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Building a repertoire

acoustic guitar with black background

Think about why you decided to play guitar. If you’re like most students, you’d like to pick up an instrument and be able to play a song. Throughout this book, we will focus on methods to improve technique and overall understanding of the inner workings of music. It is equally important to develop your repertoire (or what songs you know) as you work through this book. In many ways having a large repertoire of music committed to memory is more important than other skills like understanding theory or reading sheet music. Not only will this repertoire determine what you play when you pick up your instrument but also what you can play with other people. Playing music with others is integral to developing as a musician. Many songs are based on similar chord progressions or melodic content. Building a large repertoire will also help you to recognize patterns and similarities between songs—only increasing your repertoire more.

It may be difficult to decide which songs to begin with. In many ways, your specific repertoire doesn’t really matter. Learning songs you like will help you retain interest in progressing and improving. If you enjoy hearing a song, you’ll want to play it. Sounds obvious, right? Start with a list of five songs.

Five songs I want to learn:

Note: Your song list will save on this browser but will need to be re-entered if you visit this site from another browser.

Learn the classics

In addition to songs you particularly like, it is also valuable to learn the classics. The history of guitar music is vast, and there is no better way to learn the instrument than from the masters. When parts of a song are too difficult for a beginner, it is always possible to learn a simplified version. You can revisit these songs while you grow as a musician. Learn the more intricate details when you are ready. This list is not comprehensive but is an excellent starting point. How many of these songs have you heard? Some may be unfamiliar, though you have likely heard most of them many times. Maybe there are even some songs you haven’t heard that you would like. Spend some time listening to and becoming familiar with all of these songs even if you aren’t quite ready to learn them. If you learn a song that you don’t particularly like, you have not wasted your time. Knowing what music you dislike may inform your musical taste as much or even more than knowing what music you like. Therefore, finding and being exposed to new music is always beneficial. Use the list on the next few 20 pages for inspiration while choosing songs to learn.

How to practice repertoire

Use the practice skills discussed previously when learning new repertoire. Devote part of your practice time to learning new music and part to reviewing songs you have already learned. This review is especially important as it is surprisingly easy to forget songs you once knew as your repertoire database grows. You can always learn simplified versions of any song to begin with and learn the more difficult parts as you get better at guitar. Use the repertoire list pages in the resources section at the end of this book to keep track of your repertoire. Be sure to add any and all new songs learned. If you don’t ultimately like a song that you learned, don’t hesitate to remove it from your list. There is no reason to waste practice time with music you dislike once you’ve learned what you can from a less-than-enjoyable song. Play songs you learn in as many settings as possible: by yourself, with other musicians on any instrument, with a full band, and especially along with recordings. Your repertoire list will grow and evolve with your skills and as your interests in new styles evolves. It is truly gratifying to look back at a long repertoire list after years of studying music.

300+ iconic guitar songs

Tip: Use the icon above to access the YouTube playlist.

