If you’re new to the guitar, the best way to solidify basic beginner concepts like proper tone, picking and rhythm is by tackling some easy rock covers. With a little time, focus and energy, you’ll be able to apply your skills into the chord progressions and riffs found in some of your favorite songs. Are you ready?

 

rock covers

 

To get the most out of these rock covers, here’s what you’ll need:

 

-An electric guitar. You can absolutely play everything here with an acoustic, but you won’t be able get that chunky distorted sound you usually hear in rock music.

 

-An amplifier with distortion settings or a distortion pedal (disregard if you’re learning with an acoustic).

 

-A metronome. These are devices that produce audible beats you can practice to. You can’t rock without rhythm, so stop reading this right now and practice what you already know with a metronome if you haven’t worked with one yet.

 

“Brain Stew,” by Green Day

 

green dayFiguring out how to play Green Day’s infectiously catchy song “Brain Stew” is a great way to get introduced to power chords. In music, basic chords have a defining note that tells us whether it’s major or minor, but power chords, which sound big and hollow, don’t include that note. Their signature sound is the foundation for rock music and are not difficult to learn. They’re found in nearly all rock covers! 

 

green day chords

 

Intro: G#5 F#5 F5 E5 D#5 x2

G#5           F#5                F5     E5 D#5
 I’m having trouble trying to sleep
G#5            F#5                F5   E5 D#5
 I’m counting sheep but running out
G#5              F#5
 As time ticks by
F5            E5   D#5
And still I try
G#5            F#5              F5
 No rest for crosstops in my mind

E5          D#5
On my own. Here we go


G#5 F#5 F5 E5 D#5 x2


G#5             F#5                 F5     E5 D#5
 My eyes feel like they’re gonna bleed
G#5             F#5             F5     E5 D#5
 Dried up and bulging out my skull
G#5            F#5
 My mouth is dry
F5           E5    D#5
My face is numb
G#5              F#5             F5
 F—-d up and spun out in my room

E5          D#5
On my own. Here we go


G#5 F#5 F5 E5 D#5 x2


G#5           F#5         F5     E5 D#5
 My mind is set on overdrive
G#5             F#5             F5    E5 D#5
 The clock is laughing in my face
G#5          F#5
 A crooked spine
F5           E5      D#5
My senses dulled
G#5                 F#5       F5
 Passed the point of delirium

E5          D#5
On my own. Here we go


G#5 F#5 F5 E5 D#5 x2


G#5             F#5                 F5     E5 D#5
 My eyes feel like they’re gonna bleed
G#5             F#5             F5     E5 D#5
 Dried up and bulging out my skull
G#5            F#5
 My mouth is dry
F5           E5    D#5
My face is numb
G#5              F#5             F5
 F—-d up and spun out in my room

E5          D#5
On my own. Here we go


G#5 F#5 F5 E5 D#5 x4

G#5

 

“Eye Of The Tiger,” by Survivor

 

survivorAs guitarists, we’re a little bit like Rocky in the way that learning difficult material can often seem like an impossible task before we take it on. Something like open chord shapes, which you’ll find in this song, can be incredibly difficult to learn first, but you’ll make huge strides in not a very long time with enough hard work. But don’t get carried away try playing this song with boxing gloves.

 

survivor chords      

 

[Intro]

Am
Am G Am
Am G Am
Am Em F
Am
Am G Am
Am G Am
Am Em F


[Verse]

Am              F
  Risin’ up, back on the street,
G                      Am
 Did my time, took my chances.
Am                             F
 Went the distance, now I’m back on my feet,
       G                     Am
Just a man and his will to survive.

Am                  F
 So many times, it happens too fast,
G                             Am
 You change your passion for glory
Am                            F
 Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past,
         G                        Am
You must fight just to keep them alive:


[Chorus]

G    Am  Dm                          C             G
It’s the  eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight-
     Dm                          Am   G
Rising up to the challenge of our ri-val.
        Dm                               C           G
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night,
         Dm          Em          F            Am
And he’s watching us all with the eye of the tiger.

[Interlude]

Am
Am G Am
Am G Am
Am Em F
Am
Am G Am
Am G Am
Am Em F

[Verse]

Am              F
Face to face, out in the heat,
G                      Am
Hangin’ tough, stayin’ hungry.
Am                             F
They stack the odds, still we take to the street,
       G                     Am
For we kill with the skill to survive.


