25 Easy 12 String Guitar Songs You Must Know

12 string guitar songs

If you ask people why they want to learn how to play the guitar, you’ll rarely get the same answer.

Sometimes, it’s because of a simple desire within us to produce something enchanting or pleasing.

Other times, it’s because we want to express our emotions or feel in control. Nonetheless, we can’t just settle for easy guitar songs to do any of those things.

You need to learn some of the iconic ones that stood the test of time and touched many hearts. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 12 string guitar songs that you need in your life!

Ready to start playing? Let’s go!

1. “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin

Genre Hard rock/Progressive rock/Folk rock
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarElectric
TabsStairway to Heaven Tabs

If you’ve never heard of the Forbidden Riff, it’s best you buckle up for this classical story.

Back in the day, Led Zeppelin blew everyone’s mind when they dropped Stairway to Heaven on the world.

The song was an immediate success and, to this day, ranks as one of the greatest rock songs of all time.

Yet, this success created a small problem. When they released the song, music lovers everywhere headed to music stores to listen and even try it on guitars.

As a result, jokes and anecdotes started circulating about how this riff should be forbidden from guitar stores as it’s overplayed.

After all, it’s a simple riff to learn but with a lot of depth. 

2. “Hotel California” by Eagles

Genre Rock
Difficulty Intermediate 
Type of GuitarElectric
TabsHotel California Tabs

Back in the early 70s, on a fine July day in Malibu, Don Fedler sat down and created Hotel California.

In this song, he tried to convey to the listener how materialism can be a trap and how it relates to American culture, especially the American dream. 

The greed and excess he saw, plus the imbalance it created between commerce and artistry, left a mark on him from which this song poured out.

A few years later, The Eagles released this song, winning the band a Grammy for Record of the Year! It also ranks among Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Hotel California is a relatively easy song to learn, but we must warn you the solo at the end can be challenging!

3. “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd

Genre Progressive rock
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarDreadnought acoustic
TabsWish You Were Here Tabs

In the world of psychedelic and progressive rock, no name shines brighter than Pink Floyd.

Most of their music deals with heavy subjects, such as alienation, absence, and madness, and Wish You Were Here is no different.

The band came up with this song after seeing their close friend, Syd Barret, struggle with mental illness and drug abuse. 

The song starts off with a distorted radio sound, then leads into a soft, crisp acoustic guitar played by David Gilmour.

This captivating start was the band’s way of showcasing the fine line between the clarity of life and the disarray of illness.  It’s a beautiful song worth looking at if you’re looking for a classic to learn.

4. “A Hard Day’s Night” by The Beatles

Genre Rock
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarAcoustic
TabsAt Hard Day’s Night Tabs

Have you ever heard of Beatlemania? If not, then you’re a lucky one! Back in the day, the Beatles were one of the most popular bands in the world, and for a good reason. 

Their songs, such as A Hard Day’s Night, aligned perfectly with current trends and what the public wanted. 

It all started with a simple remark that Ringo Starr, one of the members, said after a “hard day’s night work.” The phrase stuck with the group, and another member even used it in his book.

A while later, when the group was filming their first-ever movie, they used that exact phrase as their title and incorporated it into a song. 

The simplicity of the phrase, combined with how the movie portrayed each member as an individual, left a lasting impression.

5. “Space Oddity” by David Bowie

Genre Psychedelic folk
Difficulty Intermediate 
Type of GuitarAcoustic
TabsSpace Oddity Tabs

Ever since he was a kid, David Bowie had a strong affinity for music and art. This was clear in how he created many visually daring and aesthetically pleasing works of art.

Space Oddity was one of those masterpieces. In fact, it was the first song in his career to top the UK Singles Chart and launched him to stardom.

In this song, David combined emotional elements with his love of science fiction. 

You see, he had just broken up with his girlfriend at the time and was feeling devastated. He had also just watched 2001: A Space Odyssey, which mesmerized him.

Putting those two factors together, David graced the world with a classic that still lives in people’s minds.

