When you first start learning how to play guitar, it can be overwhelming with all the different techniques and styles. Fingerpicking is often a great place to start when you want to extend beyond the simple strumming technique because it sounds intimate and creates a different sound.
In this article, you’ll learn some of the easiest fingerpicking songs on guitar to start with and what makes them so easy.
1. Hallelujah By Jeff Buckley
Jeff Buckley is known for his unbelievable vocal talent but Hallelujah allows his fingerpicking to stand out.
The tempo on this isn’t very fast so you shouldn’t have a hard time picking it up for the first time.
The melody is very intimate so you’ll have people really engaged when you bust this out live.
Once you get the progression down you’ll have mastered more than half the song because it’s repeated over and over again throughout the song.
For that reason, it’s a great option for those looking for simple guitar songs to learn for fingerpicking.
2. Everybody Hurts By R.E.M.
In the 90s, R.E.M. released their song Everybody Hurts and it’s a great slow-tempo tune that you can play to get the audience hanging on your every word.
There are only two chords in the verse so it’s a great one to pick up when you want something easy to pick up.
The song starts off pretty slow and then slowly builds to a crescendo so you can pull this off live by fingerpicking in the beginning and switching to strumming at the end of the song.
3. Nothing Else Matters By Metallica
You don’t need to play pop or folk music to take advantage of the fingerpicking style.
This Nothing Else Matters song by Metallica uses a great progression of chords to create the backdrop for the melody.
This is an easy metal song on guitar to impress the audience with since it won’t be as expected as other fingerpicking tunes.
The tempo is slow too, so it’s an easy one to pick up when you want to add a little more credibility to your setlist.
4. Ain’t No Sunshine By Bill Withers
Bill Withers wrote this classic in 1971 and it’s been covered by a number of artists over the years.
This easy fingerpicking song has plenty of chord changes to keep things interesting from beginning to end.
The way Bill plays this is by hitting the bass note first and then plucking the other two strings in the chord.
That way, you have some movement in the song while it remains simple to play.
5. Hey There Delilah By The Plain White T’s
In 2007 this song took over the airwaves and had tears filling up eyes all across the world.
This song uses the same technique that Ain’t No Sunshine uses by playing the bass note followed by the other strings in the chord.
The melody is simple and catchy so when you play this don’t be surprised if people start singing along.
There are only a handful of chords you’ll need to memorize so this won’t take long to perfect and start adding to your live set.
6. April Come She Will By Simon And Garfunkel
Simon and Garfunkel were the quintessential folk singers in the 60s and their hit, April Come She Will, is a great fingerpicking song.
The melody flows the whole time through this one so even if you’re new to playing these kinds of tunes, it shouldn’t be too hard to get down.
This will probably take some practice before adding it to your setlist but it’s worth learning since it will be slightly more challenging as a fingerpicking song than some others on this list.
This is a great song to play if you’re trying to show your range because it takes some practice to make a slow song sound this good.
7. Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright By Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan came out with Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright in 1962 and it’s a classic fingerpicking song that sounds great on an acoustic guitar.
It uses popular chords you’ll recognize and the tempo is medium tempo so you don’t have to be a pro to get it down.
Dylan was known for his lyrics and this one is filled with a powerful message that most people can resonate with.
He uses a harmonica throughout the song so if you feel confident playing this easy guitar rock song, you can add another instrument to the mix and even try your hand at singing!
8. House Of The Rising Sun By The Animals
When the Animals recorded this song they did it in one take because that’s how easy it is to play.
It’s essentially the same chords over and over again the entire song.
House of the Rising Sun is another one that starts off slowly and then builds and the song goes so you can start off fingerpicking and then switch to strumming further in the song you play.
The song was originally recorded on an electric guitar with someone playing a pick with a sweeping technique but it will sound great on an acoustic with fingerpicking.
9. Is There Anybody Out There? By Pink Floyd
When Pink Floyd released The Wall in 1979, the song Is There Anybody Out There? became one of the biggest hits off the album.
The beginning of this song includes a lot of special effects in classic Pink Floyd fashion, but you can just play a lovely fingerpicking intro and it will be just as good.
The melody is slow and haunting so focus on your inner musician when playing this one.
This one also has some great walk downs while fingerpicking, which is a perfect technique to learn as you’re starting out.
10. Keep Your Head Up By Ben Howard
Ben Howard isn’t as well known as most of the other artists on this list but it’s your chance to dive into some of the deeper cuts.
Playing a tune that not everyone can sing with really puts the focus on your skills and vocals.
Make sure you’ve spent some time practicing this one at home before you take it in front of a live audience.
The positive message in this song is relatable to just about everyone so if you play it well enough, people will feel the message.
11. Fast Car By Tracey Chapman
When Tracy Chapman busted out onto the scene in 1988 with her hit song Fast Car, it was a breath of fresh air.
The lyrics in this one are what make it so great and the melody is incredibly catchy throughout the entire tune.
This will be another easier fingerpicking song to learn since there are only a few chords played throughout the entire song.
The original isn’t really played in the fingerpicking style which actually makes it easy for you to make your own style.
12. Tears In Heaven By Eric Clapton
Sadly, Eric wrote this classic after the passing of his son and you can feel the emotion in the song.
It’s a perfect one to bust out when you want to show the more intimate side of your setlist and get people involved emotionally with your show.
It’s also a very slow song so you can pick up pretty easily without much practice.
It’s a great one to start with when you’re learning fingerpicking.
There’s a great solo in this one too so you could eventually record the rhythm and then play some classic Clapton riffs on top of it.
13. Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) By Green Day
Just because you’re playing fingerpicking doesn’t mean you can mix some punk music into the mix.
This classic from Green Day came from left field for most fans of the band but it broke into top positions on the charts across the world.
The original doesn’t play in the fingerpicking style, but that’s what makes it so easy for you to create your own version.
You can even slow it down while you’re learning the song before busting it out live and playing a faster tempo.
14. Road Trippin’ By The Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are known for their brash funk-rock style, but this Road Tripping song shows a more intimate side of the band.
It’s a great fingerpicking song that was even originally written on an acoustic with their guitarist, John Frusciante, playing the fingerpicking style.
If you watch the music video you can even slow it down to watch what he’s doing while playing.
Learning Fingerpicking Songs on Guitar
Many people only think of one style of music when playing the fingerpicking technique but the truth is there are a ton of different genres you can use it with.
Start off learning the songs above slowly and then speed up as you perfect them.