[Chorus]

G    Am  Dm                          C             G
It’s the  eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight-
     Dm                          Am   G
Rising up to the challenge of our ri-val.
        Dm                               C           G
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night,
         Dm          Em          F            Am
And he’s watching us all with the eye of the tiger.

[Interlude]

Am
Am G Am
Am G Am
Am Em F
Am
Am G Am
Am G Am
Am Em F

[Verse]

Am              F
Risin’ up, straight to the top,
G                      Am
Had the guts, got the glory.
Am                             F
Went the distance, now I’m not gonna stop,
       G                     Am
Just a man and his will to survive.


[Chorus]

G    Am  Dm                          C             G
It’s the  eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight-
     Dm                          Am   G
Rising up to the challenge of our ri-val.
        Dm                               C           G
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night,
         Dm          Em          F            Am
And he’s watching us all with the eye of the tiger.

 

“Heart Shaped Box,” by Nirvana

 

nirvanaNow we’re going to explore the sensitive side to rock for this next song. Nirvana’s music is almost as relevant and challenging as it was almost thirty years ago, and this is a great cover to play if you’re interested in learning about chord modulations.

 

nirvana chords

 

[Intro]

A  F  D    A  F  D


[Verse]

    A    F          D            A   F     D                  
     She eyes me like a pisces when I am weak
    A          F          D                     A   F      D         
     I´ve been locked inside your heart-shaped box for a week
    A      F        D              A  F      D                      
     I was drawn into your magnet tarpit trap
    A       F        D                A   F           D       
     I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black


[Chorus]

    A  F   D                               
      Hey! Wait!I got a new complaint,
    A   F       D                                         
      forever in debt to your priceless advice
    A   F    D                                    
      Hate! Haight! I got a new complaint,
    A   F       D                                 
      forever in debt to your priceless advice
    A  F  D                                  
      Hey! Wait! I got a new compliant,
    A   F       D                         F  D        
      forever in debt to your priceless advice,
                F   D                             
      Your advice
        A    F


[Verse]

     A     F      D             A  F      D           
      Meat-eating orchids forgive no one just yet
     A           F     D         A   F        D            
      Cut myself on angel´s hair an baby´s breath
     A        F        D       A   F          D            
      Broken hymen of you highness I´m left black
     A       F          D           A    F            D               
      Throw own your umbilical noose so I can climb right back


[Chorus]

    A  F   D                               
      Hey! Wait!I got a new complaint,
    A   F       D                                         
      forever in debt to your priceless advice
    A   F    D                                    
      Hate! Haight! I got a new complaint,
    A   F       D                                 
      forever in debt to your priceless advice
    A  F  D                                  
      Hey! Wait! I got a new compliant,
    A   F       D                         F  D        
      forever in debt to your priceless advice,
                F   D                             
      Your advice
        A    F


[Verse]

    A    F          D            A   F     D                  
     She eyes me like a pisces when I am weak
    A          F          D                     A   F      D         
     I´ve been locked inside your heart-shaped box for a week
    A      F        D              A  F      D                      
     I was drawn into your magnet tarpit trap
    A       F        D                A   F           D       
     I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black


[Chorus]

    A  F   D                               
      Hey! Wait!I got a new complaint,
    A   F       D                                         
      forever in debt to your priceless advice
    A   F    D                                    
      Hate! Haight! I got a new complaint,
    A   F       D                                 
      forever in debt to your priceless advice
    A  F  D                                  
      Hey! Wait! I got a new compliant,
    A   F       D                         F  D        
      forever in debt to your priceless advice,
                F   D                             
      Your advice
        A    F

 

“1901,” by Phoenix

 

phoenixBack in 2009, the year 1901 made a big comeback with this song’s release. Bands like Phoenix are representative of rock’s recent obsession with synthesizers. If you’re at all interested in writing or producing rock music, getting familiar with modern music technology like synths and effects pedals is essential.

 

phoenix chords

 


[Intro]

F  Am  C  Am  2x
F  Am  C  Am  2x

[Verse 1]

F                        Am                C        Am
Counting all different ideas drifting away
           F                        Am     
Past and present — they don’t matter.
                          C        Am
Now the future’s sorted out
                F                      Am  
Watch, you’re moving in elliptical pattern
                     C                            
Think it’s not what you say
                            Am
What you say is way too complicated
        F                            Am              C        C
For a minute thought I couldn’t tell how to fall out.

