Are you dreaming about leaving your hometown? Sure you are. Because pop-punk kids have felt self-isolated long before the pandemic. All the shows are canceled, and there’s nothing else to do, so there’s no better time to order in an unhealthy amount of pizza, reminisce about Warped Tour and dust off that Fender or Gibson you’ve been neglecting to learn some genre classics.
These tracks will add a decent range to your repertoire and give you the opportunity to learn some nifty techniques if you feel so inclined. The list is based on the tab versions of the songs, too, just to make it even easier for absolute newbies to pick up.
Keep reading for 20 pop-punk songs you can easily learn as a beginner guitar player.
blink-182 – “Dammit”
This list could’ve easily been made up entirely of blink-182 songs, particularly their older stuff. The simple tabs make blink’s the ideal discography for a beginner guitarist (or bassist). “Dammit” is one of the most popular songs of their earlier work, and it’s the perfect track to help you get to grips learning what’s what with your six-string and gives the satisfying pay off when you finally master that iconic riff. Feel free to imagine yourself replacing Tom DeLonge in the video as you play through.
Green Day – “American Idiot”
Another iconic pop-punk band with a discography spanning 30-plus years who could’ve dominated this list, Green Day have so many songs that are easy to learn—and the end result is immensely rewarding. “Basket Case” is an easy pick, but “American Idiot” is another example of a great beginner guitar track from a different era of the bands’ reign over the genre.
Goldfinger – “99 Red Balloons”
Goldfinger’s syncopated, ska-filled tunes might be a little advanced for someone who has just picked up a guitar. Luckily, their pop-punkier tunes, such as this cover of Nena’s anti-war protest anthem “99 Red Balloons,” make for fun songs to pick through no matter your skill level. This one gives you the chance to practice the main chords, both clean and with distortion, and includes a second guitar so you can play along with a (socially distanced) friend.
The Bombpops – “In The Doghouse”
If the Fat Wreck Chords powerhouse that are the Bombpops aren’t enough to encourage more women to pick up guitars, then nothing will. Jen Razavi and Poli van Dam might be guitar goddesses, but “In The Doghouse,” from this year’s Death In Venice Beach, is an ideal song for beginners to blast through. In standard tuning, the tab version will help you get to grasps with quick fret movement while still being achievable for a novice player.
Sum 41 – “The Hell Song”
A throwback anthem, Sum 41’s “The Hell Song,” from 2002’s Does This Look Infected?, is one of the heavier tracks on this list, with Sum’s trademark thrashing guitars paying homage to their metal influences. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, though, and with a killer solo, it’s enough to impress your friends once you’ve perfected it. You’ll also be able to practice palm-muting, hammer-on/pull-off and sliding techniques on this song, making it a great all-rounder for newbies.
Bad Cop / Bad Cop – “Here’s To You”
This Bad Cop / Bad Cop song is excellent for beginners, both on electric and acoustic guitars. “Here’s To You” as an acoustic track is satisfying yet straightforward, using just a handful of frets, while using an electric guitar means you can add a buddy to your jam session (over Zoom of course). Or practice both parts, record and mix them together and be really proud of your newfound guitar skills.
Box Car Racer – “I Feel So”
DeLonge’s second entry on this list comes in the form of his side project’s most popular song, “I Feel So.” Box Car Racer have an entirely different (heavier) sound compared to most of blink’s back catalog, but this track is still a great starting point for someone early in their guitar-playing career. This one’s played fast, so you might want to run through it a good few times before attempting to play along with the recorded version.
Good Charlotte – “The Anthem”
“Anthem” by name and by nature, this Good Charlotte track is a nostalgic joy. So distract yourself from the crappy current goings-on, pretend you’re a Young & Hopeless high school dropout and learn this super-simple track, complete with plenty of distortion to cover up any minor mistakes. Just try not to trash your bedroom too much when you get to the chorus. Once you’ve got this one down, there’s plenty more in GC’s discography suitable for rookie players.
Masked Intruder – “Stick ’Em Up”
Masked Intruder are officially (unofficially) Fat Mike’s daughter’s favorite band, so why not learn guitar alongside your small person of choice with one of their pop-punk hits? “Stick ’Em Up” is an incredibly easy song to learn, made up almost entirely of power chords, making it a great way to get used to the fretboard and sound awesome without too much skill. The lyrics might not make it the best one to teach a young child, however.
