Top Ten Greatest Guitar Riffs


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The Top Ten

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! ;-)
[Newest]That's the best riff ever made together with paradise city

2Smoke 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


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!
[Newest]I'm awesome... that's a well known fact... laugh out loud... And I love this song... So this is the best guitar riff on the list! ;-)

3Enter 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.




never heared such a 'deathly' riff...


[Newest]Simple best song of all time I'm learning to play it on the electric guitar

4Smells 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


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
[Newest]Kurt cobain I really admire you!

5Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin
this should so be #1! smoke on the water is good but too over rated and over played.


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


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


[Newest]Whole Lotta Love can't be topped! The guitar riff draws you in right from the start and you just can't stop listening to it!

6Unholy Confession - 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.


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


[Newest]I love unholy confessions!

7Crazy 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?


Without doubt, this song ought to be among the top three greatest riffs ever... Randy rhoads for the win
This riff is one of the best crazy song about a crazy man riding a crazy train can it get better ozzy rock ass if you don't agry do your self a favor and die alla abored h
Honestly, mr crowley tops this song hands down

8Iron 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,
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!
How Is This Number Nine?!
Number 2 For Sure!


[Newest]Awesome song, it's a classic should be 2

9Back In Black - AC/DC
The Riff that helped sell approx. 50 million albums, 'enough said.
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.


10Hells 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
Best all time. It's just amazing. Although curiously, they play it faster in concert, not that I'm complaining.
I just seen them live in their latest black ice tour and this song was AMAZING along with the whole show


The Contenders

11Layla - Derek & The Dominos
Eric Clapton! Enough said!


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.


[Newest]Clapton is GOD. Enough said.

12(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones
It's the tone that sounds like a foghorn blasting you from a deep sleep.
It has to do with as much to do with when as it does with what it is. It was THE BEGINNING. There will never be another beginning. Those eight notes sparked as much life as any other 8 or 80 notes will ever
If this isn't number one, it's time to go back to the drawing board. There is just no comparison.

13Raise Your Hands - Bon Jovi
The whole song is a guitar masterpiece!


Really amazing riff listen to it now


[Newest]Raise your hands, as first song in concert : everyone obeys Jonny ^^

14Walk 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!


This is the best riff ever and no matter what you say people!

15The Trooper - Iron Maiden
I was blown away the first time I heard "The Trooper. " Really a great song.
What! How is this not in the top 5. Heavy metal was basically create around the GALLOPING riffs of THE TROOPER
This is the perfect melodic guitar riff. Amazing. Can't believe it's not in top 5


16Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes
When people sing this song at a football game without even knowing who wrote it, you when you know its 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

17Master of Puppets - Metallica
When I saw the list, I fully expected this to be number one. Clicking on the list and having to scroll to 36 to find it thoroughly disappointed me. Every time I scrolled, I died a bit.

#1 is Smoke on the Water. Even if it is the most 'recognizable', that does NOT mean it's the best. In comparison with a lot of things, it's actually a really bad riff.

#3 is Enter Sandman. The Black Album (not to mention everything after it) sucks.

I don't feel like critiquing every "riff" before Master of Puppets, but here's a hint: ALMOST ALL OF THEM SUCK.

To quote another comment: "You people wouldn't know a riff if the guitar itself slapped you in the face. "
You people wouldn't know a riff if the guitar itself slapped you in the face. This is the best metal riff full stop, such honest metal, Metallica in their prime.
One of the greatest riffs ever! This should be at least in top 5. How the hell is it 35?
I LOVE this song... This should be at least 5 up on the list if not 3 or even 2

18Can't Stop - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Can't stop the spirits when they need you, this life is more than just a read-through


No guitar riff can be better than this... Just too good
John Frusciante Is A Beast In This Song


[Newest]You just can't stop hearing this riff inside your head!

19Plug in Baby - Muse
This should be number one. Matt is a revolutionary guitarist and an amazing song writer. I understand some people do not like Muse's style or how Matt uses his voice (I think he is amazing), but even they have to admit this riff is amazing. Forever a Muser.
This is the best Total Guitar voted of the past decade! :)

He should be in an higher rank! :)

It is also really good to play, and all the song is great ;)
Great riff...
When I go in Guitar shops I see everyone play this its so good.


[Newest]This is such a good riff! Everyone should know how to play this. It's so fun to play!

20Thunderstruck - AC/DC
Honestly this riff is extremely easy. But that being said its still one of the best song riffs ever.
This should be #1.
It's the hardest and the best guitar rift ever


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

21Snow (Hey Oh) - Red Hot Chili Peppers
The riff is awesome cause even thought Jphn Frusciante is playing really fast, it still sounds relaxing


Most Songs are just written so the guitarist can show of his skill and they forget about making good music. RHCP is one of the only bands that make good music.


