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Music for My Dad’s Guitar

Easy playing doesn't have to be easy listening.

Hannah Sternberg


January 31, 2014 - 10:00 am


This Christmas, my brother and I were stumped. My gift ideas for our dad had fallen through, and I’d run out of gardening stuff to give him. (He’s the kind of guy who only really needs a trowel and a bucket — and after feeling clever, giving him a wrap-around-the-bucket trowel carrier last year, I realized I’d exhausted the only possibility in that field.)

But then I saw my dad pick up the guitar I’d brought home with me, and realized that he remembered more from when he played 30 years ago, than I’d learned in nine months of studious* practicing. My brother and I impulsively bought him a guitar just before the holiday overtook us.

Now my dad has added a songbook of classics and is asking me to send him tabs for more current songs that he could play along with me when I visit home. My parents often remind me I’m their conduit to the hottest new music, while I try hard to pick PG-50 tunes for them.

So, I’m opening the field. So far, I’ve sent him the tab for “Mountain Sound” by of Monsters and Men. If you read my gardening post yesterday, you know of Monsters and Men is my jam this week.

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Meanwhile, I’ve been practicing my left-hand agility with the introduction to Muse’s “Plug-In Baby,” which sounds like a baroque practice piece when played on an acoustic guitar.

What are your recommendations for good beginner’s rock songs on an unplugged guitar?


*I apply a very generous definition of “studious” here.

Hannah Sternberg is a writer and cocktail conquistador operating out of Washington, DC. Her second novel, Bulfinch, is now available on in paperback and Kindle formats. Relieve your itchy fingers and click here to buy it now.

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Depends on what he likes but a good one is "The Guitar 3 Chord Songbook" published by Hal Leonard. Lots of songs using only the G, C & D chords in a variety of styles. Or try the Duane Eddy or Chuck Berry songbooks those have tabs and are not too difficult. You could also try the "Guitar White Pages" but I find it difficult to work with due to it's size and poor quality paper.

Hal Leonard publishes a series of guitar chord songbooks in digest format covering a variety of performers and styles -I only have the "Johnny Cash" and "Folksongs" books (not bad) but they also publish books covering most major performers and styles.

Finally, I can't recommend enough just going down to your local Sheet Music or Band Instrument store (they usually have a better variety then Guitar Center and the like) and just poking around to see what is discounted or just going through the bins. I've made some great and cool discoveries of things I would never even have thought was available and remarkably inexpensive too!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thanks so much for the recommendations! I love the idea of a Johnny Cash songbook -- we both like him a lot!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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