Taylor Swift is one of the most accomplished musicians of all time. She has set numerous album sales and streaming records and has an extensive catalog of songs behind her name. Today, I will take a deep dive into Taylor Swift’s song library and pick out some of her most accessible beginner songs. If you are looking to jam out to some fun Taylor Swift songs, here are 25 easiest Taylor Swift songs on guitar. Each selection also features quick links to each song’s video and tablature to help you get started right away.
For her eighth studio album ‘Folklore’, Taylor Swift chose to write only fictional stories that had no relation to her own life. “Cardigan” is a song about remembering an old heartbreak. The subject in the song discovers an old cardigan with the scent of an ex-lover on it, bringing up many vivid, heartfelt memories.
Even though “Cardigan” is mostly driven by a piano, you can adapt the instrumentation to a guitar. Place a capo on the first fret to match the key of the original song. Pay attention to the rhythm of this song, as it uses a very specific swing not often found in pop music. The third verse also enters halfway through the chord cycle, which can be a bit tricky to catch at first.
2. Safe And Sound
Taken from ‘The Hunger Games’ soundtrack, “Safe and Sound’’ is a duet with the songwriting duo The Civil Wars. The song is also produced by T-Bone Burnett, who is famous for working with Robert Plant on various projects. Swift thought the song was perfect for the movie, as it discusses the complexities of empathy and suffering. However, she never anticipated that the song would also chart for a few months on global radio stations.
“Safe and Sound” starts with John Paul White of The Civil Wars playing a smooth folk fingerpicking pattern for the verse. The chords are straightforward here, and you can use open chord shapes if you place a capo at the 5th fret. Having the capo this high up on the neck will also give your acoustic a lighter tone, closer to a ukulele, mandolin, or banjo. The chorus introduces some strumming and a progression with stabs over the lyrics “Safe and Sound’’
Another Taylor Swift song that is easy to play on guitar is “Carolina”. This song was written for the big screen and is a dark and haunting tale that feels right at home in a Western. The song uses a lot of traditional folk and country instrumentation, including fiddles, bells, and a boomy acoustic guitar. The lyrics of “Carolina” detail a young woman’s struggles of growing up in the rough parts of North Carolina. The lyrics also show how her struggle makes her stronger and expresses the duality of feeling lonely but independent. “Carolina” can be heard in the film, “Where The Crawdads Sing”.
The guitar work in “Carolina” is delightfully soft and gentle. The song consists of two very basic chord progressions in the key of B Minor. These progressions use mostly open chord shapes, except B Minor, which Swift plays in a barre chord at the second fret. Be sure to give your strumming a soft, swaying feel to match the mood of the original recording.
4. Call it What You Want
Maintaining a private romantic relationship can be very tough for someone like Taylor Swift, and this was the material she used to write the hit song “Call It What You Want”. Swift pulls no punches in her lyrics here and mentions her detractors in the media and tabloids. She also tells the world of her affection for her new lover and how she is enjoying their relationship despite the challenges of fame.
“Call It What You Want” doesn’t use any particular guitar parts in the original recording that you can reference. Instead, the song uses minimal electronic drums and synths for the instrumentation. You will need to use the vocals and drums to help you build a foundational strumming pattern for this song’s chord progressions. Place a capo at the second fret to match the key of the song. There are some slightly advanced chords used in this arrangement, such as the Cadd9 and the Dsus4 chords.
5. All Too Well
“All Too Well” was the first song written for Swift’s 2012 album “Red”, which she has re-released in 2023. The original song was 10 minutes long and was cut down to 5 for the first album’s release. Many consider Red as Swift’s first big pop record, and this song was the 5th single to be released from the album (and came with a stunning short film as the music video). “All Too Well” is a painful story of the moments leading to the end of a relationship.
“All Too Well” uses a very simple four-chord structure throughout the entire arrangement. I recommend that beginners learn this song first, as both the chord progression and strumming patterns are straightforward. There are certain live acoustic performances of this song that use fingerpicking patterns that you can also reference and try to learn.
Taylor Swift has an amazing ability to express romance in both her lyrics and production. She wrote the tempo and rhythm of “Lover” to match the pace of two lovers waltzing at a slow pace, cheek-to-cheek. The song was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2020 for Song Of The Year. The lyrics tell us of how Swift finds sanctuary in her partner and how she wishes to freeze time so that they can stay suspended in bliss forever. “Lover” is one of several collaborations with singer-songwriter Jack Antanoff, who has played a vital role in curating Swift’s music catalog.
