Awesome rock guitar riffs you NEED to learn

Awesome rock guitar riffs you NEED to learn

As a beginner guitar player, listening to and attempting to reproduce famous and memorable guitar riffs that you've heard over the course of your life is one of the best ways to find some motivation. Below, we've compiled a concise list of some of the most catchy guitar riffs in rock n' roll history, which you can try to reproduce for fun.

While these riffs sound best if you've got an electric guitar set, complete with an overdrive and distortion pedals, an acoustic guitar will still get the job done.

If you want even more riffs, check out TheGuitarLesson.com's list of 55 riffs.

Enjoy!

Purple Haze - Jimmi Hendrix

Arguably one of the most iconic songs in rock history, Purple Haze's heavily distorted opening riff is hauntingly beautiful. The fact that this riff is rather simple, yet still catchy, is a testament to Jimmi Hendrix's musical genius.

e|-------------------------|----------------------------|-------------------------|------------------------|
B|-------------------------|----------------------------|----------8b~------------|------------------------|
G|-------------------------|----------------------------|-------7-----------------|------------------------|
D|-------8-----------8-----|---------8------------8-----|---/9--------7~-------(7)|--5---------------------|
A|-------------------------|----------------------------|-------------------------|-----5-----5/7~---------|
E|-6-----------6-----------|--6------------6------------|-------------------------|--------0---------------|

e|-------------------------|---------------------------|-------------------------|-------------------------|
B|--------------8b~--------|---------------------------|-------------------------|-------------------------|
G|----------7--------------|---------------------------|-------------------------|-------------------------|
D|----/9------------7------|-(7)\/5--------------------|--------5---7---7b---5~--|-------5-----------------|
A|-------------------------|----------5-------5/7~-----|--5/7--------------------|-----------0-----3~----0-|
E|-------------------------|--------------0------------|-------------------------|--------------0----------|

e|-------------------------|----------------------------|-------------------------|------------------------|
B|-------------------------|----------------------------|-------------------------|------------------------|
G|-------------------------|------------------7---7--9~-|-------0-----------------|------------------------|
D|--------5--7b----5h7-(7)~|-----5-------/9-------------|-------------------------|------------------------|
A|---5/7-------------------|---------5------------------|-------------------------|------------------------|
E|-------------------------|----------------------------|-------------15\---------|------------------------|

e|--------------------------------------------------|---------------------------------------------------|
B|---------8---8---------8---8---------8------------|-3------3----3---------5-----5---5---7p5---5-------|
G|---------7---7---------7---7---------7------------|-4------4----4---------6-----6---6---6-----6-------|
D|---------6---6---------6---6---------6------------|-5------5----5---------7-----7---7---7-----7-------|
A|---------7---7---------7---7---------7------------|---------------------------------------------------|
E|--0-----------------------------------------------|-3------3----3----3----5-----5-------5-----5-------|

Layla - Eric Clapton

Co-written alongside band-mate- Jim Gordon- Layla was originally performed by Clapton's band, Derek and the Dominos. The song boasts some standout guitar riffs, with Clapton even releasing an acoustic version in later years. Rolling Stones Magazine even ranked this song at number 27 in their list of top 500 rock songs.

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]-------------------------------------------------------------------------[

Johnny B. Goode - Chuck Berry

This classic song is a testament to the influence that blues music had on rock n' roll. The melodic guitar riff that Chuck plays during the chorus perfectly complements his standout vocals. For a song that came out in 1958, Chuck's guitar riff is still refreshingly awesome.

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|------------------------------------|

I Can't Get No Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones

Keith Richard's classic riff provides the perfect canvas for Mick Jagger to lay his eccentric vocal cadences, resulting in one of the most timeless songs in rock n' roll history. Many rock music critics rank The Rolling Stones as their favorite band of all time. This outstanding track- arguably their magnum opus- goes to show why.

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

You Really Got Me - The Kinks

Breaking onto the scene at around the same time as The Beatles, The Kinks were part of the '60's British Rock n' Roll wave, with 'You Really Got Me' being their most popular song. The song 's guitar riff is a definite ear-worm that had the song on Billboard charts for several weeks after its release. This monster hit by The Kinks still gets covered by rock artists to this day.

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

Rebel Rebel - David Bowie

Released in 1974, David Bowie's glam rock anthem features a firecracker riff that plays all through the song. The song's creator himself described the riff as 'awesome' and 'one that he was lucky to have stumbled upon'. To this date, 'Rebel Rebel' is still one of Bowie's most notable songs, as well as his most covered one. What's surprising- perhaps- is that Bowie only wrote and performed this riff out of necessity; as he and his guitarist had parted ways.

