guns ‘N’ Roses

As most budding guitarists do, I went through a hefty Slash obsession, eventually learning every track off Appetite for Destruction, and out of all those great songs, I found “Mr. Brownstone” by far the most enjoyable to play.

There’s just something about the primary riff that stokes the rock and roll embers in the soul and gets a party feeling going. It’s like an Angus Young lick with a little more complexity and a more reckless, hell-raising attitude, and what’s not to love about that?

“Mr. Brownstone” is also one of the less-played GnR tracks, so we don’t have to worry about ear fatigue ruining it for us.

“Down Rodeo” — Rage Against The Machine

“Down Rodeo” by Rage Against the Machine has some of the most satisfying rhythm-oriented bends in the history of rock and roll. It encourages an aggressive playing style that makes it feel exciting and dangerous.

The bend is also the most melodically intriguing part of the composition, helping it stand apart from Morello’s many other hard rock/blues creations.

You can really dig in a play with some feeling on “Down Rodeo”, but you will need a wah pedal and an octaver if you want to get the sounds just right.

Rage have one of the tightest rhythm sections in rock music, so I’d recommend practicing this track with a bassist to tighten up and lock in together. Master this song, and you’ll become two players with one mind, capable of keeping time no matter how crazy your live shows get.

“Black Dog” — Led Zeppelin

The riffs aren’t what make “Black Dog” an intermediate as opposed to easy song to learn; it’s the timing.

With tons of instrumental pauses, it’s mighty hard to hit all your cues as a guitarist, but it’s this very quirk that makes it mega fun to play once you know how it’s done, and I’m going to tell you the timing secret!

Towards the end of every pause, very low in the mix, you’ll hear a gentle click. This is the legendary John Bonham informing his bandmates to come back in for another round.

“Sweet Child O’ Mine” — Guns ‘N’ Roses

Is “Sweet Child ‘o’ Mine overplayed? Undoubtedly, but there’s a reason for that. Slash’s infamous lick is one of the greatest ever written, and his solos are undeniably amazing.

Learning at least the opening riff of this song is a rite of passage for all guitarists, and for me, was the first time I felt as though I might actually be getting pretty good on my instrument.

I remember it vividly. I had just bought a B.C. Rich Platinum Pro Warlock, my first proper guitar after my purple Encore Strat copy (the learner plates of the guitar world), and everything I already knew how to play sounded infinitely better through quality pickups.

Now’s the time, I thought. I have an axe to do the tune justice, so let’s give it a shot, and I had a hell of time. Whenever I dust this song off, I get the same feeling of elation that I did back then, albeit without the Warlock — I’m more of a Telecaster man now.

And the great thing about this song is the range of difficulty sprinkled throughout.

The body of the song is almost entirely just cowboy chords (C, G, A, D, Em, Cadd9) with some arpeggiation, perfect for budding guitarists, the slower leads are great for aspiring noodlers, and the final solo is a challenge for the speed demons out there.

“Stand By Me” — Ben E. King

The upright bass and strings do most of the heavy lifting on this timeless classic from Mr. Ben E. King, but it plays beautifully on a solo guitar.

Released in 1961, “Stand By Me” is one of the most influential tracks of the 20th century, and is undoubtedly one of the best vocal performances in musical history, which is why it’s such an important song to learn if you’re also a singer.

Interestingly, “Stand By Me” is actually a reimagining of a gospel hymn. King was adamant that there was a way to democratize this style of religious music and make it more accessible to and popular among the masses, and it turns out he was right on the money.

The impact of this song is immeasurable, as evidenced by the fact that it has been covered countless times and will likely continue to be covered for the rest of time.

Unless you want to mix it up a bit with some arpeggios or fancy fingerpicking, then you’ve just got cowboy chords (G, Em, C, D) to learn here, but getting the rhythm can be tricky — Listen closely to the bassline to get the strumming pattern just right.

“Whiskey In The Jar” — Thin Lizzy

Thin Lizzy are a massively underrated band, and “Whiskey in the Jar” is their magnum opus, a masterful tapestry of expert storytelling, driving rhythms, and searing leads, which is why Metallica chose to cover it on their Garage Inc. record.

I personally get the most kicks out of playing the lead on this one, as the solo definitely ranks in my top five of all time, but the rhythm guitar is a lot of fun too.

Following a G, F, Em, F, G progression, there are plenty of peaks and troughs in this song that intrigue the ears and fingers in equal measure.

