25 Easy Nirvana Songs on Guitar (With Tabs + Videos)

Nirvana Guitar Songs

Head-banging riffs? Check. Lyrical talent? Check. Easy guitar play? Double check. Yes, we’re talking about Nirvana.

The band revolutionized the grunge scene by mixing in genres of punk, pop, and alternative rock. The good news is that you can play the all-time classics with ease.

Most Nirvana songs involve a mellow intro before soaring into aggressive riffs. You’ll also learn power chords, palm-mutes, and more techniques to master the timeless songs.

Once you’ve gotten these notes down, you’ll be well on your way to learning more advanced songs. Stick around to learn more about easy Nirvana songs on guitar.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” (E, A, G, C)

Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit Guitar Lesson + Tutorial

Whether you’re a new or old rock head, you’ve likely heard this song in your lifetime. You can’t help but nod along the strumming start.

Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit caught a large audience. It won Best New Artist at the MTV Music Awards in 1992.

Fortunately, the song is on the easy list because it features a few power chords. You also won’t have a hard time catching up to the solo’s beat.

The song begins with a fast tempo and moves to a slower and beginner-friendly rhythm. It has a four-chord progression. Between each chord is a ghost note that leaves a scratch.

The rest of the song goes between two notes strumming adjacent strings.

You can learn this tune by getting some basic chords down first. Afterward, you’ll be strumming your way to Cobain’s Grammy-nominated song.

Genre Grunge and Hard Rock
Difficulty Easy
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsSmells Like Teen Spirit Tabs

“Come as You Are” (E, G, D, A)

Nirvana – Come As You Are – Guitar Lesson – How to Play on guitar – Kurt Cobain

As in other songs by Nirvana, “Come As You Are” provides inconsistent meaning.

It contains parts that suggest you should be yourself, yet other lyrics depict overarching societal expectations over people.

Interpretations aside, the song is one of the easy ones. It contains dead notes and power chords.

It starts with an almost temperamental sound before belting into the head-banging chorus beats.

Besides that, the song is undoubtedly one of Nirvana’s most-heard songs since it was part of their Grammy-winning album, Live at Reading.

Genre Grunge and Rock
Difficulty Easy
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsCome as You Are Tabs

“Lithium” (E, G, C, D)

Nirvana | Lithium | Guitar Lesson | How to Play Lithium by Nirvana on Guitar

Lithium is the third song from the album Nevermind. The song’s chord progressions are upbeat and broken rather than ascending.

While learning the tune, you’ll also notice a lot of off-beat parts that add a twist to the melody. Meanwhile, the chorus plays standard power chords, which come with practice.

Lithium underpins a fight between you and your demons. It tells a story of a man searching for religious solutions to his mental health issues. Despite the bright chord progression, the lyrics veer toward a dark theme.

Genre Alternative Rock and Indie
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsLithium Tabs

“Heart-Shaped Box” (A, F, D, B)

How to Play “Heart Shaped Box” on Guitar – Nirvana Guitar Lessons

Reaching number one on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks, “Heart-Shaped Box” was a song to remember. It was exceptionally successful, snatching a position in multiple countries’ top ten ranks.

The song holds a special place for every fan since it was the last live song Cobain played in Munich, Germany, in 1994.

“Heart-Shaped Box” incorporates melodic dissonance to reflect its bluesy lyrics. You’ll also be playing several bends in the song’s chorus.

Aside from that, it opens with an ascending or arpeggiated power chord. Subsequently, you’ll be strumming one string at a time.

The Nirvana song frequently embeds non-diatonic harmony. It means playing off-key, which reflects the band’s signature gritty sound.

Genre Grunge and Rock
Difficulty Easy
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsHeart-Shaped Box Tabs

“In Bloom” (G, D#, E, F#)

Nirvana – In Bloom – How to Play on guitar – Guitar Lesson

“In Bloom” starts slow and eases into Nirvana’s well-known catchy choruses. The song’s meaning is paradoxical.

People often don’t understand what Cobain’s songs are about. In turn, he wanted to create a tune that’s hard not to remember. Audiences sing blindly to these lyrics that talk about their lack of understanding.

Instrumental-wise, the song uses power chords, percussive muting, and slides. You’ll also likely notice some parts riddled with distortion. Plus, the song’s solo is relatively easy to practice since it’s slow.