“Lover” has a slightly more complex series of chord progressions than most Taylor Swift arrangements but is still pretty achievable for most guitar players. One particularly challenging part of the song is mastering the passing chords used at the end of the chorus to give it resolve. Some unique shapes in the bridge use root note substitutions, so ensure you understand how to play these chords before tackling the progressions.
7. Speak Now
“Speak Now” has a distinctly light and innocent atmosphere and is meant to feel like a teenage summer romance. The song was originally inspired by a story from Swift’s school days and tells of the classic drama and heartbreaks that come with adolescent relationships. Many Swift fans indicate this song as one of the first explorations from folk into a more mainstream pop direction.
The arrangement of “All Too Well” should be easy enough for most beginner players to learn quickly. There are just two chord progressions throughout the song, each consisting of open chord shapes in the key of G Major. The original recording also features some very cool electric guitar licks that call and respond to Swift’s singing parts. These lead guitar parts are best played on an electric guitar with a slightly distorted amplifier.
8. Cruel Summer
“Cruel Summer” was one of the slow-burning hits from Swift’s album, “Lover,” and has since become a firm favorite at her live shows. The song is one of the more lively and exciting Taylor Swift songs to play on guitar and tells a bittersweet tale of a quick Summer romance. The lyrics tell of the mixed feelings of fear and excitement that come with infatuation, and even though the song feels very happy, there is a sarcastic nature to Swift’s words. “Cruel Summer” initially debuted in 2019 and was only released as a radio single in early 2023.
“Cruel Summer” can be extremely fun to play if you’re into energetic acoustic performances. Playing the song by itself on acoustic guitar will involve some relatively intensive strumming patterns to match the feel of the original. The song switches between two very easy chord progressions in the key of A Major, and you can use a capo at the 2nd fret for easier open chord shapes.
This song is the sixth single from Swift’s album Speak Now and showcases her strong country influences in her songwriting. This song is also another great example of how Swift draws on her personal life without revealing too much to cause harm in her lyrics. “Ours” is about being in a relationship that others do not approve of and learning to come to terms with it. This song is also one of the first arrangements that was written almost completely by Swift.
“Ours” brings back two common chord choices in Swift’s more complex arrangements. Swift has made use of the Cadd9 chord for the verses, as well as a D/F# chord that is in many of her other compositions. Singers have an advantage learning this song, as the lyrics tend to line up with the strumming pattern rhythmically. However, the chorus has some passing chords that can be deceptively tricky for beginner players to grasp easily.
Another immensely popular song off her album Folklore, “August” has a very dreamy, melancholy mood. Swift has revealed that this song is part of a love triangle of songs on the album, shared with “Cardigan” and “Betty”. August falls into the middle of this saga and tells of an all-too-brief but damaging romantic affair. The girl in the song falls deeply in love with a man who is already taken by another woman, and the lyrics are her expressing her thoughts in hindsight.
“August” has an arrangement that centers around the strumming pattern of the guitar. Both the drums and lyrics match the rhythm of the strumming pattern, which makes it quite easy for beginners to play and sing along to. The song is made up of a single four-chord progression in F major. Place a capo on the 3rd fret to play open chord shapes, and switch to barre chords without a capo if you are familiar with them.
11. I Knew You Were Trouble
“I Knew You Were Trouble” is another one of Swift’s first attempts at crossing over into mainstream pop production. It features a dubstep-style drop in the chorus, which is a definitive step away from her country roots. The song was written alongside songwriter Max Martin, who has worked with the likes of Britney Spears, The Backstreet Boys, and N’Sync. “I Knew You Were Trouble” also marked Swift’s 50th entry into the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
“I Knew You Were Trouble” is a wonderful example of the use of relative chords in composition. The verses open in a very simple, stabbing four-chord progression in the key of F# major. These chords complement the lyrics, which are intended to feel playful and cheeky. The chorus is meant to have a deeper, heavier feel and flips the progression to its relative D# Minor to add some weight to the mood.
12. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
I tend to think that this is one Taylor Swift song that people have heard even if they aren’t familiar with her work. The track has a very stadium-anthem feel to it, with a loud, proud chorus that is meant to be sung somewhat euphorically. The lyrics detail a tongue-in-cheek farewell letter to a toxic lover and also reveal the feelings of relief from leaving these relationships. “We Are Never Getting Back Together” is the biggest-selling single from the album “Red”.
Even with its big and boisterous feel, “We Are Never Getting Back Together” can easily be adapted for playing on a single acoustic guitar. Acoustic performances of this song (with a more gentle vocal approach) reveal a much sweeter, somber variation. There is a simple 5 – 5-chord progression to learn in this song, which is in the key of G Major. Swift also returns to her favorite Cadd9 chord in this song for this arrangement.
