Is Learning Songs The Best Way To Learn Guitar?


A woman writing songs on a piece of paper resting on a guitar

At the beginning of my journey, I found learning techniques and theory often tricky. I wanted to put them in context. In reality, all I wanted to do was play the songs that I loved and inspire me to learn to play the guitar!

As a whole, learning songs is a great way to learn to play the guitar. By learning the songs you love, you familiarize yourself with all the performance and theoretical techniques associated with those songs, which will ultimately serve your guitar knowledge.

However, this way of learning has its limitations. If you learn one type of style or song, you are unlikely to advance in your journey. However, if you learn various different songs with different techniques and styles. In that case, there is no reason you cannot advance in your guitar playing.

How To Learn Guitar Songs

There are many different resources out there you can use to learn to play the guitar. 

1. Youtube Will Help You Learn At Your Own Pace

With access to so much information, youtube offers an endless array of resources in guitar tutorials. 

Just pick your favorite song and learn at your own pace. 

2. Guitar Tablatura Learn Chord Shapes

Guitar tablature (also known as guitar tabs) will introduce beginners to chord shapes and will help you learn to read and analyze songs in-depth. However, combine guitar tabs with some theory or you will not progress much.

3. Online Guitar Lessons Learn At Your Own Pace

This is my favorite and the way I have done most of my learning.

For those that are doubting whether they can learn on your own I say “YES YOU CAN”.

In my article “Is It Possible To Learn Guitar Online” I go in-depth on why is it possible to learn guitar online, how you can learn guitar on your own, how long does it take to learn guitar on your own, and more. On my YouTube channel, I have videos reviewing courses by Justing Guitar, Paul Davies, Jamie Harrison, Mary Spender, and more

Best Guitar Songs For Beginners

This question is hard to answer. That is because I am a firm believer that you should pick the song that inspires you the most. The one that will keep you going.

However, I understand that some of those beautiful songs can be more advance. Below I give you 10 songs that can be learned by any beginner.

1. Smoke On The Water by Deep Purple 

Have you entered a guitar shop and heard this song being played over and over? If so, that is because most guitarists know how to play it. 

It is one of the most straightforward songs to learn. It is excellent for learning left-hand finger placement, as well as right-hand downstrokes. 

The groove is also simple, and against a drum track, you’ll be rocking in no time! 

2. I Wouldn’t Believe Your Radio by Stereophonics 

This song is a great way to learn basic suspended chords. 

These are chords where the third is being omitted, making them easier to play on a guitar. 

Like Smoke On The Water, you can take those 3 suspended chords from the intro, verse sections (Asus, Csus, Gsus ) and play them again and again, over a simple metronome. 

Once you gain more confidence, the Chorus uses a few major chords to get you going with simple major triads. 

3. The A Team by Ed Sheeran

This song is a great way to learn to incorporate minor and major chords while at the same time learning percussion. 

Once you get comfortable with the chord changes, the right hand will be a bit of a fun challenge. 

As the song is written in a singer-songwriter manner, the arrangement is often guitar and vocals. 

Considering the drums are missing, Sheeran uses a technique called “judo-chop,” where percussive rhythmic elements are added to his playing, replacing the drums. 

This is achieved by hitting the guitar while strumming. 

It’s generally a handy technique for solo chord playing. 

It can be a good foundation for more complex rhythmic patterns later on. 

4. Born Under A Bad Sign by Cream 

This song is perfect for learning the Pentatonic Scale.

The pentatonic scale is one of the best things to do when tackling lead solo playing. 

It’s even better if you learn the Pentatonic in the form of a riff, like the one from “Born Under A Bad Sign.” 

This song has a nice rock-bluesy groove to it, keeping you excited to practice it!

5. Muddy Water Blues by Paul Rogers

Another classic, “Muddy Water Blues,” is a perfect example of using that pentatonic scale, only this time incorporating hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides. 

6. Number Of The Beast by Iron Maiden

If you are a classic metal fan and would like to learn one of the most influential melodies from the ’80s, this song is perfect. 

Legend John Petrucci from the progressive metal band talks about how this was one of the songs that influenced his virtuoso playing in the early days of his career. 

The guitar pattern from this one is useful for learning the palm muting technique. 

7. Get Gone by Ideal 

This old RnB song is perfect if you want to get started with RnB Guitar. 

The specific RnB sound emerges from those 7th type chords, combined with the hammer-on technique. 

I’ve often found that beginners tend to learn these easier than triad chords because you can apply the same 7th chord shape throughout the guitar’s neck.

8. Cosmic Girl by Jamiroquai 

Cosmic Girl is a perfect example of how you can incorporate funk into your playing. 

The guitarist uses a technique where the right-hand plays very loosely while also accents very tight on the beat. 

I would say this is the most challenging beginner exercise you can do due to the coordination implied with the right hand, but well worth it if you want to get a better sense of rhythm!

9. Blue Bossa by Dexter Gordon

If you’re into jazz and want to find an easy way to getting ahold of jazz chords, changes, and phrasing, then this song offers a great shortcut to that. 

The solo is undoubtedly tricky and played on sax, but the chords are achievable for a beginner. 

Ensure you practice those chords plenty of time on a simple 4/4 groove before adding in the groove. 

10. Tears In Heaven by Eric Clapton

This beautiful piece uses fingerstyle playing, with a great choice of melodies throughout. 

It is a great way to make the guitar “sing” and get started with lead/chordal playing combined. 

How Long Should I Practice Guitar Each Day?

On average aim to practice 30 to 90 minutes a day to ensure consistency. Avoid longer sessions as you will lose concentration and your time will become unproductive. Studies have shown that our human brains cannot concentrate for longer than 90 minutes. 

Playing for the sake of playing will only frustrate you and ultimately will push you to give up. 

However, playing consistently and with total concentration will help you advance much quicker, encouraging you to carry on.

Guitar Practice Routine 

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”

John C. Maxwell

This is true for everything in life, including learning to play guitar.

In our article “How To Stick To Learning Guitar – 10 Practical Tips,” we discuss 10 simple steps to take to solidify your guitar playing routine. If you do not want to read but prefer to listen, my YouTube video will give you those simple 10 steps.

In short, the 10 steps are:

  • Maintain A Guitar Practice In Your Daily Schedule 
  • Have A Goal And A “Why” To Help You Through
  • Stick To Playing Guitar By Establishing a Routine
  • To Not Give Up Plying The Guitar, Start Simple
  • Believe In Your Ability To Play Guitar
  • Make Your Learning To Play The Guitar Musical
  • Make Learning To Play The Guitar Fun
  • Learn Something Outside Your Musical Preferences
  • Don’t Compare Yourself With Other Guitar Players
  • Rest From Learning To Play Guitar

Conclusion

Sure, in the beginning, the journey can get challenging as you learn all the techniques needed to play this beautiful instrument. 

Still, the challenging part can be muted when having fun learning to play your favorite songs!

Luke Winter

I'm Luke, the owner of this site, and I started learning guitar in 2019 online. I documented all my progress on YouTube and created this website to help others wanting to learn guitar online later in life. Find out more about me, what gear I use, or just get in contact by clicking on my image next to this bio.

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