37 Top Easy Fingerpicking Songs For Beginners [With Tabs]

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“First Day Of My Life” by Bright Eyes


Some albums take the world by storm and eventually transcend the genre it was originally released in. This sort of case could be made with the 2005 Bright Eyes album, I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning. 

There are quite a few tracks from this album that have found commercial success in their own right. First Day Of My Life is a song that’s become recognized for its masterful songwriting and folk roots salutations.

If you’re a singer-songwriter, you’ll want to add First Day Of My Life to your repertoire. Anyone who grew up with the song will appreciate hearing it in contrast to the endless 80s rock cover bands.

“Tears In Heaven” by Eric Clapton


Eric Clapton has had his fair share of hits on both electric and acoustic guitars. With the acoustic, Tears In Heaven ranks up there among his most successful.

The song was written in response to the tragic death of his son at a very young age. It’s a song that you can immediately recognize as soon as the first few notes are played

Part of what makes it so recognizable is the fact that Clapton composed a memorable melody within its chord structure. Like Stairway To Heaven, this is worth learning, but nobody wants to hear it at a guitar store. 

“Helplessly Hoping” by Crosby, Stills & Nash


Crosby, Stills & Nash were the epitome of a folk-based powerhouse fit for the times. Folk had its heyday in the 1960s, and Crosby, Stills & Nash presented themselves as a modern evolution. 

Their song, Helplessly Hoping, features the iconic 3-part harmony built primarily from a solo fingerpicked guitar. Nothing extraordinarily difficult is happening here, but the part does utilize some rolling techniques that will get your fingers moving.

“Going To California” by Led Zeppelin


If you were asked to name an acoustic Led Zeppelin song, what would your first answer be? For many, the song they would name is, Going To California.

This track has all of that mystical smoky mountain vibe that Led Zeppelin captured in The Battle Of Evermore. But it also has that flower-power feeling of being on a blanket in a park amongst millions of like-minded individuals. 

Maybe Going To California is Led Zeppelin’s attempt at pleasing the hippies in their audience. Either way, it’s certainly one of the most iconic songs in their entire catalog.

“Time In A Bottle” by Jim Croce


Throughout his career, Jim Croce gave many examples of how to masterfully combine fingerpicking with thoughtful songwriting. Take the song, Time In A Bottle, for instance, which happens to be one of his biggest hits. 

The track’s guitar part is crafted of several motifs that help to divide the lyrical verses. This song will take you a while to learn but if you have some experience, time is all it takes.

“Naked As We Came” by Iron & Wine


One of the foundational tenements of fingerpicking is the usage of a moving bass line. There isn’t a better modern example to learn from than Iron & Wine’s Naked As We Came.

This song utilizes a moving bass line that jumps between strings complemented by fingerpicked sympathetic treble strings. Getting this down will take some time, but you’ll be primed for almost anything afterward. 

“The Heart Of Life” by John Mayer


Is the John Mayer song, Stop This Train proving to be a little too much for you? Perhaps you might find the song, The Heart Of Life, to be just a tad bit easier.

These songs are actually very similar, and both include that pulsing thumb action throughout. Even the picking patterns are similar, but there’s a little bit less moving around here on The Heart Of Life.

“Thirteen” by Big Star


Big Star was a sort of foundational pioneer in the pop-influenced power rock that would come in the late 1970s. The band has a bit more notoriety than they did in their heyday, partially due to the accessibility of music.

While the group has its fair share of excellent songs, Thirteen stands out as an incredible piece of music. This song almost has a mystical quality to it, providing some tangible feeling you can’t quite put a finger on. 

Thirteen is perfect for the aspiring singer-songwriter looking to learn how to fingerpick. After hearing this song, you’ll definitely want to be able to play it yourself. 

“From The Morning” by Nick Drake


Nick Drake is an artist that unfortunately didn’t get to experience the love that exists for his music today. Music aficionados of today’s age have fallen head over heels for Drake’s potent songwriting and guitar skills.

His album, Pink Moon, is widely considered to be a masterpiece and should be required listening for anyone. The album primarily features Nick Drake singing with just a single acoustic guitar.

From The Morning comes from Pink Moon, and provides that bubbling sensation of how it feels when the sun rises. The song does have an odd tuning, and it’s best if you don’t make this the first song you learn.

“Between The Bars” by Elliott Smith


Speaking of masterful songwriters, Elliott Smith needs to be given his fair dues. Like Nick Drake, the love for Elliott’s work has only multiplied exponentially since his tragic death.

Smith has a very candid way of writing that exposes things in a way that could be a little uncomfortable. But, anyone living a life where emotions are experienced can appreciate Elliott’s work.

Between The Bars is usually considered one of his best songs. It utilizes a blend of fingerpicking a bass note and strumming some chords throughout the track.

“2:45 AM” by Elliott Smith


Another song from Elliott Smith’s Either/Or album worth learning is, 2:45 AM. This is a relatively simple song that features both fingerpicking and strumming.

The song opens up with a signature ascending and descending line, which is repeated later. In a way, 2:45 is another masterclass on how simplicity in a song can be extremely powerful.

“The Dress Looks Nice On You” by Sufjan Stevens


If you’re not familiar with Sufjan Stevens by now, you definitely should be! During the early 2000s, Sufjan was the equivalent of royalty within the independent music community.

Sufjan’s music always seems to be inspired by folk music at its core. This is especially evident in his album, Seven Swans, from which the song, The Dress Looks Nice On You, comes. 

The Dress Looks Nice On You has a simple guitar fingerpicked guitar line that is played repeatedly throughout. It provides a sort of meditative quality, upon which other melodic instrument lines are added in a complementary fashion. 

“Left And Leaving” by The Weakerthans


The majority of the songs mentioned here have been primarily played on the acoustic guitar. This doesn’t do much justice to those who are mostly accustomed to playing the electric guitar.

If this is you, consider taking some time to learn the song, Left And Leaving, by The Weakerthans. Chances are, you might not be all too familiar with this group, but don’t let that stop you.

Those with an open mind will find that Left And Leaving might be one of the greatest songs ever written. Lyrically, the song is full of metaphors and double meanings that rival the works of classic novels. 

Left And Leaving is a true masterclass of how to package lyrics with complementary guitar parts. Its fingerpicked electric guitar part is both thoughtful and moving. 

Best Fingerpicking Songs For Beginners, Final Thoughts

Once you get the hang of fingerpicking, you’ll see what is so alluring about its sound. The technique can make a song sound incredibly complex, even if the pattern underneath is simplistic. 

And really, that’s part of the beauty of music in general. You don’t need to play anything overtly complex in order to sound “cool” or like you’re a good guitar player. 

As with learning anything new, take your time and remember to be patient, and have fun along the way!

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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