10 Easy Songs to Learn on the Electric Guitar
From Smashing Pumpkins to the Rolling Stones, here’s a list of 10 simple songs to learn that sound great on an electric guitar.
By Mike Duffy
While many people start playing guitar on an acoustic model, beginning on an electric guitar can be just as fun.
Electric guitars have thinner strings, which are easier on the fingers as opposed to the heavier strings on an acoustic. What’s more, players with smaller hands might enjoy the slimmer necks on an electric, as it warrants an easier grip and shorter reach.
Learning how to play songs on an electric guitar is a fun and rewarding step on any new player’s journey, but there are a lot of complicated ones out there.
From Smashing Pumpkins to Rolling Stones, here’s a list of 10 simple songs to learn that sound great on an electric guitar:
Smashing Pumpkins: “Cherub Rock”
Billy Corgan's knack for combining hard rock riffs and pop hooks comes together nicely under the chugging rhythm guitar pulse of the 1993 Smashing Pumpkins hit “Cherub Rock.” The first single off the breakthrough Siamese Dream offers a solid practice regimen for octave riffs and 16th note strumming from Fender Play instructor Matt Lake.
Blue Öyster Cult: “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”
Brush up on your arpeggio picking and palm muting with Blue Öyster Cult’s 1976 acclaimed “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” This song has a haunting vibe, and Rolling Stone named it song of the year the year of its release.
Willie Dixon: “I Can’t Quit You Baby”
Even though Willie Dixon wrote the blues standard “I Can’t Quit You Baby,” Otis Rush first recorded it in 1956 and many others, like Led Zeppelin, have covered it over the years. It’s got a blues flavor with only three chords (G, C, and D), that Fender Play instructor Barrett Wilson will run you through.
Black Uhuru: “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”
Work on your reggae rhythm skills with Black Uhuru’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” Fender Play instructor Jen Trani guides you through the classic reggae backbeat that runs through the entire hypnotic, groovy song.
Elmore James: “It Hurts Me Too”
Elmore James makes hurt and sorrow sound mighty appealing on the classic “It Hurts Me Too” with traditional blues chord changes. By learning the shuffle pattern and how to downstrum, it’s a great way in the blues doorway.
The Strokes: “Last Nite”
The Strokes brought punk and garage rock back to the charts in the early 2000s with their debut single, “Last Nite,” and its upbeat dancey rhythm. When it entered the American charts, it even reached the top five. Take a stab at the New York City band’s groundbreaking hit in a lesson that gets you familiar with chord anticipation and 16th note strumming patterns.
The Cars: “My Best Friend’s Girl”
The Cars mixed easy-to-learn hard rock guitar and new wave synth-pop to massive success, especially with “My Best Friend’s Girl.” Fender Play instructor Matt Lake walks you through the easy three-chord progression to take you back to the 1980s in this video.
It takes only four chords (D, C, E and G) to get through “Low,” the 1993 hit from rockers Cracker. Fender Play instructor Jen Trani helps you dive into basic chord switching with a consistent strum pattern in this video.
Robert Cray: “Smoking Gun”
Stratocaster master Robert Cray had a pop radio hit on his hands with “Smoking Gun,” which reached No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Using the chords E minor and A minor, Fender Play instructor Akira Harrison shows you how to work through a few basic techniques with this classic blues jam.
The Rolling Stones: "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction”
With arguably the most recognizable Keith Richards guitar riff ever, “Satisfaction” is a fine example of why the Rolling Stones' rock-meets-soul strut got them dubbed the “greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world.”
Check out our list of easy songs and beginner chords by genre and instrument: Pop Songs l Folk Songs l Rock Songs l Blues Songs l Country Songs l Songs for Acoustic Guitar l Songs for Ukulele l Songs for Bass