Classical guitarists may not often be on the cover of Rolling Stone or Guitar Player magazines, but they are still rock stars in their own way. Some famous guitarists, such as Randy Rhoads and Synester Gates, were even classically trained before becoming rock musicians. Knowing where to start is important and finding some easy classical guitar songs to learn should be your first course of action.
Learning classical guitar is a great way to improve your technical ability and gives guitarists a solid backbone of musical knowledge. Figuring out what songs to play and techniques to learn is an important step when you are starting out playing classical guitar.
In this article, I have outlined the top 13 beginner classical guitar songs that will focus on different important techniques.
If you are looking for some fun beginner friendly electric guitar songs, check out my guide!
Tips for finding beginner-friendly classical guitar songs
Here are a few of my top tips for finding the best beginner classical guitar music to suit your playing.
Etudes are the way to go
When it comes to beginner-friendly classical guitar music, etudes (studies) are your best bet. While some of these pieces can be mundane, they are designed to help you improve the necessary skills to play more challenging and technical songs. Many of the most famous and esteemed guitar composers have written etude books for beginner guitarists.
Check out beginner guitar books
There are tons of compilation books made by experts with music specifically curated for beginner classical guitarists. You can use a mixture of technique books or guitar methods with song compilation books. My top 3 recommendations for technique books are:
It is always tempting to try and learn complex pieces that are sure to impress your friends and family right off the bat. But it is crucial to learn to walk before you run. Learning classical guitar is a long process, and you have to start with the beginner studies that will teach you basic methods before diving into more complex songs.
1. Lagrima: Fransisco Tarrega
“Lagrima” is a very popular classical guitar song that every guitarist will eventually encounter. This piece is included in many beginner classical guitar books and courses. It is easy to play but helps develop the skills needed to play complex songs. “Lagrima”, meaning teardrop in Spanish, was written by Tarrega in 1891 and is one of the most famous classical guitar pieces to this day. Tarrega was the “godfather” of classical guitar and is considered one of the best guitar composers of all time.
2. Bourrée in E minor: J.S. Bach
This is undoubtedly one of the most famous classical guitar songs ever. Even if you don’t listen to classical music, you have probably heard this song sampled in other songs, such as “Classico” by Tenacious D and the live version of “Heartbreaker” by Led Zeppelin. The guitar didn’t exist yet when Bach composed this piece in 1708, so it was originally made for the lute, a relative of the modern guitar.
3. Study in A minor: Mateo Carcassi
This is an excellent study to help develop right hand guitar fingerpicking. The constant 3 finger tremolo throughout the song is challenging to play at first, but once you work through the technique, the song is relatively easy to play! Carcassi was a classical guitarist in the Romantic period whose most esteemed work was his op.60, which contained 25 studies. These studies are still widely used today to teach beginner classical guitarists. All 25 of these would be great pieces for any beginner to learn.
4. Cello suite no. 1 prelude: J.S. Bach
Another Bach piece that has been beautifully translated for guitar from a different instrument is the Cello Suite in G Major. However, this piece is generally transposed to D Major to make it more natural on guitar. The prelude is the first movement of 6, and is one of the most famous Bach pieces today. It has been featured in several films, including “The Pianist”, “The Hangover II”, and more. It is so famous that if you simply google “That famous cello song”, it will pop up in the first results.
5. Study in B minor: Fernando Sor
Fernando Sor is one of the most influential guitar composers ever. He wrote lots of music during the Romantic period, a period in which the guitar was transformed from an unsophisticated instrument to one that was regarded highly like other string instruments. His studies are used by thousands of guitar students each year. “Study in B minor” feels less like a study and more like a full piece, but it is easy enough for beginner guitarists.
6. Study no.1: Heitor Villa Lobos
Villa Lobos’s Etudes are not the easiest guitar etudes out there. But they are brilliantly crafted to help guitarists learn proper techniques while also playing exciting music. “Etude no. 1” sounds much harder than it is. Once you work out the right hand fingering pattern, the study should come fairly easy.
Heitor Villa Lobos was one of the most famous Brazilian and Latin American composers of the 20th century and had a massive impact on modernizing classical guitar. His music was a blend of European classical music with traditional Brazilian music.
7. Study no. 16: Ferdinando Carulli
Carulli was another extremely influential guitar composer of the romantic period who had a huge effect on the development of the classical guitar method. He wrote over 300 different compositions for guitar, including 45 studies that are very popular for beginner guitarists. “Study No. 16” is an excellent easy arpeggio training exercise for beginners.
8. 120 right hand studies: Mauro Giuliani
Giuliani’s right hand studies are the holy grail for developing right hand technique. While it may have been my biggest frustration every time my guitar teacher broke out the Guiliani book every lesson, these studies helped me develop my right hand finger techniques very effectively. While not technically “songs” per se, the Guiliani studies are a must-have for every beginner, intermediate, and advanced classical guitarist!
9. Waltz op 60 no. 1 – Fernando Sor
This is an incredibly easy study by Spanish Romantic composer Fernando Sor that is very beginner friendly. However, despite how easy it is, it sounds very nice and is a great piece to motivate beginners.
10. Andantino in G: Ferdinando Caruilli
“Andantino” is a beautiful little piece by Ferdinando Caruilli. This piece all takes place in the first hand position, so it is perfect for guitarists who are still getting used to the feel of the neck and learning right hand picking techniques. While it is a very easy piece to play, it sounds very nice and is still played by professional classical guitarists as well as beginners.
11. Greensleeves: Anonymous
“Greensleeves” is an English folk song dating back to the 16th century that was originally played on lute. This song is easily translated to guitar and is a beautiful, slow, and repetitive song. Beginner classical guitarists will find this piece to be very easy, as it only has two parts that are repeated several times throughout the song. “Greensleeves” will help develop your right-hand technique as you will be playing chords and the melody at the same time.
12. Adelita: Francisco Tarrega
“Adelita” is another popular classical guitar song for beginners written by legendary composer Fransisco Tarrega. This song is part of Tarrega’s Three Mazurkas for Guitar, which was inspired by Chopin’s Mazurkas for Piano.
“Adelita” is named after an illegitimate daughter of the king of Spain, Adela Aymerich. This romantic piece is slow and relatively easy to play on guitar. This song will help you get comfortable playing higher up on the neck and teaches dynamics and expression that are popular in romantic-style music.
13. Malagueña: Anonymous
The Spanish flamenco style “Malagueña” has produced many fun and lively classical guitar songs over the past couple of centuries. In fact, “Malagueña” is not a specific song but many different songs in the style of Malaga flamenco. This style of flamenco guitar has been played by MANY classical guitarists, with various versions being used. While some “Malagueñas” are fairly difficult, the basics of the style are relatively easy and can certainly be beginner-friendly.
Looking for more materials to learn guitar? Check out my top picks for beginner guitar books!