cool-guitar-riffs2

Quick question. If you had to choose between playing repetitive exercises on the guitar OR playing awesome guitar riffs taken from real songs, which would you chose?

Probably the later...

Here are 55 songs that have easy guitar riffs for beginner and intermediate guitar players. Well, most are easy, some are a bit harder. These are some of the best guitar riffs of all time, so as a guitarist, you really need to know them.

Learn each riff, start out slow and practice diligently until you get them perfected, then play everything you learn to your family and friends.

1. Ain’t Talkin’ ’Bout Love

Van Halen

Genre: hard rock | BPM: 140 | Released: 1978 | Tabs | Tutorial

The awesome, dynamic guitar riff is a great example of Eddie Van Halen's style. You will be learning how to use accents and palm muting to make this riff sound like the original.

e|----------0-1-----3----------------|
B|------1-------1-----3--------------|
G|--------2-------2------------------|
D|----2------------------------------|
A|--0---------------------3~----2-3--|
E|----------------------3------------|

Music video

2. Are You Gonna Be My Girl

Jet

Genre: rock | BPM: 105 | Released: 2003 | Tabs | Tutorial

Some people say that this riff bears an uncanny resemblance to the riff in Iggy Pop's Lust For Life. Same goes for the drum pattern. Have a listen, you be the judge. Either way, the main riff of Are You Gonna Be My Girl is a great beginner riff to learn. It's simple and dynamic, in fact, you can play much of the song with it.


E|--------------------|
B|------------------5-|
G|------------------5-|
D|-7-7-7-x-7-7-7-7-7--|
A|-7-7-7-x-7-7-7-7-7--|
E|-5-5-5-x-5-5-5-5-5--|

E|---------------------|
B|---5-7b-7b-5---------|
G|---5-7b-7b-5---------|
D|-7-----------7-7-5-7-|
A|-------------------7-|
E|-------------------5-|

Music video

3. Are You Gonna Go My Way

Lenny Kravitz

Genre: rock | BPM: 129 | Released: 1993 | Tabs | Tutorial

Even though this song was released decades ago, it still has the same punch and groove. The intro riff is a classic, make sure you learn if you are into the electric guitar. The bends are a bit harder than you would expect since they are so close to the nut. They will give your fingers a great workout, and your calluses will enter a new dimension of hardness after a few days of practicing this song.

|-------------------------------------------3----|
|-------------------------------------------3----|
|-2-^4-^2-p0-------------2-^4-^2-p0--------------|
|------------2---0-2----------------2---0-2------|
|------------------------------------------------|
|--------------0-------0--------------0----------|

Music video

4. Back In Black

AC/DC

Genre: hard rock | BPM: 94 | Released: 1980 | Tabs | Tutorial

This awesome riff by AC/DC needs no introduction, it is one of the most recognizable guitar riffs of all time. It's not your standard run of the mill riff either, as it uses chords as well as single note plucks. Here is a lesson on the entire song if you want to learn the rest of it as well.


e|-------------------------------------|--------------3-0------------------|
B|------------------3-3-3--------------|--------------------3-0------------|
G|------------------2-2-2----------2-2-|2-----------------------2^(4)`2p0--|
D|-2----------------0-0-0----------2-2-|2----------------------------------|
A|-2-------------------------------0-0-|0----------------------------------|
E|-0-----------------------------------|-----------------------------------|

e|------------------------------------|-----------------------------------|
B|-----------------3-3-3--------------|-----------------------------------|
G|-----------------2-2-2----------2-2-|2---------------------------------o|
D|-2---------------0-0-0----------2-2-|2---------------------------------o|
A|-2------------------------------0-0-|0---2-----2-----2-----2------------|
E|-0----------------------------------|------4.----5.----6.----7/---------|

Music video

5. Beat It

Michael Jackson

Genre: pop | BPM: 138 | Released: 1982 | Tabs | Tutorial

Michael Jackson was a great talent, and this iconic riff is a must for your guitar repertoire. To play it in the key of the original, you need to tune your guitar to Eb tuning, which means every string is a half step down: D# G# C# F# A# D#. Of course, when you are just practicing the riff, you don't need to tune down. The lesson below teaches the riff using standard tuning.

eb|-----|-----------------|-----------------|
Bb|-----|-----------------|-----------------|
Gb|-----|-----------------|-----------------|
Db|-----|--------5-2----4-|---2-0---0-------|
Ab|-----|------2----------|-----------------|
Eb|---0-|(0)-3------------|---------------0-|

eb|-----------------|-------------|
Bb|-----------------|-------------|
Gb|-----------------|-------------|
Db|--------5-2----4-|---2-0-------|
Ab|------2----------|-------------|
Eb|(0)-3------------|-------------|

Music video

6. Breaking the law

Judas Priest

Genre: heavy metal | BPM: 82 | Released: 1980 | Tabs | Tutorial

Breaking The Law is an awesome rock song, it is one of the band's most famous songs, thanks, in part, to the opening riff. It is played in the key of A minor using a typical heavy metal chord progression: I - VI - VII. The riff is very easy to play, and so much fun when you play along with the original track.

e|---------------------------|---------------------------|
B|---------------------------|---------------------------|
G|---------------------------|---------------------------|
D|---------------------------|---------------------------|
A|--0--2--3--0-2--3--0-2--3--|--------0-------0----3--2--|
E|---------------------------|--1--3-----1-3-----3-------|

Music video

7. By The Way

RHCP

Genre: funk rock | BPM: 122 | Released: 2002 | Tabs | Tutorial

This is an awesome RHCP song. The intro riff is great practice for keeping time and staying on beat. It sounds easier than it is. Guitarists are notoriously bad at staying on beat, so practice it a lot.

