Best Guitar Riff Creators

The Top Ten

1 Tony Iommi Tony Iommi Anthony Frank "Tony" Iommi is an English guitarist, songwriter and producer. Best known as lead guitarist and founding member of the pioneering heavy metal band Black Sabbath, he has been the band's sole continual member and primary composer. At age 17, he accidentally lost the fingertips of his middle ...read more.

As he lost his mind

He should be higher. The riffs he created in the 70s were some of the heaviest riffs at the time. People didn't know what to think. They had never heard such heaviness before. A critic said "Like Cream, but worse. " If it wasn't for Iommi a lot of great metal guitarists would have never even picked up a guitar.

He had great idea about riffs at that time. Simple slow and becomes heavier. When I was a kid (even before hearing black sabbath's songs) I got the idea, I used to think strumming with full power (pressure) would make the heaviest guitar sound. - zxm

This man and the rest of Sabbath invented a musical genre and he invented riffs which others now try to emulate.

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2 Jimmy Page Jimmy Page James Patrick Page is an English musician, songwriter, and record producer who achieved international success as the guitarist and founder of the rock band Led Zeppelin.

For me Page is the best riff machine Page and Iommi both of them are match. But still Jimmy is the best because the sound of his riffs are amazing plus his stage presence. He moved his body according to his guitar riffs.

The stuff he came up with over the years with the Yardbirds, that they didn't use, wow.
Jimmy Page is by far the best riff creator of all time, not to mention the greatest guitarist ever. Every single song has an awesome spot in rock history... - chili

Jimmy page is the man and deserves the top. But where is Robbert Fripp. Starless and 21st Century Schizoid riffs are amazing

Jimmy is the best riff machines. Iommi and Page are just totally match but, despites Page stage presence he moved his body according to his guitar sounds.

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3 Keith Richards Keith Richards Keith Richards is an English musician—primarily a guitarist—singer, songwriter, best-selling memoirist, and founding member of the rock band The Rolling Stones.

Satisfaction, Jumping Jack Flash, Start Me Up, Gimme Shelter, Bitch, Can't You Hear Me Knocking, Happy, All Down The Line.

4 Neil Young Neil Young Neil Percival Young is a Canadian singer-songwriter and musician, producer, director and screenwriter.
5 Jimi Hendrix Jimi Hendrix Jimi Hendrix (born November 27, 1942 - September 18, 1970) was an American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter . Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated ...read more.

Because he's a Voodoo Child. enough said. - ameentheguitarist23

6 James Hetfield James Hetfield James Alan Hetfield was born on August 3, 1963. He is an American musician, singer and songwriter known for being the co-founder, lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and main songwriter for the American heavy metal band Metallica.

He's awesome! - Userguy44

Yes, this man should top the list, he has created all Metallica riffs and Solos and Kirk plays them, there are no words to describe this genius!

Of course he is not the best guitarist on the list. But I think he is one of the best metal riff creators of all time.
Thanks Mr. Hetfield!

three words. Master of Puppets.

7 Angus Young Angus Young Angus McKinnon Young is an Australian guitarist of Scottish origin, best known as the co-founder, lead guitarist, songwriter and sole constant member of the Australian hard rock band AC/DC. When performing live he does his own version of Chuck Berry's "duck walk" and has also spun on his side while ...read more.

All AC/DC songs have amazing riffs! Angus Young & Malcolm Young are geniuses! The Young brothers are masters at riffs!

Just to say, back in black was made by Malcolm so they both deserve it

Together with Malcolm Young #1!
Let There Be Rock!

This guy and much better than jimmy page and should come first, higway to hell, back in black, you Shook me all nigth long, that give 10 to 0 in the riff of Led Zeppelin Guns n Roses and so on. AC/DC is the best of the best.

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8 Slash Slash Saul Hudson, known professionally as Slash, is a British-American musician and songwriter. He is best known as the lead guitarist of the American hard rock band Guns N' Roses, with whom he achieved worldwide success in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

I don't even have to explain. His music tells it all.

Everyone knows his riffs from Appetite, and the riffs from his solo albums are extremely overlooked. - ameentheguitarist23

9 Dimebag Darrell Dimebag Darrell Darrell Lance Abbott, also known as Diamond Darrell and Dimebag Darrell, was an American guitarist and songwriter best known as a founding member of two bands, Pantera and Damageplan, alongside his brother, Vinnie Paul. Abbott died in 2004 after he was shot by a mentally unstable fan.

Cemetery Gates (both the clean and distorted riffs are highly underrated), Walk, Cowboys From Hell. These are not ordinary riffs. - ameentheguitarist23

dimebag darrell's riffs are the best. they're agressive, pure metal - joinordie

Amazing just amazing

10 Dave Mustaine Dave Mustaine David Scott "Dave" Mustaine (born September 13, 1961) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, actor and author. Mustaine is best known as a pioneer in Thrash Metal, being the former lead guitarist of Metallica before his dismissal in 1983, leading to finding and becoming the front man of his own ...read more.

