The songs have 3-5 foundational guitar chords that are critical for any guitarist to learn.
I picked these songs because they sound great when played on acoustic guitar and were huge pop hits! They will elicit a positive response from your audience who’ll be happy to sing along as you play.
You will not need a capo to play these songs and all are in standard tuning. I suggest playing along with the original recording so you get comfortable with the rhythm, timing and chord shapes. For each song I’ve included the chord shapes that I use.
The 5 acoustic guitar songs for beginners are:
- Royals (Lorde)
- Fallin` (Alicia Keys)
- With Or Without You (U2)
- Just The Way You Are (Bruno Mars)
- Truly Madly Deeply (Savage Garden)
#1 Royals (Lorde)
All parts: D, C, G
The song consists of the three foundational guitar chords: D, C and G. It’s a great song for beginners as you learn to play these chords. The song also has a distinct rhythmic pattern that you can tap on the body of your acoustic guitar.
“Royals” by Lorde was released in 2013. It was her debut single from her debut album “Pure Heroine”. The song was written by Lorde, Ella Yelich-O’Connor and Joel Little. It was produced by Joel Little. The song stands out for it’s distinct rhythm and minimalist soundscape. In 2014 the song won two Grammys for Song Of The Year and Best Pop Solo Performance.
#2 Fallin` (Alicia Keys)
All parts: Em, Bm7
The song consists of two chords. Once you’re comfortable with the chords, focus on getting the feel and rhythm of the chord progression. Play along with the recording to lock it in.
“Fallin`” was written and produced by Alicia Keys and released in 2001. It was her debut single from her debut album “Songs in A Minor”. The song was a breakout hit. In 2002 it won three out of four Grammy Awards, including Song Of The Year.
#3 With Or Without You (U2)
All parts: D, A, Bm, G
This song consists of four foundational guitar chords. It’s the same four chords throughout the entire song. Once you learn these chords you’ll be able to play the entire song!
“With Or Without You” was written by U2 and released in 1987 on their fifth album, “The Joshua Tree”. It was produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno. It became their first number-one hit and remains one of their most popular songs.
#4 Just The Way You Are (Bruno Mars)
All parts: F, Dm, Bb, F
This song contains what is one of the most challenging chords for beginners, the “F” barre chord. As you work up your finger strength you’ll eventually be able to play this song without any challenges!
“Just The Way You Are” was written by Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine, Khalil Walton and Khari Cain. It was produced by The Smeezingtons and Needlz. It was his debut single from his debut album “Doo-Wops & Hooligans” released in 2010. In 2011 it won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance.
#5 Truly Madly Deeply (Savage Garden)
Verses, Choruses and Solo: C, G, F, G
Pre-chorus: Am, G, F, G
Bridge: F, G
Even though this song has a few different chord progressions, it’s basically 3 chords with an Am in the pre-chorus.
“Truly Madly Deeply” was written by Savage Garden and produced by Charles Fisher. It was released on their self-titled debut album in 1997. It became a huge hit for the band and it’s become an iconic 90s pop song and ballad.