  1. "All Along The Watchtower"-Jimi Hendrix*
  2. "All Day and All Night" -The Kinks
  3. "Amarillo By Morning" -George Straight
  4. "American Girl" -Tom Petty
  5. "Another Brick In The Wall" -Pink Floyd
  6. "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" -Jet
  7. "Are You Gonna Go My Way" -Lenny Kravitz
  8. "Back in Black"-AC/DC
  9. "Bad Moon Rising" -Creedence Clearwater Revival
  10. "Bad To The Bone" -George Thorogood
  11. "Barracuda" -Heart
  12. "Beat It" -Michael Jackson
  13. "Big Yellow Taxi" -Joni Mitchell
  14. "Billie Jean" -Michael Jackson
  15. "Black Dog" -Led ¬Zeppelin
  16. "Black Hole Sun" -Soundgarden
  17. "Black Magic Woman" -Santana
  18. "Blackbird" -The Beatles
  19. "Blister in the Sun" -Violent Femmes
  20. "Blitzkrieg Bop" -The Ramones
  21. "Blue Orchid" -White Stripes
  22. "Bohemian Rhapsody" -Queen
  23. "Bold As Love" -Jimi Hendrix
  24. "Born to Be Wild" -Steppenwolf
  25. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" -Green Day
  26. "Boys Are Back in Town" -Thin Lizzy
  27. "Brain Stew" -Green Day
  28. "Breathe (In The Air)" -Pink Floyd
  29. "Breezin’" -George Benson
  30. "Brown Eyed Girl" -Van Morrison
  31. "Bulls on Parade" -Rage Against the Machine
  32. "Cake By The Ocean" -DNCE
  33. "California Sun" -The Rivieras
  34. "California" -Joni Mitchell
  35. "Californication" -Red Hot Chili Peppers
  36. "Canon Rock" -Jerry C
  37. "Carry on My Wayward Son" -Kansas
  38. "Castles Made Of Sand" -Jimi Hendrix
  39. "Chelsea Morning" -Joni Mitchell
  40. "Cherub Rock" -Smashing Pumpkins
  41. "Classical Gas"-Mason Williams
  42. "Cliffs of Dover" -Eric Johnson
  43. "Closing Time" -Semisonic
  44. "Come Together" -The Beatles
  45. "Come as You Are" -Nirvana
  46. "Comfortably Numb" -Pink Floyd
  47. "Couldn't Stand The Weather" -Stevie Ray Vaughan
  48. "Crazy Train" -Ozzy Osbourne
  49. "Creep" -Radiohead
  50. "Crossroads" -Robert Johnson/Cream/Eric Clapton
  51. "Crosstown Traffic" -Jimi Hendrix
  52. "Cruel" -St Vincent
  53. "Cult of Personality" -Living Colour
  54. "D'yer Mak'er" -Led Zeppelin
  55. "Dani California" -Red Hot Chili Peppers
  56. "Danny's Song" -Loggins & Messina
  57. "Day Tripper" -The Beatles
  58. "Do I Wanna Know?" -Arctic Monkeys
  59. "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" -Michael Jackson
  60. "Don’t Fear the Reaper" -Blue Oyster Cult
  61. "Don’t Know Why" -Norah Jones
  62. "Don’t Stop Believin" -Journey
  63. "Dreams" -Fleetwood Mac
  64. "Drive" -Incubus
  65. "Edge of Seventeen" -Stevie Nicks
  66. "Enter Sandman" -Metallica
  67. "Eruption" -Van Halen
  68. "Europa" -Carlos Santana
  69. "Every Breath You Take" -The Police
  70. "Eye of the Tiger" -Survivor
  71. "Fake Plastic Trees" -Radiohead
  72. "Fire" -Jimi Hendrix
  73. "Float On" -Modest Mouse
  74. "Fly Away" -Lenny Kravitz
  75. "Folsom Prison Blues" -Johnny Cash
  76. "Forever and Ever, Amen" -Randy Travis
  77. "Fortunate Son" -Creedence Clearwater Revival
  78. "Four on Six" -Wes Montgomery
  79. "Foxey Lady" -Jimi Hendrix
  80. "Free Bird" -Lynard Skynard
  81. "Free Fallin'" -Tom Petty/John Mayer
  82. "Friends in Low Places" -Garth Brooks
  83. "Funk 49" -James Gang
  84. "Get Lucky" -Daft Punk
  85. "Get Rhythm" -Johnny Cash
  86. "Give Life Back To Music" -Daft Punk
  87. "Give Me One Reason" -Tracy Chapman
  88. "Give it Away" -Red Hot Chili Peppers
  89. "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" -Green Day
  90. "Gravity" -John Mayer
  91. "Hallelujah" -Leonard Cohen/Jeff Buckley
  92. "Harder to Breathe" -Maroon 5
  93. "Heart Shaped Box" -Nirvana
  94. "Heartbreaker" -Led Zeppelin
  95. "Here Comes the Sun" -The Beatles
  96. "Here For The Party" -Gretchen Wilson
  97. "Hey Joe" -Jimi Hendrix
  98. "High and Dry" -Radiohead
  99. "Highway To Hell" -AC/DC
  100. "Holiday" -Green Day
  101. "Hotel California" -The Eagles
  102. "Hound Dog"-Elvis
  103. "House of the Rising Sun" -The Animals*
  104. "Hurt" -Johnny Cash
