Are you looking to play some of Tom Petty’s greatest hits on your acoustic guitar? Have you been struggling to figure out the chords to your favorite Tom Petty songs or finding it hard to strum along to an intimidating guitar part?
If you’re tired of spending hours trying to figure out Tom Petty’s guitar chords on your own, this article has got you covered. We have compiled a guide that includes easy Tom Petty songs on guitar, complete with simple strum patterns, melody tracing exercises, soloing improvisation tricks, and left-hand exercises.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player looking to brush up on your skills, our guitar lessons will help you start playing Tom Petty’s songs today. Then why wait? Let’s dive in and embrace these classic chords!
Easiest Tom Petty Songs To Play On Guitar
Tom Petty’s catalog includes many great songs that are accessible to beginning guitar players. In this section, we’ll take a look at the 10 easy Tom Petty guitar songs.
1. Free Fallin’
“Free Fallin'” is one of Tom Petty’s most well-known songs, and it’s a prime example of a three-chord song with a repeated two-bar progression. Despite the simplicity of the chords, the song features distinct sections that sound different, showcasing Petty’s genius in the arrangement.
The lyrics are inspired by the people that Tom saw on Ventura Boulevard while driving, and capture the life-slot experiences many people can relate to. The song has been covered by numerous artists, including John Mayer, and it remains a beloved classic in the world of rock music.
2. Learning to Fly
“Learning to Fly” is one of Tom Petty’s most beloved songs from the album “Into The Great Wide Open”. Produced by Jeff Lynne, the album marked a departure for the Heartbreakers, who recorded each instrument separately, resulting in a more polished sound. However, the songwriting remains exceptional.
As a beginner, you’ll find this song easy to play as it features a simple and repetitive two-bar chord progression that repeats throughout the song. Using the same four chords each time, there are some moments of staying on the last chord for some extra beats, making it an excellent song to practice and perfect your strumming skills.
3. I Won’t Back Down
Another single from Tom’s first solo album, this track is an excellent strummer with simple chords. One could also pick out Mike Campbell’s simple-yet-effective guitar solo quite easily as well.
As with much of Petty’s music, it is getting the rhythm down that is key. Many of the chords are pushed with the changes that do not necessarily occur on the downbeat, but on the “and” of the beat, further driving the music forward.
In addition, the music video is iconic, featuring two actual Beatles making a cameo. Overall, “I Won’t Back Down” is a timeless classic that remains a fan favorite to this day and many count it as one of the best Tom Petty songs.
4. Runnin’ Down a Dream
“Runnin’ Down a Dream” is an energetic track with driving rhythm guitar that moves the song forward. The chorus of the song uses simple open chords that quickly change, making it a fun challenge for intermediate players.
In addition, electric guitarists will appreciate Mike Campbell’s signature riff and guitar solo, both of which are relatively simple but add a lot of character to the song. Overall, “Runnin’ Down a Dream” is a must-learn for any aspiring rock guitarist.
“Wildflowers” is the title track of Tom Petty’s 1994 solo album. The song has a folk and country sound that is perfect for beginners to practice their strumming skills. The bridge of the song offers a challenge for intermediate players with quick chord changes.
The album itself is notable for featuring contributions from all of the Heartbreakers, except for Stan Lynch. It has also received critical acclaim, with country artist Chris Stapleton calling it his favorite record of all time.
6. Mary Jane’s Last Dance
“Mary Jane’s Last Dance” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is a classic rock song that features easy-to-play open position chords and simple riffs. With a focus on rhythm guitar, the key to nailing this song is to get the rhythm right.
Despite being initially intended as a filler track, the song went on to become one of their biggest hits and a favorite among guitarists of all levels. The song’s catchy melody and haunting lyrics make it a great addition to any beginner’s repertoire of easy Tom Petty acoustic songs.
Also Read: If you enjoyed playing these easy Tom Petty guitar songs, be sure to check out our article on the best female acoustic songs for more great music to add to your repertoire.
7. You Don’t Know How It Feels
With its steady drumbeat and sparse yet effective arrangement, “You Don’t Know How It Feels” from Tom Petty’s Wildflowers album is a great addition to any beginner’s list of easy acoustic songs.
The song chords are nice and simple, and the rhythm is easy to follow. As the first single off the album, the song went straight to number one on the charts, solidifying its status as a classic.
While intermediate players will enjoy the riffs and licks scattered throughout the song, beginners shouldn’t shy away from learning them, as it will help to strengthen their single-note playing.
8. You Wreck Me
One of Tom Petty’s classic tracks, this song is a must-learn for anyone looking for easy Tom Petty chords. “You Wreck Me” is an easy song that packs a punch, with simple open chords and a driving rhythm that will get your foot tapping.
The bridge section provides a nice challenge for beginners, with a jump from an E chord to a barred B chord on the second fret. Don’t shy away from this; it’s a great opportunity to improve your skills as a guitarist.
The solo is also straightforward and achievable for intermediate players, with Mike Campbell’s masterful guitar work shining through.
9. American Girl
One of the quintessential Tom Petty songs, “American Girl” is a great choice for anyone looking for easy songs to play on acoustic guitar. The song’s driving rhythm and bo-diddly strumming make it a lot of fun to play, while the bass notes on the chorus give it an extra boost of energy.
Budding lead guitar players will also find much to learn here, as Mike Campbell’s licks are more accessible than they may initially sound. Take your time and master those repetitive licks before working up to the song’s tempo – before you know it, you’ll be shredding along with one of the Heartbreakers’ best-known hits.
10. Don’t Do Me Like That
Despite being an easy Tom Petty song overall, “Don’t Do Me Like That” may pose a slight challenge for beginners with its chord extensions and pushed rhythms. However, mastering these techniques will greatly improve playing ability.
The song’s bright sound and simple licks make it an excellent opportunity to step outside the norm. Interestingly, Petty almost gave the song to the J. Geils Band, but producer Jimmy Iovine (who produced Damn The Torpedoes) convinced him to keep it for the Heartbreakers.
About the Author
Fabian, a Brazilian guitarist now based in Dublin, Ireland, has passionately played the electric guitar since 2003. As a luthier and product specialist, he boasts nearly two decades of collaboration with top musical instrument brands. Fabian is a sought-after expert, sharing his extensive knowledge with fellow guitar enthusiasts.