e|-------------------------|-------------------------|
B|-------------------------|-------------------------|
G|-------------------------|-------------------------|
D|-10-10-10-10-10-10-10-10-|-10-10-10-10-10-10-10-10-|
A|--8--8--8--8--8--8--8--8-|--7--7--7--7--7--7--7--7-|
E|-------------------------|-------------------------|

e|-----------------|-----------------||
B|-----------------|-----------------||
G|-----------------|-----------------||
D|-----------------|-----------------||
A|-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-|-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-||
E|-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-|-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-||

Music video

8. Chasing Cars

Snow Patrol

Genre: rock | BPM: 104 | Released: 2006 | Tabs | Tutorial

The intro riff to Chasing Cars is another good one to practice your timing and develop your sense of rhythm. The riff itself is very simple, but you keeping time is the real challenge here. By the way, Chasing Cars was the most played song of the decade in the UK in the 2000s.

e|------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|--9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-|
D|-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-7-6-6-6-6-6-6-6-6-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0--|
A|------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|------------------------------------------------------------------|

Music video

9. Come As You Are

Nirvana

Genre: grunge | BPM: 120 | Released: 1992 | Tabs | Tutorial

The intro riff to this famous Nirvana hit is played with an alternate tuning. You'll need to tune all of your strings down by 1 whole step, so the end tuning will be D G C F A D. It's a bit of a pain, but if you want to play along with the original song, you'll need to do it. Of course, if you just want to practice it, you don't need to bother with the tuning.

D|-----------------------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------|
F|-----------------------------------------| x4
C|-----------------------------------------|
G|------------0---0---------2-------2------|
D|--0-0-1-2-----2---2-2-1-0---0-0-----0-1--|

Music video

10. Crazy Train

Ozzy Osbourne

Genre: heavy metal | BPM: 138 | Released: 1980 | Tabs | Tutorial

Ozzy Osbourne is one of heavy metal's founding fathers, a true legend. The dark-sounding riff in the classic song Crazy Train, which is played by Randy Rhodes of course, is played on the F# natural minor scale. The minor scale is used in metal often, as it achieves a dark sound, characteristic of the genre.

There are actually 2 great riffs in this song, one played by the bass guitar, and the other by the lead guitar.

e|------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|------------------------------------------------------------------| (x3)
D|------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|-----------4-------5-------4-------2--------------2---------------|
E|-----2-2-------2-------2-------2-------5---4---5-----5---4---0----|

e|------------------------------------------------------------|
B|------------------------------------------------------------|
G|------------------------------------------------------------|
D|-----------------------------------7-------9----------------|
A|-----------4-------5-------4-------5-------7------(12\)-----|
E|-----2-2-------2-------2-------2------------------(12\)-----|

Music video

11. Day Tripper

The Beatles

Genre: pop rock | BPM: 138 | Released: 1965 | Tabs | Tutorial

This entire song is based around a single riff, which is probably one of the most famous guitar riffs ever written. It really shows you that you don't need much to create great music that will be listened to by generations to come.

e|-----------------------------|
B|-----------------------------|
G|-----------------------------|
D|-------------2-0---4----0-2--|
A|----------2------2----2------|
E|--0--3-4---------------------|

Music video

12. Dock of the Bay

Otis Redding

Genre: soul | BPM: 104 | Released: 1968 | Tabs | Tutorial

Otis Redding's classic song is based around chords, but if you connect the chords using walk-ups and walk-downs, you can get a really groovy riff going. Check it out and have a try!

E |-----------------------2L---|--2-----x-----2-----x-------|
B |--------x--------------0L---|--0-----x-----0-----x-------|
G |--------x--------------2L---|--2-----x-----2-----x-------|
D |--------x--------------1L---|--1-----x-----1-----x-------|
A |--------x--------0--1--2L---|--2-----x--2--------x-------|
E |--3-----x-----3-------------|----------------------------|

E |----------------------------|----------------------------||
B |--5-----x-----5--4--3--2L---|--2-----x-----2-----x-------||
G |--5-----x-----5--4--3--2L---|--2-----x-----2-----x-------||
D |--5-----x-----5--4--3--2L---|--2-----x-----2-----x-------||
A |--3-----x-----3--2--1--0L---|--0-----x--0--------x-------||
E |----------------------------|----------------------------||

Music video

13. Enter Sandman

Metallica

Genre: heavy metal | BPM: 123 | Released: 1991 | Tabs | Tutorial

Enter Sandman was the lead single from the Metallica's Black Album. The song’s intro is instantly recognizable and is a must-know if you play guitar. It starts off with the acoustic guitar and uses the E/Bb tritone, a very dissonant, sinister sound in music. This leads into the electric guitar riff, which is similar but uses a slide and the E power chord instead of the open E string

Intro riff

e|---------------------------|
B|---------------------------|
G|---------------------------|
D|-----------5---------------|
A|--------7--------------7---|
E|--0-----------6--5---------|

Main riff

e|------------------------|
B|------------------------|
G|------------------------| x3
D|------------------------|
A|--2-----2--/7-----------|
E|--0-----0------6--5-----|

PM------------------|
e|-----------------------------|
B|-----------------------------|
G|-----------------------------|
D|-----------------------------|
A|-5-------4-------4---5---4---|
E|-3---0---2---0---2---3---2---|

Music video

14. Eye of the Tiger

Survivor

Genre: rock | BPM: 116 | Released: 1982 | Tabs | Tutorial

The power chord riff during the intro to this song is instantly recognizable. It is very simple but will get you much kudos. Make sure to learn this awesome riff, it'll give you a chance to work on moving your power chord up and down the neck of the guitar.

