Top Ten Greatest Guitar Riffs

DeathToMayo

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The Top Ten

1
Smoke On the Water - Deep Purple
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

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.
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!
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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! ;-)
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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.

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

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4Unholy 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.

NightAntilli

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

bruceee15

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

dltafrc21

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

Jedi99

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

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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
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
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

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7Iron 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!
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8Back 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.

lezakattack

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9Hells 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

endlessdream

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10(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

Most well known but Jumpin Jack Flash is better
Listen to sample

The Contenders

11Crazy 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

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
Without doubt, this song ought to be among the top three greatest riffs ever... Randy rhoads for the win
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12Layla - Derek & The Dominos
Eric Clapton! Enough said!

Nirmal1991USA

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

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.
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13Seven 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
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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

ACDCRocks

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

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

richie4life

EVERYONE CAN RECOGNIZE THIS SONG! THIS IS FULL OF ENERGY! RAISE YOUR HANDS FROM NY TO CHICAGO! AND GIVE YOUR VOTES TO THIS SONG!
Really amazing riff listen to it now

ballaboi17

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16Walk 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

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

17Can't Stop - Red Hot Chili Peppers
can't stop the spirits when they need you, this life is more than just a read-through

Psykosauron

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

Dglass23

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18Snow (Hey Oh) - Red Hot Chili Peppers
The riff is awesome cause even thought Jphn Frusciante is playing really fast, it still sounds relaxing

RHCPfan

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.

RHCPfan

This riff... Simply amazing. It truly touches your soul and calms your entire body. Definitely the best riff of the 2000s.
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19Master 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?
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20November 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!
I have to say that this song is the WORST riff ever! Most overrated Guns n' Roses song there is!

PositronWildhawk

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21Johnny B. Goode - Chuck Berry
Should be higher up, probably lacks popularity because it's so hard to play but it is an awesome song.
This is the father of rock'n roll, must be number one
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22The 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
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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.

GlonnAtronnAdonnAdict

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24Paranoid - 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.

25Heartbreaker - 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!
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26Black 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!
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27Highway To Hell - AC/DC
Its a legendary riff the best three chord riff ever
Simple
BUT THE BEST RIFF EVER

shatti


28Citizen Erased - Muse
Incredible riff, fabulous song!

23delusions

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
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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
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30Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Sweet Home Alabama! ROLL TIDE ROLL!
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31Sunshine 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.
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
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32Duality - Slipknot Listen to sample

33Afterlife - Avenged Sevenfold
One of the best riffs I've ever heard!
A7X rules! they've got two of the best guitarists in the world!

SyNyStErVaLeNtine247

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

juicymetaly

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34Purple 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!
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35B.Y.O.B. - System of a Down
Can't get it out of my head

Gamenerd78

Boobs are super duper awesome I boobies they're round with nipples and they are good. I heart the big ones. The little ones are ok. Let me see your boobd
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36Tears 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
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37Day Tripper - The Beatles
Go ahead, listen to this song, just hear that riff
Should at least be in the top ten. so recognizable.
Listen to sample

38Let It Go - Def Leppard

39Killing 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.
Listen to sample

40Bulls 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!
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41Crazy On You - Heart Listen to sample

42Walk With Me In Hell - Lamb of God
Killer riffs from mark morton.
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43Holy Wars... The Punishment Due - Megadeth
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 45...wow, 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
What? Number 45? This is one of the best riffs I have ever heard! I love listening and playing it
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44Painkiller - Judas Priest
37? Really? Wow people, I don't even know what to say, this is one of the most amazkng riffs ever :(
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45Indestructible - Disturbed Listen to sample

46Kashmir - 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
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47(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.

Listen to sample

48The Lady Loved The Outlaw - The Country Funkin' Do - Dahz

Only recently released, the riff in this is bound to become a classic


49You 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.
Listen to sample

50Laid to Rest - Lamb of God Listen to sample

51All Along The Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix
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!
This should be on the first ten.
Are you F*** Kidding me...
Jimi Hendrix at 51? He practically invented Guitar Riffs
Rolling stones name him the Number 1 Guitarist of all time. Especially all along the watch tower. Its famous even in third world countries. A true International Hit. Used in Forrest Gump and other countless productions!. Number 51? Seriously I will not be visiting this website anytime soon
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52Stricken - Disturbed Listen to sample

53T.N.T. - AC/DC

54Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton Listen to sample

55You Shook Me All Night Long - AC/DC

56Hallowed Be Thy Name - Iron Maiden
Completely underrated riff, solo, lyrics, and song.

VonHaggles

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57One - Metallica
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!

