Top Ten Greatest Guitar Riffs


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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]Greatest riff ever, Hands down! Year 1974 with 1968 Plymouth 383 Road Runner with this blaring, time to push the pedal to the medal and rock out.

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]This riff at the beginning of the song is the best cover letter ever.

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]In Bloom was better

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


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.


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.

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?


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.

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.


[Newest]Amazing... Just an amazing song

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.
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

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


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!

15Raise Your Hands - Bon Jovi
The whole song is a guitar masterpiece!


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

16Master 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?
[Newest]Supposed to be within top 5

17Seven 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

18Kashmir - 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!

19Sunshine 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...


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


21Black 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
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!

22Can'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!

23Plug 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]My favourite muse song!

24Snow (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.
[Newest]This riff is just amazing! One of the most original riffs ever written

25Citizen Erased - Muse
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.
Incredible riff, fabulous song!


Brilliant riff should be at the top ten

26Johnny 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

27Holy 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]The blinding alternate picking and constant tempo changes is what makes this my choice. It's a perfect song in general

28November Rain - Guns N' Roses
Guitar Riff isn't only about speed and loudness. Come on! I don't even see "Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin" up there! And this.. song has one of the PUREST RIFFS ever! The guitar sings, cries, and pulls you right into the heart of this song! Slash is wonderful and this riff is one, you should definitely listen to! I hope to see this up there someday along with 'Stairway to Heaven'.
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!

29Purple 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!

30Highway To Hell - AC/DC
It's a legendary riff the best three chord riff ever


Very catchy and hard-ass

31Heartbreaker - 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!

32Rock You Like a Hurricane - Scorpions
I would also vote for boston... These two songs made me want to play the guitar
Whats weong with everyone this is way better than half of the ones in the top ten
The Scorpions invented shredding... This song epitomizes this technique

33Day Tripper - The Beatles
Go ahead, listen to this song, just hear that riff
Should at least be in the top ten. so recognizable.

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.

35Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Sweet Home Alabama! ROLL TIDE ROLL!

36Walk - 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

37Money 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

38B.Y.O.B. - System of a Down
Can't get it out of my head


39Hallowed Be Thy Name - Iron Maiden
Completely underrated riff, solo, lyrics, and song.


Hallowed Be Thy Name is one of the greatest song in history. And riff is amazing!
Love it, best song on 'Number if the Beast' and I'm an old rocker so I should know!

40You 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.

41Crazy On You - Heart

42Afterlife - 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


[Newest]Come on! 67th! This is ridiculous! Best solo they have ever done, apart from So Far Away in my opinion


43The Lady Loved The Outlaw - The Country Funkin' Do - Dahz
Only recently released, the riff in this is bound to become a classic

44Painkiller - Judas Priest
Priest has some of the best and heaviest guitar riffs of all time and they can't get even one song in the top 10?!
37? Really? Wow people, I don't even know what to say, this is one of the most amazkng riffs ever :(

45Burn - Deep Purple
Great start to the song


46Voodoo 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!
This is one of the most iconic guitar riffs EVER. It hurts me to think about how many of the first 65 songs don't deserve to be on this list.
[Newest]This should be in the top 5?!

47Duality - Slipknot

48Otherside - Red Hot Chili Peppers
This is a very-simple riff, but I challenge anyyone to write one as amazing as this!


49Free 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!

50Are You Gonna Go My Way - Lenny Kravitz

51Money - 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

52Tears 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

53One - 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!


54Dammit - blink-182
Take your pants off!
Wheres eddie van halen here? Hot for teacher is number one by far?

55Let It Go - Def Leppard

56Stockholm Syndrome - Muse
Man! Great written guitar riff it is like a crazy left hand practising song

57Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath
One of the evilest Riff and should be way towards the top. Iommi is king of Riffs.

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

59Killing 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.

60The 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.

61Bulls 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!

62Walk With Me In Hell - Lamb of God
Killer riffs from mark morton.

63(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.

64Stay Away - L'arc~en~ciel
I love the song, great music, specially the guitar.


there's distortion and the weird guitar solo


65You Shook Me All Night Long - AC/DC

66All 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..

67Barracuda - Heart
Surprisingly low for one of the most catchy riffs out there.

68Indestructible - Disturbed

69More Than a Feeling - Boston
prolly one of the catchiest riffs ever


70Layla - Derek And The Dominos
Best riff of all time, by far. way better than claptons original acoustic

71Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll - Blue Oyster Cult

72Laid to Rest - Lamb of God

73Good 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


74Bonded by Blood - Exodus

75In 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

76Jordan - Buckethead

77T.N.T. - AC/DC

78Cliffs of Dover - Eric Johnson

79Sad But True - Metallica

80Pinball Wizard - The Who
One of the best riffs of britan invasion! Just listen the Isle of Wight version

81Stricken - Disturbed

82Wonderful 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.

83Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd
This is without a doubt the most intense and nerve pulling riff ever made, David Gilmore really touched deep fibers, goose bumps all over!

84Tie 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

85Beast and the Harlot - Avenged Sevenfold

86Madhouse - Anthrax

87Mechanix - 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!

88Ain'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

89Roulette - System of a Down

90Purple Haze - Jimi Hendrix

91Hysteria - Muse

92Aqualung - Jethro Tull

93Sharp Dressed Man - ZZ Top

94Parallels - As I Lay Dying

95Born To Be Wild - Steppenwolf
C'mon guys! the first biker song!


96Scar Tissue - Red Hot Chili Peppers

97It's A Long Way To The Top - AC/DC
Such a good guitar riff


98Fade 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/

99You 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


100Headstrong - Trapt

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This list was created 7 years, 331 days ago and has been voted on over 10,000 times. This top ten list contains 415 items, has been remixed 38 times and has been blogged about 1 times.

Updated Saturday, April 25, 2015

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