While people are stuck at home over the next while, picking up new skills and hobbies has been at the top of their minds. If you’ve ever had a guitar just collecting dust in the corner of your closet and you never had the time to really learn, the world has presented us all with an opportunity to do so. We’re here to help make some suggestions on which songs you could start with.
We’re not going to break down how to play different guitar techniques or what all the technical aspects of guitar equipment mean, but it’ll clear up any confusion if you’re just not sure which songs are achievable at the start of your journey beyond “Hot Cross Buns.”
Take a look below for 20 punk, metal and rock songs you can learn as a beginner to intermediate guitar player.
My Chemical Romance – “Teenagers”
Many My Chemical Romance songs would be a good place to start for a beginner guitar player, but with “Teenagers” being one of their biggest hits and being fairly simplistic, we thought it would be a good launch point for new players. The track is wildly fun to play through and should only take a little bit of time for even the most rudimentary of players to catch onto.
Metallica – “For Whom The Bell Tolls”
Metallica songs offer a number of good techniques for beginners to get the hang of things while offering something fun and slightly challenging to learn. “For Whom The Bell Tolls” has some great single-note riffs to build finger strength initially while having that classic Metallica crunch for building up palm-muting and down-picking techniques.
Avenged Sevenfold – “Unholy Confessions”
Avenged Sevenfold’s “Unholy Confessions” has become one of the go-to songs for beginner metal guitar players since its release. The track has a touch of complexity while still being simplistic, so although it may not be the very first song you can hop into learning, it’s a good stepping stone once you grasp the absolute basics of guitar playing.
Sepultura – “Refuse/Resist”
Thrash metal often has many technical and complex solos involved, but the core riffs old-school bands whipped together are fairly easy to get the hang of. Sepultura are a fine example of this as “Refuse/Resist” offers some fun grooves and speedy riffs to learn while being easy enough for just about anyone to pull off well.
Green Day – “Basket Case”
When you pick up a guitar for the first time, Green Day are a solid band to dive into as their songs are rewarding to learn while being easy to comprehend in a relatively short time frame. Forget everything the 60-year-old guitar shop employee pressures you into about learning Deep Purple or Led Zeppelin. “Basket Case” will be a lot more fun to pick through while trying to get your head wrapped around the basics.
Slayer – “Raining Blood”
Sure, learning the solos in “Raining Blood” probably won’t go over too well for a beginning player, but if you’re aiming toward the rhythm parts of the song, it has much to offer in terms of building skills. Slayer riffs are easy to learn but hard to master, so when you get to a point of wanting to work on speed, this track should be one of the first any metal player heads for.
Misfits – “Astro Zombies”
Punk songs are the best place for any guitar player to learn simple techniques such as down-picking, power chords and palm-muting. Misfits have an entire catalog beginners could learn without too much effort. The tracks are fun to play, and “Astro Zombies” gives a chance for people to practice switching their way around the fretboard quickly without focusing too much on other skills.
Nirvana – “Heart-Shaped Box”
Nirvana feel like a given for many starter players to kick off their journey given how easy the majority of the songs are while also being iconic anthems for anyone into punk or rock music. “Heart-Shaped Box” is a fun song to learn early on, particularly for understanding chord structures and how they can be used outside of a simple strumming of all six strings at the same time.
Radiohead – “Creep”
Barre chords are an important aspect of learning guitar and can be quite tricky until you’ve built enough finger strength to hold down all six strings on a fretboard position properly. Radiohead’s “Creep” is a fantastic way to start learning how to do this as it’s almost entirely built on barre chords, making it a solid track to start picking up that technique.
Killswitch Engage – “My Curse”
This one might take people longer to catch onto at first. While it doesn’t sound as easy as you would think it is, Killswitch Engage’s “My Curse” is a great song to practice at the start of your guitar-playing career. The track does indeed have some tricky parts, so maybe it isn’t the absolute first song you go to, but with some effort, it can easily be added to a beginner’s repertoire early on.
Black Sabbath – “Paranoid”
Black Sabbath will forever be one of the first bands any guitar player hears as a recommendation to begin with, and for good reason. A song such as “Paranoid” offers some simplistic but fun guitar riffs to play while teaching the fundamentals you’re going to need to progress past the first stage of playing. Additionally, the solo isn’t that difficult, and it’s a strong one to start with to understand the differences between rhythm parts and lead parts.
Bring Me The Horizon – “Chelsea Smile”
You’ll have to severely drop-tune your guitar to be able to play “Chelsea Smile,” but this Bring Me The Horizon track is a solid jam to tear through early on. The song has some simple single-note riffs that will help you work on stretching those fingers a little further out across the fretboard while staying fun enough to play through the entire time.
Asking Alexandria – “Another Bottle Down”
Asking Alexandria are a fantastic introductory metalcore band for guitar players to launch their playing into. Their tracks are fairly simple, and while “Another Bottle Down” will technically require a tremolo bar such as a Floyd Rose for select riffs, the vast majority of the song could be picked up early into the learning process.
Black Flag – “Nervous Breakdown”
As mentioned previously, old-school punk is a great place to start, and Black Flag songs are really easy, fun and can be learned quickly. “Nervous Breakdown” is a staple of punk history, so what better place is there to start while acquiring a new skill?
System Of A Down – “Sugar”
There are a lot of System Of A Down songs a beginner could hop into, but “Sugar” is an easy choice with its heavy chord bashing and quirky single-note riffing. The song is a solid starter for the metal fans of the world, and it’s an iconic track you’ll be revisiting for years to come once you’ve got it nailed down.
As I Lay Dying – “94 Hours”
If you’re looking for a good way to start branching beyond the absolute easiest guitar techniques and want to stick within metal, “94 Hours” has some simple techniques to start branching into intermediate territory. The pull-off riffs and simple harmonics laced throughout the As I Lay Dying track will give something a touch more complex to break into while making you sound more proficient than you actually are.
Suicidal Tendencies – “Subliminal”
Suicidal Tendencies broke away from the simplistic songwriting involved in early hardcore punk through insanely complex solos, but the basic structure of their rhythms is a great way to start building speed while working on skipping strings and bashing out chords. “Subliminal” is a song people can pick up on early on while developing their skills and bounces between speed and slowed-down riffing, providing a changeup for people to get the hang of.
Mötley Crüe – “Shout At The Devil”
If you remember hopping onto your PlayStation 2 or Xbox to play Guitar Hero, you’ll remember Mötley Crüe’s “Shout At The Devil” came early on in the game, showing itself as a fairly simplistic track. That holds up when you trade in the plastic for wood as it’s a great beginner’s song to learn, and even the solos on the track should be manageable.
Hatebreed – “Smash Your Enemies”
There’s a reason all of your favorite local hardcore bands love to cover Hatebreed, and it’s not just because they’re one of the best bands in the genre. Their songs are hard hitting and fun to play, but above all, they’re simple. “Smash Your Enemies” is a great example of a track you can practice while learning about chords, tremolo picking and song structure.
Rise Against – “Re-Education (Through Labor)”
If you’re looking for a punk track to learn quickly but want something a touch more modern, Rise Against have you covered. “Re-Education (Through Labor)” isn’t just a catchy track—it’s also a fun and easy song to learn when you’re diving into guitar playing while offering some fun chord play throughout.