Top 10 Hardest Songs to Play on Guitar

The Top Ten
1 I'm the One - Van Halen
2 The Dance of Eternity - Dream Theater

Let's face it, guys. Technically, this is the hardest song on the list by far. The entire song varies through complex melodies, constantly changing time signatures, and what some people could even describe as complete technical insanity! And this doesn't just go for the guitar - this song is also known for being one of the hardest songs ever for drums and keyboards as well, including an intense bass solo! This song became famous for being so technically difficult. Let's face it, guys, this list should be called "Top 10 Most Popular Hard Songs," otherwise it just makes no sense to not put this at number 1...

This song would be rather easy on Guitar Hero, but actually playing it is a totally different story. The song is not really fast (the tempo is around 120-132 to the quarter note), but don't underestimate it. What makes this song so hard is its time signatures. There are over a hundred meter changes throughout the song, and they often come without warning. So, unless you know every measure of the song forwards and backwards, you're almost guaranteed to get lost somewhere.

There are a few sections in the song that are entirely in 4/4, but even those sections have extremely odd rhythms. This song definitely proves that guitarists shouldn't be judged solely by how fast they can play. Because if a guitarist lacks technical skills, this song will kick his or her ass. Not to mention that this song is probably harder to play on other instruments.

3 Voodoo Child (Slight Return) - The Jimi Hendrix Experience
4 Through the Fire and Flames - DragonForce

This deserves the top spot. Eruption is pretty easy once you actually look it over. Everything about it is basic stuff that any beginner guitarist has learned. It's a mystery to me that Eddie once said he messed up a part on the original recording. If you want complicated tapping, kids, go look at any song by Animals as Leaders.

Through the Fire and Flames is not only a badass song, but it also is one of the most absurdly hard songs to play. Period. I'm a professional producer and guitarist, and it's almost impossible to load up a MIDI file of this song without crashing your computer. The note density in this song is almost on par with Black Midi.

This being difficult has nothing to do with Guitar Hero. It has to do with soloing over a chord progression. That's hard enough already, so throwing in every existing guitar technique is a pretty cruel addition. The only easy parts are the single string tapping parts. That's why Van Halen mostly does single string tapping: because it's easier than knowing what you're doing.

5 Tornado of Souls - Megadeth

Really, why is this here? It should at least make the top 30. Thunderstruck, Thunderstruck, it's so easy. Why is Thunderstruck in the top 20 while this is up here? This is an awesome song that does not deserve to be up here.

Hangar 18 is harder, in my opinion. The solo isn't ridiculously hard. The rhythm in this song is pretty hard, though. Leave it to Dave Mustaine to make a complicated rhythm out of basic power chords.

Should easily be number one. The rhythm is insane, and the solos require insane sweep picking with long stretches. Listen to the song and tell me it doesn't deserve to be number one.

6 Heartbreaker - Led Zeppelin

Definitely a hard song. It's like tapping, but only with one hand. Not only that, but you have to do constant quarter bends to get Page's tone if you want it to sound correct. Then, there's the 2nd solo, which I've never seen anyone play correctly but Page.

I just can't believe this song is not number 1! I think none of you guys who voted even know this song. This song has the most difficult solo on earth! I've never found someone who can play it without errors, NEVER.

The riff is quite easy, but the solo is so darn difficult. Jimmy Page made it even harder.

7 Eruption - Van Halen

Judging by the number of YouTube versions of this song that get it wrong, this song is very difficult to get right. The tapping part at the end is the least of your problems and is about the only part of the song that anyone ever gets right. There's a weird swing to some of it that so many ignore when they "master it". Many people anonymously claim to be able to play Eruption with no problem, but somehow, they never materialize in real life or even on YouTube. Judge people only by their actions, not by their words. Eruption is nearly impossible, and if you can actually play it 100% through to the letter, then count yourself among the elite 0.01% of people ever to pick up a guitar.

Also, Eddie recorded this in 1978, and it still challenges guitarists to this day!

I think this is one of the hardest songs to play on an electric guitar. I may not know how to play, but one of my friends can, and he's really good at it too! One day, I asked if he could play this song, and he replied, Anything but THAT song. I asked, Why? And he said that it was one of the HARDEST songs to play on an electric guitar...

8 Afterlife - Avenged Sevenfold

The hardest song ever to master on guitar. DragonForce? I mean, seriously? Studio Force is more accurate to describe their songs. Even though their solo is fast, it absolutely lacks any skills... Just a pure bland emotionless lick to be precise. Even though Synyster Gates, one of the top 10 guitarists in the world, the big Schecter artist, publicly admitted that the solo in Afterlife was mind-boggling and he didn't think he could ever play it. I don't care about your thoughts, but that's my favorite song of all time.

How could this possibly be ranked below DragonForce? Synyster Gates can shred better than any other guitarist in the last decade. His blistering speed puts other guitarists to shame. Afterlife is one of the most challenging songs ever and is really hard to perform on the spot. I've only seen three other people besides Synyster Gates himself play the solo in Afterlife correctly, and even they could barely pull it off. Kind of disappointed in this one...

