17 No Capo and No Barre Chord Guitar Songs

We all know that certain sports require physical attributes that some people just aren’t lucky enough to be born with.

You have to be tall or have wide shoulders, boatloads of muscle, big hands etc. 

And that’s one of the great advantages of playing music because literally, anyone can do it, right?


Well, taking a look at guitar players, I often notice that many famous players have quite long and thin fingers and that’s not something you can go buy at your local music shop.

What that means is that learning to play barre chords can be a pain in the butt and some people complain that their hands just aren’t built for it.

And if you like to sing along while playing, you may not be able to hit some of the high notes in a song, especially if the song is played on a guitar using a capo. 

Because if you think about it, putting a capo on the fourth fret to play a song is the same as tuning your instrument up two whole steps! That’s a pretty big deal for most guys with normal vocal ranges.

So as much as some of the biggest names in guitar playing right now, such as Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift, use capos, they’re not for everyone.

So what about some songs that don’t use capos or barre chords and just let those open strings ring out as God intended?

Yeah, we might have to avoid B, F, and sharp/flat chords for the most part, but that still leaves us A C D E, and G plus many seventh and minor chords. And that’s just for songs that use “traditional” chords.

It turns out there is plenty of great music that meets these criteria so grab your favorite guitar and let’s check out some amazing songs. 

1. Acoustic Guitar – The Magnetic Fields

This has been a long-time favorite of mine to play (but I sometimes cheat and play it on an electric guitar too). 

And since it’s basically an ode to the singer’s acoustic guitar, let’s first take a second to address one of the advantages of using open chords with this type of instrument. 

Acoustic guitars tend to have thicker strings and it’s not easy to adjust the action if it’s too high.

So barre chords often sound like trash, especially on the 2nd and 3rd strings where your finger is kind of fleshy and you can’t press the strings all the way down.

But we don’t have to worry about that with this song that mostly uses D A and G chords with some really clever lyrics. 

The song begins with some scale-style walk-ups and the verse involves some simple finger picking that you can check out in the full tab, but you can strip it down to just chords if those parts seem too difficult for you.

Here are the chords that make up the song.

Verse: D A G D



D A G 





Link to tab

Unfortunately, there’s no video tutorial that I’ve been able to find but you can watch this cover to get a good look at how it’s played

2. The One I Love – R.E.M.

R.E.M. was a band that knew how to write songs without overcomplicating things. 

They weren’t necessarily Grunge, often being called College or Indie Rock, but much of the biggest years of their career ran parallel with the Grunge movement, which also celebrated keeping things simple.

And I also give them extra respect for knowing when to break up instead of dragging things on after their best years were over. 

This was one of their first songs that really got them into the mainstream music circuit and it’s done using open chords.

If you’re using an acoustic it might be easier just to do rhythm chords, or you can add in the riff from the video lesson if you want to make it fancier.

Here are the parts of the song.

Intro: Em7

Verse: Em Dsus2 Em Em7 (play two times)

G D Am C

Em Dsus2 Em Em7

Chorus: Use the same Em Dsus2 Em Em7 progression!

Solo Backing / Bridge: G Dsus4 G C

Em D Em

Link to tab

And here’s a lesson:

3. Waiting for the Flood – Love and Rockets

Bauhaus was one of the biggest Gothic Rock bands ever, but after ditching the singer the rest of the band fell back and regrouped as Love and Rockets.

Some of their music did still have a Goth influence but they also covered Psychedelic, Electronic, Pop Rock styles, and more.

But 1987’s Earth, Sun, Moon was an album of mostly acoustic and quite simple music with what many consider to be some of their best compositions.

This track off of the album is a nice slow song that makes great use of open chords and an easy strumming pattern for a rich full sound. 

Here are the parts of the song.

Intro: G Em C D

Verse: C D (play three times)

C Em A D

Chorus: G Em C D (repeat as needed)

Bridge: Em D A (three times)

Em G Em D

Link to tab

Again, there’s no video lesson for this one but you can see Love and Rockets’ member David J. performing the song live here.

4. Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival

CCR’s John Fogerty is another composer who could make a few open chords sound like a million bucks and I’m sure this song has brought in a sizable income over the years.

Sure, the chords are important but it’s the strumming (and also the very talented other members of the band) that give the song its trademark groove.

Just listen to the track a few times and see if you can get the rhythm down then give it a try.

Here are the chord progressions used.

Verse: D A G D

Chorus: G D A G D

Link to tab

And here’s a lesson:

5. Anyone Else But You – The Moldy Peaches

If there’s one thing that Indie Rockers love, it’s irony: Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, trucker Hats, sarcasm, and never smiling…

And that idea is applied to this song with its “I just learned to play” guitar chords and mumbled nonsensical lyrics.

It shouldn’t sound good, but somehow there’s something endearing about the song as it touches on the naive innocence of young love.

The Moldy Peaches broke up by 2004, but it was featured prominently in the 2007 (underground) hit movie Juno, introducing it to many new fans several years after its initial release.

Playing the song is as easy as alternating between G and Cmaj7 chords!

Link to tab

And here’s a lesson:

6. Nutshell – Alice in Chains

Link to tab

7. True Love Will Find You in the End – Daniel Johnston

Link to tab

8. In The Aeroplane Over The Sea – Neutral Milk Hotel

Link to tab

9. Redemption Song – Bob Marley

Link to tab

10. Can’t You See – The Marshall Tucker Band

Link to tab

11. Dead Flowers – The Rolling Stones

Link to tab

12. A Horse with No Name – America

Link to tab

13. Wish You Were Gay – Billie Eilish (original version)

Link to tab

14. Blackbird – The Beatles

Link to tab

15. Zombie – The Cranberries

Link to tab

16. What I Got – Sublime

Link to tab

17. Germfree Adolescents – X-Ray Spex

Link to tab