25 Easy 80s Guitar Songs (With Tabs + Videos

Easy 80s Guitar Songs

Every guitar player looks for opportunities to impress family and friends with their skills. What’s more impressive than playing the 80s golden classics?

This article lists 25 easy 80s guitar songs for beginners to play.

Read on for information about these songs, including the genre, difficulty level, guitar type, and learning tabs.

“Every Breath You Take” by The Police (G, Em, C, D)

“Every Breath You Take” was written by Sting for Police’s 1983 album Synchronicity. This song was a huge hit that remained in the number spot of the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks.

The song needs intermediate guitar skills since its different parts have distinct difficulty levels. For instance, you’ll find the introduction and verse quite easy, but the chorus and bridge can be a little challenging.

Play this song to impress and entertain. It’s so popular, so you’ll always find a fan in the crowd.

Genre Rock
Difficulty Beginner – Intermediate
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsEvery Breath You Take Tabs

“With or Without You” by U2 (D, A, Bm, G)

The Irish band U2 released their hit song “With or Without You” in their 1987 album The Joshua Tree. It was written by the band’s lead vocalist Bono.

This song was the first song for U2 to claim the top spot on the US Billboard Hot 100. It remained there for three weeks.

It’s an ideal song to show off your skills as a beginner guitar player. It consists of only four chords that repeat continuously. That makes it easy and fun even for those with limited skills.

Genre Rock
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsWith or Without You Tab

“Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses (C, G, D, Am, Em)

“Sweet Child O’ Mine” is an all-time favorite among rock fans. It was first released in 1987 in the album Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses.

This song gained acclaim immediately after its release. It reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100.

In addition, it remained popular for years. In fact, it made it on major lists, including VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s, as well as Rolling Stone’s The Best Songs Written Since You Were Born, and the Greatest Rock Songs of All Times.

Genre Rock
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarAcoustic
TabsSweet Child O’ MineTabs

“Take on Me” by A-ha (Bm, E, A, D, G)

The first version of this song was released in 1984 to claim the number three spot in Norway. However, it didn’t gain any international acclaim until it was released for a second time in 1985 with a new music video that went widely popular on MTV.

This second version become number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in October 1985. Up until today, this song is significantly popular.

It even gets about half a million daily views. Try this song at your next gathering, and you’ll get lots of cheers from the crowd.

Genre Synth-Pop
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarElectric and Acoustic
TabsTake on Me Tabs

“Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division (C, D, E, Am, F)

“Love Will Tear Us Apart” was released by the British band Joy Division in 1980. It was a non-album single that stood the test of time.

This song was inspired by the real-life situation of the band’s lead singer. Unfortunately, he wasn’t lucky enough to see it turning into such a huge hit as he killed himself two months before its release.

It has made it to Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Best Songs Ever in 2004, 2011, and 2021. The song needs intermediate skills on any type of guitar. Therefore, it can be a great addition to your list. 

Genre Post Pun
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarElectric and Acoustic
TabsLove Will Tear Us Apart Tabs

“Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams (D, A, Bm, G)

“Summer of 69” is an up-tempo rock song by the Canadian rock star Bryan Adams. It was released in 1985 in his fourth album Reckless.

This song appeared on several lists in Canada, such as The 100 Best Canadian Singles of All Time in 1994 and The 50 Best Canadian Singles of All Time in 2000.

In addition, it got great acclaim in the US. For instance, it made it to different lists, including the 2005 list of 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born, The 100 Best Singles of the 80s in 1990, and The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made in 1989.

Genre Rock
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic/Both
TabsSummer of 69 Tabs

“Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash (D, G, A)

This song was first released in 1981 by the British punk rock band The Clash. It wasn’t a hit at the beginning. However, it became much more popular almost a decade after.

In the 1990s, it was featured in a Levi Jeans commercial, which made the band re-release in 1991. This time, it reached the top of the UK Singles Chart and reached the top ten charts across Europe.

In 2004, “Should I Stay or Should I Go” made its way to Rolling Stone’s List of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Genre Rock
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarElectric and Acoustic
TabsShould I Stay or Should I Go Tabs

“Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey (E, B, C#m, A, G#m)

“Don’t Stop Believin’” was released in October 1981 by the American band Journey. It’s an iconic song that will definitely leave a great impression on any crowd.

For starters, it’s on Rolling Stone’s List of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Interestingly, this song remained popular for decades. In 2021, this song was granted the Grammy Hall of Fame Award.

A year later in 2022, the Library of Congress attested this song’s aesthetic, cultural, and historical significance by choosing to preserve it in the US National Recording Registry.

