Top 80s Songs for Electric Guitar

Use Guitar Tab to Learn Songs From the 1980s That Sound Great on Electric

The following songs have been selected to highlight some of the best electric guitar songs from the 1980s. Each song includes links to tab, and wherever possible links to free audio versions of the song. A guideline for the difficulty of each song has been included. The assumption with these guidelines is beginner guitarists can play the basic essential open chords, F major, plus basic power chords. Difficulty assessments do not include the guitar solos.

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Summer of '69 (Bryan Adams)


album: Reckless, 1984
Level of difficulty: Beginner

Although this one does briefly use a barre chord - B minor - this primary consists of open and power chords. Included is a simple sing-note riff that should provide a good, surmountable challenge for beginners. You'll need to bone up on your palm muting to play this one well.

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Money For Nothing (Dire Straits)

brothers in arms

album: Brothers In Arms, 1985
Level of difficulty: Intermediate

There isn't anything explicitly difficult with this song, but some of Mark Knopfler's small chord shapes might just feel a little unusual to guitarists mostly familiar with power chords.

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Sweet Child O' Mine (Guns 'N Roses)

album: Appetite For Destruction, 1987
Level of difficulty: Intermediate

The opening riff might tie beginner guitarist's fingers in knots, but it's a pretty good challenge - the tempo is slow, and the pattern is straightforward. Even some of Slash's solo parts are fairly simple to play. The full guitar solo is clearly going to be out of reach for beginners.

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Rock You Like a Hurricane (Scorpions)

love at first sting

album: Love at First Sting, 1984
Level of difficulty: Beginner

There are some pretty frenzied lead guitar parts happening throughout this song, but the chords underneath are straightforward power chords. If you are comfortable with power chords, this shouldn't be much of a challenge.

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Rock This Town (Stray Cats)

stray cats

album: Stray Cats, 1981
Level of difficulty:

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Legs (ZZ Top)


album: Eliminator, 1983
Level of difficulty:

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Rebel Yell (Billy Idol)

Rebel Yell

album: Rebel Yell, 1984
Level of difficulty: Intermediate

Guitarist Steve Stevens has put together a pretty great guitar part for this song - he turned what could have easily been a basic power chord part into something more interesting. Listen closely to the recording to nail the rhythm pattern being played throughout the verse.

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She Sells Sanctuary (The Cult)


album: Love, 1985
Level of difficulty: Advanced Beginner

This should be fun for beginners to play - and not too difficult. The song's main riff couples an open D string with various notes being played higher up on the G string. With a little work, beginners shouldn't have a hard time with this one.

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Photograph (Def Leppard)


album: Pyromania, 1983
Level of difficulty:

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Another One Bites the Dust (Queen)

The Game

album: The Game, 1980
Level of difficulty: Advanced Beginner

There's not much to this Queen hit in terms of guitar - it's mostly a basis riff doubled for guitar. There is some brief funky rhythm playing from Brian May, but you can probably learn this one in under five minutes.

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867-5309/Jenny (Tommy Tutone)

Tommy Tutone 2

album: Tommy Tutone 2, 1981
Level of difficulty:

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Call Me (Blondie)

American Gigolo
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Eye Of The Tiger (Survivor)

Eye of the Tiger
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Paradise City (Guns 'N Roses)

appetite for destruction

album: Appetite for Destruction, 1987
Level of difficulty:

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Back in Black (AC/DC)

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I Love Rock and Roll (Joan Jett)

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Jessie's Girl (Rick Springfield)

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Livin' on a Prayer (Bon Jovi)

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Runnin' Down a Dream (Tom Petty)

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Should I Stay or Should I Go (The Clash)

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We're Not Gonna Take It (Twisted Sister)

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You Shook Me All Night Long (AC/DC)

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Every Breath You Take (The Police)

album: Synchronicity, 1983
Level of difficulty:

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Your Citation
Cross, Dan. "Top 80s Songs for Electric Guitar." ThoughtCo, May. 1, 2016, Cross, Dan. (2016, May 1). Top 80s Songs for Electric Guitar. Retrieved from Cross, Dan. "Top 80s Songs for Electric Guitar." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 18, 2017).