13. Love Story
“Love Story” is one of the first Taylor Swift songs that helped her breakthrough to mainstream success. The single was the first release of her 2008 album Fearless. The song centers around a young female who falls in love with a man against her father’s wishes. Swift uses the classic Shakespeare novel Romeo and Juliet as a comparison to the situation in this song. Many fans believe that the song is about her brief relationship with Joe Jonas of The Jonas Brothers.
There are three sets of chord progressions to work through in “Love Story”’s arrangement. The song uses some palm muted strumming for the first verse and then opens up toward the pre-chorus and chorus. Both the verse and chorus share similar progressions in the key of C Major but with slightly different structures and timing. This song is one of the stronger songs to sing and perform as a solo acoustic act.
Even though the majority of her songs are about intimate relationships, Taylor Swift does not usually write provocative music. “Treacherous” is a step away from this trend, and is where Swift saw an opportunity to explore a more sensual side to her music. The song was co-written with acclaimed writer Dan Wilson (who is most well-known for writing a large portion of Adele’s hit records).
The best way to perform “Treacherous” is to play with the capo up on the 7th fret. Placing the capo this high gives your guitar a very delicate sonic quality which matches the feel of the original recording. This mood is even further enhanced if you use a simple fingerpicking pattern to play the four chords used in the arrangement. There are two bridge sections in this song, which is a very uncommon arrangement choice for most pop songwriters.
Taylor Swift’s music is mostly considered to be uplifting and jovial, but not every day can be a good day. “Evermore” is a dark, dreary piano-driven ballad that Swift wrote to help her deal with a long battle with depression. The song was written just before the 2020 US elections, and Swift was channeling the turmoil felt by her fellow countrymen at the time. Swift called on fellow songwriter Justin Vernon of Bon Iver to collaborate on the EP of the same name.
“Evermore” is a deceptively easy Taylor Swift song to play on a single guitar. The production can trick you into thinking that the song has some complex structures. The song’s verses and choruses drift back and forth between C and F Major. The bridge has a sudden change in timing and tempo but also only consists of three chords. The trickiest part of playing the song is chaining the two progressions together to make them sound cohesive. You can also adapt Swift’s piano pattern to a fingerpicking pattern for the guitar.
One of the appealing factors behind Swift’s songwriting is her ability to use metaphors in her lyrics to create vivid mental imagery. “Willow” is a song about her boyfriend at the time of release, Josh Alwyn. Swift had been going through an extremely challenging time in the public eye and found a safe space in Josh, much like the shelter of a Willow tree. Swift has stated that the song is about,”romantic intrigue, desire and the complexities that go into wanting someone”.
“Willow”’s primary fingerpicking pattern revolves around a plucking action using your index and middle finger at the same time. Your thumb picks through each root note of the chord progressions in the song and also handles a few fills in certain points. The bridge of this arrangement reduces to two chords and gives way to a light strumming pattern that plays in time with the supporting drum beat.
17. Should’ve Said No
An innocent and tongue-in-cheek song about regret, “I Should Have Said No”. This song is one of the fastest-written songs from Taylor Swift. She has stated in interviews that it took her just 20 minutes to lay down the basic song structure and lyrics. Unfortunately, most of that inspiration was from her drawing on a personal experience of being cheated on by her boyfriend. The song reached the Top 10 of the Hot Country Songs Chart in 2008.
“I Should Have Said No” has a distinct country flavor to it, particularly in the chord choices and rhythms of the guitar parts. A D/F# chord is played in the verses and chorus, and you can hold down the root of this chord using the thumb in your left hand. This thumbing technique is common amongst folk and country songwriters and adds rich emotional density to a standard D Major chord. Also be sure to pay close attention to some of the passing chords, and use the lyrics to help guide you on their timing.
The album Speak Now is unique as it is the only album with every song written exclusively by Swift. One of the strongest and easiest songs on this record is the upbeat “Mine”. The single has an even balance of both pop and country influences and is ironically about Swift’s commitment issues. The singer penned the song to help remind her of a missed romantic opportunity during her high school years.
“Mine” has a steady four-to-the-floor country backbeat that helps drive your strumming pattern through the verses. The pre-chorus switches to a half-time streaming pattern that might take a few tries to land perfectly. There are also some light electric guitar hooks scattered over the verses and choruses, as well as a simple but satisfying guitar solo throughout the bridge. Both the verses and choruses. The final chorus also has some stabbing parts that line up with the lyrics for some added impact.
Sticking with the Speak Now album, let’s take a look at the single “Enchanted”. This was the follow-up single to “Mine” and expresses very similar feelings of doubt and insecurity. However, for this song, the shoe is on the other foot. Swift sings of meeting someone she falls for who does not feel the same for her. The song was written for a real person who had no idea of how Swift felt at the time.