This riff... Simply amazing. It truly touches your soul and calms your entire body. Definitely the best riff of the 2000s.

22Sunshine of Your Love - Cream
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.
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!
Great song, and to the guy who commented on Smells like Teen Spirit, Smoke on the Water came out in the Seventies...


23Johnny B. Goode - Chuck Berry
Should be higher up, probably lacks popularity because it's so hard to play but it is an awesome song.
The Father of them all, this Riff gave rise to half of the other riffs on this page so there's no way it should be this low down.
This is the father of rock'n roll, must be number one

24Kashmir - 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
[Newest]Number 41?!?! This deserves to be 40 spots higher!

25Day Tripper - The Beatles
Go ahead, listen to this song, just hear that riff
Should at least be in the top ten. so recognizable.

26Citizen Erased - Muse
Incredible riff, fabulous song!


Muse's music is completely amazing, and out of the box. Plug In Baby was voted the Best Riff of the century. Many of their songs deserve to be right up there. Matthew Bellamy is the best guitarist in the world.
Brilliant riff should be at the top ten

27Heartbreaker - Led Zeppelin
So much more interesting than Smoke on the Water. Lets face it, a Jimmy Page riff must be number one, and this is the best Page riff.
The Only Riff In my opinion that gets better every time you here it. It just keeps on sounding more complex. In my opinion that is what a great riff needs!
Absolutely fanatstic riff! And such a cool (and difficult to get right, I might add) sound that Jimmy played it with! I always use this riff as my tuning cycle, and whenever I need to warm up or anything, I play this riff. LED ZEPPELIN FOREVER!

28Highway To Hell - AC/DC
It's a legendary riff the best three chord riff ever


Very catchy and hard-ass

29Rock You Like a Hurricane - Scorpions
Whats weong with everyone this is way better than half of the ones in the top ten
Rudulf Schenker is brilliant songwriter and musician this song is an anthem. I grew up with this. Rock on guys.
I would also vote for boston... These two songs made me want to play the guitar

30November Rain - Guns N' Roses
This should be in the top 10, at least. One of the greatest riffs/solos ever. Better than 'Welcome to the Jungle' and 'Sweet Child O' Mine'
Have you ever listen a guitar sing? Yeah november rain does!
Slash on 39? Seriously? The best guitarist ever on 39?
Please listen to this at least once!
This is his best guitar riff after Sweet child of mine.
I have to say that this song is the WORST riff ever! Most overrated Guns n' Roses song there is!


31Purple Haze - The Jimi Hendrix Experience
This song is so fun to play it's something I try to play every time I perform. I think it's cool the inspration for the song was an aquatic dream!

32Black Dog - Led Zeppelin
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
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
Riff was actually written by John Paul Jones, but played so brilliantly of course by Jimmy Page. And Robert Plant's opening line "Hey hey Mama said the way you move..." is the best sung line in all rock!

33Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Sweet Home Alabama! ROLL TIDE ROLL!

34Paranoid - Black Sabbath
This is one easy song and still it rocks, and think how many covers this song has, so if you don't like the original, there somewere would one you would like. Vote for the best song ever
First song I ever learned on guitar, and the opening riff is still my favorite riff of all time.

35Holy Wars... The Punishment Due - Megadeth
Wow. Just wow. You people who voted must not know what a guitar riff even is if Holy Wars is all the way down here. The fact that Enter Sandman is at number 3 shows how ignorant and simple minded everyone is. That is a total joke. Enter Sandman should be on the worst riffs list. I know I sound like a fanboy, but any Megadeth song would beat the riffs ranked higher than this. The entire top ten list is nothing but simplistic rubbish that happens to be popular. Just because they are iconic does not mena that they are by any means the best riffs. In fact, a list of "best guitar riffs" should consist of songs by Megadeth, 80's era Metallica, Slayer, Exodus, Testament, Anthrax, Nuclear Assault, Death, Death Angel, Sacred Reich, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and newer bands like Havok, Evile, Warbringer, etc. But as usual, I get to see a list containing Guns N' Roses, Avenged sevenfold, System of a Down, and slipknot. Yay... -_-
Go to hell this is one of the best riffs ever written and it deserves at least a top 5 place. Don't believe me? Go and listen to the song. It will blow your brains out!
Only, seriously I get the classic ness or whatever of smoke on the water but seriously that riff is SO simplistic, holy wars is complex, thrashy, fast, intense and just awesome
[Newest]This song and hangar 18 are best riffs I have heard
Where is hangar 18 in this list?

36B.Y.O.B. - System of a Down
Can't get it out of my head


37You Really Got Me - The Kinks
I love the the guitar work ihope tobe that good someday
Wonder to see it down here. Undoubtedly, "You Really Got Me" by the Kinks is one the best riffs ever. Just check it out, it's awesome. So upvote, come on.

