Top Ten Songs with the Greatest Guitar Riffs

The Top Ten

1 Smoke On the Water - Deep Purple Smoke On the Water - Deep Purple Cover Art

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!

All good riffs on this list but come on, this is the one most iconic riff. What other riff has been compared to Beethoven's 5th symphony "riff" for it's sheer brilliance and simplicity. This isn't the top ten "hardest to play riff" or "haunting" riff (Slash, Metallica, etc) list, it's the Greatest riff list. Winner: Blackmore.

2 Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns N' Roses Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns N' Roses Cover Art

"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! ;-)

Just one word to describe Slash - Extraordinary. I love Paradise City And Sweet Child Of Mine. These are The Best Guitar Songs I have ever heard. I heard the song Smoke On The Water but in comparison, Sweet Child Of Mine is far beyond it. Its Guitar is so prettier than Smoke On The Water.
For Me, Sweet Child Of Mine is the best.
This Song Is Old, But In Terms Of Guitar, It Is Gold.

3 Crazy Train - Ozzy Osbourne Crazy Train - Ozzy Osbourne Cover Art

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

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.

4 Enter Sandman - Metallica Enter Sandman - Metallica Cover Art

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...

Woh, why not number 2? You kinda have to give deep purple that credit for smoke but ENTER SANDMAN rocks! Metallica is EASILY my favorite band! Keep on rocking Kirk, Lars, (R.I.P. ), James, and the other bassists!

5 Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin Cover Art

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.

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

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

Jimmy Page is the god of riffs. No other can match his guitar genius.

6 Layla - Derek & The Dominos Layla - Derek & The Dominos Cover Art

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.

What do you mean whether or not you like him as a man? He's always been a decent person. Worst thing you could ever say was he once had a drug problem. Oh Gee, him, me, and everyone else our age. He went into seclusion after Layla, resurfaced 2 years later for the Rainbow concert but he was never as good as before. He was smart or lucky enough the stuff didn't kill him like others.

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.

7 Iron Man - Black Sabbath Iron Man - Black Sabbath Cover Art

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!

The most catchy tune for a Heavy Metal riff since this was the birth of metal anyways..

Great Job Geezer & Toni for putting this up

8 (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones Cover Art

It's the tone that sounds like a foghorn blasting you from a deep sleep.

This riff literally is so unique. Keith Richards apparently woke up in the middle of the night with the riff in his head, recorded it, and went back too bed. He said he had no memory of doing this and woke up in the morning with this sick riff on the tapes.

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

9 Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana Cover Art

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

Nirvana... Guns and roses can't win nirvana because nirvana is a real super ultra rock star.. Probably the best... And their song's madness and their blue soul touches me. All apologies

10 Back In Black - AC/DC Back In Black - AC/DC Cover Art

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.

This was hard to say for me becauseso many of these riffs are bad ass, but let's face it. Back in Black is one of the most memorable, and easily the catchiest riff. As for smoke on the water, I've never really liked that one, it's slow and boring. And smells like teen spirit is just a song, not so much a riff.

The Contenders

11 Paranoid - Black Sabbath Paranoid - Black Sabbath Cover Art

Better riff than all the others on this list, it was also written in like 30 minutes

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.

12 Day Tripper - The Beatles Day Tripper - The Beatles Cover Art

Go ahead, listen to this song, just hear that riff

Should at least be in the top ten. so recognizable.

Without doubt one of the iconic riff of all time

This one is epic!

13 Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes Cover Art

When people sing this song at a football game without even knowing who wrote it, you when you know it's 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

I love this, but may I remind you this is mostly the bass?

14 Kashmir - Led Zeppelin Kashmir - Led Zeppelin Cover Art

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

So different from anything anyone was, is or ever will do musically. Simply masterful.

15 Black Dog - Led Zeppelin Black Dog - Led Zeppelin Cover Art

Everything above this is REALLY easy to play. Black Dog, on the other hand, is much more challenging and has multiple different riffs, each as awesome as the last one

Slash said that this riff was the "sexiest of all time" I heartily agree, but the rest of this song is kind of annoying

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

Can you think of a cooler, bad-ass riff to listen to. Nope, and even slash agrees. The ultimate Led Zeppelin riff, much better than whole lotta love. Smoke on the water was everyone's first riff, but this was everyone's favourite

16 You Really Got Me - The Kinks You Really Got Me - The Kinks Cover Art

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.

The Best! Dave Davies the greatest of all time!

17 Thunderstruck - AC/DC Thunderstruck - AC/DC Cover Art

Honestly this riff is extremely easy. But that being said its still one of the best song riffs ever.

Why isn't this song higher?

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

Best fast guitar playing ever!

18 The Trooper - Iron Maiden The Trooper - Iron Maiden Cover Art

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

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

19 Sunshine of Your Love - Cream Sunshine of Your Love - Cream Cover Art

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...

Even if your over 50 its still great

20 Voodoo Child (Slight Return) - Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Child (Slight Return) - Jimi Hendrix Cover Art

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.

This at 37? And Avenged Sevenfold at 11? Avenged Sevenfold wouldn't even exist without Hendrix.

21 Holy Wars... The Punishment Due - Megadeth Holy Wars... The Punishment Due - Megadeth Cover Art

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

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

22 Rock You Like a Hurricane - Scorpions Rock You Like a Hurricane - Scorpions Cover Art

Scorpions are definitely underrated I see. Rock you like a hurricane, Believe in love and some handful other of their songs have the greatest of riffs in rock history.

I would also vote for boston... These two songs made me want to play the guitar

The Scorpions invented shredding... This song epitomizes this technique

Whats weong with everyone this is way better than half of the ones in the top ten

23 Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love - Van Halen Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love - Van Halen Cover Art

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

Eddie is a one of kind

Shreddie Van Halen!

Best guitar

24 Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd Cover Art

Sweet Home Alabama! ROLL TIDE ROLL!

Should be at number 1

25 Money for Nothing - Dire Straits Money for Nothing - Dire Straits Cover Art

Top 5 easily... a ranking of 31 shows not just how underrated Dire Straits is but also how under-appreciated

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.

It even sounds great on acoustic, but when distorted it becomes as iconic as anything. Sure, some of the higher-rated riffs come from great songs, but taking just the riff alone, it's clearly top-ten material.

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