17 No Capo Guitar Songs

The capo can certainly be a beneficial tool to have in your kit for giving your compositions a unique sound. Some musical passages can evolve from mundane to animated and full of life just by simply changing the key. 

However, capos can be a crutch for beginners that aren’t willing to learn chords beyond the basic open shapes. The following songs are quite easy and will have you playing both open chords and barre chords.

“Stand By Me” by Ben E. King


The minor barre chord (specifically the 6th-string rooted variety) can be a challenge to play cleanly. It’s not uncommon to find guitarists struggling with this chord if they don’t make it a point to use it. 

A popular song utilizing a chord of this type is Ben E. King’s mammoth hit, Stand By Me. Don’t roll your eyes, because your familiarity with this song will actually help you learn it much faster. 

For the most part, you’ll be playing simple open chord shapes that you’re probably used to. The only tricky part is incorporating the F#m barre chord at the 2nd fret.

Of course, if you want to kick it up a notch, take the time to incorporate the bass line. You can play this using the 5th and 6th strings, playing the chords within the spaces of the melody.

“The Thrill Is Gone” by B.B. King


If you have ambitions to, at the very least, play with others, it’s important to learn a blues song. Sure, if you’re younger, you’ll probably scoff at the mere mention of this in disgust of anything “blooz dad”-oriented. 

However, the blues are incredibly important to study, especially for understanding where much of today’s modern music came from. The fact that many blues tracks share similar progressions makes it easy to learn the ropes. 

Plus, if you have ambitions to play guitar solos, a blues track makes for a great backing track. B.B. King’s classic, The Thrill Is Gone, is one of the best choices you could make in this regard. 

You’ll have the option to variate what chord formations you wish to use here. However, it’s best to at least challenge yourself by playing both barre chords and open chords.

Once you get the foundation worked out, give it a run with a loop pedal. This will give you a great foundation for working out improvisation ideas.

“On The Road Again” by Willie Nelson


Sometimes in life, there’s nothing better than being with those that you consider to be your friend. If you ever find yourself with a guitar in hand, consider playing Willie Nelson’s, On The Road Again for them. 

This song perfectly encapsulates the joyous feeling that one often feels at the start of a road trip. Of course, everybody knows that a good road trip is nothing without a good friend or 2 to join in. 

For the most part, you’ll be utilizing a combination of standard open chord shapes and barre chords here. The song also has an odd timing in its composition, which can be fun and keeps you on your toes. 

“Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton


Chris Stapleton’s track, Tennessee Whiskey is perhaps the closest representation of whiskey in musical form. Even if you’re not a country fan, you can’t deny that this track is velvety smooth with a subtle burn. 

If you have ambitions to play in front of audiences, chances are likely that you’ll be playing in a bar. Pulling out Tennessee Whiskey at the right time is sure to strike a chord with the right people. 

This song’s foundation is incredibly easy, too, which comes in handy if you’ve had too much Tennessee Whiskey yourself. 

“Twist” by Phish

"Twist" by Phish


If you’re drawn even slightly towards playing lead guitar, it can help to study the masters. With regard to improvised music, Phish is in a caliber of their own.

With a career spanning nearly 40 years, it can be challenging for newcomers to find an accessible gateway. Consider the fact that they are known for their live shows, rather than studio albums, and you could be overwhelmed. 

For the curious guitarist, an easy Phish song to learn is the track, Twist. It’s primarily played with barre chords, utilizing minor pentatonic scales in its jam. 

If you’re a newcomer to Phish, learn the progression and check out various recordings of Twist through the years. You’ll see that the band has the capability of taking this track anywhere. 

“Heart Of Gold” by Neil Young


Are you an aspiring singer-songwriter? You would do yourself a massive favor by studying Neil Young’s work. 

A great place to start with his catalog is with Heart Of Gold, one of his most famous songs. Chances are likely that you’re probably familiar with this track on some level.

Heart Of Gold is quite simple, primarily using open chord shapes that you’re probably familiar with. With that being said, this makes for a great entry-level song to learn the harmonica, as well. 

“Down On The Corner” by Credence Clearwater Revival


Have you ever wanted to learn all of the parts of a song, but felt like it was an impossibility? Consider learning Credence Clearwater Revival’s classic track, Down On The Corner. 

As far as easy goes, this song ranks up there, and you won’t be using a capo to play it. You will, however, have a bit of a choice with regard to what you want to play within the song. 

If you know this song, you probably know it from the doubled signature riff between the bass and guitar. It’s definitely in your best interest to learn this riff, especially if you’ve never learned a riff before. 

Aside from the riff, some basic chords (that you probably already know) are used to fill out the riff. 

“Japanese Cowboy” by Ween


Chances are likely that you might not be familiar with the band, Ween. However, if you are, chances are likely that you’re an absolute die-hard fan. 

For nearly 40 years, this band has been enjoying cultish success while remaining obscure from the mainstream. Part of their success has to do with their free-spirited approach to music and a hefty dose of humor. 

Take the album, 12 Golden Country Greats, which has 11 songs on it, and features some of Nashville’s best musicians. The song Japanese Cowboy comes from this album, and is humor dressed up in a classic country sound, seriousness included. 

Songs like these make for excellent obscure songs to have in your repertoire. When you play this for the right audience, they will absolutely lose their wigs.

“Hey Joe” by Jimi Hendrix


Let’s face it, many guitarists are drawn to Hendrix but are afraid to learn his music. Many fear it’s not worth their time to learn because they’ll never be able to play like Jimi.

Well, if you operate from this mindset, you’re doing a disservice to the unique guitarist inside of you. Plus, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to realize just how easy something like the song, Hey Joe could be. 

Yes, you read that right, Hey Joe is relatively easy to play if you look past Jimi’s guitar solos. A song like this is great for occasions when you’re playing with other musicians.

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