17 Easy Classical Guitar Songs for Beginners

I always tell aspiring new guitarists to consider going for a classical guitar. Depending on what type of music you want to play of course, as the sound is softer and mellower than the twangy sound of steel strings. The nylon strings on a classical guitar will be easier on a beginner’s fingertips as they press and slide on the strings across the fretboard.

Guitarist Playing an Easy Classical Guitar for Beginners
Photo by Stoney Lane

I have always liked playing with my classical guitar, especially if I am playing by myself or with someone I love. It is soothing and relaxing while allowing you to master your fingerstyle techniques.

So if you also want to enjoy a very relaxing way to play the guitar, and are a beginner on a classical guitar, you should check out and learn these 17 songs to get your classical guitar playing started on the right track.

Here is a List of Easy Classical Guitar Songs

1. Ode to Joy by Beethoven

What makes “Ode to Joy” so easy to play in a classical guitar is in the very nature of the musical masterpiece. Ludwig van Beethoven included this piece as the final movement in one of his most celebrated symphonies – the Symphony No. 9 in D Minor.

If you listen closely to the song, you will know that there is only one musical instrument playing the notes in the beginning. Watch any flash mob orchestra events on YouTube and you will see a man (or a woman) playing a string instrument to introduce the song.

As the song progresses, more and more instruments join in. The classical guitar can be that single instrument that will introduce the rest of the instruments. Or, if you’re like me, you can play the same chords over and over without ever getting bored about the melodies.

Learning to play “Ode to Joy” requires basic knowledge of how to read guitar tabs. You also need very flexible fingers as you will be pressing on the strings in different frets. My suggestion is for you to go slow. Familiarize yourself with the sequencing of the strings and frets. Once you have mastered this, then it would be easy to increase the pace.

2. Minuet In G by Petzold

This minuet may be trickier than the “Ode To Joy” of Beethoven. However, it is still one of the easiest to play. The song teaches you to do two very important things with your fingers both at the same time. You will play a melodic line on top, while also playing a line of counter melody at the bottom.

Many people think that “Minuet In G” is a Johann Sebastian Bach masterpiece. You’d be wrong for thinking this. This minuet is a classic creation of Christian Petzold. The only reason why people attribute Petzold’s work to Bach is the fact that this piece appeared in Bach’s “Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach” in 1725.

I love playing this minuet. It is a favorite of many producers of romantic films. It has a very lovely melody that soothes the heart. I can listen to it all day and will never grow tired. I tried playing this in a steel-stringed acoustic guitar. The softness of the melody was gone. The only way you can play this song with its heavenly melody is by using a nylon-stringed classical guitar.

Since you’re only beginning to play the classical guitar, I suggest learning the movements of the fingers first. You may not be able to hear a cohesive melody if you go slowly. However, this will help you develop finger memory and allow you to play at the normal pace of the music.

3. Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring by Bach

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring is another easy classical guitar song that’s a favorite of mine. The tune is perfect for lazy afternoons or to set the mood for a romantic evening. It is also one of the very first songs that I was able to play well on a classical guitar. What I like about this is the combination of plucking and strumming motions to give the sound greater depth and complexity through its layers. I know you will love this Bach classic, too.

The music piece sounds long. However, it is quite repetitive. You only need to learn and master one section at a time. Learn to read the tabs. As soon as the tabs start looking very familiar to you, then you can feel more confident about playing the piece. Before you know it, you are already playing it like a virtuoso.

I chose to include this song for any beginner classical guitarist to learn because it is a very good warmup piece. You can play it several times before playing more contemporary songs. The fingering techniques will have your finger joints well-oiled by the time you decide to play other songs.

4. Romance Anonimo

I am not sure who composed or wrote this song. What we know is that it is a very popular and very beautiful piece that is perfect for the classical guitar. It is one of those songs that I play when I want to be inspired. There is this charm in the notes and the way the melodies move. I can close my eyes and keep on playing the same chords over and over.

Most of us know the tune as “Spanish Romance”. However, it comes by different names. Some people call it “Romance de España”, “Romance of the Guitar”, or even “Romance d’Amour”. Musicologists call it “Estudio en Mi de Rubira”, although most people would rather call it simply as “Romanza”. However, you call this classical guitar music piece, it is one of the most sublime. It can lift your spirits and unleash the Don Quixote in anyone.

Why do I recommend this for beginners? Well, this piece does not rush you to learn or master it. You can focus more on the meaning of the individual notes, while you work on their mastery. Its tempo is slow, too. This is perfect for those who are still developing deft fingers.

5. Pink Panther by Henry Mancini

Even if you’re not a fan of Pink Panther, I am pretty sure you have already heard its theme. Don’t ever underestimate this whimsical tune. It holds three Grammy Awards and was nominated at the 37th Oscars, bested only by Mary Poppins and her musical wonderland. This is an instrumental composition that works with any musical instrument. I find the classical guitar perfect for it. Why?