“Highway To Hell” — AC/DC

AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” is a totem of hard rock music, a sonic embodiment of the whole rock aesthetic, complete with a devil-may-care attitude, growly Bon Scott vocals, punchy drums, and, best of all, some sweet overdriven guitars — Woo!

It’s a high-octane belter tailor-made for a pedal-to-the-metal journey down Route 66(6), but you don’t have to sell your soul at 100 miles per hour to get maximum kicks from this song, as playing it on guitar is just as thrilling.

Those big open cowboy chords with just the right amount of gain are simply… *Chef’s kiss*, and they’re easy peasy to play too. The solo is pretty steady as well, so it’s not completely out of the question for beginner guitarists.

The phrasing can be quite difficult, as Angus Young really puts some mustard on a lot of the notes, but you’ll pick that up over time.

A quick tip before we move on… go easy on the distortion. The Youngs never drench their tone with gain, they give their clean sound a little gnarly kiss on the cheek and that’s that. For reference, if you’re using a Boss DS1, you should set the gain at about 3 O’clock.

“Message In A Bottle” — The Police

Early in my journey as a guitarist, I thought the wrist always had to stay firmly behind the guitar neck, and it wasn’t until my teacher showed me how to play “Message in a Bottle” by The Police that I realized that by dropping the wrist, you get a lot more stretch and mobility.

What you’re doing here is taking normal power chords, then adding a 9th note to them, which essentially means you’re forming a second power chord with the 5th note of the first power chord serving as its root… if that makes sense.

“Drive” — Incubus

“Drive” broke a lot of boundaries for Incubus, taking them from obscure alternative metal act to radio-ready melodic masterminds.

Yet they didn’t have to sell out to make this transition, as “Drive” is an objectively lovely, well-structured and performed tune based around an inventive Mike Einziger chord progression.

Mike is a genius when it comes to incorporating open strings to change the voicing of chords, and you can hear this working to great effect in “Drive”.

You can also hear how his jazzy, funky roots are incorporated at intervals in very subtle and tasteful ways, elevating the track without drastically changing the mood or momentum.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” — Queen

Even if – like me – you’re not a fan of Queen’s theatrical take on rock music, you can’t deny that “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a sonic tour de force, offering six-stringers plenty to sink their teeth into… eventually.

Brian May doesn’t get his first cue until 2:20, but little over 10 seconds later, he rips his first solo, sounding very Slash-esque, albeit with more of an Eric Bell tone.

Then comes the operatic phase of the song, but hot on its tail comes the infamous Wayne’s World headbanging moment — Enjoy!

“For The Love Of God” — Steve Vai

Steve Vai is an awesome guitar player and one of the few virtuosos to remain popular in an age that frankly isn’t too keen on such showy music.

He has a ton of amazing songs under his belt, but “For the Love of God” definitely stands out as one of the more fun cuts, and I believe it has a lot to do with the fact he created the melody by singing rather than playing.

Yep, you read that right… Vai came up with the melody for this song by humming it over the first chord of the progression.

Although he came up with the rhythm first, he soon found that the vocalized melody was guiding him towards each new chord in sequence until he had the whole song sketched out.

Then, all he had to do was figure out his vocal melody on the guitar and use it as the lead line; however, as it wasn’t native to the guitar or even his fingers, it called for rather odd positioning and voicings.

This, in my opinion, is what makes this song so dang lovely to play. Yes, there are fast sections, but for the most part, your fingers are luxuriating on heavenly, sustained notes and executing lush, extended glissandos that give the song a very fluid and refined quality.

The way the fingers have to stretch to maintain the flow of the sung melody feels great too. Perhaps the best way to describe it is that it’s like yoga for the fingers.

“Losing My Religion” — R.E.M

You can’t go wrong with a bit of REM, and “Losing My Religion” is arguably their greatest achievement as a band.

There’s only one relatively unusual chord, the Fsus2, so I’ve given this tune an easy difficulty rating.

The chords are almost all in the open position as well, ensuring you can forget about the technical aspects of your playing and lose yourself (and your religion) in the moment.

“Leaving On A Jet Plane” — John Denver

This dreamy, lovesick tune is about leaving your beloved behind and hitting the skies on a journey, and how’s this for a bit of symmetry, it took John Denver’s career into the stratosphere!

There’s some fantastic storytelling to enjoy here, and the twinkly arpeggios are an awesome way to find your feet (or your fingers anyway) when finger picking.