Genre Rock
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarAcoustic 
TabsDon’t Stop Believin’ Tabs

“Free Fallin'” by Tom Petty (D, G, A)

“Free Fallin’” is the first song in Tom Petty’s debut solo album Full Moon Fever. It was first released in 1989. It was number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and made it into Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

This song is Tom Petty’s most famous hit. It continued to gain popularity decades after its release. For instance, it was featured in famous movies, such as Tom Cruise’s Jerry Maguire in 1996. After Petty’s death in 2017, the song became number 2 on Spotify’s Global Viral 50.

It’s an easy and fun song to play. Although it may require some skills, you can still give it a try even if you only know the basics.

Genre Rock
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarAcoustic
TabsFree Fallin’ Tabs

“Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison (G, C, D, Em)

This song was released in October 1988 as part of Poison’s second album Open Up and Say Ahh. Two months later, it reached the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 to become the band’s only number-one hit ever.

It has also appeared on charts, such as VH1’s Top 25 Power Ballads, 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s, and 100 Greatest Love Songs.

You’ll certainly find fans for this song in any age group. It’s a classic flat tune that can be easy to play with some challenging parts even for the intermediate player.

Genre Metal
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarAcoustic
TabsEvery Rose Has Its Thorn Tabs

“The One I Love” by R.E.M. (Em, D, A)

This song was first released in 1987 in R.E.M’s fifth album Document. In addition, it was also sold as a single on 7-inch vinyl. 

“The One I Love” is R.E.M’s first hit. It was in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100. In addition, in 2005, it was on the list of Q-Magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.

It’s a super easy guitar tune that suits even the beginners. It doesn’t require much skill despite being one of the most popular classics.

Genre Rock
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarElectric and Acoustic
TabsThe One I LoveTabs

“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure (A, G, D, E)

This song first appeared in The Cure’s 1987 album Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. Making its way on the US Billboard charts, “Just Like Heaven” was the band’s first American hit.

The chords of this song are straightforward. They repeat throughout the song, except for the chorus part which gets a new progression. 

Take your time to learn the arrangements, and you’ll have fun playing this song. However, you might find the melody a little demanding at times. We recommend that you learn the lyrics to anticipate the change in tune.

Genre Rock
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarAcoustic
TabsJust Like Heaven Tabs

“Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi (Em, C, D, G)

“Livin’ on a Prayer” is one of Bon Jovi’s greatest hits of all Time. It was first released in 1986 in the album Slippery When Wet.

It was the band’s first song to reach number one on the Billboard Mainstream Rock. In addition, it was Bon Jovi’s second on the top of Billboard Hot 100.

This song became the band’s signature song, topping charts all around the world even decades after its release. In 2013, it got triple platinum for passing the three million digital download benchmark. It’s an easy and fun melody even for beginners.

Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarElectric
Tabs  Livin’ On a Prayer Tabs

“I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (E, D, A)

“I Love Rock n’ Roll” is the title song for Joan Jett’s second studio album in 1981 and the first for her backing band The Blackhearts.

Interestingly, it wasn’t the first version of this song. It was first released in the UK by the Arrows in 1975, and it was an instant inspiration for Jetts. She recorded a first version in 1979 before releasing this refined hit with the Blackhearts in 1981.

The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1982 and claimed this spot for seven consecutive weeks.

Playing this song is so much fun. It features a couple of challenges for the intermediate player. However, it’s worth giving a try once you master the processions.

Genre Rock
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarElectric
TabsI Love Rock n’ Roll Tabs

“Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield (D, G, A, Bm)

This song was first released in 1981 in the album Working Class Dogs by the Australian rock star Rick Springfield.

Upon its release, this song slowly made it to the number one spot on Billboard Hit 100. In fact, it took about 19 weeks to climb from number 28 to number 1. It stayed on top of the chart for two weeks. That way, it became Springfield’s only number-one hit.

In addition, Springfield received a Grammy award for this song. It also peaked as the number-one hit in Australia for a long time.

The chords are easy to master, especially those for the intro. Thus, it’s an ideal song for beginners who want to show off some talent and practice at the same time.

Genre Pop
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarElectric
TabsJessie’s Girl Tabs

“Red Red Wine” by UB40 (C, G, F)

The British band UB40 released a Reggae version of the song “Red Red Wine” in 1983. It comes as a single in their album Labour of Love

Originally, this song was written and performed by Neil Diamond in 1968. Interestingly, Neil Diamond himself enjoys the new Reggae version to the extent that he often plays it live.

This version of the song gained great popularity. It peaked the Billboard Hot 100 for a week to become the first song for the British band to get such acclaim in America.

On top of that, it’s an easy tune to play on your acoustic guitar. It doesn’t require much skill, only the basics will be enough once you master the arrangements.