9 Hallowed Point - Slayer
10 Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd

Wait, Free Bird isn't in the top ten? That's sad. Free Bird features almost a five-minute solo consisting of different types of notes and riffs that match the song and are difficult to conjure at the same time. Not only this, but there are three guitarists playing the solo simultaneously, and they almost sound exactly the same. Thunderstruck shouldn't even be on this website. You can play the solo while drinking water (well, not exactly, depending on your skill). Free Bird should really be in the top 10s.

This isn't top 10? SERIOUSLY? Sure, some of these are more difficult than Free Bird, but Thunderstruck? Half of the song is the same riff over and over again, and the other half isn't nearly as difficult as the 5-minute guitar solo in Free Bird. Should easily be in the top 10. Afterlife could drop down too.

How is this NOT on the list? The guitar solo alone would justify Free Bird's place in the Top 10! Three guitarists playing that solo at once! Get a couple of buddies, and... well, good luck...

The Contenders
11 Hot for Teacher - Van Halen

This one is more difficult than Eruption, in my opinion.

What kind of list is this without Hot for Teacher!?

12 Holy Wars... The Punishment Due - Megadeth

The intro riff of Holy Wars has four chromatic triplets, along with a chord ending. In contrast, Master of Puppets begins with just three simple power chords in chromatic descent. Master of Puppets is a simpler song, only on the list because it's one of Metallica's most popular songs. You can learn the rhythm of Master of Puppets in your first two weeks of guitar playing easily. However, the rhythm of Holy Wars could take nearly two months. By that time, you could learn the entire Master of Puppets album. FYI, learning means playing it with perfection.

Yes! Now this is metal at its most difficult end. I'm not sure about the ones higher up or lower for that matter. Master of Puppets? I mean, come on! Bieber? Give me a break. Teen Spirit? Laugh out loud. Mustaine and Megadeth deserve major kudos for their contribution to the music industry, and Tornado of Souls will forever be one of the greatest pieces of music ever written.

13 Cliffs of Dover - Eric Johnson

This song requires so much skill that people think it's a clean guitar, despite being quite distorted. This is achieved by using a superb muting technique that is extremely difficult. If you make even one mistake, people will wonder why you are using distortion. To get it to sound correct, you must play incredibly well. With songs like Eruption, a mistake is not a big deal. However, if you make a mistake in Cliffs of Dover, you ruin the entire vibe of the song.

Yes, it's a guitar instrumental, so you would expect a lot of guitar. But what you get is like running a marathon and sprinting the whole way. The guitar line is simply massive, relentless, and simply beautiful. No distortion, just clear tone, leaving nowhere to hide your fingering mistakes. The skill and time needed to completely learn most songs on this list would only get you through the first 30 seconds of this song.

14 Master of Puppets - Metallica

I've been playing rock/metal guitar for over 25 years. Master of Puppets is hard work... a finger-numbing experience. Imitation is never a good idea. Who the hell wants to listen to a copy of the original? Having said that, Master of Puppets stimulates your abilities and exposes weaknesses. Tricky down picking, running your fingers through the entire neck can make you dizzy and lost.

On this page, many claim they've mastered this song, especially a younger generation who never got inspired by Metallica 20+ years ago. This means too much ego and not enough skill. MOP is a masterpiece that placed Hammett as one of the best guitarists of all time.

This song is 8 minutes and 35 seconds long... It consists of 3 solos, the first one that James plays and the other 2 that Kirk plays... The 2 Kirk plays are extremely difficult, and I don't think without a guitar lesson you could even play it half as well... And in a month... Yeah right ;) It's very hard. I would vote this number 1 or 2, sure it's harder than Eruption, but that's only my opinion, no offense everyone.

15 Bark at the Moon - Ozzy Osbourne
16 Hysteria - Muse
17 Jordan - Buckethead

What? This is the craziest song in the world! How did this not get in the top ten at all? Great composition, tasteful phrases, and Buckethead's signature wah sound make this a truly original masterpiece. If you think I'm kidding, go have a listen. I guarantee your brain will be confused long after you're done.

In my opinion, it's absolutely pathetic that this song is not #1. It's not the best piece for "feel", but if you want technicality, this is damn near as hard as you're going to get. Of all the guitar pieces I've ever heard, this is absolutely by FAR the most technically advanced.

Ridiculous, needs to be TOP 3 EASILY. To the guy that said 'put a cutout button on your guitar and spam it' hasn't used one. There's a reason there are no good covers of this song. It's because only Buckethead can play it cleanly.

18 Far Beyond the Sun - Yngwie Malmsteen

I feel like people just vote on the songs they've heard of and don't even look at the other options. For example, Snow by RHCP is ranked way higher, even though most decent guitarists can pull it off in a couple of minutes. Far Beyond the Sun would take multiple hours for even the most skilled guitarist.