38Afterlife - Avenged Sevenfold
One of the best riffs I've ever heard!
A7X rules! they've got two of the best guitarists in the world!


This riff is extremely catchy, with hamers and pull-off... Extremely melodic... And also got the best solo ever along with Cemetary Gates and Floods! A7x rocks and Syn is the best!
syn's best for me
i like 4.00 this song


Just because Smoke On The Water is the most recognisable riff doesn't mean its the greatest. Smoke On The Water is easy to play but most of A7Xs solos aren't. That's why I say Syn is one of the best in the world


39Crazy On You - Heart

40Money for Nothing - Dire Straits
WHY IS THIS NUMBER 85? This is such an incredible riff! How is Avenged Sevenfold, Nirvana, The White Stripes and "SLIPKNOT" (what) ahead of this amazing riff? Get your money for nothing' an' your chicks for free!
This is one of those that you just can't prevent yourself from playing the air guitar to. Mark Knopfler's tone with this song, as well as the overall beat make for one of the best songs of the 1980's.


So much to listen to and for in the music of Dire Straits. A real musical adventure/feast. Same applies to Steely Dan.REAL MUSIC.
[Newest]I want to change my vote to this. I wish I could

41Painkiller - Judas Priest
37? Really? Wow people, I don't even know what to say, this is one of the most amazkng riffs ever :(

42The Lady Loved The Outlaw - The Country Funkin' Do - Dahz
Only recently released, the riff in this is bound to become a classic

43Otherside - Red Hot Chili Peppers
This is a very-simple riff, but I challenge anyyone to write one as amazing as this!


44Duality - Slipknot

45Tears Don't Fall - Bullet for My Valentine
I don't know why they are not in the list.. Try any one song by them.. And I mean any one... And you will be crazy by the guitar riffs and the music and everything..
Can't belive its not in the top 10

46Walk - Pantera
amzing riff one of the ones that you just cant get out of your head and when you hear you just star rockin-out where ever you are
One of the most powerful riffs of all time

47Tie Your Mother Down - Queen
One of the best riffs to ever begin a live show... And one of my favourite rock songs. Brian May has a few great ones to choose from; Queen didn't do a lot in that regard, so the few they did use were smokin.
Best damn riff ever. Can't believe this is the only queen song here. People should start listening to good music

48One - Metallica
Should be in the top 10 because if you listen to the song you will hear the word "help" being tapped out in morse code.


Why is this all the way down here?! It's one of the greatest guitar riffs EVER! AND one of the most recognisable, it should e in the top 20!


49Dammit - blink-182
Wheres eddie van halen here? Hot for teacher is number one by far?
Take your pants off!

50Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd
The 4 min guitar solo of this song beats them all...
YOU GET LOST IN THE 3 GUITAR RIFF! How is this not top 10. always gets my head bobbling to the music
This is an other that harder to play then it sounds and get it right!

51Let It Go - Def Leppard

52Voodoo Child (Slight Return) - Jimi Hendrix
This is a disgrace. Voodoo Child at number 42? Wow, this lists needs some serious contemplation.
Clearly more people need to take The Jimi Hendrix Experience!
Hands down one of the greatest riffs ever created!

53Stockholm Syndrome - Muse
Man! Great written guitar riff it is like a crazy left hand practising song

54Killing In the Name - Rage Against the Machine
Why is this all the way down here? This is the greatest guitar riff in the history of rock, metal, nu metal, and all music genres
One of the best riffs in rock history, when you hear it you know what it is right away.

55Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath
One of the evilest Riff and should be way towards the top. Iommi is king of Riffs.

56The Number of the Beast - Iron Maiden
Just try to make a riff like this one. Easy and so good.
The number of my cat

And I thought Slither was a Metallica song, not... Velvet Revolver. But whatever. I gave this my vote anyway.

57Bulls On Parade - Rage Against the Machine
Probably Rage Against The Machine's most memerable and widely played song. Tom Morello dose a great job of making musical volcanic eruptions. So simple, so powerful. And then comes... WAH WAH CHIKA WAH WAH CHIKA CHIKA CHIKA...
Then that epic solo that sounds like a turntable!

58Tom Sawyer - Rush
the riff is bassiccly rushs theme song
Alex Lifeson- what an amazing guitarist!

59Walk With Me In Hell - Lamb of God
Killer riffs from mark morton.

60(Don't Fear) The Reaper - Blue Oyster Cult
This is a pretty scary, but good song. It's based on Romeo and Juliet, and the guitar is amazing.