Genre Alternative and Indie
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsIn Bloom Tabs

“Polly” (E, G, D, C)

How To Play Nirvana – Polly

“Polly” came to Cobain after reading about a kidnapping of a 14-year-old girl in Washington. The song combines distorted riffs and four chords.

The chorus involves three prime chords, and the verses have four distinct chords. In the verses, there’s an interlude where you’ll play a plucking part using the latter’s chords.

The song’s highlight comes in its strumming. The chord follows a D-xU / DUxU / DUx / U-UDU pattern. Each “x” is a percussive mute. During those, use your hand’s palm to hold the strings hard enough to create the “chick” sound.

Percussive Muting on Guitar

Overall, the song will provide ample practice for your strumming skill set.

Genre Acoustic Rock
Difficulty Easy
Type of GuitarAcoustic
TabsPolly Tabs

“About a Girl” (Em, G, C, A)

How to Play “About a Girl” by Nirvana on Guitar – Easy Acoustic Songs

“About a Girl” takes on a different genre from the typical power-chord-laden Nirvana songs. It exposes a more pop-like and melodic tune, reminiscent of The Beatles, one of Cobain’s favorite bands.

The lyrics expand about a man that loves a woman but isn’t sure if it’s mutual. Nirvana wrote the song in 1988 before debuting in the Bleach album in 1989.

That said, the song’s verses primarily alternate between two chords, Em and G. The chorus then goes into chord progressions.

The chord groupings will naturally lead the way for your hand’s strumming position. As they lower, you’ll feel your hand gravitating towards a downstroke and vice versa.

Genre Alternative Indie
Difficulty Easy
Type of GuitarAcoustic
TabsAbout a Girl Tabs

“All Apologies” (C, F, G)

Nirvana “All Apologies” Guitar Lesson

The acoustic-played “All Apologies” is part of Nirvana’s last album, In Utero. It earned a place in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame’s list of Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.

The song dissects Cobain’s innermost struggles, from his relationships to fame. It draws from a blues melody rather than the band’s classic guitar riffs.

“All Apologies” requires a Drop D tuning. Once done, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the song’s pedal point usage. It shows a droning note while other higher notes are played above.

It’s an easy song since you’re primarily reverting between single notes and power chords. Nevertheless, most of the song has the prior.

Genre Grunge and Rock
Difficulty Easy
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsAll Apologies Tabs

“Drain You” (F#, A, C, G)

Nirvana “Drain You” Guitar Lesson

“Drain You” refers to one of Cobain’s past relationships, where he described his feeling as emotionally drained.

The song holds several fifth chords played with a down-picking technique. You can break down “Drain You” into the verse and intro, which are similar.

There’s also the twice-repeated chorus and interlude easing into the solo. The latter is an F# chord strummed repetitively before the chorus.

Even though the song wasn’t as popular, the band favored it over others.

Genre Grunge and Alternative Rock
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsDrain You Tabs

“Dumb” (C, F, A#, G)

How to Play “Dumb” by Nirvana on guitar – Guitar Lesson

“Dumb” is the sixth song in Nirvana’s final album, In Utero. Unlike the band’s other gritty and grunge music, this song leans more toward the pop side.

It uses a barre chord, which can require practice for beginners. It involves pressing down on more than one string simultaneously.

In terms of song meaning, “Dumb” may describe people going through life’s problems breezily through ignorance. It also takes a hand at people that conform to a group, despite being different.

Genre Pop, Punk, and Alternative Rock
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsDumb Tabs

“On a Plain” (A, C, D, G)

Nirvana – On a Plain – Guitar Lesson, How to Play

Nirvana’s “On a Plain” is a popular fan favorite. The tune is relatively easy to mimic. It combines Cobain’s specialized distortions and muted melodies.

The song symbolizes the lead singer’s struggles with surrounding depression and searching for life’s meaning. It alluded to hopelessness and male degradation as well. “On a Plain” uses string bends and high harmonies courtesy of the band’s David Grohl.

It was more prominent during the 1990s when extreme tempo changes were commonly associated with punk and rock bands.

Genre Grunge
Difficulty Easy
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsOn a Plain Tabs

“Rape Me” (Am, C, G, F)

Nirvana Rape Me Guitar Lesson + Tutorial

“Rape Me” is relatively beginner-friendly because it has similar chords in its verses and chorus. The only difference is that you’ll play them in fifth during the chorus.