It’s also good to practice singing whilst playing guitar, for as great as the melody is, it’s not too complicated. And considering the entire track pedals on a three-chord sequence (D, G, C), the guitar won’t hog too much of your attention either.

“Here Comes The Sun” — The Beatles

“Here Comes the Sun” is one of the most joyous songs of all time, so it’s small wonder why it’s so dang fun to play on guitar… if you’ve got a capo that is.

You’ll be using it to barre the 7th fret so you can stick to easy open chord shapes that give you more freedom to add little embellishments as you go.

“Back In Black” — AC/DC

“Back in Black” is 100% my favorite AC/DC track. It’s just got that killer classic rock vibe, and Angus’s little blues lick in the opening chord sequence might just be one of the greatest riff embellishments of all time.

This was AC/DC’s first release after the tragic passing of their singer Bon Scott, who died in 1980 after a particularly heavy night.

Angus, Malcolm and co. came close to packing it all in, but after finding gravel-throated Englishmen Brian Johnson, they decided to give music another swing, and they didn’t miss a beat.

A celebration of Bon Scott’s life, “Back in Black” is a sonic anti-funeral for headbangers and hellraisers, reminding listeners of the immortality of the late singer’s influence — “Forget the Hearse, cause I’ll never die.”

The chord changes in “Back in Black” are slightly faster than those in “Highway to Hell”, and the lead guitar is significantly trickier too, so I’ve marked this one as intermediate, but don’t pass it up if you’re just starting out your guitar journey, as even playing slow will be great practice.

“War Pigs” — Black Sabbath

The rad thing about Black Sabbath’s 8-minute monster of a song “War Pigs” is that every single section (of which there are many) is just as dope as the last. You feel like you’re on a journey when playing this tune, always looking to the horizon for the next killer riff.

No word of a lie, I’d probably rank at least two riffs from “War Pigs” in my top ten of all time, and they’re pretty simple too.

Granted, the solo has some fast bluesy bits, but as it’s actually two solos layered on top of each other, it gets a little chaotic, so it’s the perfect opportunity to launch your own improvised solo.

To do so, you’ll need to know at least one scale, the notes of the fretboard, and what key the song is in (E). I’d recommend playing around with the minor blues scale for this track, but pentatonic scales will work nicely too.

“Can’t Stop” — Red Hot Chili Peppers

On their album By the Way, John Frusciante (one of my favorite guitarists) was trying to shed his bluesy skin and take on a more nebulous European sound, something I think he absolutely nailed, with “Can’t Stop” being one of the best examples.

The main riff is funky as hell, but not in an overt way, and it doesn’t feel anchored to the blues scale at all. It has a very neutral, clean vibe, more akin to something the better indie bands of the time were doing, like Bloc Party or The Strokes (on a good day).

But it’s more than just John’s note choices that make this a G.O.A.T.ed riff; it’s the way he plays them. To infuse a rhythmic element, Frusciente is hitting a bunch of muted strings with each note, something that’s hard to keep up as the hand moves around.

This is what makes the song such a blast to play, though, as you can dig in and strum with a little bit of force. You want that twangy, brittle Stratocaster sound, and to get it, you’ve got to give your plectrum passes some juice!

“Sweet Home Alabama” — Lynyrd Skynyrd

Here’s a weird one for me… I’m not actually a big fan of this track, (I’m more of a “Simple Man” kinda guy) but I can’t deny how fun it is to play, especially when you’re just wrapping your head around simple chords and picking out individual notes within them.

It’s a classic crowd-pleaser that will help you fill pretty much any dance floor, whether you’re playing your local bar, a wedding, or an arena show.

What’s more, it has one of those solos that sounds impressive but isn’t actually too tricky to get down, so if you’re looking to impress early on in your guitar career, “Sweet Home Alabama” is a great track to add to your arsenal.

“Just A Phase” — Incubus

Although it never reached the ubiquity of “Drive”, “Just a Phase” was another home run for Incubus guitarist Mike Enziger. The relaxed feeling of his chord choices and his arpeggiations seem to sum up the cozy aesthetic of the entire Morning View record.

Strung together with a sequence of melodious hammer-ons, the opening riff is equal parts pleasant-sounding and impressive-looking, and the shift to the E chord for the verse never fails to give me chills.

You also get the steady build of the bridges to work on your dynamic playing, which is a super fun element of the song, especially when you get to the final build and get to launch into a Nirvana-style crescendo with tons of fuzz and distortion.

