Top 60s Songs for Acoustic Guitar

The following songs have been selected to provide beginner acoustic guitarists with popular music made in the 1960s. A guideline for the difficulty of each song has been included. The assumption with these guidelines is beginner can play the basic essential open chords plus F major.

As Tears Go By (The Rolling Stones)

decembers children

London Records

Album: December's Children (1965)
Level of difficulty: Beginner

This song is pretty straightforward. To get comfortable with the chords, try strumming slowly four times for each chord. Once you've mastered the chord changes, you can start worrying about the fingerpicking, but you can start by simply strumming down quickly, eight times per bar.

California Dreamin' (The Mamas and the Papas)

Mama's and the Papa's


Album: If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears (1966)
Level of difficulty: Advanced beginner

This Mamas and the Papas classic features some The tab for this song features barre chords, but you could easily substitute open chords in all cases, and the song would sound just as good. If you're just getting started, you could also skip the single-note intro, and concentrate on the chords. Use a straight down up down up strumming pattern throughout.

Daydream Believer (The Monkees)

birds bees monkees


Album: The Birds, The Bees, and the Monkees (1968)
Level of difficulty: Advanced beginner

Although originally a piano-based song, the simple chords on "Daydream Believer" lend themselves nicely to beginner guitar. You'll need to be able to play a B minor and a B7 chord, but that should be about the only challenge for beginners.

(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay (Otis Redding)

dock of the bay

 Stax Records 

Album: Dock of the Bay (1968)
Level of difficulty: Advanced beginner

Although most of the chords in this song are possible to play using open chords, because of the C -> B -> Bb -> A progression that happens numerous times throughout the song, you'll probably want to elect to play everything as barre chords. Using a sixth-string based major barre chord shape, playing this run is as easy as sliding everything down a fret at a time.

Eight Days a Week (The Beatles)

beatles for sale


Album: The Beatles for Sale (1964)
Level of difficulty: Advanced beginner

Mostly simple chords in this one, with a few major chord inversions higher up on the neck in the song intro. There is a B minor barre chord here, so this song might not be right for the absolute beginner.

House of the Rising Sun (The Animals)

the animals


Album: The Animals (1964)
Level of difficulty: Beginner

If you're just getting started, "House of the Rising Sun" is a nice one to learn - just a few chords which repeat over and over. The song is played in a 6/8 time signature, so you'll need to count and strum "1 2 3 4 5 6" for each chord. To get comfortable playing the song, begin by strumming the whole chord, rather than picking each note. Once you've memorized the chord progression, you can move on to slowly practice the picking pattern.

Nowhere Man (The Beatles)

rubber soul


Album: Rubber Soul (1965)
Level of difficulty: Advanced beginner

You'll need to know a few barre chords to play this one - Gmin and F#min. To strum the song, you could either simply play slow downstrums (four per bar), or try the "down down up, up down up" pattern.

Rocky Raccoon (The Beatles)

the white album


Album: The White Album (1968)
Level of difficulty: Advanced beginner

"Rocky Raccoon" is a nice, fairly easy to play song for guitarists looking to branch out from your basic open chord shapes. The song, with some small variations, repeats the same four chord pattern throughout - A minor, D major G major and C major - but moves a finger or two to create some interesting sounds. This one should take you five minutes to learn.

Ruby Tuesday (The Rolling Stones)

between the buttons


Album: Between the Buttons (1967)
Level of difficulty: Advanced beginner

This one is pretty straightforward, although it does contain Bb and F, so it may give beginners a little trouble. Strum chords slowly, using all downstrokes. Some chords will be strummed twice, some four times, and some eight times - you'll have to use your ears.

We Can Work It Out (The Beatles)

we can work it out single


Album: We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper Single (1965)
Level of difficulty: Advanced beginner

This popular Beatles single contains a number of chords you may not have heard of before, but all are fairly easy to play. You'll need to be able to play basic barre chords in order to play all of "We Can Work It Out".