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What to Play on Acoustic Guitar

To play on acoustic guitar, you can start with popular songs in various genres. If you have recently picked up an acoustic guitar and are wondering what to play, you are in luck.

The acoustic guitar is a versatile instrument that lends itself well to a wide range of musical genres. Whether you are a beginner or an intermediate player, there are plenty of songs that you can start with to develop your skills and enjoy the process of learning.

From classic rock anthems to gentle ballads, and from folk tunes to country melodies, there is something for everyone. We will explore a variety of songs that are suitable for acoustic guitar players of all levels. So, grab your guitar, tune those strings, and let’s dive into the world of acoustic guitar music.

1. Essential Chords For Acoustic Guitar

When it comes to playing the acoustic guitar, mastering the essential chords is crucial. These chords form the foundation of countless songs across various genres, allowing you to play along with your favorite tunes or write your own melodies. In this section, we will explore the basic open chords, barre chords, as well as major and minor chords that every acoustic guitarist should know.

Basic Open Chords

Basic open chords are typically the first set of chords beginner guitarists learn. These chords are played in the open position, utilizing open strings to create harmonies.

Here are some of the most important basic open chords:

Chord Name Fingering
C 1st finger on the 1st fret of the B string, 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the D string, 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the A string
G 1st finger on the 2nd fret of the A string, 2nd finger on the 3rd fret of the low E string, 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the B string
D 1st finger on the 2nd fret of the G string, 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the high E string, 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the B string
E 1st finger on the 1st fret of the G string, 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the A string, 3rd finger on the 2nd fret of the D string

Barre Chords

Barre chords are movable chords that allow you to play the same chord shape in different positions on the guitar neck. They involve using your index finger to hold down multiple strings across one fret, mimicking the function of a “bar”.

Here are some common barre chord shapes:

  • E Major Barre Chord: Barre your index finger across all the strings on the 7th fret, use your other fingers to form the shape of an E major chord.
  • A Major Barre Chord: Barre your index finger across all the strings on the 5th fret, use your other fingers to form the shape of an A major chord.
  • D Major Barre Chord: Barre your index finger across all the strings on the 10th fret, use your other fingers to form the shape of a D major chord.

Major And Minor Chords

Major and minor chords are the building blocks of music. Major chords often have a happy or bright sound, while minor chords tend to sound melancholic or sad. Knowing these chords in various keys will open up countless possibilities for your guitar playing.

Here are some examples of major and minor chords:

  • C Major: Consists of the notes C, E, and G. A common open chord shape is played by placing your 1st finger on the 1st fret of the B string and strumming from the A string.
  • A Minor: Consists of the notes A, C, and E. An open chord shape is made by placing your 1st finger on the 1st fret of the B string and strumming from the A string.
  • D Major: Consists of the notes D, F#, and A. A common open chord shape is formed by placing your 1st finger on the 2nd fret of the G string, your 2nd finger on the 2nd fret of the high E string, and your 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the B string.

By familiarizing yourself with basic open chords, barre chords, and major and minor chords, you’ll be well-equipped to play a wide range of songs on the acoustic guitar.

2. Popular Songs For Acoustic Guitar Beginners

If you are a beginner on the acoustic guitar, you might find it overwhelming to choose the right songs to start with. But worry not, because we have got you covered! In this section, we will explore three popular songs that are perfect for acoustic guitar beginners. With their catchy melodies and straightforward chord progressions, these songs will not only help you improve your guitar skills but also allow you to impress your friends and family with your musical talents!

“wonderwall” By Oasis

One of the most iconic songs in the acoustic guitar repertoire, “Wonderwall” by Oasis is a must-learn for beginners. This timeless classic features a simple chord progression that revolves around G, D, Em, and C. With a few strumming patterns and some practice, you’ll be able to strum along to this crowd-pleasing hit in no time. So grab your guitar and impress your audience with the familiar and comforting sound of “Wonderwall”.

“wish You Were Here” By Pink Floyd

Another fantastic choice for acoustic guitar beginners is “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd. This soulful ballad showcases beautiful fingerpicking patterns that are sure to captivate your listeners. The main chord progression revolves around G, C, D, Am, and Em, allowing you to dive into the world of fingerstyle playing while honing your skills. So get ready to serenade others with the evocative melodies and heartfelt lyrics of “Wish You Were Here”.

“horse With No Name” By America

If you’re a fan of folk rock, then “Horse with No Name” by America is the ideal song for you to learn on your acoustic guitar journey. This song features a repetitive chord progression centered around Em and A, making it blissfully easy for beginners to master. With its infectious groove and catchy lyrics, “Horse with No Name” will have you strumming along and singing along in no time. So grab your guitar, channel your inner folk rocker, and let the soothing melodies of “Horse with No Name” take you on a musical adventure.