“Get Back” — The Beatles

This one’s a real foot-tapper and an awesome jam track for you and a fellow guitarist to take turns practicing solos over. The chords and rhythms are nice and simple. It’s A, G, D, A7 with a typical pulsing momentum.

“Thunderstruck” — AC/DC

Looking to impress people that don’t play the guitar? “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC is the way to do it, and you could play the cool opening riff with one hand tied behind your back, literally!

It sounds difficult, but all Angus is doing is a sequence of pull-offs on one string, with the open notes providing enough momentum that your picking hand can take it easy.

And speaking of easy, you should check out Malcolm’s sections. The verse is entirely a deconstructed power chord in B on the A string. Admittedly, this isn’t as fun as the lead guitar lick, but the chorus is a whale of a time for both axe-men.

“Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” — Led Zeppelin

We’ve covered a couple of songs that sound difficult to play that aren’t, so let’s balance things out a bit with a song that sounds easy to play but is actually pretty darn tricky.

Zeppelin’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” is a beautifully tragic cut centered around Jimmy Page’s fingerpicked chords. The pattern of his picking and his note choices change in very subtle ways throughout the song, which is what makes it such a challenging prospect.

There are some crazy quick chord changes to wrestle with too, sure to give you a headache at first, but it’s these troublesome aspects of the song that make it such a pleasant one to play when you’ve ironed out all the kinks.

“I’m Broken” — Pantera

With possibly the heaviest groove in metal, “I’m Broken” should be on every heavy music-lover’s guitar bucket list, although the tuning’s a nightmare… C# then up 40 cents? What the hell was Dimebag thinking?

Well, Mr. Bag was just doing what he was used to. He would often tune slightly sharp or slightly flat for songs, most likely because he felt a riff needed a tighter or heavier sound.

To get it just right, either tune by ear listening to the song, or use a tuner and alter the hertz to pedal that C# standard back 40 cents.

Once that nightmare is over, you can finally get down to business learning this absolutely pummeling groove metal masterpiece. As is to be expected of a Dimebag composition, it’s not a walk in the park, but tons of fun if you dedicate some time to getting it down.

The solo sounds insanely intimidating, but there’s a lot of tremolo picking and pull-offs going on, so it’s not quite as impossible as you may at first think.

This is a great track for practicing those squealing pinch harmonics and also allows you to cut your teeth on grace notes, which are very quick ornamental notes that precede a dominant, lingering note.

“Under The Bridge” — Red Hot Chili Peppers

Blood Sugar Sex Magic is a gloriously strange album. It starts and ends with the funkiest, sex-saturated bops you’ve ever heard, but breaking them up we have some true tear-jerkers, one of which is of course “Under the Bridge”.

The lyrics came first for this song, arriving in the form of a Keidis poem that Flea and Frusciante metabolized in order to produce an amazing instrumental backdrop. So impactful was this cut that it even got the cover treatment by pop megastars All Saints.

There are a few different ways to play the opening riff, but if you want to do it like John, you have to get the thumb involved, hooking it over the fretboard to fret the E string.

The verse riff is open for interpretation as well, but again, John uses the Hendrix, thumb-over technique, and speaking of Hendrix, you can really hear his influence all over this track.

All the little flourishes within the chords are Hendrix to a tee but channeled through John’s own advanced sense of musicality and emotion.

It’s a great little number to do just you and a singer, as the bass and drums take a backseat, so if you know someone with pipes, try and recruit them for a jam.

“Iron Man” — Black Sabbath

This one’s a bit Beavis and Butthead-core, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an absolute slap, and ho boy are those Tony Iommi power chords fun to play!

Thanks to their back-and-forth speed, it’s a great song to play to build up stamina, and the slow single-note passages can help you find your footing as a lead player early on too.

An early metal classic with some sick riffage and no real dynamics to worry about, you can let loose when ripping this tune out. The solo is a little bit bonkers but not beyond a novice player if you really listen hard and knuckle down.

Not-so-fun fact… The day Black Sabbath were supposed to head off on their first tour, the tips of Tony Iommi’s middle and ring fingers were torn off his right hand in a sheet metal factory accident.

He had to fashion thimble-like prosthetics out of melted down washing up bottles and an old leather jacket in order to continue playing the guitar.

“Johnny B. Goode” — Chuck Berry

Loaded with major blues swagger, “Johnny B. Goode” is an electric guitar anthem of epic proportions. For many a guitarist, it’s the first encounter of good old-fashioned rock and roll as a musician, providing an easy-ish portal to the wonders of both blues lead and rhythm playing.