  105. "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" -The Darkness
  106. "I Don't Trust Myself" -John Mayer
  107. "I Hope You Dance" -Le Ann Womack
  108. "I Love Rock and Roll"-Joan Jett
  109. "I Shot the Sheriff" -Bob Marley/Eric Clapton
  110. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" -U2
  111. "I Walk The Line" -Johnny Cash
  112. "I Wanna Be Your Lover" -Prince
  113. "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" -The Beatles
  114. "I Want You Back" -The Jackson 5
  115. "I Won’t Back Down" -Tom Petty
  116. "I'm Coming Out" -Dianna Ross
  117. "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" -Hank Williams
  118. "I'm Yours" -Jason Mraz
  119. "If 6 Was 9" -Jimi Hendrix
  120. "Immigrant Song" -Led Zeppelin
  121. "In Bloom" -Nirvana
  122. "In My Life" -The Beatles
  123. "In the Aeroplane over the Sea" -Neutral Milk Hotel
  124. "Iron Man" -Black Sabbath
  125. "Ironic" -Alanis Morissette
  126. "Is This Love" -Bob Marley
  127. "Island in the Sun" -Weezer
  128. "Jailhouse Rock" -Elvis
  129. "Jessica" -Allman Brothers
  130. "Jessie’s Girl" -Rick Springfield
  131. "Johnny B. Goode" -Chuck Berry
  132. "Jolene" -Dolly Parton
  133. "Just A Girl" -No Doubt
  134. "Kansas City" -Wilbert Harrison
  135. "Karma Police" -Radiohead
  136. "Kashmir" -Led Zeppelin
  137. "Killing in the Name" -Rage Against the Machine
  138. "Kiss" -Prince
  139. "Knocking On Heaven’s Door" -Bob Dylan*
  140. "La Grange" -ZZ Top
  141. "Landslide" -Fleetwood Mac*
  142. "Layla" -Derek and the Dominos/Eric Clapton
  143. "Let's Dance" -David Bowie/SRV
  144. "Let's Get It On" -Marvin Gaye
  145. "Let's Go Crazy" -Prince
  146. "Let's Go Trippin'" -Dick Dale
  147. "Life in the Fast Lane" -The Eagles
  148. "Little Wing" -Jimi Hendrix*
  149. "Livin’ on a Prayer" -Bon Jovi
  150. "Locked Out Of Heaven" -Bruno Mars
  151. "Lose Yourself To Dance" -Daft Punk
  152. "Love Story" -Taylor Swift
  153. "Lucky" -Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat
  154. "Mama Tried"-Merle Haggard
  155. "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies..." -W. Jennings/W. Nelson
  156. "Man in the Box" -Alice in Chains
  157. "Man, I Feel Like A Woman" -Shania Twain
  158. "Manic Depression" -Jimi Hendrix
  159. "Master of Puppets" -Metallica
  160. "Me And Bobby McGee" -Janis Joplin
  161. "Message in a Bottle" -The Police
  162. "Miserlou" -Dick Dale
  163. "Mister Sandman" -Chet Atkins
  164. "Misty Mountain Hop" -Led Zeppelin
  165. "Money for Nothing" -Dire Straits
  166. "Money" -Pink Floyd
  167. "Monkey Wrench" -Foo Fighters
  168. "Moondance" -Van Morrison
  169. "My Generation" -The Who
  170. "My Girl" -The Temptations
  171. "Night Rider" -Dick Dale
  172. "No Surprises" -Radiohead
  173. "Norwegian Wood" -The Beatles
  174. "Nothing Else Matters" -Metallica
  175. "Oh! Darling" -The Beatles
  176. "Oh, Lonesome Me" -Don Gibson
  177. "On The Road Again" -Willie Nelson
  178. "One" -Metallica
  179. "Only in Dreams" -Weezer
  180. "Over the Hills and Far Away" -Led Zeppelin
  181. "Oye Como Va" -Santana
  182. "P. Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" -Michael Jackson
  183. "Panama" -Van Halen
  184. "Paranoid Android" -Radiohead
  185. "Paranoid" -Black Sabbath
  186. "Piece Of My Heart" -Janis Joplin
  187. "Pipeline" -The Chantays
  188. "Play That Funky Music White Boy" -Wild Cherry
  189. "Possum Kingdom" -Toadies
  190. "Pour Some Sugar on Me" -Def Leppard
  191. "Pretty Woman" -Roy Orbison
  192. "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" -U2
  193. "Pride and Joy" -Stevie Ray Vaughan
  194. "Proud Mary" -Creedence Clearwater Revival*
  195. "Pumped Up Kicks" -Foster The People
  196. "Purple Haze" -Jimi Hendrix
  197. "Purple Rain" -Prince
  198. "R U Mine?" -Arctic Monkeys
  199. "Raise Your Glass" -P!nk
  200. "Rebel Rebel" -David Bowie
  201. "Red House" -Jimi Hendrix
  202. "Redemption Song" -Bob Marley
  203. "Reelin' In The Years" -Steely Dan
  204. "Respect" -Aretha Franklin