These popular songs for acoustic guitar beginners are not only fun to play but also offer a great opportunity to build your confidence and improve your skills. So get your fingers on the strings and start learning these timeless classics. Remember, practice makes perfect, and soon enough, you’ll be impressing yourself and others with your acoustic guitar abilities!

3. Fingerstyle Techniques For Acoustic Guitar

Playing the acoustic guitar is a wonderful way to showcase your musical abilities and create beautiful melodies. While strumming is a popular technique, fingerstyle playing adds a unique touch to your sound. In this section, we will explore three fingerstyle techniques for acoustic guitar: Travis Picking, Classical Fingerstyle, and Percussive Fingerstyle. Each technique brings its own distinct flavor to the instrument, enhancing your playing repertoire. Let’s dive in and discover how to master these impressive fingerstyle techniques.

Travis Picking

One of the most iconic fingerstyle techniques for acoustic guitar is Travis Picking. Originating from the influential guitarist Merle Travis, this technique combines alternating bass patterns with melodies played on the higher strings. The beauty of Travis Picking lies in its ability to create a rhythmic and melodic interplay, bringing depth and complexity to your guitar playing. To master Travis Picking, begin by positioning your thumb over the lower strings, typically plucking the bass notes on the downbeat. Simultaneously, your fingers should be ready to pluck the higher strings to create the melody. Practice coordinating your thumb and fingers to achieve a balanced sound, gradually increasing your speed and accuracy.

Classical Fingerstyle

Classical fingerstyle is a technique rooted in centuries of guitar tradition. It involves using your fingers to individually pluck each string, producing a rich and expressive sound. This technique is commonly used in classical, flamenco, and fingerstyle jazz genres. If you’re looking to add a touch of elegance to your acoustic guitar playing, classical fingerstyle is a must-learn technique. To start mastering classical fingerstyle, position your thumb on the 6th string, and assign each finger to a specific string. Typically, the index finger is used on the 3rd string, the middle finger on the 2nd string, the ring finger on the 1st string, and the pinky finger, if needed, for additional complexity. Develop a consistent and precise plucking motion with each finger, ensuring the notes are clear and well-articulated.

Percussive Fingerstyle

If you’re searching for a more unconventional fingerstyle technique, percussive fingerstyle might be just what you’re looking for. This technique incorporates percussive elements, such as tapping, slapping, and drumming, along with fingerpicking to create a vibrant and rhythmic sound. Percussive fingerstyle is frequently used in contemporary acoustic music, giving your playing a unique and modern edge. To harness the power of percussive fingerstyle, experiment with different techniques. Tap the guitar body to create percussion sounds while fingerpicking melodies on the strings. Implement slapping techniques on the strings for percussive accents, adding depth and texture to your playing. Balancing your fingerpicking with percussive elements will allow you to create captivating rhythms and make your acoustic guitar truly stand out. Now that you’ve learned about these three fingerstyle techniques for acoustic guitar- Travis Picking, Classical Fingerstyle, and Percussive Fingerstyle- it’s time to grab your guitar and start practicing. Whether you prefer a traditional sound or want to experiment with contemporary flavors, incorporating these techniques into your playing will expand your musical journey and captivate your audience. Embrace the versatility of the acoustic guitar and watch your skills soar to new heights. Happy playing!

4. Acoustic Guitar Solos

Acoustic guitar solos can truly showcase the versatility and beauty of the instrument. Whether you’re a seasoned guitarist or just starting out, learning to play solos on an acoustic guitar can be both challenging and rewarding. In this section, we will explore three iconic acoustic guitar solos that will amaze your audience and elevate your playing skills.

“blackbird” By The Beatles

One of The Beatles’ most beloved songs, “Blackbird,” features a hauntingly beautiful acoustic guitar solo that captures the essence of the song perfectly. Written by Paul McCartney, this solo incorporates fingerpicking techniques that create a melodic and flowing sound. As you learn to play this solo, you’ll discover the importance of precise finger placement and control. The intricate picking patterns and delicate harmonies will not only enhance your technical skills but also allow you to express emotion through your playing. This timeless classic is a must-learn for any acoustic guitarist looking to expand their repertoire.

