13 Awesome 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.
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.
13 One String Guitar Songs
1. The Strokes - New York City CopsThis riff starts right away (after some noises). Fun fact: this song was inspired by Aerosmith.
2. The Rolling Stones - SatisfactionA 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 grapevineAm 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 GroundA simple riff that shows off Jack White's fuzz pedal.
5. N.E.R.D - LapdanceA 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 ArmyJack 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 RiotFor 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 - AirbagThe 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 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 DreamA typical guitar riff, very well done. Learn this tune and you'll start to recognise many guitar-like riffs like it!
12. Coldplay - ShiverA great song from Coldplay's earlier days. The melody starts at 0:12.
13. Muse - New BornNew 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!
Free PDF Worksheet
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.
A good next step might also be to check out this PDF with tab that you can fill out on your computer. It’ll also give you the first and last note of every phrase and provide the number of notes you need to put you on the right track. Makes it easier to get started with learning songs that use two strings or more!
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!