e|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-8--8--8--8--8--8--8--8--8--8--8--8--8--8--8--8--8--8--8--8--8--8--8--8--8-|

e|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|--10-----10--8---10-----10--8---10-----10--5---6---------------------------|
A|--10-----10--8---10-----10--8---10-----10--5---6---------------------------|
E|--8------8---6---8------8---6---8------8---3---4---------------------------|

e|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|--10-----10--8---10------10--8---10----10--5---6---------------------------|
A|--10-----10--8---10------10--8---10----10--5---6---------------------------|
E|--8------8---6---8-------8---6---8-----8---3---4---------------------------|

e|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|--8------8---7---8------8---7---8------8---7---5---------------------------|
D|--10-----10--8---10-----10--8---10-----10--8---6---------------------------|
A|--10-----10--8---10-----10--8---10-----10--8---6---------------------------|
E|--8------8---6---8------8---6---8------8---6---4---------------------------|

e|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|--8------8---7---8------8---7---8------8---7---5---------------------------|
D|--10-----10--8---10-----10--8---10-----10--8---6---------------------------|
A|--10-----10--8---10-----10--8---10-----10--8---6---------------------------|
E|--8------8---6---8------8---6---8------8---6---4---------------------------|

Music video

15. Fortunate son

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Genre: rock | BPM: 133 | Released: 1969 | Tabs | Tutorial

This song's origins lead back to the Vietnam War. It is played on countless movies. The signature riff of the song is played in C major and is instantly recognizable by anybody who has ever turned on a radio. It uses lots of slides, which means it is perfect for practicing your slide technique.

e|------------------------|
B|----8----6--------------|
G|---------------9-----7--|
D|-7/9--6/7---------------|
A|-----------8/10--8/10---|
E|------------------------|

Music video

16. Heartbreaker

Led Zeppelin

Genre: hard rock | BPM: 98 | Released: 1969 | Tabs | Tutorial

The main riff of Heartbreaker is played by Jimmy Page. It is a really cool hard rock riff and is based on the A blues scale. It is actually 2 riffs in one, as it's played 1 whole tone higher as well.

Riff 1
e|------------------------------------------|
B|------------------------------------------|
G|------------------------------------------|
D|------------------------------------------|
A|---------5--6-7-----------------5--6-7----|
E|--5---8---------3----5-5-5-5-8---------3--|

Riff 2
e|--------------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------------|
G|--------------------------------------------|
D|--------------------------------------------|
A|----------7--8-9------------------7--8-9----|
E|--7---10---------5----7-7-7-7-10---------5--|

Music video

17. House of the Rising Sun

The Animals

Genre: folk ballad | BPM: 78 | Released: 1964| Tabs | Tutorial

The main riff of this song is actually a series of arpeggiated chords. The song is in the key of A minor. Watch the timing and rhythm.

e|----------0---------------0---------------2-----------------1-----------|
B|--------1---1-----------1---1-----------3----3------------1---1---------|
G|------2-------2-------0-------0-------2--------2--------2-------2-------|
D|----2---------------2-------------0-0--------------3-3------------------|
A|--0---------------3-----------------------------------------------------|
E|------------------------------------------------------------------------|

e|----------0-----------------0---------------0----------------0------------|
B|--------1---1-------------0---0-----------1---1------------0---0----------|
G|------2-------2---------1-------1-------2--------2-------1-------1--------|
D|----2-----------------2---------------2----------------2------------------|
A|--0---------------------------------0-------------------------------------|
E|------------------0----------------------------------0--------------------|

Music video

18. I Feel Fine

The Beatles

Genre: pop rock | BPM: 90 | Released: 1964 | Tabs | Tutorial

John Lennon came up with this song’s memorable riff, which has since become a classic. It starts 5 seconds into the song. This one is a bit harder, as it requires barre chords. Work at it, it'll come with practice.

e|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|------------------12-11-9----11-------------------10-9-7----9--------------|
D|----12-12-10--------------14---------10-10-8-------------12----------------|
A|-------12----(12)-----------------------10---(10)--------------------------|
E|-10-----------------------------10/8---------------------------------------|

e|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------5-4-2---4-------------5-4-2---4-----------------------------|
D|-----5-5-3-----------7-----5-5-3-----------7-------------------------------|
A|-------5---(5)---------------5---(5)---------------------------------------|
E|-8/3---------------------3-------------------------------------------------|

Music video

19. I Will Follow

U2

Genre: rock | BPM: 156 | Released: 1980 | Tabs | Tutorial

This is a fast-paced riff that is played in the key of Ab. As with several other riffs on this list, it requires the constant strumming of just a few strings. The real challenge here is keeping time, and thus, developing your sense of rhythm.

e|----0--0--0--0--0--0--0--0--|---0--0--0-12-12-12--0--0--|
B|---12-12-12-12-12-12-12-12--|--10-10-10-10-10-10-10-10--|
G|----9--9--9--9--9--9--9--9--|---9--9--9--9--9--9--9--9--|
D|----------------------------|---------------------------|
A|----------------------------|---------------------------|
E|----------------------------|---------------------------|

Music video

20. In My Life

The Beatles

Genre: rock | BPM: 104 | Released: 1965 | Tabs | Tutorial

This is not one of the most well-known riffs on the list, but it's a great workout for your fingers. You'll be plucking individual strings and move into chords in quick succession. The song is played in the key of C.

e|----5---------4------------------|
B|2-------2h3-5--------------------|
G|---------------------------------|
D|---------------------------------|
A|---------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------|

Music video

21. Iron Man

Black Sabbath

Genre: heavy metal | BPM: 155 | Released: 1971 | Tabs | Tutorial

"Iron Man" is classic heavy metal at its finest. The song remains a favorite of guitarists around the world. The signature riff is played in the key of A

e|---------------------------------|--------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------|--------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------|--------------------------------------|
D|---------7-------7--/9---9-------|-12\11-12\11-12-\-7---7--/9---9-------|
A|-9-------5-------5--/7---7-------|-10\9--10\9--10-\-5---5--/7---7-------|
E|-7-------------------------------|--------------------------------------|

