Guitar songs that are played on a single string are great for two reasons.
Of course, they're 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 can help you become a better musician by training your 'inner music skills'.
In this article I'll show you 13 awesome songs played on just one strings and how to benefit as much as possible from learning them.
Here's a super quick explainer:
All great guitar players figured out tons and tons of songs by ear. It's how they trained their ears and formed the foundation of their musicianship.
One string guitar tunes are great for ear training, because you don't have to worry about different strings. Just slide up and down that single string until you find the correct note!
So, if you're new to 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 help you out, I'll give you a little help. For a couple of songs, I'll add you with this interactive tab from my course Make Your Ears Awesome: Kick-starter.
For the other songs, I'll give you the following hints:
- Which string the song is (best) played on
- What the starting fret is
- A link to a correct tab if you want some more guidance
The hints are hidden default to avoid spoilers, but you can use them whenever you want :-)
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.
Alright, let's dive in!
13 One String Guitar Songs
1. Alt-J - Breezeblocks
We'll start with this Alt-J song. Don't let the vocals distract you! Just start with the first note and take it from there.
2. The Strokes - New York City Cops
For this next riff, I'll make things a little more challenging and let you fill in the whole riff on your own. For more songs with interactive tab like this, check out my course Make Your Ears Awesome: Riffs and Melodies.
This riff starts right away (after some noises). Fun fact: this song was inspired by Aerosmith.
3. The Rolling Stones - Satisfaction
Next up is 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.
4. CCR - Heard it through the grapevine
5. The White Stripes - Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
A simple riff that shows off Jack White's fuzz pedal.
6. 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.
7. 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!
8. U2 - Elevation (solo)
Alright, let's check out a 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 as fast as you can. We'll use another interactive tab from for this one again.
9. 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.
10. Radiohead - Airbag
The opening song of the legendary OK Computer from 1997. The riff that's played on one string starts right away!
11. Peter Gunn Theme (Blues Brothers)
The iconic riff that Henry Mancini wrote for the tv show Peter Gunn. But most people know it from the Blues Brothers.
12. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Running 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!
13. Coldplay - Shiver
A great song from Coldplay's earlier days. The melody starts at 0:12.
Bonus: 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!
Learn any song 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. To find out more about figuring out songs out by ear, check out the step-by-step guide over here.
Also, feel free to check out Make Your Ears Awesome: Kick-StarterTry the first couple of songs for free, by clicking below.
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to drop me a line at just(at)stringkick.com! Oh, and if I've missed any one string guitar songs that should be on this list, I'd love to hear about them!
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