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For Beginners,  Guitar Guides

11 Easy Alternative Rock Songs to play on the Guitar

Finding the right song to begin your guitar-playing adventure on can be a pain. We’ve all been there. You’ve looked at online tutorials and got bored of “Ode to Joy” and you can’t stand another session of learning “Stairway to Heaven”. You might be in the right place then! 

In this article, I’m going to give you a list of easy alternative rock songs to play on the guitar, outline the techniques you need to succeed and give you a link to the tab (or chord sheet) I think is the best. The list will go from very easy beginner to slightly more difficult but nothing you can’t get to grips with beginner. 


Easy Alternative rock Songs to Play on the Guitar

1. "Bags" - Clairo

Clairo has risen to the top of the music scene by blending the gap between indie and pop. Therefore I can see why you may be thinking “I swear the title says Alternative Rock”, don’t fret we are just starting off light, we will get there. 

This song is super straightforward. All you have to do is play F# Minor, Bb Minor, and Ab Major throughout the full song. The strumming pattern is simple to grasp to0, it’s all downstrokes. One thing to note is the chords I have quoted above are written differently on the sheet, this is because they have included a capo. The correct way, and the way Clairo plays it, is without.

Difficulty: Very Easy

Techniques you need: Barre Chords

Learn it here: Chord sheet

2. "If You Wanna" - The Vaccines

Just as easy as three barre chords, with “If You Wanna” all you need is three open chords. D, G, and A will see you through this track it really is as easy as that. Fast-paced and energetic, while this song may be simple it is bound to make practices a little more exciting for you. 

It is a straightforward song to learn on the guitar, the structure is straightforward, and the strumming pattern can be what you want it to be, provided you keep up with the song. It is an excellent one to get started with, in case Clairo isn’t your taste. 

Difficulty: Very Easy

Techniques you need: Open or Barre Chords

Learn it here: Chord sheet

3. "Boulevard of Broke Dreams" - Green Day

To keep this one simple and easy to learn, let’s ignore the tremolo guitar effect. Instead, listen to the open chords in the background, which eventually take centre stage. What you’ll hear is a guitar with a capo on the first fret simply playing the chord shapes of Em, G, D and A in the Verse, and C, G, D, and Em in the Chorus. 

If you don’t have a capo, play it as barre chords as follows; Verse: F, G#, D#, and A#, Chorus: C#, G#, D#, and F. This simplicity can be doubled down on because if you play it as power chords it will sound just as good. Green Day are great for simple chord progression, I definitely recommend listening to their songs for inspiration. 

Difficulty: Very Easy

Techniques you need: Open Chords or Barre Chords

Learn it here: Chord sheet

4. "There She Goes" - The La's

Everyone loves this happy-go-lucky indie tune, so it’s a brilliant one to get showing off early. A very easy riff underpins the song, so if you fancy having a go at the lead line in the chorus you shouldn’t find it too challenging, Apart from this there are a total of six chords to get the hang of.  

You might at this stage look at the Cadd9 and panic, but think of it as a G that has been squashed down a string, then you should have the hang of it. The G/F# is just a simple case of moving the G on the low E string to an F#. With these two down the rest will be as easy as pie. 

Difficulty: Pretty Easy

Techniques you need: Open Chords and some String Swapping 

Learn it here: Chord sheet

5. "Beverly Hills" - Weezer

“Beverly Hills” may be seen as one of the songs that saw Weezer move away from their indie rock beginnings, but it is still a bop! Powerful and straight to the point, the song features the same chord progression throughout. There is only a bit of deviation at the bridge. 

If you do fancy a challenge then add the solo into your learning. It isn’t too difficult to get a hang of, but can pose a challenge to those just starting off. If that isn’t something you want to challenge, keep playing the, F, Bb, C and E chords underneath it.  

