Spanish guitar songs have got to be some of the most evocative, most sensual musical pieces you can ever play on a string instrument. What makes the sound so fascinating to the ears and mesmerizing to the soul is the rich layers of harmony and melody that are ever-present.
Traditional Spanish guitar songs always use a nylon string acoustic guitar. However, there are many artists today who also use steel string acoustic guitars in the playing of Spanish-themed music. The sound may not be as interesting as that of a nylon string guitar, however. Nylon strings produce sounds that are soft and melodic.
Spanish songs require strumming patterns and guitar chords that are a little bit different from songs for acoustic guitars. These styles are necessary to achieve a characteristic sound. You will know a Spanish guitar song when you hear one.
Below, we’ll be discussing easy Spanish guitar songs for beginners that are also fun to play. Learn the strumming patterns and the fingerstyles for each song and you will be on your way to mastering the fascinating world of Spanish music.
Here is a List of Easy Spanish Guitar Songs
1. La Paloma by Sebastian Yradier
Tabs: Get tabs for La Paloma by Sebastian Yradier here
I cannot think of a better song to begin your exciting journey into the evocative world of Spanish music than La Paloma. This is the equivalent of the Beatles’ Yesterday in terms of the number of versions that it has. Countless composers, artists, and musicians never fail to draw inspiration from the wonderful tune of this mid-19th century Basque song.
Musicologists say La Paloma has more than a thousand versions that span across cultures and settings in various recordings and arrangements. It is not only popular in Spain; La Paloma also has a massive following in other parts of the world. We are not only talking about countries that were former colonies of the Kingdom of Spain. It also includes the Hawaiian Islands, Germany, Afghanistan, and Romania, among others.
Did you know that La Paloma comes in different interpretations? You can find the song in orchestras and operas. There is a military band version of it. More contemporary artists have transformed the song into pop, rock, or even jazz. For the rest of the world, La Paloma is a very beautiful folk song.
The reason I am telling you all of these things is that you can play La Paloma anyway or any style you want. You do not have to play the original version. As long as you understand the basic chord structure and the notes, you can always give it your own interpretation.
La Paloma is one of those most beautiful songs ever composed. I beg you to listen to it first. Close your eyes and you will instantly feel the message of love overcoming separation and death. You do not even need to sing the lyrics. It is the fingerstyle that you will want to execute very well. It is the combination of the single treble notes with the lovely bass notes that makes the song so beautiful to play on your Spanish guitar. Even beginner guitar players will find this piece relatively easy to master. Once you do, you will have one of the most evocative songs you can ever play for yourself or your loved ones.
2. Cerezo Rosa by Louis Guglielmi
Just because a song has an upbeat tempo does not mean it can no longer be evocative and sensual. This is what I feel about Cerezo Rosa or Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White (for those of you who do not know what it means). Yes, this is a song meant for the trumpet and played in an orchestra. However, the tune is still very mesmerizing that you feel like pulling your partner into the center of your living room and execute a very sensual dance.
Guglielmi wrote the song in 1950. Jacques Larue and Mack David added French and English lyrics, respectively. However, it was Perez Prado’s 1955 instrumental version that boosted the popularity of Cerezo Rosa. That particular piece had a fascinating trumpet hook that can be quite tricky to replicate in a guitar.
Do not mind that for now. What you can focus on is the fingerpicking of the song. It is quite easy. Barre chords are non-existent. Everything is about getting your playing fingers get their act together to pick the correct strings. Your fretting fingers will also not that strained. However, you will have to quicken their pace. Finger coordination is a must.
One good thing about this Spanish guitar song is that you can always approach it in a more methodical manner. Work at your own pace. There are plenty of open strings that will be useful for beginner guitarists. It is your picking fingers that you will have to train.
3. Historia de Un Amor by Carlos Eleta Almarian
Genre: Classical crossover
Tabs: Get tabs for Historia de Un Amor by Carlos Eleta Almarian here
Here is another Spanish guitar song that is so mesmerizing to listen to. Playing the Historia de Un Amor on your guitar is also magical. Almarian wrote the song in the 1950s in memory of her brother’s recently departed wife. The song has a very unique way of touching the heart. If you understand its lyrics, then you know that Historia delivers a message that goes straight to the heart.
I love playing this song, although it took me a while to master the basics. I cannot tell you enough how important it is to execute the song in its most basic form. You need to strengthen the foundation. Once you do that, it is always easy to add other elements to the song. I started picking single notes and you can do that, too. I then added a few strumming patterns to complement the fingerstyle.
You can also create your own style if that is what you want. After all, this is a song that is a favorite piece to cover by recording artists, composers, and musicians all over the world. Like La Paloma, Historia is open to different interpretations. That is why musicologists consider it one of the best crossovers in the last century.