HenP

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.

thomasnirvanastroud

Listen to sample

58Beast and the Harlot - Avenged Sevenfold Listen to sample

59Walk - 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
Listen to sample

60Voodoo 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!
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61Tie Your Mother Down - Queen
This should be filled with QUEEN songs! Greatest band on Earth! Nobody beats Brian May! NOBODY! And Nobody Touches FREDDIE MERCURY! NOBODY! His genius is untouchable by any human! It is God-like what he can do, w/ the piano, HIS VOICE, w/ any song, his passion, his connection w/ the audience, his charisma, in his extraordinary writings & magical way of composing... Simply sensational, inhuman: totally God-like!
Then there's Roger! Wow! What backing vocals! And he can play any instrument too, but is phenomenal on the drums like no other!
And then there's Deacy... The icing on the cake.
QUEEN = THE PERFECT BAND!
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
Listen to sample

62Parallels - As I Lay Dying Listen to sample

63Stay Away - L'arc~en~ciel

I love the song, great music, specially the guitar.

Viktor19

there's distortion and the weird guitar solo

ronluna

Listen to sample

64More Than a Feeling - Boston

prolly one of the catchiest riffs ever

wolf10

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65Aqualung - Jethro Tull Listen to sample

66Barracuda - Heart
Surprisingly low for one of the most catchy riffs out there.
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67Born To Be Wild - Steppenwolf

C'mon guys! the first biker song!

rocknrolldude

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68It's A Long Way To The Top - AC/DC

69Good Riddance - Green Day

its a catchy song not my fave song 4ever 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!

Green_Day

Listen to sample

70Money - 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.

71Headstrong - Trapt Listen to sample

72Are You Gonna Go My Way - Lenny Kravitz Listen to sample

73In 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
Listen to sample

74Jordan - Buckethead Listen to sample

75Fade 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/
Listen to sample

76Burn - Deep Purple Listen to sample

77Constant Motion - Dream Theater
I am surprised there is no Dream Theater on this list to this point. Petrucci writes some of the coolest riffs of the last 20 years.

fluntimes

The dark eternal night
Listen to sample

78Mechanix - 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!

Listen to sample

79Ain't Talkin' Bout Love - Van Halen

why is this not on the list?
the best intro of all time

richie4life

Listen to sample

80Money for Nothing - Dire Straits
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.

c0mf0rta61ynum6

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!
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.
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81Cochise - Audioslave

Best riff ever! So well done, tom morello is an expert guitarest!

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82Tom Sawyer - Rush
the riff is bassiccly rushs theme song
Alex Lifeson- what an amazing guitarist!
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83Come Together - The Beatles
Super sexy guitar riff!

84Stranglehold - 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
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85Working Man - Rush

86I Got Mine - The Black Keys Listen to sample

87Cliffs of Dover - Eric Johnson Listen to sample

88People = S*** - Slipknot Listen to sample

89Coming Home - Avenged Sevenfold Listen to sample

90Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd
The 4 min guitar solo of this song beats them all...
4:44 is where we can all agree.

luisprado

Listen to sample

91Carry On Wayward Son - Kansas
Ta ta ta taa... Ta ta ta taa. ta ta ta ta ta ta ta.. Ta ta..
Maybe now you understand why this should be on number one
Listen to sample

92You Give Love A Bad Name - Bon Jovi
one of the best riffs of richie sambora, the guitarist of bon jovi

ronluna

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

richie4life

Listen to sample

93Dammit - blink-182
Take your pants off!
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94Raining Blood - Slayer
While not as hard to play as people make it sound, it's very memorable and melodic.
I don't want to live on this planet anymore
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95New Born - Muse
This song is way underappreciated, the piano intro is beautiful, it may not be the best intro or whatever you want to say about it, but it is still beautiful. Then after you get that, Matt just breaks out in this crazy guitar riff, and your mind is just blown. Amazing song.
This Destroys enter sandman bollocks, bote for this now! ¬¬
C'mon! This riff is top 10 material!

Listen to sample

96Stockholm Syndrome - Muse
Man! Great written guitar riff it is like a crazy left hand practising song
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97Eternal Rest - Avenged Sevenfold Listen to sample

98Cemetery Gates - Pantera
The best of dimebagg darell althought R.I. P but it is one of the best pantera songs and a great riff to begin with with a great solo nothing can match it its heavenly
This song should be in the top ten. Dimebag poured every bit of his emotion into this song. Honestly, I love A7X but this riff is better than anything they have done in the past three albums.
Listen to sample

99Paradise City - Guns n' Roses

One of the single most recognizable arpegiated riffs of all time. This song became a stadium anthem and it all started with this incredible riff!

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100Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath
One of the evilest Riff and should be way towards the top. Iommi is king of Riffs.

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This list was created 6 years, 326 days ago and has been voted on over 9,000 times. This top ten list contains 343 items, has been remixed 21 times and has been blogged about 1 times.

Updated Sunday, April 20, 2014


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