PHIL KEAGGY - Grammy nominated and seven-time Dove Award winner, is one of the world’s great guitar players and a pioneer in contemporary Christian music.
- January 24, 2017
- Guitar Songs
Now, who exactly are you wanting to impress? How old is she? Oh, it’s an audition for the church praise team, or maybe you’re in a room full of musicians. There are, no doubt, many variables and therefore answers to a question like this. The situation calls for a certain approach. There are many difficult songs to play on guitar that would impress just about any person interested in music, but difficult isn’t always the right call. First of all, if you don’t pull it off, you’ve miss your opportunity and left them shaking their heads. Maybe a simple song is better. Let’s dive into the best songs to play on guitar when you want to impress.
The Subtle Approach to the Best Songs to Play on Guitar
Nowadays, shredding is out. And I mean totally out. Only a few diehard guitarists would care enough to spin their heads around to watch you do it.
The subtle approach would look more like Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” acoustic jam. Yes, it’s super easy but recognizable. Most of the new guitar stuff is very simple. The goal is to play something right. When you’re trying to impress someone, it can be better to nail a fairly easy song than to fail at something difficult.
Also, try the guitar hook to “Cake By the Ocean” by DNCE. Most of the public is listening to pop or country radio if they’re listening at all. A lot of the organic indie stuff is just an acoustic guitar banging out a 16th note jangle part really hard. It can all be a little repetitive, but if you can also sing it, people will recognize the tune. A song like “Blackbird” by the Beatles will likely get you a smile if you can pull it off without making the strings squeak. That tune is so beautiful on acoustic and is one of the best songs to play on guitar when you want to impress.
The Classic Approach
“Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple gets that look every time because the listener knows you can play a classic. Be careful, though, because the next thing off your fingertips better be good or you're screwed. Follow it with “Back In Black” by AC/DC and then you’re getting there.
The best songs to play on guitar is also subject to the age of the listener. While a 20-year-old girl may have never listened to classic rock, a great performance of a classic will leave her asking “What was that?”
Just think of it as an audition or a guitar battle. You’re competing with 10 other guitarists. What’s your approach gonna be? Sometimes a melody you made up will stand out but if you’re competing with in-your-face rockers, you’ll likely be ash in the wake of the distortion. “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd is a no brainer. “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith is a very cool guitar riff. “Stairway To Heaven” by Led Zeppelin (or at least the intro) is very interesting and so is “Dust In the Wind” by Kansas. In the world of classic rock, there are plenty of cool intros or recognizable pieces that’ll bend the ear of anyone who appreciates guitar. The question may not be "What are the best songs to play on guitar?" but "What songs best fit your style?"
The Whole Burrito Approach
If you’re a rocker through and through, you can’t just pick up an acoustic guitar and start detuning the strings to get your death metal chugs going. It’s hard enough to get your PRS and a Diesel Head with a Marshall 4 x 12 cab to do it. Right place and right time is not always a promise, so you’ll likely have to improvise.
An Epiphone Les Paul and a Peavey Classic 30 may be all that’s available. You gotta do your thang. Here’s some smashing thrash work that’ll draw them in: “South of Heaven” by Slayer, “Cemetery Gates” by Pantera, or “Monster” by Skillet are just a few of these in-your-face riffs. If the person you’re trying to impress doesn’t recognize the song, you’ll likely capture the curiosity of those standing by. If you’re passionate, you’ll succeed.
Impressing the listener isn’t always about perfection. Sometimes raw passion leaves them speechless. The goal is either to make the audience smile or show them something that will take their breath away. Whatever your style or approach, do it well and you’ll win the day. It's not always about the best songs to play on guitar.
The Shredder's Dream Approach
“Shy Boy” by Steve Vai. Play this lick for lick and you’re in. “Eruption” by Eddie Van Halen is a killer if you can nail it. Otherwise it’s just a mangled mess of tapestry. “Crazy Train” by Randy Rhodes (Ozzy Osbourne) is so cool and recognizable. Add this one to your “gotta impress” list. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Slash (Guns N' Roses) is likely the most overplayed song out there, but it still grabs at your attention when performed well.
Although Eddie Van Halen may hate it at this point, “Beat It” by Michael Jackson is a pop tune you recognize instantly. Eddie’s work on this track is very nice. So basically, the best guitar songs that will impress people are the ones they can either jam to and the ones they know by heart.
Playing impressive guitar can be as simple as smoothly strumming a G chord in an interesting way to burning up the fretboard. “Hallelujah,” or “Soul Man,” or even “Brown Eyed Girl.” There are plenty of simple guitar songs that are sure to impress. If you can manage your nerves and put down something people can feel, you’re halfway there. A few swift but tasty moves and the girl is holding onto your arm. Play the right part and you’ve won a place on the praise team.
Don’t overplay. Excellence isn’t best spoken, but demonstrated. Don’t come in boasting about how much you've rehearsed. Just strap it on and be as good as you can be. Auditioning or in a guitar battle? Smile and play something tasteful. Shred a little if it calls for that, but don’t get bogged down in a bunch of fast stuff you can’t pull off perfectly. “Almost” won’t get you too far when you’re trying to play the best songs on guitar.
If you’re trying to be the best guitar player out there, you’re going to need guitar lessons. No matter how long you’ve been playing, lessons will help you stay up to date. Pro Lessons offers online guitar lessons taught by great musicians who are out there touring every week. To find out about our affordable rates, click on the link below.