Top 8 Guitar Rock Riffs to Learn Now


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    10 guitar rock riffs you need to learn

    Guitar riffs are melodic phrases played on the guitar that are catchy and memorable. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, learning guitar riffs has several benefits. It improves your technique and timing, allowing you to become a more skilled guitarist. Additionally, diving into the world of guitar riffs immerses you in the rich culture and history of the instrument.

    If you’re ready to embark on a guitar riff journey, we’ve compiled a list of the top 8 iconic guitar riffs that you need to learn. These riffs range from beginner-friendly to more challenging, so there’s something for everyone. Let’s dive in and start rocking!

    Key Takeaways:

    • Learning guitar riffs improves your technique and timing.
    • Exploring guitar riffs introduces you to the rich culture of guitar playing.
    • The top 8 guitar rock riffs provide a solid foundation for beginners and a challenge for more experienced guitarists.
    • Start learning these iconic riffs to unleash your inner Rockstar!

    ‘Seven Nation Army’ by The White Stripes

    One of the most recognizable guitar riffs in recent rock history comes from ‘Seven Nation Army’ by The White Stripes. This iconic riff, played on a single string, is not only instantly catchy but also incredibly easy to learn. If you’re a beginner looking to improve your technique and timing, this riff is a fantastic choice to add to your repertoire.

    The simplicity of the riff makes it accessible to guitarists of all skill levels. With just a few basic finger movements, you can recreate the driving energy and raw power that ‘Seven Nation Army’ is known for. It’s a great way to build finger strength and coordination, as well as develop your sense of rhythm.

    Whether you’re a fan of The White Stripes or simply looking to expand your guitar skills, learning this iconic riff should be high on your list. The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’ offers a gateway to understanding the power of guitar riffs and their ability to captivate audiences. Take your guitar playing to the next level by mastering this influential and unforgettable riff.

    Why is ‘Seven Nation Army’ by The White Stripes a must-learn riff?

    • Instantly recognizable and iconic
    • Played on a single string, making it easy to learn
    • Helps improve technique, timing, and finger strength
    • Builds a foundation for understanding guitar riffs
    • Offers a glimpse into the power of simplicity in music

    ‘Beat It’ by Michael Jackson

    The guitar riff in ‘Beat It’ by Michael Jackson is a fantastic example of using guitar riffs in pop music. This iconic song, played by Eddie Van Halen, features a catchy and energetic guitar riff that has captivated listeners for decades.

    If you’re looking to learn guitar, ‘Beat It’ is a great song to start with. The riff is relatively simple yet incredibly fun to play. It will help you improve your picking technique, timing, and overall guitar skills.

    To get started with ‘Beat It,’ you’ll need to tune your guitar to standard tuning (EADGBE). Here’s the tab for the main guitar riff:

    Beat It guitar riff

    Note Fret String
    E 0 6th (low E)
    A 3 5th
    G 5 4th

    Start by practicing the riff slowly, gradually increasing your speed as you become more comfortable. Pay attention to your picking technique and strive to make each note sound clear and distinct.

    Learning ‘Beat It’ will not only add an iconic guitar riff to your repertoire, but it will also introduce you to the wide range of possibilities and creativity that can be achieved with guitar riffs in popular music.

    ‘Smoke On The Water’ by Deep Purple

    ‘Smoke On The Water’ by Deep Purple is one of the most iconic guitar riffs of all time. It is instantly recognizable and a must-learn for any guitarist. This riff is often one of the first that beginners tackle, as it is relatively easy to pick up and has a timeless appeal.

    The riff consists of simple power chords played through different positions on the guitar neck. This makes it a great exercise for beginners to practice their finger positioning and transitioning between chords. The main riff is played on the low E string, with the use of open strings and sliding techniques adding to its distinctive sound.

    To help you master ‘Smoke On The Water’ by Deep Purple, here is a step-by-step breakdown of the main riff:

    1. Start with your first finger barring the 3rd fret of the low E string.
    2. Place your third finger on the 5th fret of the A string.
    3. Use your fourth finger to play the 6th fret of the D string.
    4. Play the open G string.
    5. Finally, use your first finger to play the 3rd fret of the G string.

    Practice playing this riff slowly and gradually increase the tempo as you become more comfortable. Take your time to ensure each note is clear and well-articulated.

    Remember, learning ‘Smoke On The Water’ is not just about mastering the riff. It’s about building a solid foundation and understanding the importance of rhythm, timing, and the power of a memorable guitar riff.

    So grab your guitar, get ready to rock, and start learning ‘Smoke On The Water’ by Deep Purple!

    Benefits of Learning ‘Smoke On The Water’
    1. Develops finger strength and coordination
    2. Improves timing and rhythm skills
    3. Enhances understanding of power chords
    4. Boosts confidence and motivation
    5. Provides a gateway to learning more complex guitar riffs

    ‘Satisfaction’ by The Rolling Stones

    When it comes to iconic guitar riffs, ‘Satisfaction’ by The Rolling Stones is a must-learn for any aspiring guitarist. This timeless rock anthem, released in 1965, features one of the most recognizable guitar riffs in history. It not only showcases the band’s signature sound but also serves as a masterclass in using effects to enhance your guitar playing.

    Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones

    ‘Satisfaction’ was one of the first songs to showcase the innovative use of a fuzz pedal, which significantly altered the guitar’s tone. The distinctive, gritty sound created by Keith Richards’ guitar riff helped define the song and remains etched in the memories of music lovers worldwide.

