11 Easy Green Day Songs on Guitar

Green Day is a band that most people associate with Rock or Pop Punk. 

But they are also associated with another genre that I think describes their impact on culture in the 1990s much better: Skate Punk.

Because when their smash hit album Dookie took off, it was more than music. It was a whole scene, complete with its own fashion and attitude.

And skateboarding was synonymous with Punk music then, definitely a little different from the earlier subcultures surrounding the Sex Pistols or the Ramones.

Sure there were other bands like the Offspring and Rancid that were doing New School Punk back then, but I don’t think any of the other bands even came close to Green Day.

And if you were learning to play guitar back then, their songs like Basket Case or When I Come Around were basically required to know, along with other bands such as Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Oasis, Metallica, and Ozzy Osbourne.

Luckily most of Green Day’s songs aren’t too difficult, relying mostly on power chords.

And as far as the recordings go, the bass does a lot of the work… especially on songs like Longview.

But they are fast… And there’s quite a lot to do with your strumming hand if you want to get the sound just right. 

One advantage though, if we ignore the acoustic songs, is that once you can play a few Green Day songs, the rest should be easy as well. 

And these days superfans can even buy a Dookie Drive effects pedal from the MXR company to really want to capture the Green Day sound.

But for the rest of us, just dial in a nice distortion tone, and let’s take a look at some of the songs that have helped to define the band over the years.

1. She

This song was released as a single but it ended up being overshadowed by some of the bigger hits on Dookie.  

I’ve always found it to be one of their catchiest songs though and I think it deserves some attention.

Plus, it’s a super short song that you can learn in a couple of minutes. 

And though Green Day usually tunes their instruments down a half step, this song doesn’t include an Eb chord so you don’t have to bother changing your tuning either.

Here is the song (you’ll be filling in for the bass for part of it).

Verse: F# C# B F# (two times)

Chorus: C# B F# (two times)

B F# B F# B F# C#

There is a bridge of C# F# and then the verse chords are repeated but that’s basically the entire song! 

Link to tab

And here’s a lesson:

2. Basket Case

The lyrics may be a bit dirty on this classic, but it’s a really fun song to play and one that I find myself revisiting regularly. 

Power chords and palm muting are going to be your best friends for most of this song; just listen to the recording to learn when you need to let the chords ring out. 

Now there are a lot of tabs for this song that have you playing in standard tuning but I think it makes it a lot more difficult. 

So if you want to match the recording, this is one where you should really just tune to Eb standard.

Here is the song (keep in mind that the E chord here is played at the 7th fret of the A string (one octave up from a “standard” E).

Verse: E B C# G# A E B (play two times)

Chorus: A B E (two times) then A B E D# C#

A B 

E B C# B (two times and then four times on the second chorus)

Bridge: A B

E B C# G# A E B

Link to tab

And here’s a lesson:

3. Brain Stew

This one is pretty famous for being an easy song to play but that is what makes it amazing.

Because its chord progression is so elementary it could have been written by someone who had just picked up a guitar for the first time. But it just works.

Part of what gives it some flair is of course harmonics, which you obviously aren’t going to be reproducing with 100% accuracy. 

If harmonics are new to you, you basically just need to have your fingers on the strings as though you are playing power chords but don’t actually press down firmly. 

As you slide the chord shape around, you’ll get all kinds of gnarly sounds with a properly distorted tone. (Zero by Smashing Pumpkins is another great Nineties song that relies on harmonics for its sound).

Again, this one uses an “E chord” so to play along you’ll have to tune down a half step

Here is the song.

A G F#m F E

Just hit the chords twice for the intro and verses and then go wild and use harmonics after the verses. 

Link to tab

And here’s a lesson:

4. Nice Guys Finish Last

This is a less popular song that I believe is in standard tuning for a change.

And it reminds me a lot of some of the songs on The Sex Pistols’ Nevermind the Bollocks, one of the most famous Punk Rock albums.

For this one, you will also be playing your E chord at the seventh fret of the A string like Basket Case. 

And there is a little chord “riff” to play for the intro before the verse kicks in.

Here is how the song goes (assuming you are playing the bass parts for the verses on guitar).

Intro riff: A E A B 

Play the A chord once and then the subsequent chords about five times; it’s very simple!

Verse: E B E A E B E

Chorus: E A (three times) B

Bridge: A E (three times) F# B

Interlude: E B (four times) F#(m) B

Link to tab

And here’s a lesson:

5. Welcome to Paradise

As cool as Green Day songs are, there is one thing that never made sense to a lot of people and this tune is a good example of it. Why does Billie Joe Armstrong sing with a British accent?

It sure has a catchy melody though and the bass and drums are impeccable too. 

In fact, the guitar is probably the easiest part of the song, relying on a very choppy strumming style with some double-timed strums thrown in for emphasis.

Here is how to play it (tune down a half step for this one).

Intro and Post Chorus: E D A (four times for intro and twice after Chorus)

Verse: E D E 

E D G B (repeat both parts two times)

Then G B again.

Chorus: E G A C




Link to tab

And here’s a lesson:

6. Father of All…

Link to tab

7. Walking Contradiction

Link to tab

8. When I Come Around

Link to tab

9. Know Your Enemy

Link to tab

10. Last Night on Earth

Link to tab

11. One of My Lies

Link to tab