The Best Electric Guitar Songs From the 80s

Use Guitar Tab to Learn Songs From the 1980s That Sound Great on Electric

The following songs have been selected to highlight some of the best electric guitar songs from the 1980s. Each song includes links to tab, and wherever possible links to free audio versions of the song. A guideline for the difficulty of each song has been included. The assumption with these guidelines is beginner guitarists can play the ​basic essential open chords, F major, plus basic power chords. Difficulty assessments do not include the guitar solos.

01
of 24

Summer of '69 (Bryan Adams)

reckless

Album: Reckless, 1984
Level of difficulty: Beginner

Although this one does briefly use a barre chord (B minor), the song primarily consists of open and power chords. Included is a simple sing-note riff that should provide a good, surmountable challenge for beginners. You'll need to bone up on your palm muting to play this one well.

02
of 24

Money For Nothing (Dire Straits)

brothers in arms

Album: Brothers In Arms, 1985
Level of difficulty: Intermediate

There isn't anything explicitly difficult with this song, but some of Mark Knopfler's small chord shapes might just feel a little unusual to guitarists mostly familiar with power chords.

03
of 24

Sweet Child O' Mine (Guns 'N Roses)

Album: Appetite For Destruction, 1987​
Level of difficulty: Intermediate

The opening riff might tie beginner guitarist's fingers in knots, but it's a pretty good challenge. The tempo is slow, and the pattern is straightforward. Even some of Slash's solo parts are fairly simple to play. The full guitar solo is clearly going to be out of reach for beginners.

04
of 24

Rock You Like a Hurricane (Scorpions)

love at first sting

Album: Love at First Sting, 1984
Level of difficulty: Beginner

There are some pretty frenzied lead guitar parts happening throughout this song, but the chords underneath are straightforward power chords. If you are comfortable with power chords, this shouldn't be much of a challenge.

05
of 24

Rock This Town (Stray Cats)

stray cats

Album: Stray Cats, 1981

06
of 24

Legs (ZZ Top)

eliminator

Album: Eliminator, 1983

07
of 24

Rebel Yell (Billy Idol)

Rebel Yell

Album: Rebel Yell, 1984
Level of difficulty: Intermediate

Guitarist Steve Stevens has put together a pretty great guitar part for this song - he turned what could have easily been a basic power chord part into something more interesting. Listen closely to the recording to nail the rhythm pattern being played throughout the verse.

08
of 24

She Sells Sanctuary (The Cult)

Love

album: Love, 1985
Level of difficulty: Advanced Beginner

This should be fun for beginners to play - and not too difficult. The song's main riff couples an open D string with various notes being played higher up on the G string. With a little work, beginners shouldn't have a hard time with this one.

09
of 24

Photograph (Def Leppard)

Pyromania

Album: Pyromania, 1983

10
of 24

Another One Bites the Dust (Queen)

The Game

Album: The Game, 1980
Level of difficulty: Advanced Beginner

There's not much to this Queen hit in terms of guitar - it's mostly a basis riff doubled for guitar. There is some brief funky rhythm playing from Brian May, but you can probably learn this one in under five minutes.

11
of 24

867-5309 / Jenny Jenny (Tommy Tutone)

Tommy Tutone 2

Album: Tommy Tutone 2, 1981

12
of 24

Call Me (Blondie)

American Gigolo

 For the movie "American Gigolo", released as a single in1980

13
of 24

Eye Of The Tiger (Survivor)

Eye of the Tiger

Album: Eye of the Tiger, 1982

14
of 24

Paradise City (Guns 'N Roses)

appetite for destruction

Album: Appetite for Destruction, 1987

15
of 24

Back in Black (AC/DC)

Album: Back in Black, 1980

Level of Difficulty: Intermediate

Includes one of the most famous AC/DC riffs, and has a tricky timing on the bend and the last bar. 

16
of 24

I Love Rock and Roll (Joan Jett)

Album: I Love Rock and Roll, 1981

Level of Difficulty: Intermediate

17
of 24

Jessie's Girl (Rick Springfield)

 Album: Working Class Dog, 1981

18
of 24

La Bamba (Los Lobos)

Album:  La Bamba Soundtrack, 1987

19
of 24

Livin' on a Prayer (Bon Jovi)

Album:  Slippery When Wet, 1986

20
of 24

Runnin' Down a Dream (Tom Petty)

Album;  Full Moon Fever, 1989

21
of 24

Should I Stay or Should I Go (The Clash)

Album: Combat Rock (1982)

Level of Difficulty: Beginner

22
of 24

We're Not Gonna Take It (Twisted Sister)

Album:  Stay Hungry, 1984

23
of 24

You Shook Me All Night Long (AC/DC)

 Album: Back in Black, 1980

24
of 24

Every Breath You Take (The Police)

Album: Synchronicity, 1983

Watch Now: How to Play Power Chords on a Guitar