100 Best Songs to Improve your Guitar Playing Ability


Looking to improve your guitar technique as quickly as possible? Everyone knows that practising scales and exercises gets kind of boring after a while. So if you really want to spice up your practise sessions, then why not focus it around songs instead? It’ll help you improve your ability, but still keeps thing fun!

So here’s a huge list of songs that’ll make you sound like a pro as soon as possible. It’s a pretty hefty list, so I’ve split it down into the following sections so you can find the best songs for you:

  • For Beginners
  • For Intermediate Players
  • For Advanced Players
  • Hardest Guitar Songs
  • Songs to Improve Soloing
  • Songs with Power Chords
  • Songs to Improve Palm Muting
  • Songs to Improve Picking Technique
  • Songs to Improve String Bending
  • Songs to Improve Hammer Ons and Pull Offs
  • Songs to Improve Tapping Technique
  • Songs to Improve Shredding Technique
  • Songs to Improve Finger Picking
So let’s get started!

Best Songs for Beginners

Learning guitar is a pretty difficult skill. It’s really slow at the start, so one of the best ways to motivate yourself is by trying to learn a new song. As a beginner, it’s best to focus on simple riffs, and open chords. So here is a list of 10 songs to try if you’re relatively new to guitar playing, and are bored with the super easy stuff.

best songs for beginner guitarists

  1. Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
  2. Creep by Radiohead
  3. White Wedding by Billy Idol
  4. Closing Time by Semisonic
  5. She Moves in Her Own Way by The Kooks
  6. Californication by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers
  7. Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd
  8. Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
  9. Do I Wanna Know by The Arctic Monkeys
  10. Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty

Best Songs for Intermediate Players

If you’re starting to get to grips with the easier songs, and you’re looking for more of a challenge, then here are some great ones to try for intermediate guitarists. You’ll notice that there are a few more advanced techniques including string skipping, palm muting, sliding and bending. Try and pick one song at a time, master it, and then move onto the next.

Best Songs for Intermediate Guitarists

  1. Every Breath You Take by The Police
  2. When You Were Young by The Killers
  3. Slide Away by Oasis 
  4. Little Lion Man by Mumford and Sons
  5. Pride and Joy by Stevie Ray Vaughan 
  6. Enter Sandman by Metallica 
  7. Thunderstruck by AC/DC
  8. Hotel California by The Eagles
  9. Barracuda by Heart
  10. Black Magic Woman by Santana

Best Songs for Advanced Players

Okay, so now things start getting more difficult. You’ll notice that these songs have a lot more difficult techniques. Learning the songs isn’t the hardest part, but playing them well is. Take your time learning these songs and start slow, then build up the speed.

Best songs for advanced guitarists

  1. Beat It by Michael Jackson
  2. Stricken by Disturbed
  3. Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie
  4. Hysteria by Muse
  5. Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
  6. Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne
  7. Paradise City by Guns ‘N’ Roses
  8. Paranoid by Black Sabbath
  9. Voodoo Child by Jimi Hendrix
  10. Snow (Hey Oh) by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Hardest Guitar Songs

If you’re looking for a list of songs that you can learn and really show off with, then here it is. These songs are well recognised as song of the most difficult guitar songs of all time. Unless you have mastered basically every other song on this list, then don’t attempt these songs yet!

hardest guitar songs

  1. Clap by Yes
  2. Gematria by Slipknot
  3. Cliffs of Dover by Eric Johnson
  4. Eruption by Van Halen
  5. Afterlife by Avenged Sevenfold
  6. Juice by Steve Vai
  7. B.Y.O.B by System of a Down
  8. Master of Puppets by Metallica
  9. Tornado Of Souls by Megadeth
  10. Through the Fire and Flames by Dragonforce

Songs to Improve Solos

There’s no doubt about it, playing solos is one of the best parts about playing the electric guitar. Of course, it’s really great to create your own solos, but if you’re new to lead guitar, one of the best ways to improve your skills, is by practising solos. 

best songs to improve soloing

  1. Ruby by The Kaiser Chiefs
  2. Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
  3. Come Together by The Beatles
  4. Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns ‘N’ Roses
  5. Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen
  6. Johny B Goode by Chuck Berry
  7. Livin’ One a Prayer by Bon Jovi
  8. Paranoid by Black Sabbath
  9. Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits
  10. One by Metallica

Songs to Improve Power Chords

If you’re into any form of rock music, then you’ll know that power chords are super important. They’re essential for rhythm guitarists, and they’re really fun to play. Give these songs a try to improve your power chord technique as quickly as possible. 

songs to improve power chords 

  1. What I’ve Done by Linkin Park
  2. Song 2 by Blur
  3. Teenage Kicks by The Undertones]Hit Me With Your Best Shot by Pat Benatar  
  4. Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
  5. Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day
  6. Dammit by Blink 182
  7. Vertigo by U2
  8. You Really Got Me by The Kinks
  9. Rock You Like a Hurricane by Scorpion
  10. i’m Just a Kid by Simple Plan
Technique Tips: Power Chords
  • Make sure you mute strings that aren’t supposed to be heard by resting your right hand over them lightly.
  • Practise then daily to make sure your wrist strength improves.
  • Move around the fretboard slowly at first, focusing on accuracy rather than speed. 