[Chorus]

F                                 F/A                               G
It’s 20 seconds ’til the last call, going “hey hey hey hey hey hey”
                           G                              F
Lie down, you know it’s easy like we did it all summer long
                                    F/A                               G
And I’ll be anything you ask and more, going “hey hey hey hey hey hey”
                            G                                   F
It’s not a miracle we needed, and no I wouldn’t let you think so

               Am                C              Am
Fold it, fold it, fold it, fold it
               Am                C              Am
Fold it, fold it, fold it, fold it

[Verse 2]

F                            Am                     C                    Am
Girlfriend, you know your girlfriend’s drifting away
        F            Am      C       Am
Past and present, 1855-1901
            F                    Am
Watch them build up a material tower
                      C
Think it’s not gonna stay anyway
               Am
Think it’s overrated
       F                              Am            C        C
For a minute, thought I couldn’t tell how to fall out

[Chorus]

F                                F/A                         G
It’s 20 seconds ’til the last call, going “hey hey hey hey hey hey”
                           G                                      F
Lie down, you know it’s easy like we did it all summer long
                                    F/A                               G
And I’ll be anything you ask and more, going “hey hey hey hey hey hey”
                            G                                  F
It’s not a miracle we needed, and no I wouldn’t let you think so

               Am                C              Am
Fold it, fold it, fold it, fold it
               Am                C              Am
Fold it, fold it, fold it, fold it

[Outro]

C C F F/A

 

“Video Games,” by Lana Del Rey

 

lana del reyLana Del Rey’s song “Video Games” captivated audiences back in 2012. This is one of the great rock covers to practice if you’re trying to master bar chords because of its slow tempo. Before you tackle blazing fast guitar songs, you’ll have to start by learning how to play slower ones like this.

 

lana del rey chords

 

[Intro]

F#m  A  F#m  A  C#m  D

F#m  A  F#m  A  C#m  D


[Verse]

F#m             A
Swinging in the backyard
F#m             A
Pull up in your fast car
C#m          D
Whistling my name

F#m       A
Open up a beer
       F#m          A
And you take it over here
          C#m   D
And play a video game

   F#m             A
I’m in his favorite sun dress
F#m             A
Watching me get undressed
C#m            D
Take that body downtown

F#m           A
I say you the bestest
F#m           A
Lean in for a big kiss
C#m              D
Put his favorite perfume on
         C#m   D
Go play a video game


[Chorus]

E
It’s you, it’s you, it’s all for you
Everything I do
                  D
I tell you all the time
                               A
Heaven is a place on earth with you
                          G       F#m
Tell me all the things you want to do

I heard that you like the bad girls
D
Honey, is that true?
                            A
It’s better than I ever even knew
                           G         F#m
They say that the world was built for two
                        D              Dm
Only worth living if somebody is loving you
            F#m
Baby now you do


[Instrumental]

F#m  A  F#m  A  C#m  D


[Verse]

F#m            A
Singing in the old bars
F#m               A
Swinging with the old stars
C#m            D
Living for the fame

F#m            A
Kissing in the blue dark
F#m              A
Playing pool and wild darts
C#m   D
Video games

F#m                A
He holds me in his big arms
F#m            A
Drunk and I am seeing stars
C#m           D
This is all I think of

F#m              A
Watching all our friends fall
F#m            A
In and out of Old Paul’s
C#m         D
This is my idea of fun
       C#m   D
Playing video games


[Chorus]

E
It’s you, it’s you, it’s all for you
Everything I do
                  D
I tell you all the time
                               A
Heaven is a place on earth with you
                          G       F#m
Tell me all the things you want to do

I heard that you like the bad girls
D
Honey, is that true?

                            A
It’s better than I ever even knew
                           G         F#m
They say that the world was built for two
                        D              Dm
Only worth living if somebody is loving you
            F#m
Baby now you do


[Interlude]

A       F#m A       C#m D
Now you do, now you do, now you do


[Chorus]

E
It’s you, it’s you, it’s all for you

Everything I do
                  D
I tell you all the time
                               A
Heaven is a place on earth with you
                          G       F#m
Tell me all the things you want to do

I heard that you like the bad girls
D
Honey, is that true?
                            A
It’s better than I ever even knew
                           G         F#m
They say that the world was built for two
                        D              Dm
Only worth living if somebody is loving you
            F#m
Baby now you do


[Outro]

A       F#m A       C#m D
Now you do, now you do, now you do  
A       F#m A       C#m D
Now you do, now you do, now you do

 

For more helpful articles about the world of music, check out what we’ve got posted on the Musika Lessons blog.

 

rock covers

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