Some of the noteworthy artists who have covered the song include Julio Iglesias and Il Divo, among others. There is even a Chinese cover of the song. It is proof of the lovely and enduring composition of the musical piece. It will never surprise me if your rendition will become a great hit in the future. Start with the basics and begin building on your own interpretation of the composition. This is easily one of the best Spanish guitar songs of all time.
4. Jarabe Tapatio by Jesus Gonzalez Rubio
It may surprise some folks about the inclusion of Mexico’s national dance. Yes, the Jarabe Tapatio is a hat dance that people south of the border love to dance to. This is not just any dance. It is a song that people play during courtship. It hails from the area of Guadalajara in the 19th century. Mariachis and other string ensembles love to play this song. The instrumental arrangement that we know today is the product of modifications to the original in the 1920s.
I find this song to be exceptional when played using a combination of fingerpicking and strumming. The individual notes sound so melodic, finished with a strum of the three lower strings. It is also quite easy to learn. Taking it slowly at first is ideal for beginners. This will help you acclimatize your fingers to the different movements that the song requires.
Picking up the pace gives the song its dance-like characteristics. It can easily turn any house into a dance hall. Personally, I love playing the song when I go trekking and camping. The melody is soothing that it can make me feel more relaxed and at peace with myself. You may have other reasons for playing this song. Whatever that reason is, I am sure it will only make you want to master this Spanish guitar song.
5. Manha de Carnaval by Luis Bonfa and Antonio Maria
Tabs: Get tabs for Manha de Carnaval by Luis Bonfa and Antonio Maria here
People do not believe that Manha de Carnaval is already a jazz standard here in the US. It is one of the very first Bossa Nova compositions ever to reach our shores. Most of us know it as the Carnival, Black Orpheus, or A Day in the Life of a Fool, if you want a longer song title. Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Julio Iglesias, Dan Fogelberg, and the Three Tenors, Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Carreras, and Placido Domingo are just some of the big-name artists who have covered this song. Even American rapper, will.i.am covered this piece.
While the lyrics can be very meaningful, it is the tonal composition of the Manha de Carnaval that makes it beautiful. It is a soft music that is perfect for a romantic dinner over candlelight. It sets you in the mood for something more intimate afterwards. You can just imagine how thrilled your loved one will be if you can play this like the true romantic that you are.
Learning it is never difficult. It is not that easy, either. It requires a combination of careful plucking and picking that coincides with the precision fretting of the strings. The chords are simple enough. However, it is the picking of the correct trebles and the addition of the bass notes backing that give this song its multi-layered harmonics. This is one musical piece that is worth every single perspiration that drops from your brows.
6. Oye Como Va by Tito Puente
Tabs: Get tabs for Oye Como Va by Tito Puente here
If you have seen the 2014 Jon Favreau-starred and directed film, Chef, then you will already know how Oye Como Va sounds like. This is a 1962 song that Latinos all over the US are truly proud of. It is a very popular song that artists from different genres have covered and interpreted. One of the most famous recordings was that of Santana in 1970. It has an addictive hook that features a block chord ostinato. The song represents the transnationality and interconnectedness of Latin music here in the US. In 2002, Grammy stalwarts recognized this and inducted Oye Como Va to the Hall of Fame.
I love Santana’s version because of the addition of different elements. It is a Latin rock that includes a number of guitar solos. This is perfect for enhancing your fingerstyle techniques. Even if you do not use Santana’s version, the guitar licks of the original will still have you very busy on your fretboard.
Do not worry. There are parts in each section where you will only be performing an upward strum of the strings. These are open chords, too. The only thing you have to focus on is the fingerpicking of the correct strings. If not, you will end up with an awful tune.
Oye Como Va is perfect for parties, just like in the movie. I once played this piece at a birthday of a friend. The guests are non-Latinos, so I assumed that they were not familiar with the tune. The first few notes were enough to get them on their feet and began swinging to the rhythm. By the middle of the song, everyone was already on the dance floor. I am sure you can get the people around you to dance to the groove, too. That is if you nail the song right.
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7. Quizas, Quizas, Quizas by Osvaldo Farres
I know you are familiar with this song. It may not be the original version, but I am sure you loved the way Doris Day recorded it in 1964. What many people do not realize is that this 1947 song is a favorite cover for many artists. Some people may find me kidding when I say Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, and Ben E. King recorded their own version of this song. Still do not believe me? How about if I told you that Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell, The Pussycat Dolls, and Andrea Bocelli also gave their vocal interpretation of the musical piece?
Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps in English, Quizas, Quizas, Quizas has been one of the most captivating Spanish guitar songs ever to come out of Cuba. Desi Arnaz was the first to record an English version of this song in 1948. By 1951, Bing Crosby started singing the piece. The rest is history.