There are some notes that require you to slide your fingers from one fret to another. If you use a steel string acoustic guitar for this, there’s a chance that you will cut your finger pads. The nylon strings on a classical guitar won’t. In fact, you can slide along the entire length of the strings and you will never have pain in your fingers. There are also notes that you must bend. Doing so on a nylon string is so much easier.

This tune is very fun to play. The low-pitched sound of the nylon strings is perfect for mimicking the bass notes of the music piece. It’s also a great exercise for your fingers, so you will be more than ready for other songs to play.

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6. Speak Softly, Love by Nino Rota

Most people I know the actual title of the song. However, the moment they hear it, they will always refer to the 1972 Francis Ford Coppola film classic, “The Godfather”. They can begin imagining those memorable scenes of Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, and Al Pacino. Some may even feel nostalgic about being the undisputed mafia boss. That’s the charm of the “Speak Softly, Love”, which most of us know as the “Love Theme from The Godfather”.

Its soft and almost lullaby-like melodies make this song perfect for the classical guitar. You can easily perform the bends required by the piece because of the softer and gentler nature of the nylon strings. Like any other beginner’s piece, “Speak Softly, Love” is best played slow and deliberate at first. You can start introducing some fancy fingering techniques by the time you have already mastered the correct sequencing of the tabs.

This is another tune that I always play when I am alone. Too bad I don’t have a Cuban cigar as I play the tunes. That would have really given me the chance to relive those glory days of the mob.

7. Bolero by Maurice Ravel

Making wonderful music does not only has to include playing the principal component of the musical instrument. For example, playing the guitar doesn’t have to involve only the strings to create an amazing piece. You also have the body of the guitar to use as a rhythm board or as a percussion instrument. This is exactly what playing the “Bolero” requires.

This song by Maurice Ravel requires the occasional tapping of the body of the guitar. It can be the soundboard on the front face of the guitar. You can also tap the sides of the instrument, whichever is more convenient for you. The result is a music piece that has the beautiful sounds of a string instrument and the wonderful rhythm of a percussion instrument.

The fingerstyle of the song is a bit faster than the ones I already mentioned in this list. However, like everything else, it would be best to start slow. There is one thing that you should focus on here. Your thumb will always be playing the 6th string as the bass of the song. And while you are busy maintaining the rhythm, your other fingers will also be playing the trebles on the 1st to 3rd strings. Learning how to play these chords simultaneously is crucial.

8. In the Hall of The Mountain King by Edvard Grieg

If you have watched the Goblet of Fire part of the Harry Potter series, I am pretty sure you will recognize this tune. Edvard Grieg composed this piece for the orchestra sometime in 1875 as score for one of the scenes in the Peer Gynt play. While there have been controversies in the English translation of its original Norwegian title, there is no doubt that this music piece is one of the most recognizable tunes of the 21st century.

There are songs that people compose specifically for a certain musical instrument. This Sting song is one of those. Sting wrote this song specifically for a classical guitar. It doesn’t really matter if you’re a fan of Sting or not. What matters is that this song is an excellent piece for you to learn and master on a classical guitar.

Playing this on a classical guitar gives the song its natural depth. There is no need for other instruments to achieve that nice mellow sound. The guitar chords are also not that difficult to master, even for absolute beginners. What I like about this piece is that it can help you develop your fingerpicking skills. Some may find the nonlinear pattern of the chords to be a major issue. However, it has a characteristic progression that is easy to memorize.

Learning how to play “Shape of My Heart” will give you another good reason for calling your friends over. You can play the tune with a keg of ice-cold beer and several dishes of well-grilled meats filling up your tummies.

9. Havana by Camila Cabello

I love the tune of Camilla Cabello’s hit song “Havana”. It has that classic salsa vibe to it that makes you feel like you want to pull your partner from the couch and start dancing. It also has the classic beats of rhythm and blues pop. It is also very sultry. I can imagine Ana de Armas, Anabelle Acosta, or even Salma Hayek dancing right in front of me (although Hayek is Mexican) with their sultry eyes.

Now, don’t get me wrong. While this song is a huge hit, it has one of the simplest guitar chords I have ever seen. Strumming the strings on a classical guitar will only require you to master two basic chords: Gm and D. You won’t get any simpler than that. If you are going to play it note by note, then expect that the fingerstyle will be quite tricky.

Nevertheless, this is a song that is worth learning on a classical guitar. The natural low-pitched sounds of the classical guitar are perfect for producing the bassy tunes of the song. It is the perfect piece for entertaining a few of your most treasured friends. Havana is an easy classical guitar song for beginners that’s extremely fun to play.

10. Despacito Luis Fonsi

Luis Fonsi released “Despacito” in January 2017. It did not really fare that well on the airwaves. When the song was remixed to feature pop star Justin Bieber, “Despacito” got its biggest break. This allowed the song to reignite the interest of the public about Spanish-themed pop music. It is the hottest Latin pop songs after Macarena.

I love the piece because it is very fun to play. I also like its overall structure. This is one of those songs where the lyrics provided the foundation for the song. Most songwriters start with the melodies before they ink the lyrics. “Despacito” is the reverse. Fonsi started with the lyrics before he started constructing the tonal composition.

