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, also 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/her ass. Not to mention that this song is probably harder to play on other instruments.

I've hear before too many guitar gods and even they do not have too many records or so famous with their bands does not means they all sucks into riffs. But definitely Mr. Petrucci is the most advanced guitarist I've ever saw or heard. (Talking about Prog, rock or hard rock) He plays so well with the harmony, not just playing ultra fast as Dragonforce guitarists, with a limited harmony resources; I can compare Mr. Petrucci with the complexity of Frank Gambale, Pat Metheny or imaginative riffs of Steve Howe's Yes lead guitar, he posses in my own opinion all techniques possible it makes a guitar player, the word in itself: Guitar Player.

In terms of actual playing technicality, this is a close second to afterlife. But then you have to take into account that the ridiculous soloing (which is going on for over 6 minutes without staying in any key or time signature for more than 20 seconds) has no constant form, is almost impossible to keep track of, and... Well, requires real people to actually play it. Not to mention that guitar isn't even the hardest instrument to play this on.

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 ...more

People who say this song is "fake" and "terrible" are seriously retarded. This song was played live multiple times, and NAILED by Herman Li and Sam Totman. It's not a computerized song, it IS the real deal, and the absolutely craziest and near impossible song to cover. It doesn't have to be the best song, however, it is the most blazing metal song I have ever heard, in fact, I've been attempting to play this for months now, and still can't get it down. That's saying a lot coming from a 15 year old who mastered the second Master of Puppets solo in less than a week, and mastered the full song in about 10 days. So believe me, I know this song is extremely... EXTREMELY challenging.

Eruption is a piece of cake compared to this. Eruption is really just less than a minute of one-string tapping and some difficult licks. Through the Fire and Flames is 7 and a half minutes of simultaneous whammy, wah, and intense sweep picking. It's damn near impossible. I've been playing for 2 years, and I could play Eruption with some dedicated practice. But Through the Fire and Flames would take at least a decade of experience to master. Take it form someone who actually plays guitar and doesn't just listen to rock. This song is mental.

The speed and tone of Li and Totman easily beat out anything on this list. As a shred guitarist I can tell you this uses a much more diverse set of scales than eruption. I'm really not sure of the particular Dream Theater song listed, but I can day the tapping in this song is ridiculous. Eddie Van Halen sticks to mostly pentatonic and single string tapping so its not even viable that it would be more difficult than this. Love it all though!

5 Tornado of Souls - Megadeth

Really, why is this here. It should at least make top 30. Thunderstruck, thunderstruck, it's so easy. Why is thunder struck 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 dosen't deserve to be number one.

I reckon that is should be first. Section 7 of this solo is seriously the best. The drop downs of the song have you stunned

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.

No, it's not a troll, the solo is extremely hard.

7 Eruption - Van Halen

Judging by the amount 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 this 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 will claim to be able to play Eruption no problem, but somehow they never materialize in real life or even on YT. 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 kicks the crap out of guitarists!

Bear with me, I'm going to go through this thoroughly. Eruption is just one of those things that you can play and people will be amazed. This should DEFINITELY not be bomber 1, but it's not easy either. It is mostly e and a minor pentatonic. So theory wise, it's not very technical. The intro starts out with a slide down the neck into an a power chord. The first 15 seconds is very aggressive. It utilizes pinch harmonics, slides, palm muting, and Sammy bar dives. The first part before the Sammy dive uses two main patterns and that's it. Like I said it is very simple. After the dive, it goes into a minor pentatonic again and does a lot of string bends before going into another dive. Then the tremolo picked bit on the high e as it works down the neck. A long dramatic pause. A minor pentatonic again Tremolo picked with hammer on and pull offs. Then the tapping part. Tapping is a technique that is easy to get the basics, but difficult to master. This is easy when it comes to tapping. People ...more

As good as this sing is, it's not even in the top 30 hardest songs to play. You guys really need to expand the music and players you listen to. Perpetual Burn by Jason Becker is one of them. This song is the second easiest one to play on this list with only One being easier. Though the way Kirk plays it live since 89 is much more difficult than on record. The solo was incomplete when he recorded because of time restraints.