He writes pretty much all of the riffs and rhythm parts (at least where he's credited as the sole songwriter, which is a large portion of their catalog) and his own solos.

"Many of the Megadeth riffs weren't created by him."
what? He's the primary songwriter for both Megadeth's music and lyrics. He wrote the entire "Rust In Peace" album other than lyrics on Tornado of Souls (which he cowrote with David Ellefson), music on Lucretia (which he also wrote with Ellefson), and Dawn Patrol, which is less than 2 minutes and the music was written by Ellefson. That means, Mustaine has single handedly written the riffs for Holy Wars, Hangar 18, Take No Prisoners, Five Magics, Poison Was The Cure, Tornado of Souls (again, Ellefson only helped with LYRICS), and Rust In Peace. And that's only one of the best Megadeth albums. He also wrote all the music and lyrics for the "Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? " album, excluding one "cover" song.

Many of the Megadeth riffs weren't created by him. Mustaine has many good riffs but he's no Chuck Schuldiner - Sabbath

Holy Wars. enough said.

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The Contenders

11 Tom Morello Tom Morello Thomas Morello is an American musician, singer-songwriter and political activist. He is best known for his tenure with the band Rage Against the Machine and then with Audioslave.

The craziest riffs of 90s metal: killing in the name, sleep now in the fire, guerrilla radio, bulls on parade, know your enemy and the list goes on and on...

12 Eric Clapton Eric Clapton Eric Patrick Clapton is an English rock and blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. He is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist and separately as a member of the Yardbirds and Cream. He has also been a member of Derek and the Dominos.

No, Clapton wrote it. Allman played on the record, but it was a divine coincidence that he was even available.

Lay down sally, cocaine, sunshine of your love, tears in heaven, layla and many more - itamarlivn

Didn't Duane Allman write the riff to Layla? - 12cc

13 Ritchie Blackmore Ritchie Blackmore Richard Hugh "Ritchie" Blackmore is an English guitarist and songwriter, best known for his work in the hard rock/metal bands Deep Purple and Rainbow. He was ranked number 16 on Guitar World's "100 Greatest Metal Guitarists of All Time" in 2004, and number 50 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the ...read more.

Only 14th? Surely he should be in the top 5 with his legacy.

Its not only Smoke On the Water. There are some great riffs like Highway Star, Black Night, Perfect Strangers, Burn, Pictures of Home, Strange Kind of Woman etc. - zxm

Ritchie should be in first 5!
Smoke on The Water!

#2 after tony - SoldierOfFortune

14 Kirk Hammett Kirk Hammett Kirk Lee Hammett is the lead guitarist and songwriter for the heavy metal band Metallica and has been a member of the band since 1983. Before joining Metallica he formed and named the band Exodus.
15 Eddie Van Halen Eddie Van Halen Edward Lodewijk "Eddie" Van Halen is a Dutch-American musician, songwriter and producer. He is best known as the lead guitarist, occasional keyboardist and co-founder of the hard rock band Van Halen.
16 Pete Townsend

A riff machine... Live at leeds, isle of wight, tanglewood men he's the man

17 Buckethead Buckethead Brian Patrick Carroll, known professionally as Buckethead, is an American guitarist and multi-instrumentalist who has worked within many genres of music.

How is he at 19... that's insane. It's a little hard for me to argue against Iommi but Buckethead has got to win. Over three HUNDRED albums released, he is the MAN when it comes to riffs. Hold me Forever, Glacier, Final Wars, Crack the Sky, Wall to Wall Cobwebs, Telescape, Soothsayer, Binge and Grab. I could go on and on and ON, and ON about how many he's got. The mans the best

Yes, he is a great guitarist. But because of most of his songs can be called shredding/solos those aren't really riffs. Riffs are main theme of a song, some chords repeated over and over. But when riffs are in a solo it becomes simply licks. - zxm

18 Jerry Cantrell Jerry Cantrell Jerry Fulton Cantrell Jr. is an American musician, singer-songwriter and guitarist best known as the founder, lead guitarist, co-lead vocalist and main songwriter of the rock band Alice in Chains.
19 Johnny Marr Johnny Marr Johnny Marr is an English musician, songwriter and singer, best known as the guitarist and – with Morrissey – co-songwriter of the Smiths, who were active from 1982 to 1987. Born in Ardwick, Manchester, to Irish parents, Marr formed his first band at the age of 13.

From the smiths. Definitely the best riff creator. So complex, so powerful ^^ so inventive. Just listen to what difference does it make, william it was really nothing, nowhere fast ^^ many, many others.

20 Brian May Brian May Brian Harold May is an English musician, singer, songwriter and astrophysicist, best known as the lead guitarist of the rock band Queen.

I don't's get why everyone forgets about brian may... Shame. On. You

How come he is not in top ten?
I pity the foolishness of voters

Dead on time. - bzsuzsi0128

21 Jack White Jack White John Anthony "Jack" White is an American singer and songwriter. He is best known as the lead singer and guitarist of the duo The White Stripes, but has also had success in other bands and as a solo artist.