Music video

22. Johnny B. Goode

Chuck Berry

Genre: rock | BPM: 168 | Released: 1958 | Tabs | Tutorial

The fast-paced intro riff to Chuck Berry's classic, Johnny B Good, is a very recognizable riff. This is one of the hardest riffs on the list, so if you're a beginner, it might be just a bit too difficult for you. Work your way through the other riffs before trying this one.

e|----------5/6-6-6-5/6-6-6-6-6-6------------------------------------|
B|-------6--5/6-6-6-5/6-6-6-6-6-6-9-8-6-6----------------------------|
G|---6h7--------------------------------6h7--------------------------|
D|-8----------------------------------------8-6--8-8-8-8-8-8-8-8-----|
A|-----------------------------------------------8-8-8-8-8-8-8-8-----|
E|-------------------------------------------------------------------|

e|--------------------------------6----------------------------------|
B|-6-----6----------------6-------6-------6-------6-------6----------|
G|-6-7-8-6h7----8b9--8b10---8b10----8b10----8b10-----8b10------------|
D|------------8------------------------------------------------------|
A|-------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-------------------------------------------------------------------|

e|-------------------------------------------6---9-8-6------------------------|
B|------6-------6------6------6------6---------6-------9-8-6-6---8---6--------|
G|-8b10---8b10----8b10---8b10---8b10---8b10------------------6h7-8---6h7-7----|
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------8-----8----|
A|----------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------------------------------------------|

e|------------------------------------|
B|---6---8-6--------------------------|
G|---6h7-8-6h7-7/---------------------|
D|-8-----------8/---10-10-10-10-10----|
A|------------------8--8--8--8--8-----|
E|------------------------------------|

Music video

23. Killing in the Name

Rage Against the Machine

Genre: metal | BPM: 120 | Released: 1992 | Tabs | Tutorial

This song is proof that a truly great intro can stand on its own. The riff is played in the key of D major, and you will have to tune your low E string down 1 whole tone to a D. This is called dropped D tuning. The tempo and rhythm are the hardest parts of this awesome riff, so use your metronome.

E|----------------------------------------------------|
B|----------------------------------------------------|
G|----------------11-12------------------11-12--------|
D|----------11-12------------------11-12--------------|
A|----------------------------------------------------|
D|-0--0--0----------------0--0--0---------------------|

E|----------------------------------------------------|
B|----------------------------------------------------|
G|----------------11-12------------------12b13r12-----|
D|----------11-12------------------11-12--------------|
A|----------------------------------------------------|
D|-0--0--0----------------0--0--0---------------------|

Music video

24. La Bamba

Richie Valens

Genre: rock and roll | BPM: 76 | Released: 1958 | Tabs | Tutorial

Ritchie Valens made this Mexican folk song into an international hit. It is played in the key of G, and the intro riff presents a great finger exercise. If you like the vibe of this riff, learn the whole song here.

e|-------|-------------|-------------------|
B|-------|-*-----------|-----------------*-|
G|-------|-------0---2-|-0-----------------|
D|-------|-----2---3---|-------0-3-3-2-0---|
A|---0-2-|-*-3---------|-----2-----------*-|
E|-3-----|-------------|---3---------------|

Music video

25. Layla

Eric Clapton

Genre: blues rock | BPM: 116 | Released: 1970 | Tabs | Tutorial

This iconic rock song ranks at number 27 on Rolling Stone’s top 500 rock songs. The song was actually dually written by Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon, and first released by their band Derek and the Dominos. The opening riff is fairly complicated with all of its intricacies, which is understandable as some call it the greatest opening riff in rock history.

2x

E|---------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------|
G|---------------------------------------|
D|-------0h3p0---0--7s5-3-----5-----7----|
A|---0h3-------3----5s3-1-0---3-0---5----|
E|--------------------------3-----3------|

2x
E|-----------14----------16-14-13----------------14----------18-16-13------|
B|-----14h16----16p14-16----------14-16----14h16----16p14-16----------14-16|
G|--15----------------------------------15---------------------------------|
D|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|

Music video

26. Le Freak

Chic & Nile Rodgers

Genre: funk | BPM: 119 | Released: 1978 | Tabs | Tutorial

This funky riff might be the hardest one in this collection. Don't let it put you off though. The point here is to keep strumming with your right hand and keep muting the notes you don't need with your fretting fingers. Easier said than done, I know. Stick with it though, this is an important element of funk guitar.

le-freak-riff-tabs

Music video

27. Lose Yourself

Eminem

Genre: hip hop | BPM: 171 | Released: 2002 | Tabs | Tutorial

Who would have thought Eminem can compose guitar riffs and lyrics right? This aggressive riff uses power chords, which are very important if you want to advance your rock guitar skills. The riff itself is very simple, so you can learn to play it even if you are a total guitar newbie.

e|------------------------------------------------------|
B|------------------------------------------------------|
G|------------------------------------------------------|
D|------7-7----7-7-7-7--8-8-8-8----8-8--8p5-7-----7-7---|
A|--5-5-5-5--5-5-5-5-5--5-5-5-5-5--5-5--5-5-5--5--5-5---|
E|------------------------------------------------------|

Music video

28. My Girl

The Temptations

Genre: soul | BPM: 104 | Released: 1964 | Tabs | Tutorial

Sunshine on a cloudy day? Then everything's all right, yeaj! This classic soul riff always brings a smile to my face. Learn it and play it to your loved ones, it'll bring a smile to their faces as well.

e|--------------|
B|-----------1--|
G|-------0-2----|
D|---0-2--------|
A|-3------------|
E|--------------|

e|--------------|
B|--------------|
G|--------------|
D|---------0-3--|
A|-----0-3------|
E|-1-3----------|

Music video

29. One

Metallica

Genre: metal | BPM: 108 | Released: 1988 | Tabs | Tutorial

The intro riff to one is a great one to practice your string skipping and accurate single note plucks. The riff is played in the key of Bm on the minor scale, which is very evident by the strong presence of the open D string, which is the minor 3rd of the scale. The minor 3rd gives the minor scale it's dark quality, it is used a lot in this riff.

