If you’re looking for the best solo acoustic songs to learn on the guitar, you’ve come to the right post!
So here are some of my favorites in no particular order!
1. Blackbird by The Beatles
The Beatles are a timeless band. Even when you play one of their songs today to a younger audience, they’ll react and often know it. And if you want an awesome one-man guitar show, “Blackbird” is the way to go.
The song features Paul McCartney doing everything on his own. The fingerpicking might be a bit tricky to pull off. And singing over it is a challenge as well. However, I’d say that this song is a must for a solo acoustic guitar performer.
2. Hole Hearted by Extreme
Sure, Extreme is mostly remembered for “More Than Words.” But the band’s “Hole Hearted” is another acoustic guitar masterpiece. It’s on a whole different level.
Here we have an upbeat tune that shows the power of 12-string guitars. And that’s not all. It also shows the power of chords that implement open strings. There might be a few tricky parts in this one. However, when performed right, open strings make it sound so full, even if you play it on a 6-string guitar.
3. Wonderwall by Oasis
Now, this was an obvious choice. At this point, most know about “Wonderwall.” Some may say that it’s a cliché of a song. But I can bet that many in the audience will be thrilled to hear you play this one.
Here we have another great example that shows the power of open strings. The song features open chords with a capo on the second fret. But the chords aren’t your regular major and minor ones. So you’ll get the chance to learn something new. Plus, the song is incredibly catchy from start to finish.
4. Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley Version
Although “Hallelujah” is Leonard Cohen’s song, it was made popular by Jeff Buckley. This is one of the most popular songs to learn. And it’s an absolute must for every solo guitar performer.
Although Buckley recorded it on an electric guitar, it sounds awesome on an acoustic one as well. Since there’s fingerpicking involved, it may be a bit tricky to sing over it. But it’s far from an impossible task.
5. Old Friend by Chris Anderson, Warren Haynes Version
Here we have a song that’s not as nearly as popular as the others on the list. But if you’re looking to impress everyone, this is the way to go.
The original version of “Old Friend” is by southern rock guitarist Chris Anderson. Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks turned it into a dual acoustic guitar piece on the Allman Brothers Band album “Hittin’ the Note.”
But Warren Haynes also performed it on his own. The most impressive thing about his version is that it sounds so full. And it’s all just him playing a slide guitar and singing.
Not many people know of this song. But if you pull it off the right way, everyone will be asking about it.
6. Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground by Blind Willie Johnson
“Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” is a blues classic. This one goes back to the 1920s. It was written and performed by Blind Willie Johnson.
It’s predominantly an instrumental piece. However, it also features humming and moaning vocal parts. They perfectly complement the slide guitar.
As the title suggests, it’s a pretty dark piece. He had a pretty rough life and this song is a representation of that. It may sound simple at first, but it’s a challenging one to perform. Additionally, it holds historical value.
7. Dust in the Wind by Kansas
Going back to the 1970s, Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind” is an absolute classic. There are two great things about this song. First, it’s a great choice for a solo performer since all it requires is an acoustic guitar and vocals. Secondly, fans of various genres love it.
It may, however, be a bit challenging to beginners. It’s all pretty much fingerpicking. So you have to make it all work with your singing.
8. Shape of My Heart by Sting
Although the studio version has additional instruments, “Shape of My Heart” can also work with just the guitar. Again, we have a piece that might get tricky in a few places. But it’s definitely worth learning and making it a part of your setlist.
9. Bron-Y-Aur Stomp by Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin has a few interesting acoustic pieces in their discography. But from the Jimmy Page and Robert Plant duo, I’d single out “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” as one of the best choices.
This one shouldn’t be that difficult to perform even if you do guitars and vocals by yourself. Additionally, it’s an upbeat tune.
You just need to bear in mind that this is in open F tuning. So going from the bottom to the top string it’s C-F-C-F-A-C. Although it may seem unusual, it makes the piece easier to perform.
10. Layla by Eric Clapton
Although the original was with a full band and electric instruments, “Layla” sounds great with just one acoustic guitar. It wasn’t unusual for Clapton himself to perform it unplugged as well.
What makes this song so great is its chord progression. And you can always perform it by just strumming the chords. But the most important thing is that this is a classic rock piece. You can’t go wrong with it.
11. Classical Gas by Mason Williams
This may be one of the more challenging pieces on acoustic guitar. However, it’s a piece that you should consider conquering. It’s that one instrumental piece that lets you showcase technical skills. But at the same time, it’s also a crowd-pleaser.
Mason Williams wrote the piece, releasing it in 1968. Tommy Emmanuel made it even more popular with his solo performance. I suggest that you check out both of these versions.
12. Chaconne in D-Minor for Solo Violin, Arranged for Guitar by J.S. Bach
Lastly, I want to include one very challenging piece by J.S. Bach. This may feel a bit odd among those other songs. But if you want an ultimate challenge, try out his Chaconne in D minor.
Bach wrote this piece for solo violin. It’s the fifth movement of his great Partita in D minor. But in the 1930s, classical guitar master Andrés Segovia rearranged it for classical guitar. Since then, it saw countless reinterpretations for our favorite 6-string instruments.
But if you decide to give this one a try, please be aware. It’s an ultimate challenge, especially with all the nuanced dynamics.
Best Solo Acoustic Songs: Conclusion
I hope this post has given you some good ideas of potential songs to learn in this category.
And if you’re looking for other song lists on this blog, check out:
Lastly, if you have questions about this or another guitar-related subject, feel free to let me know in the comments below!