“dust In The Wind” By Kansas

Another acoustic guitar masterpiece, “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas, features a captivating solo that has become an iconic part of the song’s overall composition. This solo showcases the power of simplicity and the ability to evoke strong emotions with just a few well-placed notes. With its melodic lines and gentle arpeggios, this solo is a great choice for intermediate guitarists who want to enhance their fingerpicking skills. By mastering this solo, you’ll not only be able to impress your friends but also develop your sense of timing and control over dynamics.

“hotel California” By Eagles

Arguably one of the most recognizable guitar solos in rock history, the legendary solo in “Hotel California” by the Eagles is a true masterpiece on acoustic guitar. This solo combines intricate fingerpicking patterns with soaring melodies, showcasing technical prowess and musicality. Learning to play this solo will help you develop precision, speed, and dexterity in your playing. Paying attention to details such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides will allow you to capture the essence of this solo and replicate the magic that made it famous. Whether you’re performing in an intimate setting or on a grand stage, this solo is sure to captivate your audience and leave a lasting impression.

5. Advanced Techniques For Acoustic Guitar Players

As an acoustic guitar player, expanding your skills and repertoire is essential. Once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to explore advanced techniques that can take your playing to the next level. In this section, we will cover three advanced techniques that will ignite your creativity and add new dimensions to your acoustic guitar playing. Let’s dive in!

Alternate Tunings

One powerful technique to experiment with on the acoustic guitar is alternate tunings. By deviating from the standard EADGBE tuning, you can unlock a whole new world of sounds and melodies. Whether it’s dropping the lowest string to D, tuning the entire guitar down a whole step, or exploring open chord tunings, alternate tunings offer endless possibilities.

If you’re new to alternate tunings, it’s best to start with common ones like Drop D (DADGBE) or Open G (DGDGBD). Each tuning creates a unique tonal landscape, giving your playing a distinct flavor. Experiment with sliding chords, drone notes, and open string patterns to discover the rich textures these tunings can produce.

String Slapping

String slapping is a percussive technique that adds rhythm and texture to your acoustic guitar playing. By tapping or slapping the strings against your fretting hand, you can create percussive accents that bring energy to your performance. This technique is often used in genres like funk, slap acoustic, and percussive fingerstyle.

To achieve a clear slap sound, use the thumb or the side of your index or middle finger to strike the strings. Experiment with different velocities and positions to find the sweet spot for producing a crisp and percussive slap. Combine this technique with chords and melody lines to inject rhythmic power into your acoustic guitar playing.

Harmonics & Tapping

Harmonics and tapping provide yet another set of advanced techniques for acoustic guitar players. Harmonics are produced by lightly touching the strings at specific nodes, creating bell-like tones that resonate above the fretboard. Tapping, on the other hand, involves using both hands to produce intricate melodies and fast-paced sequences that are sure to capture attention.

To execute harmonics, lightly rest your fretting hand fingers just above the desired fret, then pluck the string with your picking hand. With practice, you’ll be able to produce harmonics at different locations across the fretboard, adding beautiful embellishments to your compositions.

Tapping requires coordination between both hands, with the picking hand tapping the strings against the fretboard to produce notes while the other hand supports the fretting and muting. Focus on accurate hammer-ons, pull-offs, and two-hand tapping combinations to achieve a fluid and melodic performance.

By incorporating these advanced techniques into your acoustic guitar playing, you’ll open up a world of musical possibilities. Don’t be afraid to experiment, practice regularly, and embrace the joy of discovering new sounds on your beloved instrument.

What to Play on Acoustic Guitar


Frequently Asked Questions On What To Play On Acoustic Guitar

What Should I Play On My Acoustic Guitar?

You can play a variety of styles on your acoustic guitar, such as folk, country, pop, or even classical. Experiment with different chords and techniques to find what suits your preferences and skill level. From playing simple melodies to strumming chords, there are endless possibilities to explore on your acoustic guitar.

What Genre Can You Play On Acoustic Guitar?

Acoustic guitar can be played in various genres, including folk, country, pop, rock, and blues.

What Is The Easiest Song To Play On Acoustic Guitar?

The easiest song to play on acoustic guitar varies for each individual’s skill level, but popular choices include “Wonderwall” by Oasis, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan, and “Horse with No Name” by America.

What Should I Learn First On An Acoustic Guitar?

Start by learning basic chords like the C, G, D and E minor. Practice strumming patterns and finger placement before moving on to more complex techniques.


To sum up, playing the acoustic guitar offers a wide range of possibilities for musicians of all levels. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, there are plenty of songs and styles to explore. By practicing regularly and expanding your repertoire, you can enhance your skills and create captivating melodies.

So, pick up your acoustic guitar and let the music take you on a beautiful journey of self-expression and creativity. Happy playing!

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