e|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|------------------------------------------------------------------------0--|
D|----4-----0--(0)------4-----0--(0)-------4-----0--(0)------4-----0--(0)----|
A|-2-----2------------------------------2-----2------------------------------|
E|-------------------3-----3------------------------------3-----3------------|

e|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|----4------0--(0)------4-----0--(0)------4-----0--(0)---------------|
A|-2-----2------------0-----0--------------------------------2-----2--|
E|--------------------------------------3-----3-----------0-----2-----|

Music video

30. Other side

Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Genre: alternative rock | BPM: 122 | Released: 2000 | Tabs | Tutorial

This simple RHCP riff is another one for the history books. It is played in the key of Am. This riff is one of the simplest on this list, which makes it suitable for total newbie guitarists. Enjoy!

e|-----------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|-----------------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|--------------7--7--9--7-----------------------------------------------------|
A|-----7--7--7--------------10--7--------5--5--5-------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------------|

Music video

31. Owner of a Lovely Heart

Yes

Genre: rock | BPM: 125 | Released: 1983 | Tabs | Tutorial

Turn on your distortion for this timeless riff. You'll be sliding power chords, so it will give you a great power chord workout. If you're at it, why not learn the verse riff as well. It's pretty much the same sequence of chords as the intro riff.

e|-------------------|
B|-------------------|
G|----4/5--7-7-------|
D|-7--4/5--7-7----5--|
A|-7--2/3--5-5----5--|
E|-5--------------3--|

Music video

32. Pink Panther

Henry Mancini

Genre: jazz | BPM: 116 | Released: 1963 | Tabs | Tutorial

The Pink Panther theme is a really great riff to start your guitar career with. It's easy, but it still involves a lot of techniques you'll use in other songs, like hammer-ons, slides, and pull-offs. I like playing it with power chords as well, check out the detailed tutorial link for that version.

e|---------------|
B|---------------|
G|---------------| x2
D|---------------|
A|-4/5-6/7-------|
E|----------7--0-|

e|-----------------------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------------------|
G|-----------------------5\4---------------------|
D|----------4/5------4/5---------9\8~~~\7p5------|
A|-4/5-6/7-------6/7--------7/10-----------7p5-7-|
E|-----------------------------------------------|

Music video

33. Plush

Stone Temple Pilots

Genre: grunge | BPM: 72 | Released: 1993 | Tabs | Tutorial

The intro riff to Plush is a very recognizable electric guitar riff, but you can learn to play it on an acoustic guitar as well. In fact, the band regularly performs an acoustic cover of this song at concerts and unplugged events.

e||--3-3---3-(3)----|-3-3---3-(3)--3-3-3--||-3-3---3-(3)----|-3-3---3-|
B||o-3-3---2-(2)----|-1-1---0-(0)--0-1-2-o||-3-3---2-(2)----|-1-1---0-|
G||--0-0---3-(3)----|-2-2---0-(0)--0-0-0--||-0-0---3-(3)----|-2-2---0-|
D||-----------------|---------------------||----------------|-------0-|
A||o----------------|--------------------o||----------------|---------|
E||-----------------|---------------------||----------------|---------|

Music video

34. Purple Haze

Jimi Hendrix

Genre: rock | BPM: 108 | Released: 1970 | Tabs | Tutorial

Jimi Hendrix is one of my personal favorite rock guitar heroes. This opening line is one of the most well-known guitar riffs out there. Jimmy Hendrix opens with the "tritone", which is the most dissonant sound in music. Learn this riff from start to finish, it's a bit longer than the other riffs in this list, but it's worth it to see your friends and family amazed when you play it to them.

D#|--------------------------------------|
A#|--------------------------------------|
F#|-----8-----8--------------------------|
C#|-----8-----8------8-----8\0-----------|
G#|------------------x-------------------|
D#|-6------6-----6---6--6----------------|

D#|--------------------------------------|
A#|----------8b--------------------------|
F#|-------7------------------------------|
C#|--7/9--------7-----5------------------|
G#|---------------------5---/7-----------|
D#|-----------------------0-----16\------|

D#|--------------------------------------|
A#|----------8b--------------------------|
F#|-------7------------------------------|
C#|--7/9--------7b~-------7\5-5----------|
G#|------------------------------5----/7-|
D#|-----------------------------(0)-0----|

D#|--------------------------------------|
A#|--------------------------------------|
F#|--------------------------------------|
C#|-----5-7-7b-5~-----5------------------|
G#|--/7------------------5--7------------|
D#|-------------------------0--3~--------|

D#|--------------------------------------|
A#|-0---------------------7--------------|
F#|-0-----------------------7-9----------|
C#|-5-5-7b-5h7-5h7p5---/9----------------|
G#|------------------7-------------------|
D#|------------------------------0-16\---|

Music video

35. Rebel Rebel

David Bowie

Genre: pop rock | BPM: 126 | Released: 1974| Tabs | Tutorial

Bowie was a huge influence on rock music, he wrote and recorded truly great songs. This riff is used through the entire song, so if you learn it, you can basically play the entire song.

e|----0------------|-------------------|
B|----5---3---2-0.-|0-----0-2p0--------|
G|-------(2)--2-1.-|1-----------1------|
D|-0------------2.-|2-------------2----|
A|-----------------|----0--------------|
E|-----------------|-------------------|

Music video

36. Redemption song

Bob Marley

Genre: reggae | BPM: 116 | Released: 1980 | Tabs | Tutorial

Redemption Song is one of the first songs I ever learned. It is very simple, meaning it's suitable for early beginner players, but if you are more experienced and haven't learned it yet, now is your chance. It is played in the key of G, and the intro riff to the song might just be the most popular G major riff ever recorded. If you have the chance, learn the entire song on the Tutorial link above.

