13 Awesome One String Guitar Songs


Title image for one string guitar songs

Guitar songs that are played on a single string are great for two reasons.

Of course, they seem simpler to play for complete beginners, because you don't have to deal with any other strings. But the best thing about one string guitar songs is that they make it easy to get started with learning songs by ear.

One String Guitar Songs Image

Part of what makes learning songs by ear on guitar challenging is that you can not only move up and down a single string but also switch between strings.

So, if you aren't that experienced with figuring out songs by ear, these 13 single string guitar songs will be a great place to start! 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:

1. Which string the song is (best) played on
2. What the starting fret is
3. A link to a correct tab if you want some more guidance

I've hidden them by default to avoid spoilers, but you can use these hints hints whenever you need them :-)

Even if you're a complete beginner, this is a great way to start growing your musicianship! If you've never figured out a song by ear before in your life, then just two or three of these songs will make a huge difference! Here's a step-by-step guide on how to learn songs by ear.

I've just finished a course to help you learn songs by ear called
Make Your Ears Awesome.
You'll learn 51 songs by ear using interactive tab:

Want try it? I’ve created a mini-course for you to check out. It has four songs (including 7 Nation Army by the White Stripes and Otherside by the Red Hot Chili Peppers).

Check out 'Make Your Ears Awesome'!


13 One String Guitar Songs

1. The Strokes - New York City Cops

This riff starts right away (after some noises). Fun fact: this song was inspired by Aerosmith.


2. The Rolling Stones - Satisfaction

The Rolling Stones - (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction (Official Lyric Video)
A classic riff that was originally intended to be replaced by horns! To emulate the twangy sound, try to pick the string close to the bridge. Oh and if you're playing an electric guitar, try switching to your bridge pickup.


3. CCR - Heard it through the grapevine

Creedence Clearwater Revival - I Heard It Through The Grapevine
Am amazing song that was made into a soul classic by Marvin Gaye. This eleven minute take by Creedence Clearwater Revival is great for us, because it starts with the iconic hook played on guitar.


4. The White Stripes - Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground

The White Stripes-Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground
A simple riff that shows off Jack White's fuzz pedal.


5. N.E.R.D - Lapdance

N.E.R.D. - Lapdance
A simple but effective riff. Like Satisfaction, pick the string close to the bridge to get that twangy sound. Try switching to your bridge pick-up if you're playing electric.


6. The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army

The White Stripes - 'Seven Nation Army'
Jack White used a Whammy pedal to shift this riff down an octave. So keep in mind the riff will sound different when you play it, but the melody is still the same!


7. U2 - Elevation (solo)

Guitarist 'The Edge' used a technique called tremolo picking to play this simple but awesome solo. It's where you pick a string down and up (alternate picking) as fast as you can.


8. Kaiser Chiefs - I Predict a Riot

Kaiser Chiefs - I Predict A Riot
For this song, check out the intro. There's quite a bit of space between the notes, which should make it less challenging to pick them out.


9. Radiohead - Airbag

Radiohead - Airbag @ Glastonbury 2017
The opening song of the legendary OK Computer from 1997. The riff that's played on one string starts right away!


10. Peter Gunn Theme (Blues Brothers)

The Peter Gunn - Theme the Blues Brothers
The iconic riff that Henry Mancini wrote for the tv show Peter Gunn. But most people know it from the Blues Brothers.


11. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Running Down a Dream

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers - Runnin' Down A Dream
A typical guitar riff, very well done. Learn this tune and you'll start to recognise many guitar-like riffs like it!


12. Coldplay - Shiver

A great song from Coldplay's earlier days. The melody starts at 0:12.


13. Muse - New Born

New Born has a great riff that starts at about 1:00. It is repeated a few more times during the rest of the song. To play this riff like Matthew Bellamy does, you'll need to tune down one of your strings. Click the button below to find out which string and how to tune it. Oh, and if you look closely at the video there are some clues there for how to play it!



Learning these songs by ear

That's it! Hope this helps you out in getting started with figuring out stuff by ear or just having a good time playing cool riffs. If you want to learn them by ear, you can check out the step-by-step guide over here.

Also, feel free to check out the ear training course for the course I've just finished:

You can enroll in the sample course by clicking here.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to leave a comment. Oh, and if I've missed any one string guitar songs that should be on this list, I'd love to hear about them!


  • Dean says:

    Also running up the major scale on a single string can be great for songwriting, or coming up with vocal melodies.

  • Alex says:


  • Just says:

    Hi Dean, definitely a good idea. Helps to get away from all those guitar shapes too!