If you are a beginner folk guitarist, you may wonder why you should take the time to learn the chords of traditional songs. The reason is quite simple — you hope that you may want to play with other musicians at some point. If you choose to learn traditional folk songs, you’ll find that you will play these songs with others much sooner and with much more skill.
- 1 Easy Folk Songs on Guitar for Beginners
- 1.1 Blowin’ in the Wind – Bob Dylan
- 1.2 Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
- 1.3 Donna Donna – Joan Baez
- 1.4 Freight Train – Elizabeth Cotten
- 1.5 Working Class Hero – John Lennon
- 1.6 Sons and Daughters – The Decemberists
- 1.7 Leaving on a Jet Plane – John Denver
- 1.8 Skinny Love – Bon Iver
- 1.9 Amazing Grace – Elvis Presley
- 1.10 Blowin’ In The Wind – Bob Dylan
- 1.11 Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver
- 1.12 Suzanne – Leonard Cohen
- 1.13 I Saw The Light – Hank Williams
- 1.14 Wildwood Flower – Carter Family
- 1.15 Abacus – Fionn Regan
- 2 Final Notes
Learn all the notes and fingerings for traditional folk songs, with variations and embellishments. Be prepared that many songs contain harmonies and techniques developed by musicians over the years. these are all excellent beginner level guitar songs to learn.
Easy Folk Songs on Guitar for Beginners
Blowin’ in the Wind – Bob Dylan
This song was made famous by Bob Dylan in the 1960s. Dylan played the guitar, using a slow tempo that covered only two chords for the entire song. Folk songs are great for beginners because they contain most of the notes a guitarist or other musician can play.
Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
This song has a good beat with a melody that is impossible to play wrong. This song can become a challenging practice session, but the payoff is worth it! It’s easier to learn some notes that are different than what you usually play. For example, you can use a C chord with an E on the 4th fret.
Donna Donna – Joan Baez
This song is for solo guitar and contains a melody that repeats itself repeatedly. This is a good song for practice because it shows how many different chords you can use on the guitar. It’s not a particularly difficult song, but it should teach you a few chords that you can add to your repertoire.
Freight Train – Elizabeth Cotten
This song has a tremendous six-chord pattern and is easy to play by ear. Use any time to practice your improvisation! This song is a perfect example of a folk song. It is easy to learn by ear and rhythm. It also sounds great! It’s the primary way that many beginners develop their chops, so you should keep practicing it.
Working Class Hero – John Lennon
This song is excellent for several reasons. First, the melody is so simple and catchy. Second, the chord progression is effortless to play. Third, the intervals are short. This means that the first three notes of each chord are played right on top of each other, making it easy to play for the beginning guitarist.
Sons and Daughters – The Decemberists
Like many beginner folk songs, this one has a very catchy melody. The guitar part is also quite simple, which is excellent for beginners just learning to play chords. Just as the song’s title suggests, it’s about two people who are committed to each other even in tough times.
Leaving on a Jet Plane – John Denver
This song is a classic for beginner guitarists. The chord progression is very simple, and the melody is catchy. It’s also a great example of how to learn the chords of a song through listening to how it sounds. It probably comes as no surprise that Neil Young was the inspiration for this song, given the influence he has had on rock music over the years.
Skinny Love – Bon Iver
This song has a catchy tune and even more interesting chord progressions. This is the kind of song that a beginner could pick up and learn relatively quickly. It’s a song that you could sing along to and play on guitar without fully understanding everything about it yet.
Amazing Grace – Elvis Presley
This is the kind of song that a beginner guitarist could pick up very quickly. The melody is easy to duplicate, and the lyrics are not too difficult to sing along to. The chord progressions are also easy to pick up. It would not take you too much time to shuffle through the chords.
Blowin’ In The Wind – Bob Dylan
This is a well-known song that a beginner guitarist would pick up very quickly. The melody is easy to sing to, and the guitar notes mimic the vocals well. The chord progressions are also very simple. It would not take you too long to memorize it to play.
Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver
Another well-known folk standard song. The bridge adds an extra melody to the chords, unlike the others on this list. The melody is easy to sing to, and the guitar notes mimic the vocals well. The chord progressions are also reasonably accessible. It would not take you too long to memorize it to play.
Suzanne – Leonard Cohen
Many people don’t know this song, but it’s excellent. The melody is easy to sing, and the guitar notes mimic the vocals well. The chord progressions are also reasonably straightforward. It would not take you too long to memorize it to play. I recommend that you start slow and gradually speed up. Refer to the notes whenever the song gets a little tricky. Remember that you will want to use short, fast, and clean chord changes in a song like this. Just remember that rhythm and melody are more important. We’re just trying to entertain people here.
I Saw The Light – Hank Williams
I Saw The Light is a song that’s especially popular during country singing contests. It’s a straightforward tune, and the chord progression is pretty easy to memorize. Some variations that you’ll likely hear during the song include using A instead of D or E or Mixolydian instead of Dorian. You can also experiment with different tunings.
Wildwood Flower – Carter Family
Wildwood Flower is a simple song that emphasizes and changes the chord progressions (the sequence of chords). Again, the chords are all simple, and it’s a straightforward tune to memorize. It modulates between major and 7th chords, which is one of country music’s most recognizable signs.
Abacus – Fionn Regan
Abacus is a classic Irish pub song performed initially to the accompaniment of a ricket. The tune and chord progression has a good flow and is easy to learn by ear. It may have originated from Ireland, commonly associated with Irish pub bands.
There are many great beginner songs you can learn to play. Try perusing the songs on this list, and pick out a couple of simple and catchy tunes that you’d like to master. Remember that the point here is to enjoy yourself, so don’t feel pressured to overcomplicate the learning process.
Looking for more ideas? Here are some easy guitar strumming songs for beginners too.