  205. "Rhiannon" -Fleetwood Mac
  206. "Ring of Fire" -Johnny Cash
  207. "Rock With You" -Michael Jackson
  208. "Rock You Like A Hurricane" -Scorpions
  209. "Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution" -AC/DC
  210. "Rock and Roll" -Led Zeppelin
  211. "Rock ’n' Roll (Part 2)" -Gary Glitter
  212. "Rock’n’Roll All Nite" -Kiss
  213. "Rolling In The Deep" -Adele
  214. "Roxanne" -The Police
  215. "Running Down a Dream" -Tom Petty
  216. "Runnin’ with the Devil" -Van Halen
  217. "Satisfaction" -The Rolling Stones
  218. "Say It Ain’t So" -Weezer
  219. "Scar Tissue" -Red Hot Chili Peppers
  220. "School’s Out" -Alice Cooper
  221. "Scuttle Buttin'" -Stevie Ray Vaughan
  222. "Semi-Charmed Life" -Third Eye Blind
  223. "September" -Earth Wind & Fire
  224. "Seven Nation Army" -The White Stripes
  225. "Sharp Dressed Man" -ZZ Top
  226. "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" -The Clash
  227. "Shut Up and Dance" -Walk the Moon
  228. "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" -Stevie Wonder
  229. "Sir Duke" -Stevie Wonder
  230. "Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay" -Otis Redding
  231. "Slow Dancing In A Burning Room" -John Mayer
  232. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" -Nirvana
  233. "Smoke on the Water" -Deep Purple
  234. "Smooth" -Santana
  235. "Snow (Hey Oh)" -Red Hot Chili Peppers
  236. "Something" -The Beatles
  237. "Song 2" -Blur
  238. "Spanish Castle Magic" -Jimi Hendrix
  239. "Spanish Romance" -Spanish Song
  240. "Stairway to Heaven" -Led Zeppelin
  241. "Start Me Up" -The Rolling Stones
  242. "Stir It Up" -Bob Marley
  243. "Stop This Train" -John Mayer
  244. "Stormy Monday" -T-Bone Walker*
  245. "Style" -Taylor Swift
  246. "Sultans of Swing" -Dire Straits
  247. "Summertime Blues" -Eddie Cochran
  248. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" -U2
  249. "Sunshine of Your Love" -Cream
  250. "Superstition" -Stevie Wonder/SRV
  251. "Surfin' U.S.A." -The Beach Boys
  252. "Sweet Child O’ Mine" -Guns N’ Roses*
  253. "Sweet Home Alabama" -Lynard Skynard
  254. "Sweet Home Chicago" -Robert Johnson*
  255. "Tennessee Whiskey" -Chris Stapleton
  256. "Texas Flood" -Stevie Ray Vaughan
  257. "The Final Count Down"-Europe
  258. "The Ocean" -Led Zeppelin
  259. "The One I Love" -REM
  260. "The Sweater Song" -Weezer
  261. "The Thrill is Gone" -BB King
  262. "The Unforgiven" -Metallica
  263. "The Wind Cries Mary" -Jimi Hendrix
  264. "Three Little Birds" -Bob Marley
  265. "Thunderstruck" -AC/DC
  266. "Time" -Pink Floyd
  267. "Today" -Smashing Pumpkins
  268. "Twist And Shout" -The Beatles
  269. "Two Princes" -Spin Doctors
  270. "Under the Bridge" -Red Hot Chili Peppers
  271. "Voodoo Child" -Jimi Hendrix/SRV
  272. "Vultures" -John Mayer
  273. "Wagon Wheel" -Old Crow Medicine Show*
  274. "Wait Until Tomorrow" -Jimi Hendrix
  275. "Waiting On The World To Change" -John Mayer
  276. "Walk This Way" -Aerosmith
  277. "War Pigs" -Black Sabbath
  278. "We Are Family" -Sister Sledge
  279. "Welcome to the Jungle" -Guns N’ Roses
  280. "When I Come Around" -Green Day
  281. "Where the Streets Have No Name" -U2
  282. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" -The Beatles
  283. "Whole Lotta Love" -Led Zeppelin
  284. "Wipe Out" -The Safaris
  285. "Wish You Were Here" -Pink Floyd
  286. "With or Without You" -U2
  287. "Wonderful Tonight" -Eric Clapton
  288. "Wonderwall" -Oasis
  289. "Workin' Day And Night" -Michael Jackson
  290. "Yellow Ledbetter" -Pearl Jam
  291. "Yellow" -Coldplay
  292. "Yesterday" -The Beatles
  293. "You Don't Know How It Feels" -Tom Petty
  294. "You Give Love a Bad Name" -Bon Jovi
  295. "You Got Me Floatin'" -Jimi Hendrix
  296. "You Really Got Me" -The Kinks*
  297. "You Shook Me All Night Long" -AC/DC
  298. "Zero" -Smashing Pumpkins
  299. "Ziggy Stardust" -David Bowie
  300. "Zombie" -The Cranberries
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