The future of music

20 Easy Guitar Riffs for Beginners

May 22, 2023
easy guitar riffs

Learning songs on guitar can be challenging, especially if you’ve just started your guitar-learning journey. 

However, with these easy guitar riffs, we’ll show you today, you can improve your technique and pick up new songs more easily.

Also, every aspiring guitar player needs to have these riffs in their repertoire. 

So without further ado, let us show you the most popular guitar riffs for beginners.

The list is quite versatile, so you’ll surely find something to your taste.

1. “Come as You Are” by Nirvana 

Come as You Are Music Chords.

Let’s start with one of the most popular beginner guitar songs.

“Come as You Are” is rather easy to learn, but just like any other song, it does require some time and practice to master. 

You can play this riff using down picking, or you can use alternate picking.

You should also make sure your notes sound clean and smooth, without any unwanted sounds like buzzing or fretting noises. 

You can also use a chorus pedal if you want to, but this is probably not necessary for now. 

Also, play the riff slowly until you can play it effortlessly, and then gradually increase the tempo.

This is a rather quick guitar riff, so it will probably take you some time to get it right.

Nevertheless, Nirvana’s signature song has one of the best guitar riffs for beginners, and if you have basic guitar skills, you should be able to learn it without hassle. 

2. “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes 

Seven Nation Army Music Chords.

The main riff in “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes is arguably one of the most iconic guitar riffs of all time.

That said, as an aspiring guitarist, you should add this riff to your repertoire.

And don’t worry, it’s fairly easy to learn – you just need to make sure your guitar is tuned to open A tuning and learn the riff that plays throughout most of the song.

So, if you master this riff, you can easily learn the entire song.

Either way, the most important thing about this guitar riff is the timing – in the beginning, just follow the drums in the song.

Once you get the feeling of the song, everything will be easier.

Playing “Seven Nation Army” might be easy, but you need to be able to play it effortlessly and with a lot of energy. 

It’s a powerful rock tune and a stadium anthem, after all. 

3. “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple 

Smoke on the Water Music Chords

Without a doubt, the riff in “Smoke on the Water” is one of the most recognizable guitar riffs.

It’s powerful and catchy, and if you learn to play it on guitar, it will make you feel like a rockstar.

And thankfully, this iconic guitar riff is very easy to learn.

For starters, you need to flatten your first and third fingers over the third and fifth frets.

And then you’ll be able to pick the open strings while dampening the strings before moving on to the next notes.

By muting the strings with your hands, you’ll create that recognizable punchy sound.

Advanced guitarists can add sliding noise, but you should stick to the simpler version for now.

4. “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath

Paranoid Music Chords.

This is another classic guitar riff that is relatively easy to learn.

Playing “Paranoid” on guitar requires good hand coordination though,  especially if you want to master the hammer-ons for the first bar.

Nevertheless, Black Sabbath’s 1970 hit is suitable for beginners – you just need to approach it in the right way.

Play the song slowly first, and then gradually increase the speed.

Also, try to play all the power chords with down picking – that’s how you’ll get that chugging sound.

And once you learn the riff of the song, you can try to learn the guitar solo.

It’s great practice for guitar beginners as well as intermediate players. 

5. “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction Music Chords.

Apart from having one of the most recognizable guitar riffs, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” is also incredibly fun to play.

So, this is a perfect way to get introduced to the repertoire of the Stones. 

“I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” is an ultimate feel-good rock hit – but learning it will also allow you to improve your technique and learn some new tricks.

You can start by picking out each note though, and when you feel more comfortable and confident, you can add more nuance to your performance.

Either way, this riff only uses three notes on the same string, so you will probably learn it very quickly. 

You just need to get used to the rhythm.

6. “Day Tripper” by The Beatles 

Day Tripper Music Chords

Released in 1966, “Day Tripper” quickly became one of the Beatles’ most recognizable songs.

And now, it’s fair to say that the song has passed the test of time. 

That said, you should learn this classic Beatles riff – it’s quite easy, even for beginners.

The riff has two bars repeated several times throughout the song, and it’s based on the E minor pentatonic scale.

So, when you master this riff, you’ll basically be ready to play the entire song. 