It uses arpeggios and a series of power chords. You’ll also find palm mutes, distortion parts, and double stops.

In terms of meaning, the song describes karma or poetic justice. A man rapes a woman, goes to jail, and gets raped there. It plays from the point of view of the victim.

“Rape Me” is comparable to the band’s song “Polly.” Nonetheless, the similarly themed lyrics of “Polly” play from the opposite perspective of the perpetrator.

Genre Metal and Alternative Indie
Difficulty Easy
Type of GuitarElectric and Acoustic
TabsRape Me Tabs

“Sliver” (C, G, F, A)

Nirvana – Sliver – Guitar cover with tabs

“Silver” follows a story of parental abandonment. It talks of a boy being left at his grandparent’s place and unable to return to his home.

It divulges Cobain’s mental trauma and abuse as a child staying at his grandparent’s home.

The song’s chords are repetitive, making it easier to learn for beginners. The verses move with a constant C-F-C-A rhythm before entering the chorus with an A-C over eight times each.

Genre Grunge and Pop-Punk
Difficulty Easy
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsSilver Tabs

“Stay Away” (D, A, E, G)

Guitar Lesson For Nirvana “Stay Away” – Nirvana Guitar Lessons

Nirvana’s “Stay Away” advises listeners to follow a path of individuality rather than adhering to societal expectations.

The song’s tempo is fast. Catching up will take practice, especially in the strumming sector. “Stay Away” is ideal for those who don’t prefer long and slow ballads but riff-rough-styled songs instead.

You can divide the song into the intro, bridge, three verses, two bridges, six chorus parts, and a midsection.

You’ll alternate between the D-B and F-C chords in most verse parts. Meanwhile, the chorus repeats a C5-D5-B5-F5 chord pattern.

Genre Grunge and Alternative Rock
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsStay Away Tabs

“You Know You’re Right” (F#, A, E, D)

How to Play Nirvana You Know You’re Right – Guitar Lesson

“You Know You’re Right” holds deep significance to the Nirvana fanbase. It was the last song released in 1994 before Cobain’s death.

You can master this song by practicing power chords, palm mutes, and single-note partitions. Besides that, you’ll also need to execute a tremolo-picking technique.

It involves moving in a high-speed tempo over one note for a set time. For example, you can practice playing four notes in a single beat.
The song holds divided interpretations, but the common one talks about Cobain’s suicidal thoughts and reflections on his then-relationship with Courtney Love.

Genre Alternative Indie and Rock
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsYou Know You’re Right Tabs

“Territorial Pissings” (C, G)

How to Play “Territorial Pissings” by Nirvana on Guitar – Guitar Lesson

“Territorial Pissings” depicts Cobain’s distaste towards toxic masculinity. It details the mistreatment of women and Native Americans.

He finds that animals pee in areas to claim them. The lyrics compare this behavior toward men and their demand for power and sex.

Playing the song won’t be too challenging since you’ll need to focus on your A minor, A, F, and D.

The only issue you may face is catching up to the song’s speed since it plays at 196 bpm. Besides the power chords, “Territorial Pissings” also uses open double stops and palm-muted single notes.

Genre Grunge and Alternative Rock
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsTerritorial Pissings Tabs

“Serve the Servants” (A, G, F, D)

Nirvana Serve the Servants Guitar Lesson + Tutorial

“Serve the Servants” is a simple song to learn since it includes repetitive chorus chords and verses. The latter’s chords are a series of Bb-Eb and F-Eb.

The chorus starts with Ab-C5-Ab before moving to a steady C5-Ab and ending with F-Gb-C/G. The song also features an easy-to-play solo.

Nirvana’s “Serve the Servants” connotes teenage angst and the struggle of going through parental divorce.

It targets the father figure for their lack of presence in the family dynamic. The lyrics advise listeners to forgive their parents despite any resentment they may hold against them.

Genre Rock and Alternative Indie
Difficulty Easy
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsServe the Servants Tabs

“Something in the Way” (D, Dsus4)

How to Play Nirvana “Something in the Way” Guitar Lesson

Featured in Nevermind, “Something in the Way” depicts a commentary on feelings of loneliness or homelessness. Cobain portrays this feeling as being invisible to everyone.