Difficulty: Easy

Techniques you need: Power Chords and Alternate Picking

Learn it here: Guitar Tab

6. "The Hardest Button to Button" - The White Stripes

Yeah this is The White Stripes song you expected to see on this list, is it? “The Hardest Button to Button” is on here as it delivers a little bit of a step up from “Seven Nation Army” when it comes to playing the guitar. We are once again back with Barre Chords, although this time it is arpeggiated.

A little bit more challenging, this song asks you to keep control of your timing. The stabby chords of the chorus need to be timed correctly to ensure the track sounds right. With four chords throughout, this one shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge. 

Difficulty: Easy

Techniques you need: Arpeggiation and Barre Chords

Learn it here: Guitar Tab

7. "Boys Don't Cry" -The Cure

“Boys Don’t Cry” is a melancholic masterpiece, but it’s an easy one to get to grips with. From a straightforward lead guitar line throughout the chorus and simple barre chords in the verse, you should have all the tools to get the hang of this one.  

Moving up from A to Bm, to C#m, then to D, and back down for the chords, the easiest way to play the song is by moving the barre chords along the A string. You will be getting the grips of this one in no time at all. 

Difficulty: Easy

Techniques you need: Picking and Barre Chords

Learn it here: Chord Sheet

8. "Creep" - Radiohead

“Creep” sounds like a difficult song to grasp on first listen, but when you dive into it you realise how easy it can be. This means the song is as difficult to learn as you want to make it. At its fundamentals, it is four barre chords, G, B, C, then a funky C minor. That’s it. 

Do you want to up the challenge? Then try and play along with the exact arpeggiation in the recording, this takes the difficulty up a notch and makes it a challenge for even an intermediate guitarist. This is definitely one you can build up to show off with. 

Difficulty: As easy as you want it to be.

Techniques you need: Arpeggiation and Barre Chords

Learn it here: Chord Sheet

9. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" - Nirvana

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” is another track that is as easy as you want to make it. On the surface, the song is simple playing power chords, but it gets more difficult when you take time to perfect the strumming pattern. A classic song for those looking to get to grips with the guitar, this is definitely one to learn because it is just fun to play. 

When you bring in the solo, you have a piece that is ever so slightly more difficult. This is the epitome of an easy alternative rock song. All you need is F, A#, G#, and C# and you are ready to rock. There are a few more patterns although they are covered in the Tab. 

Difficulty: As easy as you want it to be.

Techniques you need: Power Chords and some picking.

Learn it here: Guitar Tab

10. "The Middle" - Jimmy Eat World

“The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World is a relatively easy song to get through when you focus on the chords and add in a bit of the lead line. If you want to go for the solo, I recommend returning when you have a little bit more ability. However, if you feel like you’ve got it in you then go for it! 

At its base the song is essentially a three-chord song, all you need is D, G, and A and you should have it sorted. The solo is approachable but the hammer-ons and pull-offs are probably just a little too much in terms of pace. 

Difficulty: As easy as you want it to be.

Techniques you need: Power Chords and some picking, Hammer-ons and Pull-Offs

Learn it here: Chord Sheet

11. "Take Me Out" - Franz Ferdinand

Time for the challenge. This one is definitely a step up in difficulty, but with two guitars you can pick the path that looks the least challenging. Still, it belongs on the list of easy alternative rock songs as once you get to grips with it, it is easy enough. 

This one isn’t going to take you minutes to get the hang of, it’s going to take some practice and stick with it as it is rewarding. The lead line is my suggestion if you want an easier time of it. This is also the only track on here that does require you to read a full tab, so be prepared.

Difficulty: Just under intermediate

Techniques you need: Some chord variants, some deadlines, and octaves.

Learn it here: Guitar Tab

How did you find these Easy Alternative Rock songs?

This list took a little bit of time to come up with, as I wanted to ensure that the tracks were approachable for an absolute beginner, but also offering scope to grow. As I say only see this list as a set of laid out suggestions, the key to any guitar journey is to play the music you enjoy. 

Right, now get practising! 

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