|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-------------0h2-0-------------0---------------|
|---0-2---2h3-------2-----0-0h2---2-2h3-0-------|
|3------3--------------3-------------------3----|

|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-----------------------------------------------|
|-------------0h2-0-------------0---------------|
|---0-2---2h3-------2-----0-0h2-----2h3-0-------|
|3------3--------------3-------------------3----|

Music video

37. Rumble

Link Wray

Genre: rock | BPM: 94 | Released: 1958 | Tabs | Tutorial

FIrst a bit or Rock history: Rumble was one of the first songs ever to use heavy distortion. It is purely an instrumental song, and at the time it was so radical, that it was banned from radio in the USA. How cool is that?! The riff to Rumble is very simple, so turn your distortion up and get rockin'!

e|----0--0---0-|
B|----3--3---0-|
G|----2--2---1-|
D|----0--0---2-|
A|-----------2-|
E|-----------0-|

e|----0--0---0-|
B|----3--3---2-|
G|----2--2---2-|
D|----0--0---2-|
A|-----------0-|
E|-------------|

e|----0--0---0-|
B|----3--3---0-|
G|----2--2---1-|
D|----0--0---2-|
A|-----------2-|
E|-----------0-|

e|----0--0------2--|
B|----3--3------0--|
G|----2--2-----2---|
D|----0--0----1----|
A|-----------2-----|
E|-----------------|

Music video

38. Satisfaction

Rolling Stones

Genre: rock | BPM: 136 | Released: 1965 | Tabs | Tutorial

You're in for a real treat with this riff. According to the Rolling Stones 500 Best Songs List, Satisfaction is the 2nd best song ever written. And get this: the main riff is made up of only 3 notes!

e|------------------------------|
B|------------------------------|
G|------------------------------|
D|------------------------------|
A|-2--2----2--4--5----5-5p4-4p2-|
E|------------------------------|

Music video

39. Seven nation army

White Stripes

Genre: alternative rock | BPM: 120 | Released: 2003 | Tabs | Tutorial

The White Stripes are famous for composing simple melodies. You know, keep it simple st...d. Seven Nation Army is another perfect example of a riff that became an international super-hit, despite being super simple. The song is played in the key of E, and it is suitable for early beginner guitarists as well.

e|------------------|
B|------------------|
G|------------------|
D|------------------|
A|-7-7-10-7---------|
E|----------10-8-7--|

Music video

40. Smells Like Teen Spirit

Nirvana

Genre: grunge | BPM: 116 | Released: 1991 | Tabs | Tutorial

The iconic riff by Nirvana uses 4 power chords to achieve what only a few songs can achieve: become the anthem for an entire generation. The timing and strumming pattern is very important here, so practice it until it sounds like the original.

e|----------------------|----------------------|
B|----------------------|----------------------|
G|----------------3-3-0-|----------------6-6-6-|
D|-3--3-3-x-x-x-x-3-3-0-|-6--6-6-x-x-x-x-6-6-6-|
A|-3--3-3-x-x-x-x-1-1-0-|-6--6-6-x-x-x-x-4-4-4-|
E|-1--1-1-x-x-x-x-------|-4--4-4-x-x-x-x-------|

Music video

41. Smoke on the Water

Deep Purple

Genre: rock | BPM: 112 | Released: 1972 | Tabs | Tutorial

This song has one of the most famous intros of all time. Although the riff can be played in open position using the 3rd and 4th strings, they sound a bit off. Ritchie Blackmore performs it on the 4th and 5th strings.

e|-----------------|---------------|----------------|-------|
B|-----------------|---------------|----------------|-------|
G|--0---3---5----0-|---3---6-5-----|-0---3---5----3-|---0---|
D|--0---3---5----0-|---3---6-5-----|-0---3---5----3-|---0---|
A|-----------------|---------------|----------------|-------|
E|-----------------|---------------|----------------|-------|

Music video

42. Smokestack Lightning

Hubert Sumlin

Genre: blues | BPM: 146 | Released: 1956 | Tabs | Tutorial

This is a classic blues riff from Howlin' Wolf's guitarist Hubert Sumlin. It takes a while to get used to because your thumb has to provide a steady beat while your other fingers play the melody. Keep at it, this is a technique you'll be able to use in loads of other songs as well. Thumb independence is not easy to achieve.

|----3-------------------------|
|--------------3---------------|
|----------2/4---4---2-0-------|
|------------------------2-----|
|------------------------------|
|-0--3---0---0---0---0------0--|

Music video

43. Stairway to Heaven

Led Zeppelin

Genre: rock | BPM: 82 | Released: 1971 | Tabs | Tutorial

This guitar riff may not be as easy as the others, but it’s one you need to know! Stairway to Heaven is at the top of several rock music charts for good reason. This is the intro riff, but if you can, learn the entire song.

E|-------5-7-----7-|-8-----8-2-----2-|-0---------0-----|-----------------|
B|-----5-----5-----|---5-------3-----|---1---1-----1---|-0-1-1-----------|
G|---5---------5---|-----5-------2---|-----2---------2-|-0-2-2-----------|
D|-7-------6-------|-5-------4-------|-3---------------|-----------------|
A|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-2-0-0---0--/8-7-|
E|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|

Music video

44. Start Me Up

The Rolling Stones

Genre: rock | BPM: 123 | Released: 1981 | Tabs | Tutorial

Keith Richards loved to tune his guitar to alternate tunings. This song is in open G tuning master, so you'll need to tune your guitar strings to this tuning to be able to play this song: D - G - D - G - B - D. Start Me Up, which is also the theme song to Windows (for $20 million), is surprisingly easy, using just two chord shapes throughout the entire intro.