And when you’ve got the bones of this track on lock, the rhythm parts provide ample space for bluesy embellishments, allowing you to develop your own style and learn how best to implement it.

Every man and his dog has covered “Johnny B. Goode”, including one Jimi Hendrix (who, incidentally, did have a Basset Hound called Ethel Floon), and now you get to join in on this hallowed tradition, all while having the time of your life doing your best Marty McFly impression.

“Life On Mars” — David Bowie

The inimitable David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” is the only purely chordal song on this list that I’d say is truly difficult to wrap your fingers around. Sure, it sounds simple enough, but when you see the chord patterns, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Those with smaller hands may struggle, as will anyone who hasn’t yet developed a decent amount of finger strength. It takes a lot of patience to commit to memory and master the off-the-wall transitions, but this just makes it all the more satisfying to play fluidly after the fact.

The reason it’s so tricky to play on guitar is that it was written on piano, as you can hear in the song, so us six-stringers have to get a little bit creative to make the transcription work.

If you’re bored of playing the same old chords day in and day out, “Life on Mars” introduces you to lots of exciting variations, such as diminished chords, augmented chords, and beyond!

“3 Suns And 1 Star” — Down

For the uninitiated, Down is a supergroup that initially comprised members of Pantera (Phil Anselmo, Rex Brown), Corrosion of Conformity (Pepper Keenan), and Crowbar (Jimmy Bower, Kirk Windstein).

As for what they sound like… imagine Black Sabbath after a bottle of Jack and a few lines of molly, and you’re listening to Down — Their music is simultaneously faster and sludgier than Sabbath.

“3 Suns and 1 Star” is off their third record Over the Under, and has some one of the bounciest metal riffs I’ve ever heard. It also has some epic low-end guitar harmonies that make it an absolute blast to rip out with one of your axe-wielding compadres.

“Sunshine Of Your Love” — Cream

“Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream was the first song I ever figured out how to play on the electric guitar. I was playing that purple Strat copy I mentioned earlier through a 10-watt B.B. Blaster with a gain control labeled “BEEF”, and you better believe I had that meaty SOB cranked.

Yep, I pissed my whole family off that night, not just because I was playing obnoxiously loud for someone who only just got their first guitar earlier that day, but because I was paying the riff completely wrong.

My ear hadn’t developed yet, and what I thought were round-about the right notes were not, but I had a real good time getting things wrong, and an even better time getting things right when I learned a bit more about guitar and found a tab online.

“Buffalo Soldier” — Bob Marley

When we’re talking about fun songs, you can’t not include some Bob Marley, and “Buffalo Soldier”, despite having quite deep lyrical content, is a very relaxed, easy-going instrumental dying to be played on a summer’s eve after a couple of cold ones.

However, this song isn’t a total doss. As a quintessential reggae composition, you can learn a lot from it, particularly where strumming techniques are concerned, as you’ll be keeping time with the off-beat and potentially only strumming the top three strings.

“Flying Whales” — Gojira

Here’s one for all my technical metal homies out there. Gojira’s From Mars to Sirius is one of the best heavy albums ever written, and “Flying Whales” is the crown jewel of the tracklist.

Loaded with blisteringly heavy riffs and unexpectedly jazzy embellishments, I will never, ever get bored of playing this song, and I think you’ll feel the same way.

“Seven Nation Army” — The White Stripes

The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” is an insanely chantable, bass-y riff that’s a hoot and a holler to play.

Lots of beginners are drawn to this song thinking it’s going to be a cakewalk, before immediately being defeated by the odd tuning situation. The thing that trips most people up is that the main riff sounds as though it’s tuned down, but in actual fact, this song is in open A tuning, meaning three of your six strings need to be tuned up.

Jack White then uses an octave pedal to give his A string a super low, bass sound. Well, actually, it’s thought that he originally used a Digitech Whammy, but the outcome is the same.

If you want to play it like Jack, you’ll also need to incorporate a slide, which I know can be intimidating, but if you’re interested in this form of playing, “Seven Nation Army” is a great way to test the waters and develop a few rudimentary skills.

“Black Sabbath” — Black Sabbath

This is it folks, the song that had everybody’s granny trembling in her compression socks, a song built on “The Devil’s Interval”, an ambiguous tritone that never resolves, leaving the listener feeling uneasy, as if something wicked their way comes.

