If you’re a beginner on the guitar, straightforward and easy-to-read tabs are always a welcomed sight.
You want to be able to play something even if it’s only a portion of a song. Settling for particular riffs, and not necessarily entire songs, gives you a wealth of new options when it comes to finding tabs that suit your skill level.
Therefore, we’ll single out 18 guitar tabs for beginners, built from songs that the casual rock fan will likely recognize.
If you're looking for lesson material, we've got a full how to play section that covers all the basics.
Full Professional Lessons & Song Tutorials
In addition to linking to tab sheets for these tracks, we've added buttons under certain songs that have a corresponding full video lesson and tutorial at Guitar Tricks. Check it out...
1. Keep Away by Godsmack
Tony Rombola's heavy guitar playing has complimented Sully Erna’s aggressive vocals for a number of years.
In fact, one of their first big breaks was a song called “Keep Away” off their self-titled debut album, which was released way back in 1998.
The intro and verse riff are loud and aggressive, but also easily mastered with a simple drop D dyad and chord progression.
Tuning: Drop D (D A D G B E)
2. Scar Tissue by Red Hot Chili Peppers
This radio hit from 1999 was one of the most popular and widely successful rock songs that the Red Hot Chili Peppers ever produced.
Moreover, John Frusciante’s guitar playing (which is often abstract and difficult to follow or intentionally poor, like in this infamous SNL performance) is simple and straightforward for the catchy intro and can be easily picked up by beginners.
I highly recommend finger-picking or perhaps a hybrid technique, like what Karl Golden uses in his cover, per the video below.
3. Cochise by Audioslave
When Chris Cornell and the three-part instrumental cast of Rage Against the Machine got together, the first taste we ever got of the newly formed “Super Band” was a single titled “Cochise” that was released in October of 2002.
Lucky for us, both the intro and chorus riff are incredibly easy.
Nevertheless, start out slow and work your way up to the speed that Tom Morello maintains on the track.
4. Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd
If you don’t know this song, you were either born in 1995 or you’ve never listened to the radio. Next to “Sweet Home Alabama” it might one of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s most popular tracks.
The chords are C, G and Am with a simple arpeggiated line.
5. Faceless Man by Creed
We’ll focus on the intro for this track off of Human Clay , Creed’s second full-length studio album that was largely responsible for launching them into the mainstream in the late 1990s.
The riff is simple and extends through the first verse.
Hence, once you’ve got it down, the chords are easy as well.
Tuning: D A D A D D
6. Butterfly by Crazy Town
I don’t really like the song or the band, but this track was popular and painfully easy to play on the guitar.
Consequently, it’ll only run you through a few notes before it repeats for the entire song.
7. Bulls on Parade by Rage Against the Machine
Morello’s guitar work for “Bulls on Parade” was simple but still iconic and memorable.
The riff you hear after the intro and before the verse is fun, especially if you have a wah pedal.
That second portion of the intro and the verse are both easily discerned.
Intro (Part II)
8. Monster by Skillet
For a long time Skillet has filled a more unique niche in Christian music, with heavy guitar work, lots of electronic sounds and aggressive vocals.
“Monster” was released as a single in 2009 off their eighth studio album “Awake” and gave them a lot more notoriety in the mainstream.
The song was popular on rock radio, charting at number four on mainstream rock charts.
The intro riff is easy to play if we get the tuning right. It’s a lot of drop C power chords and basic strumming patterns.
Tuning: C G C F A D
9. Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2
One of U2’s most popular tunes is an easy learn.
Guitarist David Evans (Edge) uses a simple dyad and delay for this song’s intro, which carries through most of the track.
10. Youth of the Nation by P.O.D.
Satellite was by far P.O.D.’s most successful album and their last real big break into the mainstream of modern rock. That success was largely due to the “Youth of the Nation” single that they released on Christmas day of 2001. As luck would have it, the intro and subsequent chorus is only a few notes with heavy effects accompanying.
Tuning: C G C F A D
11. December by Collective Soul
Almost 20 years after the recording of “December” you can still hear it on radio stations with a modest amount of regularity. Next to “Shine” it’s one Collective Soul’s most popular tracks and gives aspiring guitarists a simple arpeggio line to play along with.
12. Behind Blue Eyes by Limp Bizkit
This cover of The Who’s 1971 hit was one of the only recognizable Limp Bizkit songs to come out of the sans Wes Borland era. It’s also one of the few covers the band did, though without a fraction of the success of the others, most notably Bob Dylan’s “Faith.”
The guitar portion is an arpeggiated progression that runs through Em, G, D, C and A.
13. Word Up by Korn
Korn covers "Word Up" with 7-string guitars but, you can play the riff all the same on a 6-string guitar in a Baritone tuning.
Hence, the tab is nothing if not simple.
When it comes to Korn covers, Anton Khoff is the master.
14. Kid Rock: Feel Like Makin’ Love (Verse)
Kid Rock’s cover of "Feel Like Makin' Love" is a bit more raucous than the original by Bad Company. Either version is the same simple chord progression.
For this particular instance, we’ll just stick with the verse.
Nothing but D and G here.
15. Limp Bizkit: MI2 Theme (Intro Riff)
The guitar work on this song is just a heavy version of the original theme music.
If you can get past the poorly constructed lyrics and bizarre rap sequences, you’ll find a pretty enjoyable piece of music.
Especially relevant and easy is the tab for just the intro riff.
TUNING: C# F# B E G# C#
16. Monte Montgomery: Shock
Monte Montgomery is one of the best rock acoustic guitar players (and probably one of the best all around guitar players) in the country.
The riff for "Shock" is a simple pattern with just a few notes that end with an open E.
17. A Perfect Circle: Outsider Intro (Apocalypse Remix)
This song is big and bad, and it always make me think of the scene in Prison Break where the PI group is about the make their escape (it plays during that bit).
Anyways, the riff at the beginning isn’t loud, but it somehow just engulfs the entire song and gives it a mysterious appeal.
Here's my take on the guitar track from several years ago.
TUNING: Down 1/2 step
18. Slash: Paradise City
The version of "Paradise City" I’m thinking of is the one that Slash does with Cypress Hill and Fergie (who doesn’t get an affiliate link because she is horrendously awful).
It’s a lot heavier and better in my opinion, but regardless of which version, the main intro riff is a simple piece to start out with.
Take it slow at first, and speed it up as you get comfortable with the movement.
Other Easy Songs
If you’re more interested in some easy music that you can strum, check out this master list of easy guitar songs.
We still add to the list on occasion, but there’s a lot of stuff on it already and every song is easy to play.
Guitar isn’t as complicated as it may seem. A few notes or chords can go a long way, so don’t assume you have to stay in the topical-learning phase for years until you can finally get to some music.
Playing actual songs (or parts of them) early will help you develop as a player, faster.
Other guitar tabs for beginners?
Anything you would add to this list?
I’ve only hit the highlights, but there are a lot of other easy riffs out there.
If you know of any other good guitar tabs for beginners, we’d love to hear about them.
Share them in the comments section below.