Genre Reggae
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarAcoustic
TabsRed Red Wine Tabs

“Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran (G, D, C, Em)

“Hungry Like the Wolf” was released in 1982. It’s one of the strongest hits in the album Rio by the British band Duran Duran.

This song helped Duran get much international acclaim. In 1983, it claimed third position on the US Billboard Hot 100. In addition, it remained in the top 10 of UK Singles for about 5 weeks.

Fortunately, you don’t need to be an advanced guitar player to play this hit. You can do it with little skills. That makes it a fantastic song to play at gatherings and camp nights.

Genre Pop
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarAcoustic
TabsHungry Like the Wolf Tabs

“Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper (C, G, Am, F)

Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” was first released in 1984 in the album She’s Unusual. In 1984, it became Lauper’s first song to top the Billboard Hot 100 for two consecutive weeks.

In addition, this song was also nominated for a Grammy Award in 1985. It was on the top ten lists of both the ARIA Singles Chart and the UK Singles Chart.

The song is a bit challenging to play on your guitar. However, it’s worth a try. It requires some skill to adjust the chords a little faster than usual.

Genre Pop
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarAcoustic
TabsTime After Time Tabs

“The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley (Em, D, A, Bm)

This song was released in 1984 in Don Henley’s album Building the Perfect Beast. It was an immediate hit as it topped most charts internationally.

It was number one on the Billboard Top Rock Tracks and number five on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1986, Henley won a Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for this song.

In addition, the music video won great acclaim. Playing this song on your guitar is easy and fun. It doesn’t require much skill, just the basics.

Genre Rock
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarAcoustic
TabsThe Summer Boys Tabs

“Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves (E, A, B, C#m)

“Walking on Sunshine” first appeared in 1983 and was rerecorded in 1985. It’s a popular hit for the British rock band Katrina and the Waves.

It was among the top ten on Australian, British, and American charts. That makes it the first song for this band to gain such international acclaim.

Some parts of this song are easy to play while others can be a bit challenging. Thus, we suggest it as a healthy challenge for beginner/intermediate players.

Genre Pop Rock
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarElectric
TabsWalking on Sunshine Tabs

“Tainted Love” by Soft Cell (Am, F, G, E)

“Tainted Love” is a classic song from the sixties. However, in 1981, the band Soft Cell rereleased it in their album Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret.

This version of the song was an immediate success. It sold over a million copies in the UK in 1981. In addition, it was number one on the list of UK Singles.

As a guitarist, you won’t find any difficulty playing this song even with modest skills. That way, it’s an ideal practice for beginners.

GenreSynth Pop
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarAcoustic
TabsTainted LoveTabs

“Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen (C, Am, F, G, E)

“Hallelujah” was first written and performed by the Canadian rock star Leonard Cohen in 1984. This song turned into a huge hit of all time. 

In fact, there are over 300 different versions. Perhaps, the most widely spread version was the one featured in the 2001 movie, Shrek.

Interestingly, it made it to the US Billboard Hot 100 for the first time upon Cohen’s death in 2016. That’s over twenty years after its first release.

Playing this song can be a fun challenge. It’s an advanced piece that requires much skill and guitar knowledge.

Genre Rock
Type of GAcoustic

“Whip It” by Devo (E, G, A, D)

“Whip It” is a great hit for the American rock band Devo. It appeared in their third album Freedom of Choice in 1980.

This song secured its position on all the music charts in Canada, America, New Zealand, and the UK. However, it didn’t make it to the top ten.

Despite its untraditional tempo, the song is still easy to play on your guitar. It suits even beginners who have only the basics.

Genre Synth Pop
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarElectric
TabsWhip It Tabs

“Ain’t Nobody” by Chaka Khan (Am, G, F, Em)

“Ain’t Nobody” is a great hit by the American singer Chaka Khan and the funk band Rufus. It was one of four songs in their live album Stompin’ at the Savoy in 1983.

The song was a major success. It immediately reached the number one spot on the US Billboard R&B. It also made it to the US Billboard Hot 100.

To play this song on your guitar, you need to have some skills. It’s of intermediate difficulty that would pose a nice challenge.

Genre R&B Funk
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarElectric
TabsAin’t Nobody Tabs

“I Melt With You” by Modern English (E, A, B)

“I Melt With” You was first released in 1982. It was the second single in the album After the Snow for the British band Modern English.

In 1983, it made it to the top 10 of the Billboard Mainstream Rock. It also made it on the Billboard Hot 100.

This tune is very easy to play on your guitar. It’s suitable for beginners, so try it once you know your basics.

Post Punk
Difficulty Beginner
Type of GuitarElectric
TabsI Melt With You Tabs

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