D|---5--5--5--|--5--5--5--|-5--5--5-----|-----------------------------5--5-5-5-|
B|---5--6--6--|--5--6--6--|-5--6--6-----|--0h3---4-3--3--3-4-x-3-4----5--5-6-6-|
G|---5--5--5--|--5--5--5--|-5--5--5-----|--0h3-3-3-3--3--3-3-x-3-3----5--5-5-5-|
D|---5--7--7--|--5--7--7--|-5--7--7-----|--0h3-3-5-3--3--3-5-x-3-5----5--5-7-7-|
G|---5--5--5--|--5--5--5--|-5--5--5-----|--0h3-3-3-3--3--3-3-x-3-3----5--5-5-5-|
D|------------|-----------|-------------|--------------------------------------|

Music video

45. Summertime Blues

Eddie Cochran

Genre: rock and roll | BPM: 157 | Released: 1958 | Tabs | Tutorial

You might not know this song based on its title, but hit play on the video below, and you'll recognize the riff. It's a true oldie but goodie. The song is played in the key of E.

summertime-blues-riff

Music video

46. Sunshine of Your Love

Cream / Eric Clapton

Genre: rock | BPM: 104 | Released: 1967 | Tabs | Tutorial

All of the notes in the riff are played on the D blues scale. It is a lot of fun to play and it will get your practicing your scales as well. The main riff to Sunshine of Your Love is very simple, so you'll be able to play it even if you haven't been playing for long. Oh, and it is #65 on the Rolling Stones Magazine's 500 greatest songs of all time. Have a go!

e|----------------------|----------------------|
b|----------------------|----------------------|
g|----------------------|----------------------|
d|-12-12-10-12----------|----------------------|
a|--------------12---11-|-10--------8b---------|
e|----------------------|------10-------10-----|

e|----------------------|----------------------|
b|----------------------|----------------------|
g|----------------------|----------------------|
d|-12-12-10-12----------|----------------------|
a|--------------12---11-|-10--------8b---------|
e|----------------------|------10-------10-----|

e|----------------------|----------------------|
b|----------------------|----------------------|
g|-11-11-9--11----------|------12---10b--------|
d|-12-12-10-12----------|------12--------12----|
a|-12-12-10-12--12---11-|-10-------------------|
e|-10-10-8--10----------|----------------------|

e|----------------------|----------------------|
b|----------------------|----------------------|
g|-11-11-9--11----------|------12---10b--------|
d|-12-12-10-12----------|------12--------12----|
a|-12-12-10-12--12---11-|-10-------------------|
e|-10-10-8--10----------|----------------------|

Music video

47. Sweet Child O’ Mine

Guns N’ Roses

Genre: hard rock | BPM: 125 | Released: 1987 | Tabs | Tutorial

Slash created this song’s iconic opening riff as a string-skipping exercise. He began playing it as a joke during a band rehearsal, but rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin loved it. The rest is music history. Slash tunes his guitar down 1 semitone for his one, but you don't really need to bother if you're just practicing.

eb|--------------15----14-----|--------------15----14-----|
Bb|-----15--------------------|-----15--------------------|
Gb|--------14-12----14----14--|--------14-12----14----14--|
Db|--12-----------------------|--12-----------------------|
Ab|---------------------------|---------------------------|
Eb|---------------------------|---------------------------|

eb|--------------15----14-----|--------------15----14-----|
Bb|-----15--------------------|-----15--------------------|
Gb|--------14-12----------14--|--------14-12----------14--|
Db|--14-----------------------|--14-----------------------|
Ab|---------------------------|---------------------------|
Eb|---------------------------|---------------------------|

eb|--------------15----14-----|--------------15----14-----|
Bb|-----15--------------------|-----15--------------------|
Gb|--12----14-12----14----14--|--12----14-12----14----14--|
Db|---------------------------|---------------------------|
Ab|---------------------------|---------------------------|
Eb|---------------------------|---------------------------|

eb|--------------15----14-----|--------------15----14-----|
Bb|-----15--------------------|-----15--------------------|
Gb|--------14-12----14----14--|--------14-12----14----14--|
Db|--12-----------------------|--12-----------------------|
Ab|---------------------------|---------------------------|
Eb|---------------------------|---------------------------|

Music video

48. Sweet Home Alabama

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Genre: rock | BPM: 82 | Released: 1973 | Tabs | Tutorial

The famous riff to Sweet Home Alabama is a classic everyone can instantly recognize. It is a beginner-intermediate riff, but I would encourage beginners to give it a go as well since it can really develop your skills.

e|------------------------------------------------|
B|----3----------3--------------------------------|
G|------2-0--------0-------0----------------------|
D|0-0----------------0------------0h2p0-----------|
A|------------3-3-------------0h2--------3--------|
E|---------------------3-3------------------------|

e|------------------------------------------------|
B|----3---------3---------------------------------|
G|------2-0-------0-------0-----0-2p0-0-4p0-0-5b--|
D|0-0---------------0-----------------------------|
A|----------3-3-----------------------------------|
E|--------------------3-3-------------------------|

Music video

49. Thunderstruck

AC/DC

Genre: hard rock | BPM: 134 | Released: 1990 | Tabs | Tutorial

This classic AC/DC riff can be played without using a pluck. You can use hammer-ons and pull-offs to play the entire riff, and in fact, you should. It's much easier that way. Learning the riff to Thunderstruck will do great things with your fretting finger accuracy as well.