New Found Glory – “My Friends Over You”
New Found Glory are another genre staple who have managed to stay relevant for over 20 years, releasing their 10th album this year. “My Friends Over You” is one of their biggest hits and makes for a great addition to a new guitarist’s repertoire. It’s another one that gives you the chance to practice palm-muting and sliding techniques, and you have the option to play one of two guitar parts (or both!).
Yellowcard – “Ocean Avenue”
From here on out, the tracks on this list are just as easy to learn but require some know-how when it comes to alternate tuning. Yellowcard’s classic “Ocean Avenue” is the first song on this list to use drop D tuning, but once you’ve figured that out—there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube—the tab is super simple. It’s another iconic song, so it will give you a real sense of accomplishment when you’ve got the hang of it.
State Champs – “Elevated”
Another one utilizing drop D tuning, this song from State Champs’ debut album, 2013’s The Finer Things, is a fine example of the chugging guitars the band are known for—and why their songs make for achievable starting points for newcomers to the six-string. Once you’re in the right tuning and have picked up “Elevated,” this one also lets you add dead notes and vibrato to your skill set.
All Time Low – “Dear Maria, Count Me In”
“Dear Maria, Count Me In” from All Time Low’s second album, So Wrong, It’s Right, was their first single to achieve a place on a Billboard chart. It’s another one in drop D, with lots of palm-muting and dead notes to perfect your techniques. It features a lot of repetition and focuses on the bottom three strings for the rhythm part, while the lead guitar is more advanced but not impossible.
We Are The In Crowd – “The Best Thing (That Never Happened)”
“The Best Thing (That Never Happened)” by We Are The In Crowd appeared on their second album, Weird Kids, written alongside Goldfinger frontman/producer extraordinaire John Feldmann. It’s another drop D tune, with dead notes and vibrato, and also focuses on the bottom three strings. The rhythm part can easily be picked up early on, while the lead is something you can work toward.
Fall Out Boy – “Sugar, We’re Goin Down”
“Sugar, We’re Goin Down” isn’t just one of the most popular and iconic songs in the genre. It’s one of the easiest to learn on guitar, too. In drop D tuning, it’ll help you practice most of the skills you’ve picked up so far, and there’s an even simpler version modified for live performances, which will introduce you to playing staccato. Once you’re playing this like you’re Joe Trohman in a sold-out stadium, there’s plenty of other Fall Out Boy tracks that make great additions to a beginner/intermediate guitarist’s range.
Man Overboard – “Rare”
“Rare” from Man Overboard’s 2011 self-titled album is one of the most emo tracks on this list, lyrically speaking. The crazy-fast drums might have you thinking it’s out of your league, but really it’s another simple song that can be played in standard tuning or drop D and will give you a chance to add the pinch harmonic technique to your ever-growing list of skills. The tab includes both the rhythm and lead guitars, so why not have a crack at both?
Paramore – “crushcrushcrush”
You probably smashed through “Misery Business” on Guitar Hero World Tour or Rock Band 3 back in the day, and now you can tell all of your friends that you can play another one of Paramore’s bangers on a real guitar. “crushcrushcrush,” also from the band’s iconic Riot! album, is one of their heavier tracks and features some prominent guitars, including a pretty sick pre-chorus lick that’ll get you some serious scene points. It’s in drop C# tuning and has a fair few vibrato notes to learn, but it’s achievable.
Neck Deep – “Can’t Kick Up The Roots”
We couldn’t do a pop-punk list and not include Neck Deep, a band who have dominated the international scene and genre for nearly a decade. “Can’t Kick Up The Roots” from their second album, Life’s Not Out To Get You, is played in drop C tuning and is more on the intermediate side, but if you’ve made it this far, you can easily kick out this jam.
Real Friends – “I Don’t Love You Anymore”
Man Overboard’s entry might be one of the most emo, but this track by Real Friends takes the top spot for emotionally fuelled pop punk. “I Don’t Love You Anymore” features guitar parts that are played in half-step down tuning. While it might be a little harder to get the hang of than some of the other songs on this list, the track uses lots of distortion, palm-muting and bending, which will cover up any errors and make you sound like an expert.
Modern Baseball – “Rock Bottom”
Modern Baseball’s “Rock Bottom” is the level we’ve been building up to. The tab itself isn’t too difficult, but in half-step down tuning, it will allow you to show off all the skills you’ve learned thus far, including vibrato, harmonics, dead notes and bends, and is played on both acoustic and electric guitars. Best order your capo on Amazon now. You’re gonna need it for this You’re Gonna Miss It classic.
Let us know how you get on learning these songs or any other pop-punk classics in the comments below!