61Indestructible - Disturbed

62All Along The Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix
These assessments are ridiculous and often just for promotional purposes. However intentionally provocative I will say that there is a lot of good music here. Though indistinguishable as to what is the best, if one can quantify that. I guess my biggest problem is who adjudicates over such a silly category. Often those with limited perspective, so we wallow in their design. Throw their judgments away. They have no voice of authority to do so. I'm an old man (64) and grew up with the greats, worked at the Fillmore East and will say that my view has no more merit than the idiots who propose such a silly idea. No Beck, Green, Lee etc etc... Haha, come on...
The best guitar rift of all time. He plays it straight, then slide, then wah wah, then back to straight. Not one other mentioned guitar rift has this variety or explosive energy. This should be Number One!
I would have liked to have been at the recording studio to hear this one being put down in history. I have listened to this song hundreds of times and I'm sure I will listen many hundreds more..

63Layla - Derek And The Dominos
Best riff of all time, by far. way better than claptons original acoustic

64Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll - Blue Oyster Cult

65Stay Away - L'arc~en~ciel
I love the song, great music, specially the guitar.


there's distortion and the weird guitar solo


66Laid to Rest - Lamb of God

67Hallowed Be Thy Name - Iron Maiden
Completely underrated riff, solo, lyrics, and song.


Love it, best song on 'Number if the Beast' and I'm an old rocker so I should know!

68Bonded by Blood - Exodus

69Barracuda - Heart
Surprisingly low for one of the most catchy riffs out there.

70Sad But True - Metallica

71Burn - Deep Purple

72T.N.T. - AC/DC

73Stricken - Disturbed

74Beat It - Michael Jackson

75Good Riddance - Green Day
It's a catchy song not my fave song forever and the riff is easy to remember and is in tune with the song I played this whole song by just making a few changes to the riff and it was like you couldn't even tell the diffrence
I can't help falling in love with this acoustic guitar's sound!
The classic sound by a classic guitar just sounds awesome!


[Newest]This is a good song but it's not really a riff


76Cliffs of Dover - Eric Johnson

77In Pieces - Linkin Park
I'm 100% sure, no one would've listened to this song... I myself was shocked because the song is a bit dry but LINKIN PARK DELIVERED AN 80'S GUITAR RIFF here and its MESMERISING

78Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton
I love In The Flesh, Over The Hills and Far Away, Whole Lotta Love, Daytripper, Sunshine of Your Love, all that stuff. But I believe this is one of, if not the, greatest love song ever written.

79Jordan - Buckethead

80More Than a Feeling - Boston
prolly one of the catchiest riffs ever


81You Shook Me All Night Long - AC/DC

82Roulette - System of a Down

83Purple Haze - Jimi Hendrix

84Madhouse - Anthrax

85Hot For Teacher - Van Halen

86Beast and the Harlot - Avenged Sevenfold

87Hysteria - Muse

88Money - Pink Floyd
Gotta be up with the top 10... Iconic... Is the root of all evil today.
It's a shame Guns N' Roses is above this epic masterpiece. Best guitar riff ever.
Its not in classical 4/4 time signature. ITs actually in a 7/4 time signature which makes the riff so uniqe

89Aqualung - Jethro Tull

90Mechanix - Megadeth
Any Megadeth riff, dave mustaine was ranked number one rhythm metal guitarist in guitar one mag. i have no clue why there is no respect to him on this site, it's the overpowering metallica that makes megadeth get ignored when they are equals. Mechanix is the original four horsemen
the fastest riff I ever heard. fits about 100 chords in every second. the master - mustaine. megadeth ftw!

91Ain't Talkin' Bout Love - Van Halen
why is this not on the list?
the best intro of all time


Eddie is a one of kind

92Parallels - As I Lay Dying

93Born To Be Wild - Steppenwolf
C'mon guys! the first biker song!


94Scar Tissue - Red Hot Chili Peppers

95It's A Long Way To The Top - AC/DC
Such a good guitar riff


96Fade to Black - Metallica
Truly the greatest guitar riff ever made! If you haven't heard this song, you should definitely do it! Because you will be blown away!
Great solo, great song, great band! Metallica for life! M/

97Headstrong - Trapt

98Are You Gonna Go My Way - Lenny Kravitz

99Stranglehold - Ted Nugent
For a pure strong and simply gut grabbing solo-Stranglehold is the BEST ever! And I have heard them all. There is no watered down note, no interference, no cover --just every bit of it clear and perfect and TOUGH! Give that bowhunter his due!
This should be number one NO CONTEST this is the BEST the 89 songs ahead of this one are good but this one stands above the rest
Song for tough guys

100You Give Love A Bad Name - Bon Jovi
one of the best riffs of richie sambora, the guitarist of bon jovi


amazing riff! you can't get it out of your head


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This list was created 7 years, 179 days ago and has been voted on over 9,000 times. This top ten list contains 403 items, has been remixed 33 times and has been blogged about 1 times.

Updated Monday, November 24, 2014

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