Last Updated on December 18, 2021 by Lil Ginge
Writing your first rock song on guitar can be intimidating. Where does a person even start? And how can you possibly write a good one on your first try?
The good news is that it isn’t hard to start writing your first song and you shouldn’t even worry about writing a good one on your first try.
In this article, we will look at how to write your first rock song on guitar and have the confidence not to give up. By the end of this article, you’ll have a pretty good idea where to start and hopefully have the courage to keep going!
How To Start Writing A Rock Song On Guitar
There are many different ways to write a rock song. Some songwriters begin with the lyrics. Others start with the melody. I am going to recommend that you begin with finding a simple guitar chord progression.
I am going to assume you already have some knowledge of basic guitar chords such as open major chords, open minor chords, power chords, and maybe barre chords. If you do not, you might want to get more of these under your belt before tackling songwriting. It should make starting the process much easier.
I recommend sticking with three or four chords, to begin with. So many amazing songs have been written with just three chords. Experiment and find three or four chords that sound good together to you.
Once you have selected your chords, break them down into four measures or bars of time. Each bar will represent one chord in the progression. So, if you picked C, Am, F, G, the first bar will be your C, the second bar will be your Am, the third will be your F, and the fourth will be your G. If you are using only three chords, one of these will have to repeat in the fourth bar.
Now that you have your first chord progression, you can experiment with strumming them to come up with a rhythm or strum pattern. It can be as simple as one strum per measure or something a whole lot faster and fuller, it is up to you. Now that you have your first chord progression and rhythm, you have the first foundation of your new song!
Melody and Lyrics
The next stage in writing a rock song on guitar is to find yourself a melody to sing over the chord progression. The melody is one of the most important pieces of a song and the part that most people are likeliest to remember.
In order to do so, I recommend first coming up with a short lyrical phrase or even some nonsense words that you can sing while you strum the chords. These don’t have to be good or make sense. All you need to do is use these to help you find your melody.
Experiment with different melodies and see what fits and what strikes you as a great hook for your song. Come up with lots of ideas and also I recommend recording them all on your phone. It’s good to capture everything you come up with in the moment and save it for later so you do not forget anything. I even recommend doing this on the go in case you come up with a melody idea while you are away from home.
Once you settle on your basic melodic idea, it’s time to start writing some lyrics. You may want to focus on the song’s chorus first. The chorus is the section of the song that tends to repeat multiple times and features mostly the same lyrics each time.
Derive your lyrical ideas from your own personal experiences, your inner feelings, something near you that inspires you, or a funny story that happened to you. There are lots of sources for great song lyrics.
Finishing Your First Rock Guitar Song
I highly recommend keeping your first song as simple as possible, at least for now, You can always let it evolve, grow and change later on. But in the present, simple is best and you already have many of the basic elements of your song.
The chords, lyrics, and melody you put together so far can serve as either a verse in your song or as the chorus. If it’s your verse, it’s time to write the chorus. If it’s your chorus it’s time to write the verse. Either way, to do this grab a few more chords (some can repeat) and come up with a new rhythmic strum pattern. You can also just use the same chord pattern as both the verses and chorus – many great songs do this, too.
Once you have chord progressions for both verse and chorus, create a melody for the second chord progression if you added one. Now write lyrics for this section. And voila! You have a verse and a chorus to your song.
To round out the rest of the song, you should determine the overall structure of your song. Again, I recommend keeping this very simple, such as verse-chorus-verse-chorus–verse-chorus or ABABAB where A represents verse and B represents chorus. You can always add more components, like a bridge, later.
The final step is to make sure that each of your verses has a distinct set of lyrics. Sometimes songwriters do repeat one of the verses lyrically and that is fine, but I recommend that you have at least two different lyrical verses to distinguish it more from the chorus, which repeats.
Some Additional Tips for Writing Your First Rock Song
There are some other good beginner tips for writing your first rock song on guitar. The first thing I recommend is to put a stop to your self-criticism. You aren’t supposed to be a fully-formed Bob Dylan, and you probably never will be so just get over that immediately. Don’t hold yourself back and just know that anyone can write a song and so can you.
Like with many things in life, the more time and practice you put into this, the better you will get at it. You learn how to write songs mostly not by reading blog posts – though thank you for reading his one – but by (drumroll) writing songs!
You can take your inspiration from anywhere and everywhere and make sure to document everything. Listen to lots of different types of music and study the songwriting. Speak authentically from your heart and write your genuine emotions. You can emulate your heroes – they will be a part of your musical DNA – but you don’t need to imitate anyone else. What makes you interesting as a musician is that you are uniquely you!
Another important point is that you do not need to write your entire song immediately in one sitting. It is okay to space it out, take your time, let it breathe, try different things, improvise and experiment. You may come up with a bunch of ideas you do not use. Do not throw these out – you may find ways to work these into other songs later. Document and record everything.
So now you have the basics on how to write your first rock song on guitar. Once you feel the song is finished, make a recording for yourself, play it for some supportive friends, or, heck, even try it out at your local music open mic night!