If you’re just starting out with acoustic guitar playing, you may be looking for some good music to play that’s not too difficult but still sounds great and shows off your skills. If so, here are the top 10 acoustic guitar solos that you should learn. Each of these solos features an exciting combination of techniques and will be a challenge to learn, but the payoff is well worth it when you can play one of these classics!
Best Acoustic Guitar Solos
The following 10 acoustic guitar solos are among the most iconic in popular music history. They will help you improve your fingerpicking and chordal skills as well as your soloing chops.
1. Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
This song is a staple of acoustic guitarists everywhere, especially those interested in learning some easy acoustic guitar solos. Written by Pink Floyd’s lead guitarist David Gilmour, Wish You Were Here is notable for its light but intricate fingerpicking style—and most notably, for its beautiful and straightforward two-chord structure. David Gilmour is one of the best living guitarists in the world today. If you’re just starting out on acoustic guitar, you should try practicing his iconic song Wish You Were Here as one of your first lessons.
2. Sublime – What I’ve Got
What I Got is a classic rock hit from Sublime’s self-titled album that introduced them to mainstream radio listeners in 1996. Like most of Sublime’s songs, it’s simple and easy to play by any musician looking for an acoustic guitar solo in D major. Even if you don’t want to cover a full version of What I’ve Got, there are many good licks within this solo worth trying out. If you’re stuck on your next solo or are learning how to improvise on acoustic guitar, you may also find inspiration here.
3. The Beatles – And I Love Her
The opening song for The Beatles’ 1964 album A Hard Day’s Night, And I Love Her is a straightforward acoustic guitar solo that also uses a simple chord progression. Some of McCartney’s best writing can be found in his songs like this one. And I Love Her was written about his girlfriend, Jane Asher.
While it’s not as easy as Yesterday, And I Love Her has a simple acoustic guitar solo that beginners can pick up quickly. Plus, it’s one of The Beatles’ most famous songs.
4. Eagles – Hotel California
This song is not only one of the most famous songs on an acoustic guitar but is also one of the Eagles’ signature tunes. The intro features a 12-string acoustic guitar strumming a D major chord three times. While it can be played with just one finger, for your first attempt at a 12-string acoustic guitar solo, try using all five fingers to play each chord.
This tune is a staple of every aspiring guitarist’s repertoire and deserves its spot on any list of easy acoustic guitar solos. This track has several acoustically-driven verses, as well as a catchy (and often-imitated) guitar riff that you’ll be playing for years to come.
5. Guns n Roses – Patience
Patience by Guns n’ Roses is one of the best acoustic guitar solos to learn. The entire intro is just a masterpiece from start to finish, complete with everything from natural harmonics and slides, arpeggios, and even a bit of double picking for good measure.
It’s certainly not an easy solo to learn, but it’s definitely worth it. We recommend learning about half of it on each string before moving on to other solos to master some of Patience’s techniques and gain confidence.
6. Eric Clapton – Layla
Layla is a love song written by Eric Clapton and performed by Derek and The Dominos. In 1970, inspired by his unrequited love for Pattie Boyd, the wife of his best friend and fellow musician George Harrison, Clapton penned Layla.
While Layla is far from Clapton’s best-known tune, it boasts one of his most beautiful guitar solos—both for its execution and staying power. Many acoustic rock musicians cite it as a favorite. It lends itself well to being played with just about any instrumentation. Once you learn it, keep an eye out for similar fingerpicking patterns in your other favorites, so you can internalize them. It will elevate your playing style significantly.
7. Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana is a hit song covered many times since its 1991 release. This grunge rock staple was written by Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic and performed by Cobain with his band Nirvana. The song is one of several listed in Rolling Stone’s top 500 songs of all time. This song features a slowed-down verse followed by an almost punk-like chorus featuring loud guitar chords and strained vocals.
8. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication
Californication is a single released by Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1999. The song was a worldwide hit and even won two Grammy Awards. It is also ranked 40th on Rolling Stone’s 100 Best Songs of all time list and remains one of its most well-known songs.
Indeed, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of rock’s most iconic bands, known for their unique sound and frontman Anthony Kiedis’s rapid-fire lyrics. Their hit single Californication is an excellent lesson in fingerpicking—it features catchy but straightforward guitar lines throughout. It’s an excellent acoustic guitar solo to learn, but it takes a long time to master. Use it as an exercise in working out complex melodies on a single string.
9. Radiohead – High and Dry
There are hundreds of acoustic guitar solos to learn, but there are a few that you simply must get under your fingers. For the beginner, High and Dry by Radiohead is one of the best acoustic guitar solos to learn. It’s a very well-known acoustic guitar solo for beginner guitarists. It’s straightforward and beautiful, with chords that you’ll want to revisit over and over again.
High and Dry is off Radiohead’s third album, known as OK Computer. It was released on June 16th, 1997, and sold over four million copies in its first year. The song came out as a single, reaching number 78 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1996.
10. The Animals – House of the Rising Sun
The Animals didn’t just offer one of the best acoustic guitar solos ever. They basically made one that could be repeated indefinitely with seemingly limitless expression and feeling. Originally a folk song, House of Rising Sun has been covered by many artists over time, but perhaps none are more iconic than The Animals. This song has one of The Animals’ most famous riffs, and it’s an excellent place for beginners.
In this song, Hilton Valentine’s now-famous electric guitar A minor chord arpeggio opens the tune. You can play House of The Rising Sun using open chords only: Am, C, D, E, and F. Many guitarists like to strum this song with short down strums on all beats, emphasizing the first and fourth beats. If you want to play a fingerstyle version, you can easily do it since the pattern is simple too.
From classics played by the Beatles and Eric Clapton to alternative rock fits from Radiohead and Nirvana, these songs are great for beginners, intermediate players, and even advanced players looking to get in some practice on their solo-playing chops. These acoustic guitar solos will really help open up your sense of music and help you expand your repertoire.