The easiest part about playing “Enchanted” is string through verses, which consist of palm-muted down-strokes. This tight strumming opens up in the first chorus and switches back and forth in dynamic throughout the arrangement. The bridge section has a dense breakdown, with searing electric guitar parts pushing the song forward. Try using barre chords for the progressions if you’re going to play this song on electric guitar.
Fun Fact: Swift has her perfume line that was released in conjunction with this song. The perfume Wonderstruck is her design, and the name is from a lyric used in the song.
“Fifteen” revolves around a close friend of Swift – her close high-school friend Abigail. During their school years, the pair did not consider themselves to be attractive to their peers. This shared belief helped them form a strong bond, and Swift wrote the song about her friend to help her deal with teenage heartache. She would go on to perform the song live at the 2009 Grammy Awards.
“Fifteen” is one of the more advanced Swift compositions, even though it is featured among her earliest releases. The verses use a unique chord arrangement and strumming pattern that anchors around a Cadd9 chord. The strumming patterns might be tricky for beginner players, and I recommend learning them at your own pace before playing with the original recording.
21. State Of Grace
Taylor Swift referenced the band U2 when working out the production of her song “State of Grace ”. You can hear this in the electric guitar hooks and tones, as they are very similar to the U2 guitar player The Edge. The lyrics are not particularly personal to Swift, but she tried to recreate the uplifting feeling of new-found love.
There are two primary guitar parts to learn on “State of Grace”. The first part is the basic chord progressions that run throughout the arrangement. The entire song is made up of three chords: D, G, and Em. The second guitar part is all the electric guitar hooks littered throughout the composition. You’ll need to use a delay pedal or effect to match the same soundscape that is used for these electric guitar parts.
22. Teardrops On My Guitar
You have to give credit where it’s due: Taylor Swift knows how to turn heartbreak into beautiful lyrics and melodies. One great example is the sweet and innocent “Teardrops On My Guitar”. Written during Swift’s first years in the music industry, the song is about a real-life situation that she was experiencing in high school. In the song, Swift reveals her affection for a fellow high-schooler who is already in a relationship with someone else.
“Teardrops On My Guitar” has an awesome descending electric guitar lick that runs out of the first chorus. The lick feels very country but works well over various other styles. You’ll need a bit of extra distortion when learning to play this lick, and there are some additional smaller parts throughout the arrangement. The song uses variations of a four-chord structure in Bb Major, and you can place a capo on the third fret to play simpler open chord shapes.
23. Come Back, Be Here
“Come Back, Be Here” almost feels like an early Radiohead in the opening bars but quickly switches back to Swift’s pop-country formula. The song is about the anxiety and fears that come with saying goodbye to someone you love. The song is the 18th single on her recently re-released album Red – which features extended and reworked versions of some of her favorite songs.
“Come Back, Be Here” is a country ballad that starts with light strumming and gets more intense as the song progresses to its climax. This is a relatively easy Taylor Swift song on guitar, as most of the song uses a straightforward four-chord progression, though this changes slightly for the bridge section. I recommend placing a capo on the second fret to match the song’s original key.
24. Begin Again
In 2012, Swift debuted the country single “Begin Again” on the famous news show Good Morning America. The song is a somber ballad about the destructive nature of toxic relationships, and Swift makes a few subtle references to ex-lovers in her lyrics. Swift wrote the song to help others deal with any kind of heartbreak they may be enduring. She often ends her live performances with a stripped performance of this song.
There are three sets of chord progressions to work through in “Begin Again”. I recommend learning each progression separately before chaining the whole piece together. Once the progressions are memorized, you can tackle the different fingerpicking patterns used for each section. There is a brief but very interesting mandolin hook just before the bridge that can easily be adapted to acoustic or electric guitar.
“Red” is one of the most popular Taylor Swift singles and is often the opening song in her live stadium shows. The song perfectly blends her pop, rock, and country influences, and in the lyrics, she tells of an intense but very confusing relationship. The song was the second single Swift debuted on her timeless 2012 performance on Good Morning America.
“Red” combines acoustic and electric parts that are extremely fun to play on the guitar. You’ll probably notice the banjo hooks played throughout the arrangement, which can easily be adapted to another guitar for some jamming. I often suggest this song to beginner guitar players with a band to jam with, as it covers many of the fundamentals of great songwriting. The verse and chorus have very similar, simple chord progressions that shift in dynamic and intensity as the song plays out.
Featured Image Credit: Eva Rinaldi, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons (Added Snowfall Prisma Filter in Canva)