Acoustic guitar songs are among the most pleasurable songs to listen to. With its rich and harmonic notes, an acoustic guitar creates the ideal melody for a variety of genres. Whether it’s a love song, a pop chart-topper, or a melancholic tune, an acoustic guitar will surely deliver.
Because of its musical versatility, it has helped produce some of the most beautiful acoustic guitar songs ever composed. And if you’re curious about which best songs made it to our list, continue reading to find out.
1. Hotel California – Eagles
Needless to say, the song Hotel California by the Eagles is one of the most iconic tunes of the slow rock category. And, that’s a lot to say given the portfolio of this legendary band with songs like Love Will Keep Us Alive and Desperado.
The foreboding intro of Hotel California is very memorable and the story is tells commenced by the scintillating and equally iconic solo at the end with a bassline that encapsulates the song is all part of a masterpiece.
Not even the song’s meaning which is a metaphor for cocaine addiction hampers its legendary status amongst the best of the best rock songs ever written. It’s an allusion but it’s about the reality that no one can deny.
It’s a cautionary tale that will most definitely still play on our radios or devices for decades to come.
You’d be surprised that one of the most beautiful songs to play on acoustic guitar comes from the biggest rock legends to have ever walked the earth. We’re talking about Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones.
Wild Horses was initially released in the band’s Sticky Fingers album in 1971. It was written by the band’s lead singer, Mick Jagger, and guitarist, Keith Richards.
Looking into the lyrics, we can see that it’s a piece about the beauty and sadness of growing up, a time when we realize that being an adult isn’t always smooth sailing.
With Jagger’s voice breathing life into the song, and Richards doing his magic with the acoustic guitar, you can feel all the emotions they have poured into the song.
Angie is another great song by Rolling Stones which we would like to include in our list but didn't incorporate this beautiful one to make our list more diversified with different artists.
Eric Clapton has been known worldwide as a slow rock icon but before that he was a guitar virtuoso and so it’s only appropriate that we name his song Layla as one of the great acoustic songs of all time.
Well, it’s not an acoustic song originally but it’s got an acoustic version. It’s an upbeat song originally recorded by Derek and the Dominos and all about Eric Clapton’s feelings for Pattie Boyd. But did you know that the inspiration for the song goes way back to the 7th century?
Yep, an Arabian story inspired the then 12th-century story which in turn, inspired this hit by Clapton.
4. Hey There Delilah – Plain White T’s
A relatively new track compared to the rest on our list is an emotional piece from Plain White T’s with Hey There Delilah. It’s a song all about the singer and composer’s encounter and long-distance relationship with yes, a girl named Delilah.
This one is pretty easy to play on your acoustic guitar too and could be a practice piece for you. It goes by the key of D with F#m, Bm, G, and A comprising the rest of it.
It’s a good song to woo your special someone with and has a touch of the new millennium to it.
Look this song up on YouTube and it’s got over 200 million views as of writing. For the newer generation, Pink Floyd, and no, it’s not a person’s name but a band’s is one of the biggest acts ever.
This song, Wish You Were Here has a sad meaning behind it as it is about the decline of Syd Barrett’s mental state for a lot of devastating reasons. It was part of their ninth album and became a massive hit.
If you’re feeling a little bit melancholic and want a song to play then this is it.
6. Redemption Song – Bob Marley
The next song is believed to be Bob Marley’s anthem of anthems – the Redemption Song.
This 1980 song is written by the King of Reggae himself for his twelfth album, Uprising. He started writing it in 1979 when he had been diagnosed with cancer and began to have a deeper understanding of his mortality.
Looking into the lyrics, we see that it’s about breaking free from the shackles of mental slavery. Bob Marley understands that there is a need to free our minds to truly live our lives. And he has written that message so perfectly in this song.
While it has an acoustic tone, you can still hear Bob Marley’s reggae influences which makes it even more appealing. That’s why we believe that the Redemption Song is one of the most beautiful sounding acoustic guitar songs.
Moving on with our best acoustic guitar songs rundown is another track from an iconic and legendary artist Bob Dylan with Knockin’ on heaven’s door.
The tone of the song is evident enough that it’s written from the heart with passion. No wonder why it was covered by another epic band in Guns N Roses for another generation yet equally compelling version of this masterpiece.
It’s also easy enough to play with just the basic major chords. Not only the chords but also the structure and words of the song are simple enough yet provocative and went on to be a worldwide hit.
8. American Pie – Don Mclean
Another iconic song from an iconic American artist Don Mclean is American Pie. You may have heard about the movies but we’re sure that you like this 8-minute magnum opus of a song more.
Perhaps what’s really most interesting about this song is its cryptic lyrics. The song tells a story but on first listen you can’t really tell what it is all about. Recently, a 16-page explanation of some sort behind the creative process of the song was sold by Mclean for $1.2 million.
