Top 10 Songs with the Greatest Guitar Riffs

The Top Ten
1 Smoke On the Water - Deep Purple

All good riffs on this list, but come on, this is the most iconic riff. What other riff has been compared to Beethoven's 5th Symphony "riff" for its 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.

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, among many other things, and this riff will forever ensure he has a spot in history.

2 Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns N' Roses

This riff is just amazing. Did you know Slash was practicing this on his guitar before it was a song, and the band thought it was cool?

Just one word to describe Slash: extraordinary. I love Paradise City and Sweet Child O' Mine. These are the best guitar songs I have ever heard. I've heard the song Smoke on the Water, but in comparison, Sweet Child O' Mine is far beyond it. Its guitar is much prettier than Smoke on the Water. For me, Sweet Child O' Mine is the best. This song is old, but in terms of guitar, it is gold.

3 Crazy Train - Ozzy Osbourne

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. I have heard comments from other band members like, "While some of the band was doing drugs and getting laid, Randy was practicing."

You would have to be practicing to be that good. I would like to know what the scores are based on.

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

Whoa, why not number 2? You kind of have to give Deep Purple credit for Smoke on the Water, but Enter Sandman rocks! Metallica is easily my favorite band. Keep on rocking, Kirk, Lars, (R.I.P.), James, and the other bassists!

This riff has become the most famous of any metal song ever, for its sheer badassery. I prefer the riffs in Master of Puppets and Creeping Death, but I'll vote for this since it's in the top 10.

Nice riff. I just love it. It should be the first riff. It has some nice and great finger riffing. Many bands around the world are covering it, as you mentioned.

5 Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin

Whole Lotta Love should be higher on this list. It's so powerful, electric, catchy, and well-played, as a guitar riff should be. It's one of my favorite riffs, along with Layla, Sweet Child o' Mine, and Smoke on the Water.

This riff is so recognized. It's been sampled so many times! Even by his former bandmate Robert Plant in "Tall Cool One." That speaks volumes about Jimmy's riffs! This should be #1 on this list.

Whole Lotta Love can't be topped! The guitar riff draws you in right from the start, and you just can't stop listening to it.

6 (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones

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

It has 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 eight or eighty notes will ever.

This song proved that you don't need to make a complex riff to make it sound good, just like Smoke on the Water.

7 Iron Man - Black Sabbath

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!

Why is this so low? This is a great classic. If you don't know about this, then you don't watch the Iron Man movie or listen to real rock songs.

It is the best riff ever. I can't believe that people put it 7th! Why do people put it only there? It should be number 4, not more than that!

8 Layla - Derek & The Dominos

If we're talking about only guitar riffs here, this one has to be number one. Highway to Hell is number 2. Even a 7-year-old kid can recognize that song by the intro. But this riff is out of this world. Definitely the best. Eric Clapton.

Just want to clarify, 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.

Everyone can sing this riff. 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.

9 Back In Black - AC/DC

This was hard for me to say because so many of these riffs are badass. But let's face it, Back in Black has one of the most memorable, and easily the catchiest, riffs. As for Smoke on the Water, I've never really liked that one. It's slow and boring. Smells Like Teen Spirit is just a song, not so much a riff.

AC/DC, according to me, is the best band ever. Angus, Phil, Cliff, Malcolm, and Brian are just pure talent. I feel that AC/DC should be number 1 on all the charts!

AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, and Black Sabbath/Ozzy just beat everyone else. However, Back in Black steals the show.

10 Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana

Easily number 2-4. This riff is ridiculously famous and influential, inspiring a big movement, and being the riff that a band, which at some point was the world's most popular, is most famous for.

This is easily the best song of the nineties. Can Smoke on the Water say that about the eighties?

I made this song my morning alarm tone. Nothing else can give my day a better start than this.

The Contenders
11 Day Tripper - The Beatles

This guitar riff is so memorable and catchy. It really shows the Beatles' ability to constantly make catchy songs. Imagine if they had stuck together longer. They probably would have stormed through the '70s and '80s with a bunch of hits.