Also, the song sounds good on both an electric and acoustic guitar.

7. “Back In Black” by AC/DC 

Back In Black Music Chords

Needless to say, “Back In Black” is one of AC/DC’s greatest hits.

And the song’s guitar riff is arguably one of the most popular easy guitar riffs for beginners.

The riff is based on power chords, so you can start with that first.

You should also listen to the song carefully first – understanding the rhythm in this song can be a bit tricky, so take your time to become familiar with it.

You can pick a counting pattern of single-syllable numbers and make sure to play the song in time. 

And with a little practice, you’ll be able to play this classic riff effortlessly.

8. “One” by Metallica 

One Music Chords

Metallica has plenty of great songs to learn on guitar.

However, if you’re a guitar beginner, you should start with “One”, the band’s iconic 1988 hit.

The riff in “One” is ideal for beginners because it’s not too fast, and the notes are rather easy to memorize.

However, you should pay attention to each note if you want them to ring out.

So, make sure you don’t accidentally touch other strings. 

Apart from that, you’ll probably master the song without hassle – this is undeniably one of the best Metallica songs for beginners.

9. “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix 

Purple Haze Music Chords

And if you’re a fan of Jimi Hendrix, we suggest giving a riff in “Purple Haze” a chance.

Although Jimi’s songs sound difficult to play, this popular guitar riff is actually beginner-friendly.

If you’re familiar with some basic techniques such as bends and slides, you shouldn’t have any issues learning them.

To play this riff, you need to pick the notes hard and lift your fingers off of the frets to cut short all the notes and create that specific punchy sound.

And don’t forget to pay attention to the finger placement – which fingers you use can make this song a whole lot easier or harder to play.

Nonetheless, playing “Purple Haze” is a great way to start exploring Jimi Hendrix’s repertoire. 

10. “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley 

Redemption Song Music Chords.

And the same goes for “Redemption Song” and Bob Marley.

If you want to play Bob Marley’s songs on guitar, it would be best to start with this easy iconic riff.

“Redemption Song” is the final track on Bob Marley and the Wailers’ album Uprising, and it’s hands down one of Bob Marley’s most played songs. 

And you can add this timeless tune to your repertoire too, even if you’re a newbie. 

To play this simple riff, you need to master the following notes: G, A, B, G in the first bar, and C, E, D, B in the second.

The rhythm is steady and easy to learn.

And with some basic strumming and a combination of simple guitar chords, you will be able to master the entire song. 

11. “Beat It” by Michael Jackson 

Beat It Music Chords.

“Beat It” by Michael Jackson is another great guitar song for beginners.

The riff in this song is very straightforward. 

However, the tempo is rather fast – but it’s slow enough for you to play it smoothly.

But you should play it slowly until you feel more confident, and gradually increase the speed.

The guitar notes are also rather easy to memorize – there are G, B, G, E, and F# for the first bar, and then E, D, D, and E for the second bar.

Once you master the notes and the tempo, you will feel amazing – this song is very fun to play, especially if you have someone to play it with.

12. “La Bamba” by Ritchie Valens 

La Bamba Music Chords.

If you’re looking for easy guitar riffs to learn, you should also consider learning “La Bamba” by Ritchie Valens.

For starters, you’ll need to strum the C, F, and G chords and try to get the timing.

And don’t bother with the tricky details and techniques of the original song – if you’re a beginner, keep it simple.

If you keep practicing, you’ll start to play “La Bamba” confidently and smoothly, and then you’ll be able to add nuance to your performance.

Until then, practice the main riff and work on the strumming pattern.

13. “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath

Iron Man Music Chords.

Black Sabbath released “Iron Man” on their album Paranoid in 1970.

The song became one of their signature songs, and it still sounds amazing.

And to play the main riff in the song, you’ll just need two fingers. 

However, you’ll need to listen to the drums carefully to learn the rhythm. 

Play it slowly first, and then gradually increase the speed.

Now, the back-and-forth at the end of the riff isn’t being strummed, which might be a bit confusing.

Nevertheless, this song will help you work on your technique, especially if you want to practice sliding. 

Sliding both fingers at once isn’t difficult, but it might feel a bit strange at first – so don’t worry if you don’t master it right away. 

