Sometimes all you need to make rock and roll history is just two guitar strings...
Which is great for us, because it makes it easier to figure out and play said history. Here's a list of 14 two string guitar songs. It's slightly more difficult to figure them out and play them than the one string guitar songs, which make them the perfect next step!
As with the one string guitar songs, I've put these songs roughly in order from the easiest song to more complex riffs, so you might want to work your way down the list. To make things easier I've also provided:
- Which string the song is (best) started on
- What the starting fret is
- What the other string is
- A link to a correct tab if you want to check your answer
I've hidden all these hints by default to avoid spoilers, but you can click to get some more help whenever you need it!
Lastly, here's a step-by-step guide on how to learn songs by ear.
14 Two String Guitar Songs
1. The Strokes - Barely Legal
A simple riff that employs a smart trick. The riff stays exactly the same, but it sounds different because the underlying chord changes! A simple technique you might want to try yourself. Oh, and bonus points for the solo that starts at 0:37 (and is also played on just two strings).
2. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Otherside
A simple, clean melody that interlocks nicely with the bass.
3. Led Zeppelin - Misty Mountain Hop
After a few seconds of electric piano, Jimmy Page's guitar comes in. The title is a reference to Lord of the Rings by the way, Robert Plant is a huge Tolkien fan!
4. Smashing Pumpkins - Today
The sweet, simple melody at the start of the song... Don't turn your volume up too high though, because after a few seconds the band comes in.
5. Iron Butterfly - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Remember the time when you could make a 17 minute hit song? No, I don't, but somehow, I miss it. Fun fact: the title was supposed to be 'In the Garden of Eden', but the singer slurred his words when he told the rest of the band about it. So, In-a-gadda-da-vida it is!
6. The Cure - A Forest
Starting from this song, you'll come across songs that use two strings at the same time!
7. Ten Years After - 50.000 Miles Beneath My Brain
Another song that smartly uses two strings!
8. Deep Purple - Smoke on the Water
Classic riff. Chances are you already know it. But I couldn't leave it out.
9. The Cure - Boys Don't Cry
Back to the eighties for this classic song.
10. Judas Priest - Breaking the Law
Let's throw some British heavy metal into the mix...
11. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Stop
A great, fuzzy bass line!
12. The Cribs - Men's Needs
A slightly faster riff, which I know stresses some people out. Just keep calm and listen to the first note, then the second etc...
13. Muse - Time is Running Out (Bass Line)
You might almost not recognise it, but that sound of the opening riff is a bass guitar. The sound makes it difficult to hear how often a certain note is picked, so don't worry about that. Just get the notes right and you can play it how you think it sounds best!
14. Wolfmother - Joker and the Thief
This might sound a bit fast or complex at first, but once you get this riff, you'll see how simple it really is...
Learning by ear
That's it! Hope this helps you out in getting started with transcribing music by ear or just having a good time playing cool riffs. If you want to learn them by ear, be sure to check out the step-by-step guide over here.
Also, feel free to check out some free ear training lessons:
If you need any help with these songs, feel free to email me at Just [at] Stringkick.com!
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