Five Killer Rock-Song Arrangements for Classical Guitar

(Image credit: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

We’ve said it once before—classical guitar isn’t limited to classical music. To back that up, we carefully curated a list of five videos featuring awesome rock song arrangements made especially classical guitar. From Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” to Metallica’s “Orion,” these arrangements prove classical guitar is a thing of beauty whose versatility should be admired, explored and should definitely not be underestimated. If you're a beginner classical guitar player, get inspired by some of these. 

Metallica, “Orion” cover by Rodrigo y Gabriela

Few things make us happier than Metallica and classical guitar, and when you combine them both, well that’s just a magical combination. And that’s precisely what Rodrigo y Gabriela’s cover of Metallica’s “Orion” is—sheer magic. Check out their punchy, head-banging arrangement of “Orion” below. Not bad, is it?

Eric Clapton, “Wonderful Tonight” cover by Daria Semikina

In its original state, “Wonderful Tonight” is already a great song. But Russian guitarist Daria Semikina takes it to another level with her arrangement on classical guitar. The soft and velvety sound of the nylon strings offer an extra layer of innocent beauty to the music. By the end of the song, you’re likely to be in a complete state of bliss.

Dire Straits, “Sultans of Swing” cover by Pedro Javier González

Who knew “Sultans of Swing” would sound so nice with a Spanish flair? Here, Spanish guitarist Pedro Javier González displays wicked skills through his arrangement of the classic hit song. And if you think he can’t pull off the solo, just wait and see…

The Beatles, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” cover by Hiroshi Masuda

Hiroshi Masuda translates the quirky and playful essence of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” through his arrangement for classical guitar. He captures everything from the bass and the melody, and churns it out into a sophisticated interpretation for nylon strings.

U2, “With or Without You” cover by Nathan Cragg

U2 and classical guitar… and unlikely pairing? Think again! This arrangement is an elegant rendition of the band’s song “With or Without You,” where arranger and performer Nathan Cragg becomes a one-man band delicately performing a chart-topping song on an instrument that isn’t known for its mainstream popularity (yet!). Who would’ve known?

We challenge you to come up with your own rock song arrangement for classical guitar! Because you just never know how good Pantera or the Rolling Stones can sound on nylon strings until you give it a try…

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Pauline France

A classically trained guitarist with a soft spot for metal, Pauline France is synonymous with all things writing, guitar and public relations – she is Guitar & PR. Her career in M.I. spans more than 15 years, working in Fender Musical Instruments Corporation’s communications departments, as well as being a Fender Play Instructor and on-camera personality for Fender Premium Audio.