Top Ten Greatest Guitar Riffs


August 4, 2015 - Don't agree with the list? Vote for an existing item you think should be ranked higher or if you are a logged in, add a new item for others to vote on or create your own version of this list.

The Top Ten

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


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]The Stooges played this lick 2 years before in "Loose."

2Sweet 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]How did smoke on the water beat sweet child o mine? Smoky water is easy to play but this song took months of practice and I still don't sound like slash. Smoking water is so overplayed

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]The most evil sounding riff I've ever heard..

4Crazy 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?


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
[Newest]What? Master Of Puppets is better than Enter Sandman, and Sweet Child o Mine is so overrated. This is the first song I ever learned on the guitar and I'd have to say this is at least the second best riff of all time.

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


Really? Whole Lotta Love is the most brutal rip off in music history. Give a listen to 'You need love' by Muddy Waters. This song can be number 1 only on the list of Top 10 Rip Offs.
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]I tap my pencil to the rhythm of this in class whenever I think of this song.

6Smells 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]In Bloom was better

7Back 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.


[Newest]Amazing... Just an amazing song

8(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.

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
[Newest]This and "Smoke on the Water" are the top 2

9Iron 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

10Layla - 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.

The Contenders

11Hells 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


12Unholy 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!

13The 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


[Newest]I feel like this should be in the top 5. The Trooper is one of the funnest riffs to play on Guitar and on Guitar Hero

14Thunderstruck - 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.
[Newest]Why isn't this song higher?


15Sunshine 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...


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

17Walk 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!

18Johnny 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

19Day Tripper - The Beatles
Go ahead, listen to this song, just hear that riff
Should at least be in the top ten. so recognizable.

20You 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.

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This list was created 8 years, 67 days ago and has been voted on over 10,000 times. This top ten list contains 425 items, has been remixed 43 times and has been blogged about 1 times.

Updated Tuesday, August 04, 2015

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