Although they made a considerable number of hits as solo artists, most notably "Imagine," which was probably a bigger hit than any Beatles song.

Unforgettable. As a little kid, my jaw dropped open when I heard this. The greatness of The Beatles intimidated me.

12 Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes

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

This was one of those riffs that everyone sang to at parties and nightclubs in the noughties. It deserves to be in the top ten.

He is a genius, playing in a band with only an untalented girl. If he were living in the late sixties, he would be among the best.

13 Kashmir - Led Zeppelin

Whole Lotta Love and Black Dog are amazing, but there's no reason for them to be above Kashmir. Kashmir has to be the most iconic riff Led Zeppelin has ever written.

Seriously, what?! This has to be number 1! Smoke on the Water is overplayed. Arguably, this is 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!"

14 Paranoid - Black Sabbath

This is one easy song, and it still rocks. Think about how many covers this song has. So, if you don't like the original, there's somewhere 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.

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

15 Thunderstruck - AC/DC

Honestly, this riff is extremely easy. That being said, it's still one of the best song riffs ever.

One of the best. Love it. Makes me really smile when I hear it.

And also, the best band ever.

Best fast guitar playing ever!

16 You Really Got Me - The Kinks

This blew everything off the radio in 1964. The best guitarist of all time, Jimi Hendrix, called it a 'landmark song.' It predates "Satisfaction" by one year. Pete Townshend said himself that "I Can't Explain" 'can't be beat for straightforward Kinks-copying,' and at that time, The Beatles were still singing that they wanted to hold your hand.

I was 7 in 1964, sitting in the back seat of a '62 Chevy II station wagon. The music my older sisters gushed over seemed pointless to me. The radio was on WBBF, my sister's choice because she always took the front seat. Then WBBF played "You Really Got Me," and I leapt up to lean over the bench seat (no seatbelts) into the front to ask, "What's this?" I've been hooked ever since.

17 Black Dog - Led Zeppelin

Can you think of a cooler, more badass riff to listen to? Nope, and even Slash agrees. It's 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 favorite.

The riff was actually written by John Paul Jones but was 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 of rock!

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 at the top.

18 Holy 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 mean 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.

19 The Trooper - Iron Maiden

Not in the top 10? This list is BS. This riff just blows people away when played. It's honestly better than Smoke on the Water. You know it's good when it takes three guitarists to play it that well.

The Trooper should take Sweet Child O' Mine's place. It's the only riff that sent me flying off my chair.

I feel like this should be in the top 5. The Trooper has one of the most fun riffs to play on guitar and on Guitar Hero.

20 Voodoo Child (Slight Return) - Jimi Hendrix

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 is a disgrace. Voodoo Child at number 42? Wow, this list needs some serious contemplation.

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

21 Rock You Like a Hurricane - Scorpions

The Scorpions are definitely underrated, I see. Rock You Like a Hurricane, Believe in Love, and a handful of other songs of theirs have some of the greatest riffs in rock history.

Rudolf Schenker is a brilliant songwriter and musician. This song is an anthem. I grew up with this. Rock on, guys.

This song completely rocks! The Scorpions have so many great guitar-riffing songs, it makes your head spin. Women also love the Scorpions.

22 Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love - Van Halen
23 Money for Nothing - Dire Straits

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.

This is one of those that you just can't prevent yourself from playing 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 1980s.

I love my music like everyone else, but this is the riff that springs to mind for number 1. This is only my opinion, but mid-30s is way too low.

24 Sunshine of Your Love - Cream

I don't know what you all think, but this is the most badass riff I have ever heard. If you don't feel like smoking a puff in broad daylight in the middle of nowhere while listening to this, are you really living?

Clapton doesn't use feedback like this anymore, worse luck. Baker's drums and Bruce's bass/vocals are very good, but the guitar lick and the various fills he uses 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!

25 Whole Lotta Rosie - AC/DC
8Load More
PSearch List