In many respects, the music world has moved away from complex and fast lead guitar solos.
And that's not entirely a bad thing.
Because guitar solos are just melody, which is most effectively expressed in a simple and understandable way. Even the fastest guitar players of our day are incredibly gifted in the art of melodic construction. Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Eric Johnson (just to name a few) are known not only for their speed, but for creating music that is melodically intriguing.
Again, this is great news for guitar players who don't consider themselves "speedsters" or even lead players.
Speed isn't really the point.
After a couple decades of the guitar pendulum swinging back to the middle, away from the speedsters of the '80s, we've got a ton of songs with easy guitar solos that rhythm and non-speed players can learn without having to spend hours struggling with complex soloing patterns.
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It might be time to stop shredding, anyway. (View Larger Image)
How We Chose Songs with Easy Guitar Solos
How exactly do we define easy?
First and foremost (and perhaps obviously), we're avoiding songs with solos that are particularly fast. While there isn't really a proper definition for what is too fast, we've found that such guitar solos are self-evident and easy to post.
Second, we're avoiding melodic complexity.
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, guitar solos (in their most basic form) are expressions of melody.
Easy guitar solos should have simple, identifiable melody lines that are easy to retain.
Remember how easy it is to get "jingles" stuck in your head, or annoying songs that you end up humming to yourself all day? An easy guitar solo should be sort of like that. It should be like listening to the Andy Griffith (God rest his soul) whistling intro.
Don't watch it unless you want to be singing it to yourself all day.
And while it's probably not what we want to play on guitar, it's a good example of what kind of melody is easy to recall.
We'll look for songs that have guitar solos with a similarly clean and catchy melodic line.
Some are easier than others, but none of them are blindingly complex.
With Andy Griffith out of the way, let's get to some music.
4 Non Blondes
There's a lot of lead guitar happening in this song, but none of it is fast or complicated. Once you get a feel for the melody, the solo isn't going to give you trouble.
Ok - so maybe it's not "easy" in the strictest sense of the word, but it's certainly not fast. Anyone with a good tab sheet and some patience has a fair chance.
This solo is clean, slow and completely attainable, even for the more untried beginners among us.
Tom Morello must have exhausted his creativity with this song on the verse riff (which is awesome), because the chorus riff and solo are pretty "run of the mill." In fact, the solo is one 16th note with alternate picking.
The solo is more of a break after the first chorus. It's one bended note on repeat without much else.
Flickr Commons Image Courtesy of Marnie Joyce
This is one of the few manageable solos from Avenged Sevenfold, and it's certainly not the easiest on this list. However, it's not at all fast, with only a few runs that break from the melody in favor of a little added speed.
We get one more from Avenged Sevenfold that's highly melodic and ballad-esque. This one might be even easier than "Danger Line," though both are similar in speed and construction.
This one is just a few measures long and can be easily handled, provided you know how to bend a few notes.
George Harrison's bluesy solo on "Can't Buy Me Love" is short, moderately fast and not at all complex. It's fun to play and can probably be conquered in one sitting.
Despite being somewhat lengthy, the "Let It Be" solo isn't technically difficult and is slower than the "Can't Buy Me Love" track.
The solo is actually called a "breakdown" in the sheet music, and I think it's played on piano instead of guitar. Even still, it's an easy one if you want to try and tackle the entire song.
Tony Iomi plays two different solos on this track, the first of which is the primary feature of the bridge. While it's a bit on the long side, it's slow and simple in that it relies heavily on familiar, minor pentatonic patterns for its construction.
The "solo" at the end of this song is the last two sections of the tab we linked to in the title. It's painfully simple, and really just layers the original riff. You're likely to have far more difficulty with the tuning.
Carlos Santana meanders through two solos on "Black Magic Woman," both of which are fairly long though not difficult. The biggest challenge will be simply memorizing all of it, since the Santana solos tend to run together after a few listens.
There's nothing like a three-note solo to boost your confidence. Add some delay to the pattern and you're good to go in three minutes or less.
Ross Childress could burn up a fretboard, but most of the time his solos (in the early days of Collective Soul) were simple and soulful, not unlike his offering on "Run."
New guitar player, same result. Joel Kosche speeds up a little on his solo for this track, but it's still very manageable.
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Ok, so there isn't a really a "solo" in this song, in the traditional sense. However, the main riff carries into the bridge and outro, giving the song a distinct and memorable melodic flavor.
This one gets fast in spots, but even those measures are doable if you can put time in with the tab.
The solo isn't tabbed, but it's easy to pickup and will sound great with a slide. Just a few notes need to be deciphered.
Dorothy at a live performance. Flickr Commons Image Courtesy of Jus10h
It feels like Clapton could just go off at some point in this song, but he never really does. The melody you hear at the beginning is the solo.
This solo is a melodic pattern that stays on the B string (open A♯ in this tuning) and is played over the open high E string (D♯ in this tuning).
These guys never were known for shredding. The solo on "Holiday" is about as complex as they get.
It wasn't much, but the solo on "Folsom Prison Blues" somehow managed to be totally memorable and iconic. Learning it shouldn't take you more than a few minutes.
We can't find a tabbed version of this solo, but you might not need one if you can play by ear at all.
Kings of Leon
The melody and rhythm are both completely straightforward in this solo, which doesn't start until measure 105 of the track (at least on the Songsterr tab we linked to). It's a good confidence builder.
There's plenty of lead guitar in this song, all of which is simplistic and repetitive.
