Song suggestions for Duo?


Hello. I've run a variety of searches here and couldn't really find anything relevant.

A friend of mine and I have been kicking around the idea of getting together as a duo to play for fun and occaisional gigging (if the situation happens along). He plays electric and acoustic guitars, is a good slide player, some mando and banjo and recently bought a steel guitar to learn. I play electric and acoustic guitar, a little slide, bass guitar and a little mandolin.

Can anyone suggest some good songs that would be fun and interesting to play? We aren't looking for fretboard pyrotechnics but rather songs that would lend themselves to instrumental arrangements and be fun and interesting for us and enjoyable to an audience.

Thanks in advance!

Chicago Slim

I've done a lot of duo and trio work. I teach guitar, and play songs with the student. Plus, I grew up playing with my Dad. I do a lot of rockabilly, Beatles, jazz and praise and worship. Can you give me more information about your musical tastes, vocal abilities, etc. I could list over 100 songs. I need to narrow down the list.


yeah, ok I get more info needed and "any song" could work for this. I was primarily looking for some suggestions to narrow things down a bit. Songs others have done and found to work, be entertaining to an audience and fun to play.

Musical tastes are wide ranging: beatles to buffet to sonny landreth to brad paisley. neil young to black sabbath and all points in between.

Basically, we are looking more towards songs that could work well as instrumentals rather than vocal driven songs. Eg: songs that you've tried that maybe started life as vocal driven songs but you found that doing them as instrumentals worked too, if that makes sense.

Chicago Slim

For instrumentals:
Surf Rider
Sleep Walk
(we also wrote some of our own, but you won't hold peoples attention for long, without vocals.)

Beatles songs are great with two vocalists:
I Call Your Name
Eight Days A Week
Things We Said Today

Midnight Special
Stuck On You
Old Time Rock & Roll
Bad Things (True Blood Theme)
Secret Agent Man
Good Luck Charm (good with two vocalists)
One Sided Love Affair
Blues Stay Away From Me
Lotta Lovin'
Lawdy Miss Clawdy
Too Much
Honey Don't
Little Sister
Under The Boardwalk
Neon Moon
Night Life
Sixteen Candles
I Forgot To Remember To Forget
(Can you tell I like Elvis, but don't want to impersonate him?)

This Is Amazing Grace
Your Love Is Like A River
Open The Eyes Of My Heart
I Saw The Light
I'll Fly Away
In The Garden
Softly And Tenderly
Are You Washed In The Blood
King Of Glory

Learn to support each other, vocally.
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I have an acoustic duo with a young female singer and songs that always go over well are the ones with lots of harmonies all the way through. People are always more impressed with good singing than anything we do on guitar.


Silver Supporting Member
I'm in a trio, guitar+backup vocals, percussion+backups, and uke/harmonica+lead vocals. Here's some of our songs:

No Woman No Cry (bob marley)
Waiting in Vain
Stir it Up
Wiser Time (crowes)
Wildflowers (tom petty)
Don't Touch Me Tomato (old calypso thing)
Odds Are (BNL)
Mother Goose (tull)
Dun Ringil (tull)
Cheap Day Return (tull)
Hide Your Love Away
If I Needed Someone
Handle with Care (willburys)
Overkill (colin hay)
Waiting for my real life (colin hay)
Wagon Wheel

But really almost any song will work. You just have to accept that your version may not include the iconic parts that your ear is used to hearing. You just need to work the song. And put harmonized vocals on almost everything :)


Silver Supporting Member
Strictly instrumental or will one or both of you be singing?

If singing, pick tunes you can sing well. Vocal harmony would be a big plus. If you have limited vocal ranges, transpose.

If instrumental only:
I'd start with songs that have an interesting, identifiable melody. If they're fairly simple, try harmonizing the lines; might sound good on mando.

Feel free to play with tempo: Fast/slower or try a four-on-the-floor as a shuffle.

Try the lead voice on an instrument that isn't "right" (when my duo plays I Feel Fine, I do the hook on bass).

While you're going to be stripping tunes down to their basic parts, remember the power of suggestion. Listen to the way some soloists establish a rhythm or bass line and then move to another part; best example I can think of is Tommy Emmanuel's Beatles medley.


Not instrumental but these work for an acoustic duo and are fun to play.

Two of Us Beatles
Wild Horses Rolling Stones
Tequila Sunrise Eagles
Ventura Highway America


Call me crazy, but I'd love to hear an acoustic duo tear this up.
Maybe close with it. Take some liberties with it, shorten it up if you want.


Senior Member
Welcome Home by Peters and Lee- for those of you not familiar....(with this utter car crash....)


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