He was kicked out by his family when he was young. He discusses his emotional distress and that there’s “something in the way.”

The Nevermind hit is slow and calm, unlike other Nirvana songs that tend to escalate in volume after the intro.

The song’s chords are easy to remember since they’re only two, Em and C/G. Once you’ve nailed your strumming, you’ll perfect this song.

Genre Acoustic Rock
Difficulty Easy
Type of GuitarAcoustic
TabsSomething in the Way Tabs

“Lounge Act” (A, G, D, C)

How to Play “Lounge Act” by Nirvana on Guitar – Guitar Lesson

“Lounge Act” is not as easy as other songs on the list, but it’s worth a try, especially if you’re practicing barre chords.

The chorus’ chord alternates between E5-A and D5-G. It ends with a G#-G-A5. Overall, the song holds a loud-to-quiet sound dynamic.

Aside from that, the song’s name has nothing to do with the lyrics. The band members may have called it “Lounge Act” because the intro’s bass riff sounded lounge-style.

One interpretation of the song talks about a guy choosing between his band career and a girl. It may refer to his past relationship with Tracy Marander.

Genre Grunge and Alternative Rock
Difficulty Advanced
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsLounge Act Tabs

“Breed” (F, E, A, G)

How to Play “Breed” By Nirvana on Guitar

As with most other Nirvana songs, “Breed” requires you to be skillful with power chords. The song also has single-note verses.

“Breed” was originally going to be titled “Imodium” after Tad Doyle’s, who is a friend, diarrhea medicine. It would then signify the running of the mouth.

Now, it denotes his entrance to Middle America where people get married by 18 and end up with an unwanted pregnancy. It’s likely inspired by his relationship with Tobi Vail.

Genre Grunge and Punk Rock
Difficulty Easy
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsBreed Tabs

“Love Buzz” (E, A, D)

Nirvana – Love Buzz live – Guitar cover w/tabs (re-upload)

“Love Buzz” is one of the best options to start with as a beginner. It contains several easy-to-play single-note chords in the chorus and verses.

You’ll mainly want to work on the solo since it contains some legato. The song is short and sweet depicting a love between a man and his desire to maintain trust, which is evident in “Please don’t deceive me when I hurt you.”

Genre Alternative Indie
Difficulty Easy
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsLove Buzz Tabs

“Molly’s Lips” (G, C)

Molly’s Lips by Nirvana | Guitar Lesson

“Molly’s Lips” only goes through two chords, G and C, with a speed of 167 bpm. That said, the song is originally a cover from the band, “The Vaselines.”

Some interpretations of the song believe it’s about a drug addict with a lover attempting to heal him. Other variations refer to “Molly” as the drug.

Genre Alternative Indie and Pop
Difficulty Easy
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsMolly’s Lips Tabs

“School” (F, E, G)

Nirvana School Guitar Lesson + Tutorial

“School” is one of Nirvana’s older songs traced back from their earliest album, Bleach. The song has a few single notes. You can also play power chords with dead notes in the chorus.

The old tune could be about how people barely get a break in life, hence the “No recess” repeated lyrics. Subsequently, life may seem like a series of non-stop trials.

Genre Grunge and Alternative Indie
Difficulty Easy
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsSchool Tabs

“Negative Creep” (D, C, G)

How to Play “Negative Creep” by Nirvana | Easy Guitar Lesson

“Negative Creep” showcases multiple emotions of detachment, pessimism, and frustration. It may portray how Cobain sees himself.

Music-wise, you’ll want to tune your guitar to Drop D before playing the two-note power chords and slides. The chorus’ chords go into a D5-F#5-A-Eb pattern. Overall, the song is reminiscent of Seattle’s grunge scene.

Genre Grunge and Punk Rock
Difficulty Easy
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsNegative Creep Tabs

“Been a Son” (G, C, D, Em)

How to play “Been a son” by Nirvana. Tabs. Acoustic guitar.

“Been a Son” reflects Cobain’s family life when his parents had his sister. His father didn’t want a daughter, but a son instead.

The song is more difficult to play than others on the list because it has more chords. For instance, the chorus’ chords are C-B-A-D-G5-F5-E5, which might be hard to follow as a beginner.

Genre Alternative Indie
Difficulty Intermediate
Type of GuitarAcoustic and Electric
TabsBeen a Son Tabs

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