    Learning to play this riff opens up a world of possibilities for guitarists of all levels. It challenges your technical abilities while allowing you to explore the power of effects pedals. By mastering ‘Satisfaction,’ you’ll gain valuable insights into crafting memorable guitar parts and creating your unique sound.

    Benefits of learning ‘Satisfaction’ by The Rolling Stones:
    Improved guitar technique and timing
    Understanding the use of effects in guitar playing
    Expanding your repertoire of classic rock riffs
    Building a strong foundation in music theory

    So grab your guitar, fire up your amplifier, and dive into the world of ‘Satisfaction’ by The Rolling Stones. It’s a guitar riff that will not only satisfy your musical cravings but also elevate your playing to new heights.

    ‘Come As You Are’ by Nirvana

    The riff in ‘Come As You Are’ by Nirvana is one of the most iconic guitar riffs of the 90s grunge movement. This influential song, released as the second single off their album ‘Nevermind’, showcases the unique sound that made Nirvana a global sensation.

    The distinctive guitar riff in ‘Come As You Are’ is characterized by its haunting melody and the use of a modified drop D tuning. This alternative tuning requires lowering the sixth string of the guitar to D, creating a dark and powerful sound.

    Learning to play the ‘Come As You Are’ riff is a great way to dive into the grunge genre and explore alternate tunings. It’s also an opportunity to develop your ability to play melodic phrases and to experiment with creating a unique guitar sound.

    Here’s a breakdown of the ‘Come As You Are’ riff:

    1. Tune your guitar to drop D tuning by lowering the sixth string to D.
    2. Place your first finger on the fourth string, second fret.
    3. Place your second finger on the third string, fourth fret.
    4. Place your third finger on the second string, fourth fret.
    5. Strum the strings starting from the open fourth string, followed by the fourth, third, and second fret.
    6. Repeat the strumming pattern throughout the song.

    Take your time to practice and familiarize yourself with the ‘Come As You Are’ riff. Once you’ve mastered it, you’ll have a powerful tool in your guitar repertoire to impress and captivate audiences.

    ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ by Cream

    ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ by Cream is considered one of the greatest guitar riffs in classic rock. This iconic riff showcases Eric Clapton’s distinctive sound and is a must-learn for guitar enthusiasts. Its catchy melody and powerful groove make it a rewarding challenge for aspiring guitarists.

    If you’re looking to enhance your guitar skills and expand your repertoire of guitar riffs, learning ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ is a fantastic choice. Not only will it sharpen your technique and coordination, but it will also introduce you to the unmistakable style of Cream and Eric Clapton.

    To get started, take a listen to the original recording of ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ to grasp the essence of the riff. Pay close attention to Eric Clapton’s phrasing and dynamics, as they contribute to the iconic sound of the riff.

    Once you feel confident, grab your guitar and follow the tablature below to learn the main riff of ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’:

    Remember to start slowly and focus on accuracy and timing. As you become more comfortable with the riff, gradually increase the tempo until you can play it at the original speed.

    Learning ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ will not only empower you as a guitarist but also provide a solid foundation for mastering other classic rock riffs. So grab your guitar, get ready to rock, and let the sunshine of this iconic riff brighten your musical journey.

    ‘You Really Got Me’ by The Kinks

    ‘You Really Got Me’ by The Kinks is a fantastic song with a riff based around power chords, which are commonly used in rock music to give it depth and weight. It’s a great riff for beginners to practice power chords.

    The Kinks, an English rock band formed in the 1960s, released ‘You Really Got Me’ in 1964 as their breakthrough hit. The song’s guitar riff, played by Dave Davies, is instantly recognizable and has become one of the most iconic guitar riffs in rock history.

    The riff is built on power chords, also known as root-fifth chords, which consist of just two notes – the root and the fifth. These chords are characterized by their strong and powerful sound, making them a staple in rock and heavy metal music.

    To learn how to play the riff, you’ll need to know how to play power chords. Power chords are movable shapes that can be played anywhere on the guitar neck. They are built by placing your first finger on the root note, your third or fourth finger on the fifth note, and muting the other strings with the palm of your hand.

    Here’s a step-by-step guide to learning the ‘You Really Got Me’ riff:

    1. Place your first finger on the 5th fret of the low E string (6th string). This is the root note.
    2. Place your third finger on the 7th fret of the A string (5th string). This is the fifth note.
    3. Strum the E and A strings together using a downstroke with your pick.
    4. Release the pressure on the strings to create a short pause. This adds a rhythmic feel to the riff.
    5. Repeat the same sequence on the 7th and 9th frets, and then on the 3rd and 5th frets.

    Remember to use palm muting to achieve the distinctive sound heard in the song. With practice, you’ll be able to play the ‘You Really Got Me’ riff with ease and incorporate it into your own playing style.

    Now that you’ve learned how to play the ‘You Really Got Me’ riff, take some time to practice it and experiment with variations. Once you feel comfortable, try playing along with the original song to enhance your playing skills and enjoy the full experience of this classic rock riff.

    ‘Day Tripper’ by The Beatles

    ‘Day Tripper’ by The Beatles is a classic track that showcases the influence of blues in popular music. It’s a fun and relatively easy riff for beginners to learn and introduces them to blues-inspired guitar playing.

    Learning ‘Day Tripper’ on the guitar is a great way to familiarize yourself with the distinctive guitar sound of The Beatles. This riff combines catchy melodies and a driving rhythm, making it a favorite among guitarists of all levels.

    The opening riff of ