6 June 2011

The Best Songs To Learn On An Acoustic Guitar

What are the best songs to learn on an acoustic guitar? This is not an easy question to answer, it depends mainly on your personal tastes in music and your level of playing.3232663848_5956ef528c


But I think there are a few tips that can help you to choose the best acoustic guitar songs for you to learn.


There’s Lots Of Choice

There is a huge choice of songs to learn and play on an acoustic guitar. Not all of them are acoustic guitar songs in their original form. Almost any three or four chord rock and pop song can sound great when played on an acoustic guitar, although it won’t sound exactly the same as electric full-band versions.


Simplicity is often the best approach when adapting a song to the acoustic guitar. Don’t get put off if you find complicated tab for your favourite band’s songs. Learn to identify the chords and simply play them as open chords on your acoustic guitar. You can often find simple chord versions in song books or tab sites.


Use the strengths of the acoustic guitar sound, in particular open chords to turn your favourite rock hits into great acoustic guitar songs.


Fingerpicking Songs

If you’re looking for something more challenging to play then there are plenty of great finger-picking arrangements. Here are a few examples that I’ve enjoyed learning and playing, there are many many more...


  • Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel
  • Blackbird by The Beatles
  • Strong Enough by Sheryl Crow
  • Questions by Jack Johnson
  • Road Trippin' by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers


You can also take your open-chord arrangements and introduce a few new techniques. For example, use some chords up the neck instead of playing the same open chords all the time.


Change The Rhythm

Rhythms make a great playground to create arrangements for acoustic guitar songs. Two of my favourite ways to transform a song are to change the rhythm to a reggae style and to introduce some chord slapping.


Reggae rhythms breathe some life and joy into many rock songs, giving them a more funky, syncopated feel. Try this out on some songs you know.


On the acoustic guitar, chord slapping is a wonderful technique that adds a rough and funky edge to your accompaniments. You can combine chord slapping with strum patterns or with finger picking. It sounds great with either.



No matter how much new electronic wizardry is produced in the guitar market - robot guitars, modelling amplifiers, iPhone guitar apps, … - there's still nothing that beats the sound of a good song strummed or picked on an acoustic guitar.


There are many many songs that work well, and the best ones depend on you. Here are my tips for creating your own best acoustic guitar songs.


1. Choose your own favourite songs

2. Make simple open chord arrangements of them

3. Experiment with rhythms and finger picking patterns to spice them up


Photo by Sean Rogers 1.

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