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 Rock styles.
Use the cog icon in the YouTube player to change the speed of the video while practising. If you’d like me to write out the full chords for one of these songs, leave a comment and I’ll get to it!
Yo La Tengo - Ohm (One chord song)
This is a song with only one chord. It doesn’t get easier than this!
Hold a D chord, and strum along with this pattern:
D U D U – U D U (repeat)
Optional: Tune to Drop D (your low E string tuned down by a whole step) for even easier strumming. This way, you don’t need to worry about only playing 4 strings, and you can just rock out.
Two Chord Songs
Brian Jonestown Massacre - Anemone (Two chord song)
Now, this one isn’t recorded to standard pitch, so you’ll have to put a Capo on fret 1, and tune each string slightly lower to match the original recording. Tune down by not quite a half step. Once you’ve got this sorted though, it’s only two chords all the way through. If you’re playing without the music, just leave your tuning in standard.
E (for 2 bars)
A (for 2 bars)
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)
There are two easy ways you can play this one.
If you place a Capo on fret 1, you can play G, C, and D, and also the riff at 1:26 (this also comes back at 2:21)
The other guitar is tuned down half a step (no capo), and plays A, D, E instead.
The Modern Lovers - Roadrunner (Three chord song)
Another three chord song, using D, A, and E.
Want more detailed instructions for one of these songs? Post a comment and let me know which I should do a lesson on!
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.
The Strokes - Is This It (Three chord song)
Some classic indie rock from The Strokes. With a Capo on fret 3, the chords are D, G, A. The lead part isn’t lightning fast, either, but will take a bit more practice.
The Blue Angel Lounge - The God (Three chord song)
Here’s a slow burner from The Blue Angel Lounge. The chord are C, G, Dm. It also has some fairly simple lead parts.
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.
Magnetic Fields - The Book Of Love (Three chord song)
Three chords for this one: G, C, wait for two beats, then D back to G.
Four Chord Songs
The Seeds - Can't Seem to Make You Mine (Four chord song)
Pop a Capo on fret 5, and you can play G, D, Em for the main sequence
47 seconds in, the chords change and there’s a C chord too.
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.