It’s the music of the youth they say and if you ask us, it’s not a gloomy tune but an inspiring one and definitely not a foreshadowing of the day that we die.
Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton is probably one of the saddest yet sweetest acoustic songs you will ever hear.
The song is about the loss of a loved one, inspired by the death of Clapton’s 4-year-old son who met his tragic demise after an accident in New York. The accident happened in 1991, but Clapton wasn’t ready to open up about it until a few months later. And in 1992, Tears in Heaven was released.
Aside from Clapton’s clear vocals, his acoustic guitar playing perfectly echoed what he was trying to convey. You can feel the love a father has for his son, as well as the pain he felt because of his loss.
10. Yesterday – The Beatles / Paul McCartney
The Beatles definitely need no introduction. Yesterday is definitely one of their biggest hits and we’re sure that even today’s generation has heard of it given that there is even a movie inspired by it and the rest of the Beatle’s songs.
The band’s influence is undeniable and this song has a place in the hearts of many. Yesterday is all about someone lamenting an end to a relationship. It’s also an ode to Paul McCartney’s, the writer of the song’s life. The things he’s had to deal with recently or in the past and things lost.
In an interview, the prolific songwriter also accepted the thought that the early loss of his mother could be a possible inspiration behind some of the lyrics of this song.
Truly one of the beautiful acoustic guitar songs in the history of music.
I don’t know which entity is more iconic, Dave Grohl, the band Foo Fighters itself, or this legendary rock song with grunge sensibilities. Everlong is as iconic as they come and it’s had several renditions throughout the years.
What’s beautiful about this song is its simplicity, it’s a bit offbeat but it’s easy enough to play for anyone including newbies. The heart-pounding power chords used for this song created an impact in its era and until today.
And we can’t talk about the Foo Fighters without talking about the legendary Kurt Cobain formerly Grohl’s frontman in an equally legendary band called Nirvana for this song is all about him.
12. The Sound of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel
Another hauntingly beautiful acoustic guitar song is The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel.
Originally entitled The Sounds of Silence, this song is written by Paul Simon for their Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. album, which was released in 1965.
The song is about the failure of human beings to express their true emotions. While we can communicate, there are times that we cannot truly express what we want to say – and the song has echoed that message through its verses.
Consisting of chords such as A-minor, G, F, and C, it’s believed to be one of the beautiful acoustic guitar songs for beginners. It’s also the subject of various renditions, which reflects the staying power of such a classic hit.
If you’re looking to listen to a classic then try this mellow hit by James Taylor with Fire and Rain.
The song is divided into 3 parts, one is about Taylor’s friend who committed suicide, one is about his cocaine addiction, and the other is about a mental hospital as well as about a band he formed called the Flying Machine.
It’s a song with clear and simple words but is multi-dimensional which makes it great. That’s why it stands out and stays relevant until this day and age.
14. Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You – Led Zeppelin
When it comes to the beautiful acoustic guitar fingerstyle songs, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You by Led Zeppelin is high on that list.
The song is originally written by Anne Bredon in 1960 and had been quite popular for decades. This led to numerous renditions, including one by the English rock band, Led Zeppelin. The band’s rendition was released in 1969 as part of its Led Zeppelin album.
Being one of today’s recognized guitar greats, it’s easy to see why Jimmy Page’s rendition became a big hit.
The lyrics allow you to feel the heartache of leaving someone you love because of your career, while the beautiful fingerstyle playing seems to emphasize all these emotions. And that’s why it remains to be one of the most beautiful acoustic songs to date.
Led Zeppelin is known to be one of the best rock bands of all time and known for their heart-thumping beats and scintillating singles that have become very iconic.
They are also known for playing the most intricate pieces with John Bonham’s legendary status as a drummer, riffs, and solos from Jimmy Page, head-turning vocals by Robert Plant, and John Paul Jones mesmerizing keyboard playing.
But, every so often Led Zeppelin would churn out an acoustic piece so memorable, and Going to California is one of them. If you want to practice some beautiful plucking then this one’s for you.
It’s a great acoustic piece from the band other than Stairway to Heaven.
16. Classical Gas – Mason Williams
We can agree that good acoustic guitar songs do not have to have lyrics on them. The rhythmic guitar-strumming is enough to keep us enthralled and lost in its harmony. And that’s exactly the case for Classical Gas by Mason Williams.
This instrumental piece is composed and recorded by famed guitarist, Mason Williams, in 1968. By 1969, it won three Grammy Awards, which is a testament to how well-written it is.
Also, the song has been the subject of multiple cover versions, which also reflects its versatility well into contemporary times.