Seven Nation Army, Fell in Love with a Girl, Blue Orchid, Icky Thump, Sixteen Saltines... I could go on and on.

22 Chuck Schuldiner Chuck Schuldiner Charles Michael "Chuck" Schuldiner (1967-2001) was an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist, best known as the founder and vocalist, guitarist and bassist of the American heavy metal band Death. He is considered the most influential figure in Death Metal, with some publications referring to Chuck ...read more.

This list shouldn't exist if chuck isn't in the top 10 - Sabbath

23 Daron Malakian Daron Malakian Daron Vartan Malakian is an Armenian–American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer.

Aerials,byob,toxicity,chop suey,spiders that list goes on and on and on

24 Billy Corgan Billy Corgan William Patrick "Billy" Corgan Jr. is an American musician, songwriter, producer, television writer, poet, and professional wrestling promoter best known as the lead singer, guitarist, and sole permanent member of The Smashing Pumpkins.
25 Paul McCartney Paul McCartney Sir James Paul McCartney is an English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer . With John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, he gained worldwide fame with the rock band the Beatles, one of the most popular and influential groups in the history of pop and rock music .
26 Randy Rhoads Randy Rhoads Randall William "Randy" Rhoads was an American heavy metal guitarist who played with Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot. He was killed in a plane crash.
27 Matt Bellamy Matt Bellamy Matthew James "Matt" Bellamy is an English musician, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and compose most famous for being the main vocalist in alternative rock band Muse.
28 Jeff Hanneman Jeff Hanneman Jeffrey John "Jeff" Hanneman was an American musician, best known as a founding member of the American thrash metal band Slayer.

Jeff wrote some of the most menacing memorable and devastating riffs ever after Iommi. Mr Hanneman should be way higher, if not top ten! Reign in blood is a defining moment in music, largely due to the immense creative force of Jeff Hanneman.

29 Joe Perry Joe Perry Anthony Joseph "Joe" Perry is the lead guitarist, backing and occasional lead vocalist, and contributing songwriter for the American rock band Aerosmith.
30 Ken Kitamura
31 Tak Matsumoto
32 Richie Sambora Richie Sambora Richard Stephen "Richie" Sambora is an American rock guitarist, producer, singer and songwriter who was the lead guitarist of the rock band Bon Jovi for 30 years. He is known for his work with Bon Jovi from 1983 to 2013. He is a very praised guitarist who played solos for songs like Dry County, Stranger ...read more.
33 Adrian Smith Adrian Smith Adrian Frederick "H" Smith is an English guitarist, best known as a member of Iron Maiden, for whom he writes songs and performs live backing vocals on some tracks.
34 Ichiro CIPHER Takigawa
35 Minoru Kojima
36 You Adachi
37 Kerri King
38 Chuck Berry Chuck Berry Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. He died on 18 March 2017.
39 Josh Homme Josh Homme Joshua Michael Homme (born May 17, 1973) is an American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and actor. He is the founder and only continuous member of the rock band Queens of the Stone Age, in which he sings, plays guitar, as well as occasionally playing piano, drums, and bass. He also serves ...read more.

King of desert rock riffs. He should be on here

40 Zakk Wylde Zakk Wylde Zakk Wylde is an American musician, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and occasional actor who is best known as the former guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, and founder of the heavy metal band Black Label Society.
41 Phil Collen
42 John Frusciante John Frusciante John Anthony Frusciante is an American guitarist, singer, producer and composer.He is best known for his time with the Funk Rock California based band the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He was also part of the Mars Volta, Swahili Blonde, Ataxia and more.

Snow, Scar Tissue, Can't Stop, Californication, just to name a few. I don't know why I'm the one adding him to this list. - ameentheguitarist23

43 Steve Clark Steve Clark Stephen Maynard Clark was an English musician. He was the lead guitarist and principal songwriter for the British hard rock band, Def Leppard, until 1991, when he died from alcohol poisoning.
44 Trey Azagthoth
45 Billie Joe Armstrong Billie Joe Armstrong Billie Joe Armstrong is an American musician, singer, songwriter and actor who is best known as the lead vocalist, primary songwriter, and guitarist of the punk rock band Green Day, which he co-founded with Mike Dirnt.
46 Dave Davies Dave Davies
47 Quorthon Quorthon Tomas Börje Forsberg, known by the stage name Quorthon (1966-2004), was a Swedish musician. He was the founder, songwriter, vocalist and guitarist of the band Bathory, which pioneered the black metal genre and is credited with creating the Viking metal style. A multi-instrumentalist, Quorthon wrote ...read more.

Just listen to "A Fine Day to Die"

48 Mikael Akerfeldt Mikael Akerfeldt Lars Mikael Åkerfeldt is a Swedish musician, prominently known as the lead vocalist, guitarist, and primary songwriter of progressive death metal band Opeth, as well as being the former vocalist of death metal supergroup Bloodbath for three albums up until 2012. ...read more.
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