6. “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by The Byrds

Genre Rock
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarElectric
TabsTurn!Turn!Turn! Tabs

Before The Byrds adopted this song, Turn! Turn! Turn!, known as To Everything There Is a Season, was initially written by Pete Seeger.

The song draws on spiritual and religious themes by using several verses from the third chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes.

However, it only attracted international fame when The Byrds added their own twist and released it in 1965. 

Turn! Turn! Turn can be a little tough to play as it’s got a unique rhythm, but it shouldn’t be too hard for a beginner.

So, if you’re feeling like you’re struggling, just give yourself a break and try again. After all, this is a folk song turned to rock; even The Byrds themselves took 50 tries just to perfect it!

7. “Mr. Tambourine Man” by The Byrds

Genre Folk rock
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarElectric 
TabsMr. Tambourine Man Tabs

Again, the Byrds took something that was already very well-known and turned it into another huge success! 

The original writer for Mr. Tambourine Man was actually the famous Bob Dylan

He wrote this song for his album Bringing It All Back Home, which soared through the music world, earning him a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998.

On the other hand, The Byrds’ version topped the charts as number one for an entire week! 

They put their own twist on it by removing some of the lyrics, adding a 12-string guitar lead, and upping the time signature. 

Et voilà! They got themselves a new hit that people adored!

8. “Over the Hills and Far Away” by Led Zeppelin

Genre Folk rock/Hard rock
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarAcoustic/Electric
TabsOver the Hills and Far Away Tabs

Luckily for you, the chords in Over the Hills and Far Away aren’t as forbidden as Stairway to Heaven!

This is because, while it was a hit then, it wasn’t as huge as Stairway to Heaven and only peaked at 51 on the Billboard Hot 100.

This song was a collaboration between Jimmy Page and Robert Plant while they were staying at a historic cottage in the middle of the Welsh country. 

However, the song actually originates from a track Jimmy Page recorded in 1967 called “White Summer.” 

The track contained elements from Arabic and Indian music, which Page revised and created Over the Hills and Far Away with it.

9. “The Boxer” by Simon & Garfunkel

Genre Folk rock
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarAcoustic
TabsThe Boxer Tabs

When life seemed at its lowest, and critics were knocking him down, Simon wrote The Boxer.

It’s a heavily emotional song that discusses human indecisiveness and hesitation through the life of a man known as “the boxer.”

It describes this person as someone seeking a new start by leaving his home to search for work in New York City. But, sadly, he ends up struggling with loneliness and poverty in that city. 

He finds no work, and his only human company comes from ladies of the night. 

The song shifts from first person to third, clearly detailing how though this person says he’s leaving, yet, he never does.

10. “American Pie” by Don McLean

Genre Folk rock
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarDreadnought acoustic
TabsAmerican Pie Tabs

When he was just a 13-year-old paperboy, Don Mclean learned about a plane crash that altered his perception of life. 

In a newspaper, he saw that a plane crash ended the lives of various early rock and roll stars, such as Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly.

This left him heartbroken, as he loved their music—especially Buddy’s. As he grew up and started his music career, Don brought back all these memories and placed them in American Pie.

He also wanted to express how he felt about politics and how America itself was moving from a more innocent era to darker times. 

11. “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen

Genre Folk rock
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarClassical
TabsHallelujah Tabs

It’s in movies, it’s in TV shows, and even in ads; Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen broke down time barriers and became a classic.

Oddly enough, it wasn’t much of a success at the time. It wasn’t until Jeff Buckley covered it, then passed away later, that people noticed the song. 

From that moment on, you could find this song everywhere—even in a Shrek movie!

The song speaks of a love story that’s lost its spark. He, Cohen, used a lot of biblical figures to explain this in the track.

12. “More Than a Feeling” by Boston

Genre Hard rock/Pop rock
Difficulty Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric
TabsMore Than a Feeling Tabs

If you’ve ever felt guilty that a task took longer than it should have, then you’ll probably feel at home with this song. How, you might wonder?

Well, Boston’s leader, Tom Scholz, took five entire years to write this song in his basement! 

Maybe he was trying to perfect it, or it needed these five years to develop into the masterpiece we know today.