While Quizas, Quizas, Quizas has not won any major awards, it sure is a winner in the hearts of many. The song is that of a man musing about his relationship with a woman who is flirting with a stranger on the dance floor. I guess we have all been through this stage at some point in our lives. That is why the song creates quite a stir whenever we hear it.
This is a great song to play on your classical Spanish guitar. The exercise that your fingers get will come in handy when you take on other songs. The rhythm is also very addictive. I have friends who cannot avoid doing a slow waltz every time I play this tune. There are also a few guitar-playing techniques that are worth learning. You will also appreciate the interplay of the high and bass notes. This is one musical piece that is worth mastering. This is one of my favorite easy Spanish guitar songs.
8. Guantanamera by Joselito Fernandez
Tabs: Get tabs for Guantanamera by Joselito Fernandez here
I have been playing the guitar a few years when a friend of mine introduced this 1929 song to me. I instantly got addicted to its wonderful rhythm. I could not care less about its lyrics way back then. All I know is that it was a very fascinating musical piece to play on a nylon string guitar. You can strum the chords as a beginner. If you are the more adventurous type of guitarist, then I recommend learning the fingerstyle of this song.
Guantanamera is a favorite of Cubans. While it has been ruling the airwaves of Cuba in the early part of the 20th century, it was only in the 1960s when Americans got a taste of the song’s amazing vibe. The Sandpipers recorded this song in 1966. That piece of recording introduced the Cuban song to the rest of the world. I am glad The Sandpipers recorded that song. Otherwise, we would not have this fantastic Spanish guitar song to entertain our guests with today.
As I already mentioned, there are several ways you can play Guantanamera. The easiest method involves the usual strumming technique. The pattern is straightforward that even a 5-year old kid can execute the song on his ukulele. In fact, I have a 4-year old neighbor who can perform the basic strumming like a pro. The most fun way to play it is by fingerstyle. You will love the harmonies that you will produce.
I encourage you to do your best in learning the tricks for this song. It is an amazing piece that can spice up your parties. Guantanamera can also be a great song to have on picnics and around the campfire.
9. Sobre Las Olas by Juventino Rosas
No ballroom music is ever complete without the band playing this 1888 Rosas masterpiece. While the song is already very old, it remains a very popular song in many social gatherings that require guests to dance. It is a classic waltz. However, modern interpretations of Over the Waves have found a strong following among fans of New Orleans jazz. Proponents of musica tejana also love the song because it features many of the elements that these people are fond of. The song is also a favorite of old-time fiddlers and country artists in the US.
It may blow you away to learn that The Beach Boys also recorded their version of Sobre Las Olas in the 1960s. Even Chet Atkins and Willie Nelson covered the song. This song has a lullaby-like melody that soothes the soul. Its tempo mimics the natural beating of the heart, allowing you to relish every note made by your guitar.
Beginners can start with the open strings and master the correct sequencing of the fingerpicking. The moment you can play the individual notes with your eyes closed is the moment that you can start adding different elements to your playing. Add a few bass notes for every group of highs. Give it a strum if you must. Whatever you decide to do with this song, it will still turn out to be one magnificent musical piece.
10. (Day-O) The Banana Boat Song by Edric Connor
Spanish guitar songs are not only sensuous. They can also be very fun, like Day-O. This song is as evocative as any other song. Children love to dance to the tune, while adults simply cannot have enough of its warm vibe. This is an Afro-Caribbean music that is perfect for frolicking in the soft glow of the Caribbean sun.
Day-O is a traditional folk song in the island of Jamaica, extolling the hard work of Jamaican workers loading bananas onto docked ships. Edric Connor first recorded it in 1952. However, it was Harry Belafonte who popularized the song in 1955. Shirley Bassey also gave her rendition of the song two years later.
The song continues to inspire people across age and sociocultural groups. It has this very upbeat vibe that makes you want to look forward to better days. Playing this on your guitar will also give you that sense of hope, no matter how artificial and fleeting it may be.
Playing this Spanish guitar song is also not that complicated. It is one of those songs that sound best on single-note pickings. I suggest studying carefully the correct fingerpicking technique before you start getting fancy. Adding bass notes will surely elevate the melody further. You can have this in the bag in under an hour if you focus enough.
11. Spanish Romance by Luis and Simon Ramirez
The first time I heard this song as a boy, I was instantly in love. It was one of those most enthralling pieces that the human ears can ever be subjected to. While the way the guitarist plays the piece can vary, the song never fails to communicate directly to the heart. It is as if the composers of the song have found a secret nerve that connects the ears to the heart.
Speaking of composers, no one knows who wrote this 19th century piece. Most musicologists consider Simon and Luis Ramirez as the brains behind this beautiful piece. They first recorded it sometime in the late 1890s to the early 1900s in Madrid. Others say it was the work of Antonio Rubira or Francesco Tarrega or even Fernando Sor. The funny thing about the song’s authorship is that many believe whoever created the song did not want to pay the fees for the copyright of the piece. Whatever the case, it is mankind’s gain that we get to hear one of the world’s most magical and most beautiful songs.
