15 Easy Alternative/Indie Guitar Songs for Beginners with Chords

Learning guitar, but don’t want to learn Pop or Country songs? In this post you’ll find some of the easiest beginner guitar songs in Indie/Alternative styles.

Now, ‘easy’ is a subjective word, so don’t worry if you find something difficult here. If you’re new to guitar, and you don’t know chords & strumming rhythms yet, I would suggest starting out with my free beginner course. It also includes some easier substitutes for barre chords, which can be pretty tricky for beginners.

If you can already play open chords like A, D, E, G, and C with a clear sound – have a look through the songs here and get playing! We start with a one chord song, and build up from there.

I’ve also included a few TABs for lead parts for those that want to try.

Click the TAB/chords to enlarge the image. Alternatively, you can get all of the TABs here in PDF format. Use the cog icon in the YouTube player to change the speed of the video while practising.

The song list (click to jump to the song):

Yo La Tengo - Ohm (One chord song)

This is a song with only one chord.

Hold a D chord, and strum along with this pattern:

D U D U – U D U (repeat)

for the ‘-‘ symbol you would be moving your arm down, but without hitting the strings. This is known as a missed strum or ghost strum.

Optional: Tune to Drop D for even easier strumming. This way, you don’t need to worry about only playing 4 strings, and you can just rock out.

To tune to Drop D: Use a tuner in chromatic mode (usually shown as “C” on electronic tuners). Loosen the thickest E string until it is tuned to a D note. 

Two Chord Songs

Brian Jonestown Massacre - Anemone (Two chord song)

This song has only two chords all the way through. For the simple version, it’s E and A.

E (for 2 bars)

A (for 2 bars)

and repeat.

Want to make it sound more like the original? Use E7 and A7

Arctic Monkeys - 505 (Two chord song)

A two chord song from Arctic Monkeys. They play higher chord voicings, but you can play this with open chords. It’s Dm and Em, all the way through.

Galaxie 500 - Tugboat (Two chord song)

This one from Galaxie 500 uses a G (the one with three fingers) and Cmaj7 – which sounds intimidating, but the shape is very similar to G, so it’s an easy transition.

Three Chord Songs

Patti Smith - Gloria (Three chord song)

To play this Patti Smith song, you’ll need to know E, D, and A.

Keep the strumming simple, using down strums only.

The E – D sequence repeats for most of the song, then at 3:15, it changes to this:

The Jesus and Mary Chain - Just Like Honey (Three chord song with an easy riff)

If you place a Capo on fret 1, you can play this song using G, C, and D. There is also an easy riff at 1:26 which I have tabbed below (this also comes back at 2:21)

The Modern Lovers - Roadrunner (Three chord song)

Another three chord song, using D, A, and E.

Cornershop - Brimful of Asha (Three chord song)

The original version is played with trickier Barre chords, but open chords work too – again, it’s just A, D, and E. Use a Capo on fret 1 if you want to play with the track.

The Strokes - Is This It (Three chord song)

Some classic indie rock from The Strokes. The version below is made easier with a Capo on fret 3. The chords are D and A. The lead part isn’t lightning fast, either, but will take a bit more practice.

For the Verse, if you want to strum chords instead of playing the lead, use D for two measures, and G for two measures. Technically it’s a two chord song, but for a version without the lead riff, it’s three chords.

the strokes is this it tab 2

The Blue Angel Lounge - The God (Three chord song)

Here’s a slow burner from The Blue Angel Lounge. The chords are C, G, Dm. You’ll also see a Dsus2 – this is played like a Dm with the index finger lifted off.

The Velvet Underground - Oh! Sweet Nuthin' (Three chord song)

If you use a Capo on fret 3, you can play this Velvet Underground classic with A, G, and D. The chords don’t change very quickly, so it’s a great song for beginners.

Belle and Sebastian - The Boy With The Arab Strap (Three chord song)

This song uses a simple Down, Up, Down, Up, strumming pattern all the way through. The chords for this indie song are G, C, D.

Intro:

G G G G

Verse:

G G G G
C C C C

1:16:

D D D D
G G G G

Verse 2 (as above)
G G G G
C C C C

Chorus:

D D D D
G G G G

Instrumental:

G G G G
C C C C
G G G G
C C C C
D D D D
C C C C
G G G G

Verse 3:

G G G G
C C C C

D D D D

Verse 4:

G G G G
C C C C

D D D D
G G G G

Instrumental 2:

G G G G
C C C C
G G G G
C C C C

Quiet piano chords

G – – – 
C – – – 
G – – – 
C – – – 

Magnetic Fields - The Book Of Love (Three chord song)

Three chords for this one: A, D, and E/A. Don’t be intimidated by “E/A” – it’s only two fingers.

To have it sound like the recording, you would tune down each string a whole step (DGCFAD, from thickest to thinnest), but it still sounds good in normal tuning (as long as you’re not playing along with the track).

Four Chord Songs

The Seeds - Can't Seem to Make You Mine (Four chord song)

This is more of a Garage Rock track, but we’re not here to get too pedantic about labels. It’s a great song that isn’t too mainstream.

Pop a Capo on fret 5, and you can play G, D, Em for the main sequence. I guess they couldn’t seem to find a tuner when recording this, because it’s slightly out of tune (or, maybe the tape machine played back at a different speed?) anyway, that’s just in case you wonder why it sounds a bit strange playing along. It adds to the charm.

Daniel Johnston - True Love Will Find You In The End (four chord song)

The four chords for this short gem of a song are: G, C, Em, and Am.

Strum pattern: DUDUDUDU
 
Intro: G
 
[G] True love will find you in the end
[C] You’ll find out just who was your [G] friend
 
[Em] Don’t be sad, I know you will [Am]
 
[C] But don’t give up until
[C] True love will find you in the end [G]
 
[G] This is a promise with a catch

[C] Only if you’re looking can it [G] find you
 
[G] ‘Cause true love is searching too
 
[C] But how can it recognize you
unless you [G] step out into the light, the light

[Em] Don’t be sad I know you [Am] will
 
[C] but don’t give up until

[C] True love will find you in the end [G]
G

Don’t forget to get the PDF file for these songs for easy printing.

I hope you found this post useful. If you’re still new to guitar, or just want to make sure you’re not learning any bad habits, I’d love to see you in my free beginner course. It covers:

– Essential Chords

– Reading TAB

– Proper technique

– Substitutes for tricky barre chords.

Click below to get the video modules.

Questions, corrections or comments? Leave them down below!

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