Album: Where The Light Is: John Mayer Live In Los Angeles | Released: 2008 | Chords | Tab | Video Lesson
John Mayer just makes some of the best acoustic guitar songs and covers of all time, right? No one can deny the genius of this guy and here he is again with an acoustic cover of a song originally popularized by Tom Petty with Free Fallin’.
You can even say that John Mayer is much like Eric Clapton with the sensibilities of their songs plus they are both guitar virtuosos. John Mayer covers many songs and he says that it’s some sort of tribute to the artists that influenced him the most.
The guy has got good taste.
18. Falling Slowly – Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová
Falling Slowly by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova is one of the most beautiful contemporary acoustic guitar songs.
Originally released in 2006, this indie single is part of the romance film, Once. With that said, it is often regarded as a love song between two people who had once fallen apart and are looking to rekindle their romance.
However, the writers have clarified that it comes from a perspective of hope – that our dreams may be distant, but it is achievable if we don’t give up.
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why Kris Allen went on to sing the song on American Idol. And as we all know, he pushed through the season and won it eventually.
Another classic and pretty acoustic song is Dust in the Wind by yet another rock band, Kansas.
The song is written by the band’s Kerry Livgren for its Point of Know Return album and was initially released in 1978. The song is about how all of us return to dust eventually – allowing listeners to reflect on man’s mortality. And it can help you re-assess how you live your life.
Surprisingly, the song finds inspiration from the Bible. Specifically, the verse from Ecclesiastes 3:20, which reminds us that we all return to dust. It also finds roots in The Tale of the Heike, a Japanese epic, and in Native American Poetry.
All of these references remind us that we are not immortal, and Dust in the Wind sends that message.
20. Ocean – John Butler
Nothing embodies the sentence “the most beautiful song on acoustic guitar” unlike the track Ocean by John Butler. If you’re looking for an artist that treats an instrument like an extension of their mind and body then it’s John Butler.
If you’re looking for a song that likes a flurry of emotions and musical genius into one then you have Ocean. If you’re looking for a challenging piece to practice then try this one too.
If you are not familiar with this artist then we recommend that you promptly check him out.
Guaranteed by Eddie Vedder is another contemporary acoustic song that made it into this list.
Eddie Vedder wrote and performed this beautiful piece, also known as the vocalist behind the rock band Pearl Jam. It is part of the soundtrack for the movie, Into the Wild in 2007.
The lyrics to this song are deep, which reflects the poetic genius of Vedder himself. And once we factor in the acoustics he played, it tells us the story of our struggles with how we live our lives.
Particularly, with how we always seem to live day-to-day routines that are seemingly meaningless. It’s a nod to living a simple life, although it can be hard for all of us to do so.
22. Hole Hearted – Extreme
This band is aptly named for they take their guitar skills to the Extreme. Have you heard about More than Words? One of the most iconic acoustic guitar songs not only because of its melody but also because of its musicality.
This one is the band’s lesser-known yet still popular hit. I guess we can all agree that Nuno Bettencourt is a songwriting genius.
23. Big Love – Lindsey Buckingham
Album: Elizabethtown – Music From The Motion Picture – Vol. 2 | Released: 2006 | Chords | Tab | Video Lesson
Lindsey Buckingham rose to fame as a member of one of the bestselling rock bands of all time, Fleetwood Mac. He’s a great guitar player and this song, Big Love, proves it.
The guitar playing on this track is mind-blowing and the song is full of passion. If you’re looking for a piece to challenge your acoustic guitar playing then this is it. The riffs, the solos, and the fire of this song are unparalleled that have always got audiences screaming.
This one is a favorite acoustic guitar song of ours and it’s just so so beautiful. The tallest man on earth is a Swedish native named Kristian Matsson. We pride ourselves on researching far and wide to give you this list and this should be part of your playlist right now.
His handle on the acoustic guitar is beyond godlike and that’s pretty indicative of the themes of his songs that relate to a deity or higher power, especially this one.
25. Rainy Window – Masaaki Kishibe
Another instrumental piece that finds its way into this list is Rainy Window by Masaaki Kishibe.
With its relaxing harmony and slow-paced tempo, this musical piece delivers an easy-listening sound for when we simply want to unwind. It’s not too upbeat to cause any anxiety, and the soft guitar fingerstyle creates textures that are soothing and easy on the ears.
While it seems a little too complicated to play, we believe it’s one of the most beautiful acoustic songs for fingerpicking. And it seems like guitarists from all over the world agree – since you can find multiple covers of this song performed from all over the world.
There’s no denying that acoustic guitars are among the most musically versatile instruments in the market. While this instrument is not the easiest to learn, you will be able to create intricately beautiful songs once you get the hang of it.
If there’s anything the list above has proved, it’s that those great acoustic songs are here to stand the test of time. A song that’s beautifully written – accompanied by a soothing guitar number – will surely be remembered as a classic for decades to come.