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

8 Afterlife - Avenged Sevenfold

The hardest song ever to master on guitar. Dragon force? I mean seriously? Studio force is more accurate to describe their songs lol. Even though their solo is fast, but it absolutely lacks any skills... Just a pure bland emotionless lick to be precise. Even though Synyster Gates, one of the top 10 guitarist in the world, the big Schecter artist, had public admitted that the solo in Afterlife was mind boggling and he didn't thought that 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 below dragon force? Synester 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 baddest songs ever and is really hard to perform directly on the spot. I've only seen 3 other people besides synester gates himself play the solo in afterlife correctly, and even they could barely pull it off. Kinda disappointed in this one...

Yes, this song is the difficult side of a7x, the solo is so crazy at 185 bpm, all the speed picking and ho/po-s and sweeping and stuff is way too hard to be played perfectly by a normal guitar player.

But listen to Eruption. I got an headache only because I thought about playing that damn hell of a song. Eddie is better and more experienced than Synyster. Until Synyster has made his way as a legend in the (near) future, we'll stick to him.

Really I have no problem with playing these songs, half these songs are not that hard if you can shred and know your power cords. This is one of my favorite songs and the hardest I personally believe about av7x songs are there solos, even thought it's the solos that even synyster gates had trouble with. All the rest are fairly easy.

9 Hallowed Point - Slayer
10 Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd

Wait Free Bird isn't in the top ten? that's sad Free Bird is almost a 5 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 3 guitarists playing the solo at the same time 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 depends 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 rift 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.

Quote from unknown: Come off it. the whole solo is just straight forward pentatonic licks. It really isn't anywhere near as difficult as some might think

Check YouTube free bird rocksmith 2014. It is hard hard hard. So yeah you may not know what you are talking about

I personally think that Jimi Hendrix's Voodoo Child is harder, but I wanted to post this comment. Most of what people remember from the solo is easy, but the rest is rigged.

You can just solo in the gaps?!

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

Holy Wars riff intro has 4 chromatic triplets along with a chord ending. While master of puppets has just three simple power chords in chromatic descent as intro. Master of puppets is a simple song only here on the list bcs. Its one of metaallica's most popular songs. You can learn rhythm of master of puppets in your first two weeks of guitar playing easily. Holy wars rhythm in nearly two months, by that time you can learn the entire master of puppets album.
FYI learning means playing it with perfection.

YES! Now this is/was metal at its more difficult end.. I'm not sure about the ones higher up (or lower for that matter)... Master of puppets? I mean come on!. Bieber? Gimmie 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.

WARNING! Side effects from playing this riff may include carpal tunnel, arthritis, tendonitis, and even your hand falling off.

Oh come on! Master of Puppets after this?! don't get me wrong Master of Puppets is hard and amazing and all but nothing compared to holy wars. Oh and whats this? Afterlife by Avenged Overrated above this? That's just peachy honestly. But seriously this should be higher on the list

13 Cliffs of Dover - Eric Johnson

I've literally been practicing the intro for 1.5 years and I just now got it up to speed and I am finally able to play it with the recording. But now learning any other song is way easier

This song takes so much skill, that people think that it's a clean guitar, despite being actually quite distorted. This is done by using superb muting technique that is extremely difficult. People will wonder why you are using distortion if you make even one mistake. To get it to sound correct, you must play inhumanity well. With songs like Eruption, if you make a mistake, it's not a big deal. 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 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 you 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.

Easily the most difficult on this list. You need mastery of scales, hybrid picking which is very difficult, tempo, and did I mention the ability to FLY through scales? Give it 3 years and you can get most others on this list. Give it 5-10 and you still won't have cliffs of dover near Johnson quality.

14 Master of Puppets - Metallica

I've been playing rock/metal guitar for over 25 years; Master of Puppets is had work... A finger numbing experience. Imitation is never a good idea, who the hell wants to listen to a copy of original. Having said that Master of Puppets stimulates your abilities, and exposes weaknesses. Tricky down picking, running your fingers through entire neck can make you dizzy and lost. On this page many claim that they mastered this song, especially a younger Gen 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.

I'm only 14 and I have mastered the song in a month... It's fairly easy. I haven't had guitar lessons either. The whole song is down picking besides the solo which is mostly hammer ons and pull offs while you tremolo pick. It's honestly not that difficult as you guys are making it out to be. Get something on your computer that can slow down the song and and just start playing it. After you memorize all the notes, then start slowly increasing the speed and you WILL get it.

I'm fifteen, have been playing guitar for not even half a year, and this song may be a but of a wrist work out with all the down picking, but it's really not that hard of a song. I don't know why it's number seven. Anything by Children of Bodom or something else by DragonForce (other than through the Fire and Flames. That is in a good place) needs to be above this cause that's some difficult stuff.