What makes Spanish Romance so alluring is that it was composed specifically for the guitar. You will never have a more beautiful song than Spanish Romance, especially if you nail its recommended fingerstyle. It is like playing a piano music that has a perfect blend of bass, mid, and high notes.
Take your time when learning the tabs of this piece. Pick the notes one by one before you start introducing the backing bass notes. Start slow. Get your fingers comfortable moving across the fretboard. Your picking fingers will also have a memory of their own. By the time you have memorized all the basic stuff, you can then add other embellishments to your playing. Frankly, you do not need any. The song is already beautiful as it is.
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12. Besame Mucho by Consuelo Velazquez
Besame Mucho is the epitome of a soulful bolero. It is evocative and very sensual. Even the Beatles and Placido Domingo found the composition of the song to be very irresistible to pass on. The Beatles recorded this 1940 Consuelo Velazquez classic in 1962. Placido Domingo applied his operatic vocals to the song and received a Grammy nomination for it in 1983.
You will also love playing this classic bolero on your Spanish guitar. I know I do. It can be a serenade piece for Valentines or even the birthday of someone you consider special. I cannot remember the number of women who simply wanted to be swept off their feet the moment I played this song for them. I know it may have a different effect on your woman, but I am confident you will be communicating straight to her heart.
The key to mastering Besame Mucho is by focusing on the progression of the chords. If you get this correctly, you are halfway there. You will just have to master the unique fingerstyles that the musical piece requires from thereon.
13. Malagueña by Ernesto Lecuona
If you are looking to push the limits of what your fingers can do on your fretboard, I strongly suggest trying Ernesto Lecuona’s Malagueña. This is a 1933 flamenco music that has grown in popularity the moment it washed the American shores. Today, it has become an important piece for jazz artists, marching bands, pop musicians, and drum corps. As a matter of fact, Malagueña is now a standard for these music genres.
There is a bit of a controversy about the song’s composition. Musicologists say that Lecuona drew inspiration from the solo piano composition of Louis Moreau Gottschalk. There are some striking similarities in the melodies of Lecuona’s Malagueña and Gottschalk’s Souvenirs d’Andalousie.
Regardless of the controversy, there is no denying that Malagueña is a very popular Spanish guitar song. It will test the limits of your fingerstyle. I know of seasoned guitar players who still find it difficult to play the song. However, it is not impossible for you to learn it. You will just have to be very methodical in your approach to learning this song.
14. La Cucaracha
I grew up watching many of Walt Disney’s iconic cartoons that many of us now consider vintage. One of the most fascinating songs ever to accompany these children’s TV shows was the La Cucaracha. Of course, I did not know its title way back then. What I do know is that I loved the tune. It is fun and gives you that sense of movement and speed. It was only when I was in high school when I realized just how important this song is at the time of the Mexican Revolution.
La Cucaracha is a classic folk song. No one knows its origins. It just grew in popularity because people find its melody and lyrics so likeable enough to sing every day. While its origins are unknown, La Cucaracha remains a magnet for seasoned performers. Some of the notable names who have performed this song include Louis Armstrong, Judy Garland, Bill Haley & His Comets, and Los Lobos, among others. Kids also love the song’s rendition on Oggy and the Cockroaches as well as the teeny-weenie voice of Speedy Gonzales.
I love the melody of this Mexican folk song, especially its arpeggiated chords. Learning it easy. You can divide the piece into a verse and a refrain. Once you master these two basic elements, you can easily put them together to come up with a very beautiful song. If you are only beginning to play the guitar, I suggest looking for YouTube videos that teach you the simplest strumming patterns for the song. It is always easier to learn the arpeggio if you already have a firm background of the basics.
Learning to play any of these songs may not necessarily make you a superstar. However, they can be excellent pieces for expanding your guitar playing skills. You also get to exercise your fingers and sharpen your note-listening abilities. Some of the songs may be tricky to play at first. I am confident that you will eventually learn to play these songs like the romantic balladeers of the Spanish court.
My name is Chris and I’ve had a passion for music and guitars for as long as I can remember. I started this website with some of my friends who are musicians, music teachers, gear heads, and music enthusiasts so we could provide high-quality guitar and music-related content.
I’ve been playing guitar since I was 13 years old and am an avid collector. Amps, pedals, guitars, bass, drums, microphones, studio, and recording gear, I love it all.
I was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania. My background is in Electrical Engineering, earning a Bachelor’s degree from Youngstown State University. With my engineering experience, I’ve developed as a designer of guitar amplifiers and effects. A true passion of mine, I’ve designed, built, and repaired a wide range of guitar amps and electronics. Here at the Guitar Lobby, our aim is to share our passion for Music and gear with the rest of the music community.