With pop-rock hooks and bluesy licks all over his catalog, John Mayer is one of the most consistent singer-songwriters in recent history. He has also earned his place as one of the best acoustic guitar players alive. One of the great things about John Mayer is that he’s not afraid to write easy songs with catchy riffs that everyone can enjoy. While we’re used to listening to him shredding away on his guitar, he’s also written some beautiful acoustic ballads that are surprisingly easy to play.
Let’s take a look at 9 of John Mayer’s best songs that are easy enough for just about anyone to play on guitar.
1. Love on the Weekend
Love on the Weekend is a breezy, laid-back song from John Mayer’s seventh studio album, The Search for Everything. It’s a great song to learn and add to your repertoire of fun songs to play yet still sound impressive when you get them right.
The song only has 3 basic chords, G, C, and D, relatively straightforward. Still, there are enough changes in there to keep things interesting. John Mayer uses a unique fingerpicking style on the main riff, but the rest of the song has a simple strumming pattern. If you’re looking for a more challenging version of this song, try the acoustic version on YouTube. It’s more complex than the album version, with some nice chord substitutions and melodic embellishments.
This is one of John Mayer’s most popular songs, and it’s very simple to play on the guitar. John Mayer’s version of XO includes various incredible guitar parts, all of which are distinct from one another. The song begins with mellow arpeggios and strumming before shifting into a funky rhythm section that becomes the song’s main groove.
It’s hard to believe this is a cover of a Beyoncé song, yet John transforms it into something completely new. The song only has four chords: C, F, Am, and G, which you play on with the capo on the 2nd fret. This is a great piece that’s perfect for strumming on an acoustic guitar, but its intricacy shines through in the way John Mayer performs it
The F chord, which is pretty basic, simply requires the thumb over technique in this song. There is some fun strumming throughout the tune that will help you practice keeping a complete and accurate rhythm while keeping your pick light in your fingers.
Hammer-ons and accented notes can also give your playing more vitality, which helps to bring the song to life. All of these combined make a chord progression into a whole song.
3. Last Train Home
John Mayer’s Last Train Home is an excellent song for practicing triads. John Mayer plays around with the bass notes in this song. If you’re planning to play guitar and sing simultaneously, like John Mayer always does, changing the bass note can be a little tricky.
The introduction to Last Train Home simply requires five open chords. John Mayer plays single notes and triads in the original recording. When he plays and sings it simultaneously, there’s a riff going on, which, like many other John Mayer songs, can be rather challenging.
For beginners, strumming patterns can be used to play Last Train Home, which would make a terrific cover version. It has a 16th Note Strumming vibe, but you can experiment with the up and down strums.
4. Your Body Is a Wonderland
The song Your Body Is a Wonderland is an acoustic ballad. The lyrics depict a story about a first-person narrator who acts as a tour guide around his lover’s body. Mayer’s ex-girlfriend Jennifer Love Hewitt inspired the song. At the 2004 Grammy Awards, the song won Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
Mayer played electric guitar on two songs on Heavier Things, this being one of them (the other was “Come Back To Bed”). Mayer used a Gibson Les Paul Junior guitar and an old Fender Bassman amp to produce a specific tone.
You’ll need to tune down your low E string to D for this song. The main part that played during the verses and chorus is easy, while the pre-chorus and the bridge are a little more difficult for a beginner. Here, it’s best to practice the fundamentals of the pluck-and-chuck technique, which is used in many of John Mayer’s songs.
Daughters is the third single from John Mayer’s critically acclaimed album Heavier Things, released in 2003. The song was nominated for several accolades, including the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 2005.
Beginners can use this song to learn how to imitate Mayer’s delivery and precision on the guitar. It’s also a great area for a novice to experiment with various rhythms and chord progressions. This tune may become a little too difficult at first if you’re just starting out and have never ventured beyond 4/4 time. However, if you put in the effort, you will improve.
Daughters might be tough to learn because there are so many chords, some of which are unfamiliar to beginners. The chords themselves are distinctive, but the progression will seem straightforward after you’ve memorized them.
Gravity is one of Mayer’s most popular songs, and it has long been a part of his live shows. This song is from his well-known Continuum album, which many believe is the pinnacle of John Mayer’s career. Gravity has Jimi Hendrix-inspired rhythm passages and some nice melodic solos.
Like Daughters, it has multiple repetitions of the same chords throughout the song. Some chords will need you to use fingerings that you may not be familiar with or comfortable with. However, you can always find a fingering that works better for you and your skill level.
7. Who Says
Who Says is a little more complicated than Daughters and Gravity, with a few additional chords and some chord switching in between. This song was a worldwide hit and was featured on his 2009 album Battle Studies.
The key to playing John Mayer’s Who Says and sounding well is getting the percussive-hit strumming under your fingers and making it sound good. You’ll need to know how to play barre chords on the acoustic guitar to play Who Says. Although the grips aren’t overly difficult, there is some movement involved.
You must develop a sense of the song’s rhythm to sound great when playing Who Says. It’s all about getting into the rhythm, feeling the groove well, and making your percussive hit feel good.
8. Free Fallin’
At the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles in 2008, Mayer performed an acoustic version of Tom Petty’s classic “Free Fallin.” Mayer’s version was softer and gentler, thanks to two additional guitarists on stage.
Mayer’s version of the song is in the key of E major and features three chords. This song is simple to play and sounds best on an acoustic guitar if you have a capo. It’s worth noting, though, that playing it exactly as Mayer does might be difficult, especially for new players. Nonetheless, numerous guitar lessons are available online that demonstrate how to fingerpick in this tune.
John Mayer’s tunes might be intimidating for some guitarists, but this one isn’t too challenging. The tough part is getting into the song’s groove without making it feel or sound clunky and unnatural. You’ll need to learn the main riff, the second overdubbed guitar section, and the two guitar solos if you want to play it like John Mayer.
There are a few hammer-ons and flick-offs throughout the first solo, but putting the appropriate notes down isn’t an issue. The difficulty here is to get the proper inflections and tones throughout the solo, especially for less experienced players. On the other hand, the second solo has a little more depth than the first. It’s a fantastic solo, with many bends, vibrato, and dynamic rhythms.
Sure, the John Mayer songs above can be easy to play, but they still take a lot of practice to master. Some of the songs are tricky, so make sure you figure out how to play them before trying to sing along. Take your time in learning Mayer’s techniques and playing style. Though time, playing like him will become a lot easier.
Michaela Jyra Melo is a freelance writer, music obsessive, and professional content creator with a passion for sharing her experiences and knowledge with the world. Michaela is a music lover first and foremost. She's passionate about new music and artists, but she also loves to dig into musical instruments and equipment. Michael studies communication at the University of the Philippines. When she's not writing or listening to new music, she can be found reading on her Kindle or traveling somewhere new with friends.