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

Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin

Jimmy Page's iconic riff on this song proves why he's considered one of the greatest rock guitarists ever. The melancholic riff blends well with Robert Plant's striking vocals, making it one of the most memorable ever. One thing you'll notice as you practice this riff is that it's one of the more complex ones featured on this list. You'll - therefore - have to spend a bit more time practicing this classic Led Zeppelin riff.

[Intro] 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|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|

E|---------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|-0---------------|-----------------|-----------------|-2-0-0-------0-2-|
E|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|

E|-------0-2-----2-|-0-----0----------|---------3-----3-|-3^2-2-2---------|
B|-----------3-----|---1-----0h1------|-1-----1---0-----|-----3-3---------|
G|-----0-------2---|-----2-------2----|---0---------0---|-----------------|
D|---2-----0-------|-3----------------|-----2-----------|-0---0-0---------|
A|-3---------------|---------0----0-2-|-3---------------|-------------0-2-|
E|-----------------|------------------|---------3-------|-----------------|

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

Back in black - AC/DC

Featuring a ferocious three-chord opening riff, back in black is an instantly recognizable rock classic. The epic riff has a lively feel about it that just gets your adrenaline rushing. Most guitar critics would agree that AC/DC's dual-guitar showpiece is the perfect blueprint for what hard rock music should sound like. Not a bad tribute to former band front-man- Bon Scott- who had passed away earlier that year.

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/---------|

Smoke on the Water - Deep Purple

As guitar lovers, we really have to thank the gods of rock music and Deep Purple guitarist- Ritchie Blackmore- for this scorcher of a riff. With such an iconic riff, one would be surprised to find out that 'Smoke on the Water' was the last song to be recorded for the band's 1980 album- Machine Head. The riff was done on a Fender electric guitar. Ritchie, who has a penchant for medieval music, even went on record to note that he did this memorable guitar riff in a Renaissance-style modal scale for a darker and more dreadful feel.

e|-----------------|---------------|----------------|------------------|
B|-----------------|---------------|----------------|------------------|
G|--0---3---5----0-|---3---6-5-----|-0---3---5----3-|---0----(0)-------|(x5)
D|--0---3---5----0-|---3---6-5-----|-0---3---5----3-|---0----(0)-------|
A|-----------------|---------------|----------------|------------------|
E|-----------------|---------------|----------------|------------------|

Walk This Way - Aerosmith

Serving as one of the singles from Aerosmith's 1975 album, Toys in the Attic, 'Walk This Way' features a stomping guitar riff written and performed by band member, Joe Perry. Joe's unorthodox chord progressions, combined with Steven Tyler's eccentric vocals, are what make this song so unforgettable.

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-------|

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

Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns n' Roses

One thing many Guns n' Roses fans may not know is that band guitarist, Slash, wasn't really into the epic reef that he played on 'Sweet Child O' Mine' when he first played it. Well, we all have band frontman- Axl Rose- to thank for pestering him to keep playing it; as it is this iconic riff that formed the backbone for the legendary band's award-winning, breakthrough single.

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|---------------------------|---------------------------|

Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana

Nirvana's 1991 grunge anthem, which helped propel the rock music sub-genre into mainstream consciousness, includes a simple but melodic riff. written by the band's frontman - Kurt Cobain. Band guitarist, Krist Novoselic thought of it as a mediocre riff when Kurt first brought the idea to them, but started playing it at a slower tempo on the frontman's insistence and it eventually grew on him. Turns out Kurt Cobain's persistence actually paid dividends, with the song usually cropping up on debates about the greatest rock songs of all time. This wouldn't normally be considered a minor achievement for a simple, four power chord riff, would it?

e|----------------------|----------------------|----------------------|----------------------|
B|----------------------|----------------------|----------------------|----------------------|
G|----------------3-3-0-|----------------6-6-6-|----------------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-|-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-|-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-------|-1--1-1-x-x-x-x-------|-4--4-4-x-x-x-x-------|

Well, there you have it. These are some of the catchiest and most memorable electric guitar riffs you'll ever get to listen to- at least as far as rock music goes. You're likely to learn a lot just from studying and trying to recreate them. Now that you know what are some of the best guitar riffs, it's time to dust up your guitar, pick a riff from the list above, and get to practicing.

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