The solo that starts at measure 125 is surprisingly easy, as it's primarily made up of triads and power chords. The rest of the song, however, is a bit more challenging.
Only two notes and four measures for this solo. It doesn't get much easier.
There's nothing "guitar" about this song until the solo, but it somehow manages to fit really well with the vibe of the tune. The link is to the solo tab only.
All the lead guitar parts of this song are repetitive and simple to follow.
The arpeggiated sequences during the verses, though already fairly easy, are way more difficult than the actual solo.
The most difficult aspect of this solo is its ambiguity. The tab we linked to cleans it up a lot, but you might still have to take your best guess in some areas.
The solo is basically an arpeggiated sequence with a short power chord progression. On the tab it's labeled "instrumental."
Kurt Cobain's vocal melody sets the stage for his guitar solo in Nirvana's most popular track.
It's hard to really call this a "solo" because it doesn't sound like much more than an offshoot of the rhythm riff. Still, it's an easy one if you want to tackle the whole song.
Jonny Greenwood's solo track is very simple, despite being stretched over about 30 measures.
Jonny Greenwood's telecaster. Flickr Commons Image Courtesy of Mehan
Only two notes on repeat. It doesn't get easier than this. If you follow the link to the Songsterr tab, the "solo" starts at measure 40.
Rage Against the Machine
How I Could Just Kill a Man (Cypress Hill cover)
It's gonna sound much better with a Whammy pedal (Morello uses the DigiTech variety), but the tab itself is just a few notes.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
It's strange to think of how many guitar players RHCP has gone through. This one came from the John Frusciante era, with a simple melody and relaxed pace, not unlike the rest of the song.
This is another one from Frusciante, this time with a slide. It's a little longer, but still quite slow.
Shimon Moore's solo on this track utilizes a fast picking pattern, but uses only a few different notes, which is a common dynamic for alternative and post-grunge styles.
The intro lick that James Iha plays is repeated near the end of the song as a sort of faux solo. It's just a few notes, which is all you really need for such a heavy rhythm.
The solo closely follows the melody of the intro riff, which is neither fast nor complex.
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Flickr Commons Image Courtesy of ScannerFM
The "solo" in this song is the interlude that you hear early in the track. Like the rest of the song, it's simple and easy to pickup.
As with most Tool songs, "Aenima" is long and rhythmically complex. However, the main solo is simple and easy to learn if you take it one piece at a time. No speeding on this one.
Again, the complexity is found in the rhythm and timing, not the guitar solos. "Lateralus" is a good place to start if you want to dabble in Tool songs.
If you can remember the main vocal line ("We're not gonna take it. No, we ain't gonna take it...") the solo follows it note for note.
It's less of a solo and more of an ambiguous refrain. However, the guitar part is mostly sparse harmonics and is fairly easy to pickup.
It's not the easiest song in the world, but it's well-known, and we'd be hard-pressed to call "Brown Eyed Girl" anything but entry-level.
Once again, we have a solo that mirrors the vocal melody, making it extremely easy to remember. This one is also slow and short.
It's not as easy as "Island in the Sun," but there's little that will challenge you in terms of speed or complexity.
The White Stripes
Jack White layers some harmonic notes over the original melody, but it's nothing if not simple and easy to conquer.
The solo is long, but not overly fast and comes with plenty of "breaks" in the form of dyadic, repetitive chord patterns. It'll take some time just to memorize everything, but you won't get hung up or stuck at any one spot.
Looking for more music?
We update this page regularly, so check back for new songs easy guitar solos or email us a suggestion and we’ll put a link up soon thereafter.
Here are a few other posts related to covering songs and other people’s music.
- The Ultimate Guide to Easy Guitar Songs
- Moonlight Sonata Guitar Tab
- Amazing Grace Guitar Lesson (in the style of Josh Wilson)
Keep in mind that guitar solos, even the easy ones, are always an exercise in patience and investing time.
Just like we learn and retain vocal melodies, because of repeated exposure, guitar solos are memorized by hearing and playing them a lot. Regardless of complexity, this is the expectation that you should have when you attempt to track any solo.
Once you get a few of the easier ones under your belt, you can begin to employ tactics that help you track more complex and technically challenging pieces.
Learning more solos and songs
Finding and playing easy guitar solos is an incredible amount of fun.
Especially if you have good instruction.
But all too often we’re left with incomplete, incorrect and generally unhelpful material when it comes to actually learning songs on the guitar, much less a song's full solo.
But there is a great method for learning guitar solos, both the easy and the difficult. I'd recommend giving the Guitar Tricks 14-day free trial a test run, since they have a massive library of guitar song tutorials where professional instructors take you through each segment, including the solos, step-by-step.
Other Beginner Lead Guitar Resources
The Complete Online Guitar Lessons Reference: A library of the best online guitar lessons, websites and resources available to everyone with an internet connection.
55 Guitar Exercises for Improving Accuracy: A massive collection of fretboard exercises designed to strengthen hands and improve dexterity.
Total Guitar Intervals Guide: A 20-part lesson on guitar intervals that encompasses several other pieces of content.
Complete Guitar Intervals Lesson: A shorter and more succinct lesson on guitar intervals, complete with tabs and charts.
E String Notes Fretboard Memorization: Quick and easy guide to memorizing the fretboard notes on both the high and low E strings.
Guitar Scales Explained in Simple Illustrations: An explanation of the theory and practical application of guitar scales.
Flickr Commons Image Courtesy of Kmeron