Guitar songs that don't focus on chords?
February 25, 2007 11:12 PM   Subscribe

Help me find "picking-heavy" guitar tabs for acoustic guitar!!

I browsed some old threads tagged with guitar and tabs and such, and didn't wasn't able to find a question similar to this.

I'm just looking for suggestions of songs in which the guitar plays a discernible melody in the background instead of a mass of chords. Examples: Heartbeats by Jose Gonzalez, Landing in London by 3 Doors Down, Californication by RHCP


1) Complete Amateur: Clapton's stuff, as much as I adore it, is a bit out of my range. Believe me, I've tried.

2) Taste in Music: Alt Rock, Soft Rock, that kinda thing. Death Cab, RHCP, All American Rejects, Muse, etc.

3) Tiny Hands. as in, 5'4" female tiny hands. I literally cannot stretch my hand far enough to play Csus4, for example.

I can find individual songs and the tabs thereof relatively easily, so I'm just looking for suggestions of songs. Thanks!
posted by Phire to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe you already know about this site but,
Guitar Noise has some very nice guitar lesson articles with well done and detailed arrangements on some popular pop songs
for instance
America - Simon and Garfuknel
Needle and the Damage Done - Neil Young

you might want to look into the fingerpicking lessons too. I've found those fun and really rewarding as a beginning guitarist myself. Blackbird - The Beatles has a nice melody and harmony and is twice as fun if you can sing along with it.
posted by coffeee at 11:53 PM on February 25, 2007

coffeee beat me to the Blackbird suggestion - it's finger-picking fun.

Some others that I play, off the top of my head:

Dust in the Wind - Kansas
December - Collective Soul
Wake Me Up When September Ends - Green Day
Kielbasa - Tenacious D
Come As You Are - Nirvana
All Apologies - Nirvana
Lithium - Nirvana
I Miss You - Incubus
Everlong - Foo Fighters
Dammit - Blink 182
Corduroy - Pearl Jam (the intro, anyway0
One Great City - Weakerthans
The Sweater Song - Weezer
Seven Nation Army - White Stripes
Slide - Goo Goo Dolls

These shouldn't be too horribly difficult, with some practice. I'm not a great guitar player by any means - only been playing a few years, and I never have time to pick it up more than once a week or so.
posted by chrisamiller at 12:13 AM on February 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

I posted much the same question a while ago, and got some great recommendations!
posted by tomble at 1:39 AM on February 26, 2007

How about Mississippi John Hurt? His stuff's supposed to be relatively easy. He uses the syncopated Piedmont fingerpicking style.
posted by buriedpaul at 4:21 AM on February 26, 2007

Response by poster: Oh wow tomble, totally missed that - thanks! =)
posted by Phire at 5:04 AM on February 26, 2007

If you're a Beatles fan, then I'd recommend Fingerpicking Beatles. It's in general pretty reachable, even for a relative newbie like myself. These aren't just the tab or standard notation for songs as played on an album, instead they're arranged for solo guitar (like the book title says).

In general the way I see it is that usually the chords are arpeggiated with the melody as the root of the implied chord. I've probably described this somewhat incorrectly but I hope you get the idea. In any event the overall effect is that the songs are very recognizable.
posted by substrate at 6:34 AM on February 26, 2007

Alice in Chains - Don't Follow is somewhat tough, but a little practice and I got the hang of it.

I'll second I Miss You by Incubus (and link it for you)...
posted by twiggy at 7:18 AM on February 26, 2007

I literally cannot stretch my hand far enough to play Csus4, for example.

Are we talking 033010 here, or some other variant? Without a two fret range, your choices are definitely more limited (beyond picking regular chords.. melodies can require some stretchy hammerons, etc)
posted by wackybrit at 7:42 AM on February 26, 2007

Whatever you decide to play, Power Tabs is a totally crucial resource for learning new songs.
posted by baphomet at 8:38 AM on February 26, 2007

I'll find some links for you when I'm not in such a hurry, but I wanted to ask if you thought about getting a shorter scale guitar. It would be easier to play the chords... Kurt Cobain had tiny hands, which is why he favored shorter scale models.
Strats and Teles are long, LP's and SG's are short, Rick's are very short.
posted by magikker at 10:55 AM on February 26, 2007

Picking heavy songs...

Well, on the acoustic side, you'll find Iron & Wine with a pretty predictable fingerpicking pattern, and Nick Drake with more advanced stuff.

I'm a massive fan of Sufjan's "All the Trees will Clap Their Hands," which doesn't require a ton of flexibility (does require a capo), and would sound great with a female voice. The tab's here.
posted by tmcw at 11:08 AM on February 26, 2007

It may not be your style of music but check out "Ghost" by the Indigo Girls.
posted by philad at 11:50 AM on February 26, 2007

Response by poster: Wackybrit, m'looking at 033011. Well, if I try to put a separate finger on each of the strings, that is. I can sort of play it with my index on both 1s, but yeah.....
posted by Phire at 1:54 PM on February 26, 2007

Although not exactly what you re looking for, why don't you apply a generic fingerpicking pattern to songs you already know and like. It gives them a distinctly different feel and you can emphasise different beats etc to give the song new life.

Try a simple pattern like REM's everybody hurts:


and then use this pattern to pick the root of the chord and the upper 3 strings to fill out the chord.
posted by moocheen at 12:49 AM on February 27, 2007

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