14. “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd 

Sweet Home Alabama Music Chords

When it comes to simple guitar riffs you can learn even if you’re a beginner, “Sweet Home Alabama” probably has one of the best ones.

This feel-good rock classic was released in 1974, and the song’s riff is arguably one of the most recognizable riffs from the 70s.

To learn it on guitar, you need to become familiar with the barre chord form – you can practice the riff by manipulating the picking within the barre chord form.

It might be tricky to switch between the barre form and open form of G though, so you’ll need some time and practice to master this song.

Nevertheless, this is a great practice that will ultimately strengthen your skills. 

15. “Wonderwall” by Oasis 

Wonderwall Music Chords

Whether you like “Wonderwall”, playing it on guitar might be a good way to practice and improve your technique. 

Plus, the riff is fairly easy to learn – so you can add it to your repertoire without spending too much time practicing it. 

Once you master the syncopated strum pattern of the song, you’ll be ready to play it smoothly.

The strum pattern matches the vocal, so you can sing along too.

16. “In My Place” by Coldplay 

In My Place Music Chords

“In My Place” is one of the easiest Coldplay songs to learn on guitar.

The song was released in 2002 on Coldplay’s album A Rush of Blood to the Head, and it remains one of their most played songs – at least if you ask beginner guitarists.

The riff in this song is played on the higher strings, so this is a chance to become familiar with that part of the fretboard too.

“In My Place” sounds gentle and mellow, so you can let the notes ring out as you pick the strings.

And once you feel more comfortable with the riff, you can add some effects such as delay and reverb.

17. “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream 

Sunshine of Your Love Music Chords.

Released in 1967, “Sunshine of Your Love” is by far one of Cream’s most recognizable songs.

The simple version of the song entails playing the 12th fret with your third finger, the 10th fret with your first finger, and the 11th fret with your second finger.

And in the second bar, you need to play the first 10th fret with your first finger and then shift your hand down two frets and play the next 10th fret.

This way, you can easily play the 8th fret with your first finger – it might feel more challenging otherwise.

And once you improve your skills and gain more experience, you can learn the entire song and add more complex elements and techniques. 

18. “Psycho” by Muse 

Psycho Music Chords

Muse is a band known for their energetic, powerful guitar sound.

Although many of their songs are very challenging for beginners, they have a couple of very easy songs – and “Psycho” is the best one to start with.

Learning this riff is also a great way to familiarize yourself with Drop D tuning.

Drop D tuning is actually one of the easiest alternate tunings to learn – it entails lowering the tuning of your low E string down to D.

When practicing this guitar riff, you should also pay attention to the timing of each note. 

Mastering “Psycho” is all about getting the right groove and generally feeling the vibe of the song. 

19. “Enter Sandman” by Metallica 

Enter Sandman Music Chords.

This is another Metallica song with a simple riff.

And generally speaking, this is also one of the most popular metal riffs that are surprisingly easy to play. 

Moreover, practicing this riff will help you improve your fingering accuracy.

And it will ultimately help you feel more confident in your skills and performance. 

To learn this song in a quick and easy way, listen to the accents of the drums first and try to get the rhythm and the feel of the song. 

If you’re a Metallica fan who knows this iconic song by heart, you shouldn’t have any problems memorizing it. 

20. “Closing Time” by Semisonic 

Closing Time Music Chords.

It’s time to wrap it up, so our next suggestion is “Closing Time” by Semisonic.

This popular 90s hit is great for beginners as there are only four chords to learn.

But to master the main riff, you should focus on the strum pattern.

The main attitude and energy of the song come from its strumming pattern.

Generally, you should play the song softly in the verses and heavily in the chorus – it’s the same chord all the way through, so this is the only way to emphasize the chorus.

All in all, “Closing Time” has a rather simple riff, and if you master it, you’ll easily learn the entire song. 

Easy Guitar Riffs – Final Thoughts 

Hopefully, our list of the best easy guitar riffs inspired you to grab your guitar and start practicing.

After all, is there a better way to practice than to play some iconic riffs?

And with the riffs we mentioned today, you will be able to strengthen your skills, learn some new simple techniques, and build a solid foundation. 

You may also like: How to Play Guitar

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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