Guitar Lesson Easy Songs
Learning easy songs
Here's the good news if you are a beginner on guitar. Many songs only use three or four chords, so you can get started backing vocals fairly swiftly. It's a good idea to memorise these chord progressions, chord charts are useful but you don't want to be totally reliant on them.
6 Easy songs for guitar
In the chord pictures below the 6 vertical lines are the strings, with the frets as horizontal lines.
When the o symbol appears, play that string open, x means - don't play this string.
Song 1 is a Dylan song. Play one bar of G (4 strums) one bar of D and two bars of Am. Strumming pattern is 1,2,3, and 4 - all downstrokes apart from the and, which is upstroke. This pattern works for so many songs, and you can vary it as much as you like, so long as the 4 beats are kept to a constant length.
As the song is in the key of G, you can use the relative minor pentatonic scale to solo over the chords, in this case Em - because the relative minor of G is E minor. This will work for any song in this key.
The bars are shown on the left for each song, 4 beats each bar.
A classic Hendrix tune - although your memory of it may be a bit hazy, I know mine is!
When you are comfortable with the chords, try substituting the E7 sharp 9 chord for the E chord. Note the fret number - it starts in fret 6, and the root note of the chord is fret 7 on string 5.
You can use the Em pentatonic scale for this, as the key is E7 or E blues.
You could get in the mood by wearing a bandanna and setting fire to your guitar with lighter fluid, before the inevitable sexual assault and guitar smashing. All good fun.
Chord grids, easy songs
An early Beatles classic, you can do the Twist to this one.
The A chord can be played with a half barre - flatten your first finger down to play the chord. This shape works great for all rock and roll tunes, and has many advantages over the standard three finger shape.
Finally, a D5 or D power chord is shown. You can use these chords instead for a more rocky sound. G5 and A5 - same shape but starting on string 6, frets 3 and 5.
Classic Bob Marley tune. Play either Fmaj7 or F for the final chord. This song is in the key of C.
How do you find out the key of a song? - Usually, the first and last chord will give you the answer, although there are exceptions to this general rule. When you know three or four of the chords though it's easy, because each key has a different set of chords, and only one key will contain those specific chords.
A song in the key of C will use C, F, G or G7 (major chords) and Am, Dm, Em (minor chords)
To solo over these chords, you could use C major scale, or Am pentatonic scale. Note that this follows the same practice as the other scale discussed above - you find the relative minor scale to the key you are in.
Wild Thing, Troggs and Hendrix! - guess which version is the best, a clue - there is no out of tune recorder solo on the best version! Surely one of the worst solos of all time on the Troggs version.
You could get in the mood by listening to the infamous Troggs Tapes on YouTube. Please be advised that there is more swearing than actual music, but then, that's the point!
Don't forget to sprinkle some fairy dust on the bastard!
Add some strings, or a 12-string guitar!
This is a groovy number by Simon and Garfunkel, quite possibly stolen from somewhere else.
This is in the key of G - just use the middle 4 strings for the first three chords.
Music theory section
The music theory you need for playing guitar, even to a pro level, could be written on two sides of A4 paper - well, in my opinion anyway.
The most useful thing of all is to understand keys and harmonised scales. Here are some basics:
- The major chords in every key are the 1, 4, and 5 chords, also written as I IV V.
- Chord V is usually a 7th chord, that leads back to chord 1
- Chords ii iii and vi are minor
- Chord 7 (vii) is a minor 7 with a flat 5 note, always a semitone below the tonic or home note.
- To improvise, use the relative minor pentatonic scale as a starting point.
- C = Am, D = Bm, G = Em, etc.
- Using this info, you can write songs, work out songs, jam with other people you've never met before, of any nationality.
The numbers are derived from the major scale degrees, so in the key of C the 4th and 5th notes of the major scale are f and g ( c d e f g a b c) - so chords I IV and V are C, F, G.
Every other major key works in the same way, so for the key of D they are D, G, A, just like in Twist and Shout, and La Bamba, an almost identical chord progression.