People who say they are only like 14 15 16 and have learnt this song easily are alternate picking. It's meant to be DOWNPICKED. Yes, at 215 BPM! I bet none of them can play that fast with all downstrokes.
Also, there's a bar that's 21/32 time signature that it's so hard to get precise and that riff appears a lot in this song. And the solo is so crazy that you'll kill your fingers trying to play.

15 Bark at the Moon - Ozzy Osbourne
16 Hysteria - Muse

Unless you're referring to the bass part, this is literally easier than 99% than all other rock songs ever made. What dumbass put this on this list?

Muse and avenged sevenfold are the best bands out right now, forget linkin park, Green Day, and breaking benjamin, I personally think they suck.

Ok don't get me wrong- the song itself is incredible... But in terms of difficulty, it's extremely easy to play.

It's hard to get the right tone and effects, but it's not hard to play though.

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.

Buckethead is the best guitar player in the world and Jordan is not as difficult as other songs he has written, it just is more popular because of video games.

In my opinion, it's absolutely pathetic that this song is not #1. It's not the best peice for "feel", but if you want technicality, this is damn near as hard as your 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 heard of and don't even look at the other options. For example, snow-rhcp is ranked way higher even though most decent guitarist can pull it of in a couple of minutes and 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 49 hardest song! Haha. It's A crime.1 far beyond the sun 2 waves and 3 cliffs of dover. Well its all depending on the level of the guitarists hands and picking and understanding a real composed guitar lick

Too many Guitar Hero players voting in this 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 to Van Halen in the blink of an eye (literally)

This should be on the 1st place because if you have memorized not only the solo but also the skills used in this solo, you can actually play other solos on the higher ranking of this poll.

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 that 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 fo 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, will never sound right if you do it perfect. Foes 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 bull. All of these super fast songs are so much easier to play as it just takes technique, there is no awkward timings it's just play 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 have to get given the notes and the order but no one will ever get the timings or the little changes and nuances correct. R.I.P.

Speed is one thing. Imitating Jimi's sound is something on a whole different level. Nobody has his sound and he does a million things that you just can't pick up on. Sure dragonforce is really fast but its all technique. You can't practice what Jimi does. He does a lot of chord variations that have you wanting to smash your guitar in a million pieces because its too complicated to learn.

I agree, while the notes in voodoo child are not that fast all the time. It's all about the groove and the feel. You should never play it exactly like jimi did, first of all because it's impossible to get the sound identic and second because that's not the purpose of the song. Voodoo child and many more Hendrix songs are like places you visit in the real world, they are never exactly the same twice.

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 when 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.

A beautiful song and the soloing is amazing and lightning fast.

21 Fracture - King Crimson

It's faster than Flight Of The Bumblebee, Longer than Through The Fire And Through The 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, 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.

Unrelenting and fairly tuneless to boot. This will test your cross-picking abilities to the maximum if your hand doesn't cramp up before the end.

22 Welcome to the Jungle - Guns N' Roses

How idiot do you have to be when you think this solo is hard? The whole song is harder to play than the solo. Listen for example "The four horseman" by metallica. Then you realize this is very easy. And by the way if this is 18th hardest solo, then enter sandman would be number 1

This song is really easy, aside drone the delay effect at the start that's pretty hard to get right, the song is generally easy.

This song sucks I enjoy it very much. I like to listen to it and it is my least favorite song ever in the whole wide world

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

23 Double Guitar Solo - Michael Angelo Batio

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

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

Seems that years later the wonder of Internet done it's job and the guitar world has got to know this guy, because he's NÂș 1 now; which is nothing but fair because this dude does things with with the guitar that 99% of other guitar players just dream doing.

Of course there are other great players on this list, but it's unarguable that if we are 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.

Absolutely agree with you. I don't like MAB's music, but here is case of difficult, and he must be on 1st place. If don't talk about such extraordinary, like double guitar, Yngwie Malmsteen, Andy Timmons, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani should be on a top.

I'm not saying MAB is the best musical composer or anything, but when it comes to technicality and difficulty, he should be at the top of this list.

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 in 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 anyways 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 truely 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)

Many musicians agree that if you can play this piece, you can play pretty much all other incredibly difficult pieces. Period. This is the ultimate test of a musician, to play this song top-notch.

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