Tony Iommi seems to toy with us at times, trilling the resolved note, only to drag us back into the dissonant hell of The Devil’s Interval. Now, doesn’t it sound fun to be on the other side of this, the one doing the toying, making priests weep and children cry? Yes, right!?!

And get this, playing into the tri part of “tritone”, this song is the title track of a self-titled album. Yep, that’s right… “Black Sabbath” is on Black Sabbath by Black Sabbath.

There’s a power in the simplicity of this song. It feels so nice (and evil) to really hang on to those notes and let the terror build in your audience. Mwuhahahahaaaa!!!

“Jolene” — Dolly Parton

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Tuning: E A D G B E — Capo on 4th fret
  • “Jolene” tab

This three-chord wonder by the legend that is Dolly Parton is an awesome workout for the fingers, and when it settles into your muscle memory, it’s super cool to roll out effortlessly, inevitably impressing everybody nearby.

The subtle variations are a nightmare to remember at first, but you’ll get the flow of it after a few practice sessions. And don’t worry if this song seems a little beyond you at your current level of expertise, you can always just strum the chords and sing the words.

“Space Oddity” — David Bowie

“Space Oddity” is perhaps David Bowie’s most infamous song, and although the guitar parts are rather laid back, there’s enough variety, and enough of a journey to make it an absolute riot to play.

I’ve placed this one in the intermediate category, only because there are a few chords involved that you typically learn a little later on, but a tenacious novice won’t have any trouble perfecting it.

Try to play this tune without singing along doing your best David Bowie impression… it’s literally impossible!

“Bulls On Parade” — Rage Against The Machine

You know how you can tell that every last “Bulls on Parade” riff is next-level? Because they all encourage an acapella sing-along. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen someone mimicking that pre-verse wha pedal riff (y’know the one… wow-wow wokka wow-wow wokka wokka wokka — that one), I’d be filthy stinkin’ rich.

Also, have you ever noticed how insanely heavy this track is when that intro riff comes back around again during the outro with Zack screaming all over it? You can’t help but give a stank face when you’re jamming it out, and that’s always a sign of maximum enjoyment.

You don’t have to use a wah pedal to play that wokka wokka riff, but bear in mind that it’s going to sound flat without it, as it’s literally just one power chord interspersed with some muted strings.

“Stay Together For The Kids” — Blink-182

Blink-182 have some awesome songs under their belt, but none are more enjoyable to play than the spine-tinglingly powerful “Stay Together for the Kids”.

The two-chord chorus is about as raw and emotive as it gets. You can try and maintain your composure while playing it, but trust me, you will fail. Before you know it, you’ll be jumping all over the place and screaming the vocals in an uber-exaggerated Tom Delonge voice.

“Hound Dog” — Elvis Presley

An absolute rock and roll classic, it’s impossible to have a bad time when playing Elvis “The King” Presley’s “Hound Dog”. While it follows a simple blueprint, the structure, interspersed with killer solos, will forever be enjoyable to strum out on the guitar.

“Wild Thing” — The Troggs

With only three chords to learn, “Wild Thing” is a staple of the novice guitarist’s musical arsenal, but it doesn’t matter if you’ve been playing ten days or ten minutes; this tune is incredibly fun to jam.

“Crazy Train” — Ozzy Osbourne

“Crazy Train” shows the late guitar legend Randy Rhoads in his prime, laying down tasty licks left, right, and center, with a deliciously shreddy solo full of awesome neo-classical trills to tie it all in a neat bow.

I chose this song for my final performance in my college music class and netted top marks, so it will always occupy a special place in my heart.

“Rebel, Rebel” — David Bowie

Thanks to that killer opening riff, Bowie’s “Rebel, Rebel” has become a classic guitar anthem, one that when you play you can’t help but feel like a bona fide rock star.

The Dsus2 chord might be a little intimidating to those who only know the basic open chords, but this is the perfect opportunity to expand your chord theory knowledge.

“Wake Up” — Rage Against The Machine

“Wake Up” wasn’t just a stand-out track on Rage’s debut self-titled album, it was also compiled in the soundtrack for The Matrix, blasting out as the movie closes and the credits roll.

As is the case with all RATM songs, it’s got dynamite riffs from top to bottom, so there’s plenty to chew on, from the freakishly funky to the downright scary sounding.

Final Thoughts

We’ve discussed enough amazing songs to hold you over for a great many years here today, and each one is as fun to play as the last.

However, there are of course a million and one songs that didn’t make the cut that deserve your attention, so treat this list as a jumping off point, then take your search for guitar-based joy out into the greater music world.

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