God. Who made this list! Far Beyond the Sun is the 49th hardest song! Haha. It's a crime. 1. Far Beyond the Sun, 2. Waves, and 3. Cliffs of Dover. Well, it all depends on the level of the guitarist's hands and picking, and understanding a real composed guitar lick.

Too many Guitar Hero players voting in these lists. Everything coming from the hands of Yngwie Malmsteen (not to mention dozens of other shred masters like Jason Becker, Marty Friedman, Batio, Petrucci, Satriani, Vai, Vinnie Moore, etc.) can win against Van Halen in the blink of an eye (literally).

19 Voodoo Child - The Jimi Hendrix Experience

I'm just a fourteen-year-old girl, and I can play Eruption (not note for note, but I bet I could if I took the time to try), and am playing it for my school talent show. That's how confident I am that I can do it. I actually did have to try out, and I made it even with less than 1/3 of the people making it.

Anyways, Voodoo Child is a Hendrix song. Enough said. He was the most skilled guitarist of all time. Playing it note for note doesn't sound right, no matter how well you do it. He inspired me to modify pretty much every song I learn, and I think it makes it sound better when you add your own style to it. Except on a Hendrix song, where you never quite can find any way to improve the song. And like I said earlier, it will never sound right if you do it perfectly. Does that stop me from playing his songs and doing my thing? No. Do I acknowledge that I'll never be as good as him? Yes.

How is Welcome to the Jungle rated higher than this? Utter nonsense. All these super fast songs are much easier to play as they just require technique. There are no awkward timings. It's just about playing as fast as you can. When you play Hendrix, it's much more than that. You have to feel the song. There's no way to practice it. You're given the notes and the order, but no one will ever get the timings or the little changes and nuances correct. R.I.P.

20 Soothsayer - Buckethead

Much harder than Jordan. Should be #1. Besides, what's up with the mask? I love Buckethead, and he's awesome, but I have nightmares about him. Oh, I forgot I'm 10! Ha ha!

It's hard to play because of all the times he uses his unique killswitch during the song to make Soothsayer... Soothsayer.

I was literally gaping at my tab once it got past the tremolo picking bit.

21 Fracture - King Crimson

It's faster than Flight of the Bumblebee, longer than Through the Fire and Flames, and able to injure fingers in a single attempt! Listen on the radio! It's insane! It's good! It's "Fracture" by King Crimson!

I've been learning this song for months now, and I think it's the real hardest song ever. Not only is it super complex, but it's also a test in precision, speed, intelligence, and stamina. It's 11 minutes of torturing your fingers, as well as your brain.

If some of you folks take the time to get your heads out of rock/metal for at least one second, you will see how demanding guitar playing may be even when it doesn't incorporate techniques like sweeping or tapping.

22 Welcome to the Jungle - Guns N' Roses

The song itself is very simple, but matching the tempo is nearly impossible. At least for me...

23 Double Guitar Solo - Michael Angelo Batio

I visited a top ten list of "the hardest songs to play on guitar" on this site many years ago and was amazed that I didn't find the most technically skilled player alive, Michael Angelo Batio, listed.

At that time, I thought, "Well, that might be because he's not the lead guitarist of a popular band, or he was never invited to G3, etc."

It seems that years later, the wonder of the Internet has done its job, and the guitar world has gotten to know this guy. He's now number 1, which is nothing but fair because this dude does things with the guitar that 99% of other guitar players can only dream of doing.

Of course, there are other great players on this list, but it's unarguable that when talking about technique, MAB can't be matched.

This is hard. Some of these songs shouldn't even be on this list. One? Ha! That was the first song I ever learned on guitar! And Justice For All? Even easier! Master of Puppets? Very easy to play, other than the last solo. Raining Blood? You must be joking. The intro, main riff, verse, and chorus are SUPER EASY! I'm not so good at the solo, but it is still quite short and simple.

24 Burn It Down - Avenged Sevenfold
25 La Villa Strangiato - Rush

I love this song with a passion. My favorite version is on the "Exit Stage Left" live album. I love how the solo in the middle starts off slow and builds into a climax that sends chills down my spine. I'm currently trying to learn it, and it is the most frustrating thing I've ever tried to do. Alex Lifeson's timing and patterns are so weird and unique, but it works so well! This song is way harder than any other on this list.

Alex Lifeson doesn't get nearly enough credit as a guitarist. The riffs throughout the song make you cramp up, but it doesn't matter anyway because the intro solo tires you out before you have a chance at any riffs. The solo halfway through the song has actually made my fingers bleed in the past. You can't truly call yourself a guitarist until you can play this. If you've never heard it, listen to it now.

If not for the constant change in time signatures, and odd ones at that, the sheer stamina and technical ability necessary to perform this song is astonishing. Definitely the most difficult song I have ever attempted to play, and that includes Through the Fire and Flames (Which is a complete joke).

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