The secret here is to use a capo. You still can play it open. However, the song will be so much more beautiful if you can raise the pitch of your tunes. That is why I recommend using a capo. This is especially true if you’re playing this song on a classical guitar.

11. Bourree in E Minor by Bach

Playing “Bourree in E Minor” will stretch the capabilities of your fingers beyond their limits. The music piece requires very fast movements of the playing fingers. They often must press the strings on different frets in rapid succession. This should be easy if you are already accustomed to playing one of those mobile app games that require you to press buttons in different rows as they move down the screen.

This Johann Sebastian Bach classic can be daunting for newbies. Nevertheless, it is one of those pieces that many guitarists include in their repertoire. After all, Bach composed the song specifically for string instruments. Bach wanted musicians to play the song by plucking the strings, instead of the more conventional strumming method.

I cannot promise that you will master this in a day. However, I know you will be able to nail the piece by going through the finger movements as slowly as possible.

12. Is There Anybody Out There? by Pink Floyd

I included this song for beginners to learn because of three reasons. First, you will learn several fingerpicking patterns that many guitarists consider the standard today. Learning these patterns will help you play other songs with ease. It doesn’t have to be on a classical guitar. You can use these patterns on a steel-string acoustic guitar, too.

Second, the chord progression of the song is quite neutral. This should make it very easy for you to master this Pink Floyd song. Third, the overall arrangement of the song is not monotonous. You will still be able to discern a beautiful melody.

As a song for beginner classical guitarists, “Is There Anybody Out There” promises to be full of fun. Play it slow or pick up the pace and the sound will still be beautiful. This is a piece that you will find fulfillment at the end of the practice. You will never feel like forcing yourself to learn something that you don’t like.

13. Let It Be by The Beatles

Most people love the acoustic version of this song. However, I find it to be more pleasant to the ears when played with a classical guitar. After all, Paul McCartney wrote the song as a tribute to his dearly departed mother, Mary Patricia McCartney, when Paul was only 14. I often find it funny that people give the song a biblical interpretation because of the phrase “Mother Mary”. They clearly didn’t know that Paul’s mother was named “Mary”.

The fingerpicking patterns are easy to master. Your finger joints will get the exercise they need. The chord progression is also easy. And even if you do not play it with other instruments, your classical guitar is enough to give the song the justice it deserves.

Playing this melody in front of your friends is sure to make them feel so much better. It is a great song for a more peaceful and more relaxed evening.

14. Stand by Me by Ben E. King

Stand by Me by Ben King is another easy classical guitar song that I really enjoy playing. Whether it is learning to play the bass or developing your own unique fingerstyle, this Ben E. King masterpiece is the best. The chord progression is so popular that I still must meet a guitarist who does not know how to play the song with fervor.

And that is the real beauty of this 1950s hit. The melodies grow on you. The bass lines wake up your soul. In just a few picks, you will already feel your heart thumping to the beat. As soon as you get to the treble, you will already be fully awake. The awesome sound of nylon strings makes the sound even more beautiful. It is subtle, yes. However, it has this unmistakable way of speaking to your soul.

This song teaches you many of the fundamentals of guitar playing. Mastering these fundamentals will open many doors in your guitar playing journey.

15. Andantino in G by Ferdinando Carulli

Most beginner classical guitarists complain that the pieces they are trying to learn are quite boring. This is not the case with Carulli’s “Andantino in G”. True, it has a very soft melody to it. However, one can never deny the beauty of the song.

I included this piece because there are only 16 measures. It is short enough to fit right into the attention span of many beginner classical guitarists today. It is long enough to keep you learning the basics of guitar playing.

You will find this piece as the most colorful classical music that you will ever play in terms of its harmony.

16. Half the World Away Oasis

If you’re still trying to find the groove coordinating the movements of your fingers for a cool fingerstyle type of guitar-playing, then you should consider “Half the World Away”. Most of the songs I listed here require some serious fingerpicking techniques.

This Oasis song involves mostly strumming with a bit of picking every now and then. It results in a melody that sounds very cool. You can play it anywhere. I often find it very fun to play in the company of friends. They don’t need to know the lyrics. They can always improvise because of the simple melodies of the song.

17. La Cucaracha

Allow me to round up my list with this Spanish classic. No one knows who wrote or created “La Cucaracha”. However, it is one of the most enduring tunes of all time. It may have found its place in Mexican history during the Revolution; Many American artists have also embraced the song’s unique characteristics.

Most of us know this song as Speedy Gonzalez’s favorite tune. Only a few of us know that even jazz legend, Louis Armstrong, performed this song. The song is upbeat and is perfect for practicing basic fingerstyle techniques. I love playing “La Cucaracha” whenever I’m out with the boys. It can liven up any party like no other.

I tried to be as inclusive as I could with this list of the easiest songs for classical guitarists. However, If I didn’t include one of your favorites, hit me up with your thoughts in the comments below.

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