Top Ten Greatest Guitar Riffs

DeathToMayo

The Top Ten

1 Smoke On the Water - Deep Purple Smoke On the Water - Deep Purple

Simply the greatest and most memorable guitar riff ever, written by Ritchie Blackmore, the greatest, most all-round talented guitarist ever. He had a gift for great riffs, amongst many other things, and this riff will forever ensure he has a spot in history.

This is the most recognised riffs in rock n' roll history.. Ritchie blackmore has down an excellent job in this song.. I even like his riffs in his "rainbow" band too - amitcornelius1

What a great riff from a great band! I love how Richie Blackmore plays this riff, even though it is very simple he makes it sound brilliant! And a top album to boot!

Definitely the best riff ever... And the best and quite underestimated guitarist in rock!

V 50 Comments
2 Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns N' Roses Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns N' Roses

"I don't understand why people compare Slash to God. I'm mean God is good but he's not Slash. "
-somebody on YouTube

Hell no this can't be! Smoke on the water is easy to play and even I can play it on my guitar but sweet child of mine I can't even imagine how slash plays the riffs without a hinge whereas I can even play the first chord of the song. This should be number 1!

Ask someone if he knows that. He will recognize it! It' the most famous of all! And to be so famous. it's to be absolutely great! ;-)

This riff is good, but I think that that shouldn't be close to first at all! - Feirceraven

V 75 Comments
3 Enter Sandman - Metallica Enter Sandman - Metallica

This one blows all of the options away! Hands down the best rock song and riff ever to hit the airwaves to this day. - suthrnbell0105

SINISTER! LOVE IT. LOVE IT. LOVE IT. LOVE IT. LOVE IT. LOVE IT. LOVE IT. LOVE IT. LOVE IT. LOVE IT. LOVE IT. LOVE IT. LOVE IT. LOVE IT. LOVE IT. LOVE IT. LOVE IT. LOLOVE IT. LOVE IT. LOVE IT... You get the idea - MasterThrasher

never heared such a 'deathly' riff... - sumitgd3

This riff has become the most famous of any metal song ever for its sheer badassery. I like the riffs in Master of Puppets and Creeping Death better but I'll vote for this since it's in the top 10.

V 30 Comments
4 Crazy Train - Ozzy Osbourne Crazy Train - Ozzy Osbourne

Really? This far down in the list? Crazy Train must have the best riff ever. Randy Rhoads left this piece of music for us and it's so far down the list. what is the world getting to? - 2440080345

Did you listen to the riff before giving it a score. Randy Rhoads is awesome. Most of his riffs come from his classical guitar studies, and I have heard comments from other band members like "while some of the band was doing drugs and getting laid, Randy was practicing, and you would have to to be that good. I would like to know what the scores are based on.

Without doubt, this song ought to be among the top three greatest riffs ever... Randy rhoads for the win

This is a great hardcore riff and I agree at what position, but where is Layla, I can't get no satisfaction, paranoid, iron man and sunshine of your love? Some people miss out key riffs!

V 21 Comments
5 Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin

this should so be #1! smoke on the water is good but too over rated and over played. - dltafrc21

In response to the guy who's talking about the song's use of Muddy Waters' lyrics, that isn't really relevant here! We're talking about riffs, and Whole Lotta Love's riff is 100% Jimmy Page! Not to mention 100% rocking' hard. - higgsboson2142

Jimmy page is the best... The horny sound in the middle of the song is sexy;)... Other bands like Guns N' Roses had copied this idea - Joyrider

The best of th best! long live led zep! although RIP for john bohnam! - Jedi99

How the hell it is at 4? It deserves number 1 spot

V 19 Comments
6 Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana

Yup has to be in the 10 lists because the riffs by Cobain were so amazing and that he provided undeniable vocals make this still a contender for a the greatest song ever

smells like teen spirit is one of the best songs of all time, and it's refreshing to see a list where HEART isn't in the top ten - pauler94

Some of the best riffs are not even on the top 10 come on people by the way SLTS is one of the easiest riffs to learn but it makes you go crazy when the guitar goes into overdrive

The riff sounds like it's talking

V 30 Comments
7 Iron Man - Black Sabbath

Its to hard to pick just one riff, I don't c in the list you really got me from the kinks,

How Is This Number Nine?!
Number 2 For Sure! - Neosantana

This is definitively number 1! I can't believe they put Sweet Child O' Mine before this AMAZING song! What is wrong with you people! Tony Iommi is the riff master!

So simple, but so effective. Gets stuck in my head all the time, and for a good reason. This is the greatest guitar riff ever!

V 11 Comments
8 (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones

It's the tone that sounds like a foghorn blasting you from a deep sleep.

If this isn't number one, it's time to go back to the drawing board. There is just no comparison. - chris.cg.102

This riff literally is so unique. Keith Richards apparently woke up in the middle of the night with the riff in his head, recorded it, and went back too bed. He said he had no memory of doing this and woke up in the morning with this sick riff on the tapes.

You can't help but dance to that awesome riff - RecklessGreed

V 7 Comments
9 Layla - Derek & The Dominos Layla - Derek & The Dominos

Everyone can sing this riff, and whether or not you like him as a man, Eric Clapton is an incredibly talented guitarist. This riff is a classic and always will be.

Just want to clarigy, Clapton didn't write the riff. Also, you only hear him play it for the first 15 seconds or so of the song - then it's all Duane - he makes the song and the solo, heck he makes most of the album. - megatron12

This and Sweet Child as a close second. Classic, unforgettable riff.

Best riff ever.