Songs to Improve Palm Muting

If you’re into rock and punk music, then you’ll know that palm muting is a really widely used technique. It can be pretty tough to master at first, it’s hard to get the balance between completely muting the string so you can’t hear it, and it basically sounding like you’re picking the string normally. So give these songs a go to improve your palm muting.

songs to improve palm muting

  1. All The Small Things by Blink-182
  2. Basket Case by Green Day 
  3. Summer of 69′ by Bryan Adams
  4. In Too Deep by Sum 41
  5. The Middle by Jimmy Eat The World
  6. No Why by Smashing Pumpkins 
  7. Eye of The Tiger by Survivor 
  8. Brianstorm by The Arctic Monkeys
  9. Paranoid by Black Sabbath
  10. Master of Puppets by Metallica
Technique Tips: Palm Muting
  • Always practise with your amplifier on so you can really hear how much pressure to put on the strings.
  • Try palm muting different string and changing between them. Your focus needs to be on consistent pressure. 
  • Practise both upstrokes, downstrokes and alternate picking to improve your speed.

Songs to Improve Picking Technique

There’s no doubt about it, having a good solid picking technique is essential for pretty much every guitar song. If you want to seperate yourself from being an average guitar player, then focus on your picking technique. A good clean technique is what’ll make your playing sound more professional, no matter what the song is. 

songs to improve picking technique

  1. Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns ‘N’ Roses
  2. Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd
  3. YYZ by Rush
  4. Everlong by Foo Fighters
  5. Shiny Happy People by R.E.M
Technique Tips: Picking
  • Use a metronome to help you increase your picking speed gradually.
  • Don’t neglect alternate picking. It’ll really help you to increase your speed without tiring out your hand!
  • Keep everything relaxed. Tension is your worst enemy when it comes to good picking technique. Keep your fingers, wrist and arm loose and relaxed, and slow down when you notice any tension. 

Songs to Improve String Bending

String bending is one of the most important techniques a guitar player needs to master. It’s essential in pretty much every solo you’ll hear, and in plenty of simple riffs as well. It’s not the flashiest of techniques, but it sounds great when you get it right.

songs to improve string bending technique

  1. Some Might Say by Oasis
  2. Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
  3. Back in Black by AC/DC
  4. Can’t Stop by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers
  5. Are You Gonna Go My Way by Lenny Kravitz
Technique Tips: String Bending
  • Don’t bend a string using a single finger. Use your ring finger to bend the strings, supporting it with your middle and index finger.
  • Really listen out for your string bending being in tune. There’s a fine line between bending a string and it sounding too sharp.
  • Practise bending the thinnest string first, then work up to the thicker strings to make sure your technique doesn’t slip.

Songs to Improve Hammer Ons and Pull Offs

Another super important technique that you’ll see in almost every song, is hammering on and pulling off. It sounds great, and it opens the gateway to mastering more advanced techniques like tapping. So here are some songs you should try to help you improve your string bending technique.

songs to improve string bending technique

  1. Walk This Way by Aerosmith
  2. Thunderstruck by AC/DC
  3. Voodoo Child by Jimi Hendrix
  4. Knights of Cydonia by Muse
  5. Over The Hills and Far Away by Led Zepplin
Technique Tips: Hammer Ons and Pull Offs
  • Practise hammering on and pulling off with your ring and index finger first, as you’ll probably find it easiest. Hammering on with your middle and little finger is harder so save this till you’ve mastered it using your index and ring first. 
  • Make sure you put enough pressure on the string so it rings out as loud as possible. Focus on volume before speed.
  • Don’t practise too slowly, or you won’t get the proper effect. Use a metronome to help you with the speed. 

Songs to Improve Tapping

If you’re into metal, then you’ll know that two finger tapping is really commonly used. It sounds great, and it looks super cool. However, it’s a pretty difficult skill to master properly. Here are some of the best songs to try that include tapping.

songs to improve tapping

  1. Pashendale by Iron Maiden
  2. Midnight by Joe Satriani
  3. One by Metallica
  4. Hot For Teacher by Van Halen
  5. Building The Church by Steve Vai 
Technique Tips: Tapping
  • Don’t go crazy with the speed when you’re just starting out, but don’t go super slowly or you won’t get the proper effect.
  • Make sure you’ve really mastered hammering on and pulling off to get the best out of your tapping technique. 
  • Start using a single string, then try it using two strings. Always focus on accuracy and getting a clean note to ring out. 

Songs to Improve Shredding Technique

Want to really impress everyone with your guitar playing ability? Then you should learn how to shred. It’s one of the coolest looking techniques and it’s really commonly seen in a lot of metal and hard rock songs. Here are some great songs to try if you want to practise your shredding technique.

  1. Circles by Joe Satriani
  2. Crying Machine by Steve Vai
  3. Master of Puppets by Metallica
  4. Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix
  5. Rust In Peace by Megadeth
Technique Tips: Shredding
  • Make sure you’ve mastered alternate picking before attempting shredding. It’s all about control and accuracy to make sure everything sounds clear.
  • You also need to make sure you know your way around the most common guitar scales. 
  • Keep your fingers as close to the fretboard as possible, and make sure your little finger remains aligned with the rest of your fingers, don’t let it bend backwards.

Songs to Improve Finger Picking

So, last but not least, is the list of songs to improve your finger picking technique. It’s commonly used in acoustic guitar playing, and it can be pretty tricky to master, especially if you’re playing at high speed. Here are some great songs to give a try if you’re looking to get better at finger picking.

songs to improve finger picking technique

  1. Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen 
  2. Nothing Else Matters by Metallica
  3. Fast Car by Tracy Chapman
  4. Blackbird by The Beatles
  5. Jolene by Dolly Parton 
Technique Tips: Finger Picking
  • Always start slow with finger picking, and work up your speed. Make sure you maintain the proper left hand position when you’re also focusing on your picking.
  • Pick short sections to practise and then add them together. Don’t try and learn the entire riff in one go.
  • Generally, you should use the thumb to play the lowest three strings, then the G string should be picked with the index finger, the B with the middle finger and the ring to play the E string. 

 

So there you go! Those are the best songs to improve your guitar playing! I hope you’ve found this article helpful, thanks for reading. Here are some other posts you might find useful:

Heather

Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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