Regardless, Tom wrote this song hoping that many people could connect to the feelings it examines. The feelings of loving someone so much and yet ending up losing them.

Even though this was the band’s first single, it took off effortlessly, and many radio stations played it regularly.

13. “The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel

Genre Folk rock
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarAcoustic
TabsThe Sound of Silence Tabs

Though it’s a classic now, you wouldn’t believe that The Sound of Silence failed miserably when Simon & Garfunkel first released it in 1964.

They sold about 2000 copies of their album and promptly split up afterward. Yet, this wasn’t the end of the story. Just a year later, the song started gaining traction throughout radio stations.

This led the song’s producer to edit, remix, and release the song to the public in 1965 without notifying the duo. 

Within a few months, this remix became the No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100, reuniting the duo and relaunching their career.

14. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen (Brian May’s acoustic part)

Genre Hard rock/Progressive rock
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarAcoustic
TabsBohemian Rhapsody Tabs

Some time ago, around 1975, the band Queen struggled with releasing the song Bohemian Rhapsody. 

This was because various executives had warned them that the song would never be a hit as it was too long for radio, standing at almost six minutes.

Luckily for us, that didn’t stop the band from releasing a core music piece that helped shape the music industry.

The various sections of the song, from the intro, ballad, May’s epic guitar solo, operatic passage, hard rock, and a coda outro, cemented its place as one of the greatest classics of all time.

15. “Tangled Up in Blue” by Bob Dylan

Genre Folk
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarElectric
TabsTangled Up in Blue Tabs

We’ve mentioned Bob Dylan earlier but never really told you who he is. In case you don’t know, Bob Dylan is one of the greatest American songwriters and singers ever. 

His career spanned more than 60 years, and it left us with fantastic songs, such as Tangled Up in Blue. It’s one of the closest songs to Dylan’s heart as it speaks of his personal issues.

The song spoke of love and how his view shifted dramatically with his marriage falling apart. Bob describes this song as one that took him “ten years to live and two years to write.

He wrote and rewrote the song several times over the years; it remains a beautiful piece to this day.

16. “Love the One You’re With” by Stephen Stills

Genre Folk rock
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarDreadnought acoustic 
TabsLove the One You’re With Tabs

At a wild party with Billy Preston, Stephen Stills hears the sentence, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.

So, he takes that catchphrase, writes down a fantastic song, and launches himself into the limelight.

In his song, he addresses a heartbroken person and tells him to let go of that ex-partner and enjoy the company of the one with him at the moment.

It’s a simple feel-good song that aims to create a sense of hope and acceptance of a current situation.

17. “Melissa” by The Allman Brothers Band

Oddly enough, the song Melissa wasn’t written while the Allman Brothers were a band. Gregg Allman wrote that song in 1967 while he was staying in Florida.

He had grown tired of writing music for others and wanted to create something for himself. Sadly, though, it wasn’t that easy, and it took him more than 200 tries to get the song’s outline. 

Mind you, he didn’t have the whole song written down until he had an odd encounter in a grocery store.

The song was pretty good, but it didn’t generate much buzz. Simply put, it’s a rock classic that few people know about—you’re among them now!

Genre Rock
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarElectric
TabsMelissa Tabs

18. “Anji” by Davy Graham

Genre Folk
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarAcoustic
TabsAnji Tabs

Can you imagine creating something at 19 and then having it become a classic in music? Well, we’re sure—like, 97% sure—Davy Graham had no idea this would happen to his song Anji.

As a matter of fact, Davy helped create a whole new sub-genre of music with his style, dubbed Baroque Folk. Anji was just a simple instrumental track that Davy had initially created for his then-girlfriend. 

The song includes a sweet harmony between blues and jazz, giving it an extraordinary sound. Also, among the many people that covered this song is the duo previously mentioned Simon and Garfunkel! 

19. “Closer to the Heart” by Rush

Genre Hard rock/Progressive rock
Difficulty Intermediate 
Type of GuitarAcoustic
TabsCloser to the Heart Tabs

To begin a positive societal change, you need to start by yourself. This was the central theme in Rush’s song Closer to the Heart. 