V 8 Comments
10 Back In Black - AC/DC

Yeah definitely it should be in the top ten it has a great riff

back in balck is the best album, best song, and best riff by acdc. its the best riff ever fun to play or listen to. - lezakattack

This was hard to say for me becauseso many of these riffs are bad ass, but let's face it. Back in Black is one of the most memorable, and easily the catchiest riff. As for smoke on the water, I've never really liked that one, it's slow and boring. And smells like teen spirit is just a song, not so much a riff.

There's no way this could be at number 9 really? Smoke on the water is memorable but not number 1

V 13 Comments

The Newcomers

? Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman) - Led Zeppelin Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman) - Led Zeppelin
? What You Give - Tesla What You Give - Tesla V 2 Comments

The Contenders

11 Unholy Confessions - Avenged Sevenfold Unholy Confessions - Avenged Sevenfold

The riff is just amazing! synyster gates is one of the best! unholy confessions was the first song I heard by avenged sevenfold, and thats what got me to like them.

This riff just wanna let you jump through your whole room because of its coolness. - NightAntilli

the best song I've ever heard. this is the greatest, the guitar is just outstanding. I love it. - bruceee15

The first rock song I ever heard. It's what got me into rock. I listened to them and then my collection of bands got more broad and now I love it all. I wish they would put out a new album... I would be the first to buy it.

V 20 Comments
12 Hells Bells - AC/DC

I think it has a very unique and recognizable sound! Like many AC/DC songs it is a short riff that is repeated. It also makes their songs easy to learn! This my personal favorite riff to play

Just saying, the music videos 4 this and back in black are almost the same, but the song "hells bells" is still excellent! I love the soft, creepy riff!

It's not the hardest to play, or the fastest, but this is the most memorable and my personal favorite AC/DC song in large part to the opening riff.

First riff I ever learned

V 5 Comments
13 Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes

When people sing this song at a football game without even knowing who wrote it, you when you know it's a memorable riff.

Gosh, I love The White stripes. If I could play guitar, I'd learn all their songs! Especially "little cream soda".

Sick riff! This is one of those songs you can't get out of your head! Definitely in the top 10

This should definitely be in the top 10 the riff is so memerable with the genius within the song it is definitely in the top ten

V 8 Comments
14 Black Dog - Led Zeppelin Black Dog - Led Zeppelin

Killer, I love playing this riff, it never gets old. This should be way up in the top 10! Smells like teen spirit is in the top 10? I don't get it, it sounds good, but talk about easy to play. Cool technical riffs belong in the top

I thought everybody thought this was the greatest riff ever? I mean... Slash labelled it the sexiest riff of all time, and it was incredibly complex when written for the studio version

Can you think of a cooler, bad-ass riff to listen to. Nope, and even slash agrees. The ultimate Led Zeppelin riff, much better than whole lotta love. Smoke on the water was everyone's first riff, but this was everyone's favourite - Ledjam17

Sick riff. Should be way higher.

V 7 Comments
15 The Trooper - Iron Maiden The Trooper - Iron Maiden

What! How is this not in the top 5. Heavy metal was basically create around the GALLOPING riffs of THE TROOPER

I was blown away the first time I heard "The Trooper. " Really a great song.

This is the perfect melodic guitar riff. Amazing. Can't believe it's not in top 5 - TheoDR

Why isn't this in the top 10? It should be in the top 3! - cwoodkiter

V 5 Comments
16 Thunderstruck - AC/DC

Honestly this riff is extremely easy. But that being said its still one of the best song riffs ever.

Seriously amazing. You need to be REALLY good to beat this one. Epic, difficult, and AWERSOME.

V 7 Comments
17 Day Tripper - The Beatles Day Tripper - The Beatles

Go ahead, listen to this song, just hear that riff

Should at least be in the top ten. so recognizable.

V 1 Comment
18 Kashmir - Led Zeppelin Kashmir - Led Zeppelin

Seriously what!?!? This has to be number 1! Smoke on the water is overplayed... Arguably zeppelin's best riff... Page is just amazing

I thought this was the most recognized one, maybe not the best but come on, make anybody listen to the riff on this track, and they'll be like: "Hey I know this song! "

Hey the most addictive solo in rock n' roll history hey this has to be at the top

Not one of my favorite Led Zeppelin songs but its riff should be in the top 10.

V 11 Comments
19 Sunshine of Your Love - Cream Sunshine of Your Love - Cream

Hard to pick one riff, but this riff is simply amazing enough to get my vote. One of the greatest songs ever on one of the greatest albums ever released. Disraeli Gears!

Clapton doesn't use feedback like this any more, worse the luck. Baker's drums, Bruce's bass/vocals very good, but the guitar lick and the various fills he use still make hairs stand up.

Great song, and to the guy who commented on Smells like Teen Spirit, Smoke on the Water came out in the Seventies... - raiderfan372

Even if your over 50 its still great

V 1 Comment
20 Walk This Way - Aerosmith Walk This Way - Aerosmith

The guitar groove in the verse (not the main chorus riff) is next to impossible to play. I can barely do it an I've been playing for 20 years! - waex

V 1 Comment
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List StatsUpdated 24 Jan 2017

11,000 votes
481 listings
9 years, 241 days old

Top Remixes (52)

1. Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns N' Roses
2. Crazy Train - Ozzy Osbourne
3. Smoke On the Water - Deep Purple
DaRealXgen
1. Crazy Train - Ozzy Osbourne
2. Back In Black - AC/DC
3. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones
Toraqi
1. Smoke On the Water - Deep Purple
2. Crazy Train - Ozzy Osbourne
3. Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd
GaylaTwtson

WRemix
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