Photo by Oz Seyrek on Unsplash


by Jane Duncan, freelance writer

October 2 2020

The 1980s was an iconic time for music, the Berlin wall came down, the Cold War ended and suddenly the world was bathed in vivid colors, vibrant music and an attitude that screamed exuberance and freedom. Synthesizers opened up a whole new sound and added a digital layer to the unique sound that is so characteristic of many ‘80s songs.
There was also some incredible rock music that emerged from the decade, backed up of course, by some of the best hair styles ever. If you are a budding guitarist, you can look to the ‘80s for some easy songs to learn on your guitar. Even some of the most memorable songs only have three chords. So what are you waiting for? Pick up your guitar and start embracing music from the ‘80s.

Acoustic Classics

If you are a beginner learning the guitar, the acoustic is often the best place to start. You can even get ½ of ¾ size acoustic guitars that are suitable for children. These guitars have a shorter scale length that make them easier to play. All you need for these songs is an understanding of the simple major and minor chords. Websites like Ultimate Guitar and Chordie show the tablature boxes so that you know where to put your fingers. “Faith” by George Michael is a good place to start, the majority of the first verse uses just the B and E major chords. You will also only need G, C, E and D to learn “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” by Poison. 

'80s Metal: Guitar Play-Along Volume 39


(paid link to Amazon)

The Big Guns

I Want to Break Free” by Queen is one of their most simple songs, even the first verse only uses A, E and B major chords. Don’t forget to wear the right outfit and use your vacuum cleaner as an accessory. If you want to embrace your hidden Bowie, then have a go at “Let’s Dance.” Like “Every Rose” you will only need G, C, Em and D for the chorus, and Am and F for the verse. You can go with a laid back acoustic version and then speed it up to full tempo when you get more confident. “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak is another easy ‘80s classic to try on the guitar. The whole song only uses Bm, A and E. Three chords and the atmospheric truth. 

Heavy Rock

If you’ve got a guitar and an attitude, then have a go at AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” All you will need is A, E, D and B. A school uniform and a unique dancing style helps too. The 1981 classic “I  Love Rock and Roll” by Joan Jett is another one that is perfect for a beginner guitar, using only A, E and B. If you’re a fan of a bit of punk then “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” by The Clash is a good choice - it sounds great on the Ukulele too. 

You certainly don’t need to know any complicated chords to be able to play some 1980s music on the guitar. Just embrace the attitude, pick up your instrument and have fun! 

You may also like