The lyrics start with their vocalist talking to men in high places and telling them they must be the ones who mold a new reality.

After that, he talks to the blacksmiths, artists, philosophers, and plowmen, telling them that each must know his heart. 

The song was the first among Rush’s to include a non-member as a songwriter, yet it was one of Rush’s first songs to hit the charts.

20. “Mood for a Day” by Yes (Steve Howe)

Genre Rock
Difficulty Advanced
Type of GuitarAcoustic Electric
TabsMood for a Day Tabs

Just by playing the song, you can tell it’s going to be a challenging one to learn. The fingerpicking is a bit complex and intricate for a beginner. 

However, that’s precisely why this song is a great one to practice. It helps improve your skills without being too frustrating.

The song creator, Steve Howe, explained before that this is a happy song. He had just settled down in life and felt rooted in place. 

This explains why the track feels a bit too quick on the hand but uplifting in tune.

21. “Going to California” by Led Zeppelin

Genre Folk
Difficulty intermediate 
Type of GuitarAcoustic
TabsGoing to California Tabs

In this song, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant drew their inspiration from Joni Mitchel and her song “California.” She lives in an area where music is rampant, but so are earthquakes!

So, Led Zeppelin created a song where a guy wants to leave his current partner and start a new life in California.

Over there, the guy wants to find his “queen,” who sings and plays the guitar—just like Joni Mitchel. 

The music is quiet, the acoustic guitar is very soft, and there are no drums at all in the background. If you want a tricky song to learn, this is it!

22. “Ocean” by John Butler

Genre Rock
Difficulty Advanced
Type of GuitarSemi-acoustic
TabsOcean Tabs

To be honest with you, this song isn’t as old or as iconic as the other songs on this list. However, it’s definitely worth mentioning. 

The song doesn’t have any lyrics, but it does deliver a unique guitar pattern in an 11-minute piece! This is mainly because John wanted to convey more than one element through music instead of words.

His guitar speaks of life, loss, and even love. Because of the song’s length, it can be a little tough to get down, even for an intermediate student.

We recommend starting with something easier before you take on this beast.

23. “Nights in White Satin” by The Moody Blues

Genre Rock
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarElectric 
TabsNights in White Satin Tabs

Another song written at 19, Nights in White Satin was created by Justin Hayward when a friend gave him white satin sheets.

We’d love to share with you what the song means, but that’s something the creator didn’t feel like sharing. To him, the track feels very personal, and he says “every note and every word” means something to him.

He also noticed other people feeling the same way about this song, which could be why he kept his interpretation to himself.

24. “Little Martha” by The Allman Brothers Band

Genre Rock
Difficulty Advanced
Type of GuitarAcoustic
TabsLittle Martha Tabs

Ever had a dream revelation? Well, Duane Allman had one, and it gave him one of the band’s sweetest songs.

In 1971, Duane had a dream where Jimi Hendrix showed up and told him the melody in a motel bathroom—weird, we know!

However, Duane decided to take that dream and make it a reality with his band. The title of the song refers to Duane’s then-girlfriend Elizabeth Reed, who he nicknamed Little Martha.

We’d like to point out that this song isn’t as easy as Duane made it seem by plucking it from his dream. It’s best to start with something easier from the list, then build your way up to here.

25. “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi

Genre Country rock/Glam metal
Difficulty Advanced
Type of GuitarAcoustic/Electric
TabsWanted Dead or Alive Tabs

Just by listening to the beginning strings of Wanted Dead or Alive, you can tell it’s going to be a challenge. 

Yet, this song was written, composed, and ready to go in one day! The band, Bon Jovi, came up with Wanted Dead or Alive while playing with their instruments in their member’s basement!

They were heavily influenced by the Old West Cowboy imagery, which they used to express the demanding life of a rock star. Plus, did you know that this song was the kickstarter behind MTV’s Unplugged series?

How Richie and Jon Bon Jovi handled their guitars in their performances was so impressive that it inspired the show. Sadly, though, this made it a bit tough for rookies like us to learn the song!

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