e|------------------------------------|--------------------------------|
B|--0h4p0h7p0h4p0h7p0h4p0h7p0h4p0h7p0h|4p0h7p0h4p0h7p0h4p0h7p0h4p0h7p0h|
G|------------------------------------|--------------------------------|
D|------------------------------------|--------------------------------|
A|------------------------------------|--------------------------------|
E|------------------------------------|--------------------------------|

e|----------------------------------|--------------------------------|
B|--5p0h8p0h5p0h8p0h5p0h8p0h5p0h8p0h|5p0h8p0h5p0h8p0h5p0h8p0h5p0h8p0h|
G|----------------------------------|--------------------------------| x2
D|----------------------------------|--------------------------------|
A|----------------------------------|--------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------|--------------------------------|

e|-------------------------------------|--------------------------------|
B|--12p0h10p0h9p0h10p0h9p0h7p0h9p0h5p0h|7p0h4p0h5p0h4p0h5p0h4p0h5p0h4p0h|
G|-------------------------------------|--------------------------------| x10
D|-------------------------------------|--------------------------------|
A|-------------------------------------|--------------------------------|
E|-------------------------------------|--------------------------------|

e|-------------------------------------|--------------------------------|
B|--12p0h10p0h9p0h10p0h9p0h7p0h9p0h5p0h|7p0h4p0h5p0h4p0h5p0h4p0h5p0h4p0h|
G|-------------------------------------|--------------------------------| x4
D|-------------------------------------|--------------------------------|
A|-------------------------------------|--------------------------------|
E|-------------------------------------|--------------------------------|

Music video

50. Twist and Shout

The Beatles

Genre: rock | BPM: 124 | Released: 1963 | Tabs | Tutorial

The intro riff to Twist and Shout defined a generation. It requires playing a lead-in to the D chord, then playing the G, and finally the A chord. I like teaching this to beginners a lot, as it also offers a chance to practice changing between chords.

e|---------------2------------------|
B|---------------3------------------|
G|---------------2------------------|
D|-------------0----------0----0----|
A|---0---2---4------------2----2----|
E|------------------------3----3----|

e|----------------------------------|
B|--2-------------------------------|
G|--2-------------------------------|
D|--2-------------------------------|
A|--0---0---0---0---0---------------|
E|----------------------------------|

Music video

51. Walk This Way

Aerosmith

Genre: rock | BPM: 108 | Released: 1975 | Tabs | Tutorial

This classic Aerosmith song was so good that it was two hits in one. It was first released in 1973, then again in 1986 with Run DMC. There are actually 2 famous riffs in this song. The first one is quite easy, the 2nd is not. Perfecting it riff will require you to stretch your fingers pretty far, which is an important skill you need to practice to get better at the guitar.

1st riff

e|----------------------|----------------------------|
B|----------------------|----------------------------|
G|----------------------|----------------------------|
D|-------2-------2------|-------2-------2------2-----|
A|-0-1-2---0-1-2--------|-0-1-2---0-1-2--------------|
E|-----------------0--x-|------------------3p0-------|

2nd riff (palm muted)

e|------------------------------------------------------------|
B|------------------------------------------------------------|
G|------------------------------------------------------------|
D|--------------------------10--------------------------------|
A|--------10----10-12-10-------10--10--13--10--12--10---------|
E|-8-8-8-----------------8------------------------------------|

Music video

52. Whole Lotta Love

Led Zeppelin

Genre: classic metal | BPM: 90 | Released: 1969 | Tabs | Tutorial

This classic riff is another one which requires a steady rhythm hand in order to keep time. Turn up your distortion and watch those muted strings.

e|------------------------|---------------------------------|
B|------------------------|---------------------------------|
G|------------------------|---------------------------------|
D|---------------0-----0--|-9-------9-------9-------9-------|
A|---------------5/----5/-|-7-------7-------7-------7-------|
E|------------7-----7-----|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|

e|---------------------|
B|---------------------|
G|---------------------|
D|-9-------9-------9-9-|
A|-7-------7-------7-7-|
E|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|

Music video

53. Wish You Were Here

Pink floyd

Genre: rock | BPM: 61 | Released: 1975 | Tabs | Tutorial

The "riff" to Wish You Were Here is more like a series of connected riffs. Here is the tablature for the intro, it's a bit long, so you might want to practice each section separately and put it all together as you can.

e|---------------------3---------------------3-| x2
B|---------------------3---------------------3-|
G|---------------------0---------0-----------0-|
D|-------------0--2----2------2-----2--0-----0-|
A|------0h2------------2---------------------2-|
E|---3-----------------x---------------------3-|

e|---------------------3---------------------3-| x2
B|---------------------3---------------------3-|
G|---------------------0---------------------2-|
D|-------------0--2----2------2--0-----------2-|
A|------0h2------------2------------2--0-----0-|
E|---3-----------------x---------------------0-|

e|----------3---|
B|----------3---|
G|----------0---|
D|----------0---|
A|-0h2--0---2---|
E|----------3---|

Music video

54. You Only Live Once

The Strokes

Genre: alternative | BPM: 120 | Released: 2006 | Tabs | Tutorial

The Strokes are a great rock band, they have composed some fantastic licks and riffs. The riff I love from You Only Live Once is played during the intro and the verse. You'll need to hold down 3 string chords and apply rhythmic strumming.

e|----9-9-9-9-9--7-7-7-7-7----9-9-9-9-9------------------|
B|----9-9-9-9-9--9-9-9-9-9----7-7-7-7-7--11-11-11-11-11--|
G|----9-9-9-9-9--9-9-9-9-9----8-8-8-8-8--11-11-11-11-11--|
D|---------------------------------------11-11-11-11-11--|
A|-------------------------------------------------------|
E|--0-----------------------7----------------------------|

Music video

55. You Really Got Me

The Kinks

Genre: rock | BPM: 120 | Released: 1964 | Tabs | Tutorial

Depending on your age, you may not have heard of The Kinks. They are a classic band from London that came onto the scene during The Beatles era. The riff from You Really Got Me is a true classic that every guitarist should learn. It is a two-chord rhythm figure. The Kinks used sliding power chords with their root on the sixth string, while Van Halen's version is transposed up a whole step and adds distortion.

e|-------------|
B|-------------|
G|-------------|
D|-3--5-5-3-5--|
A|-3--5-5-3-5--|
E|-1--3-3-1-3--|

Music video

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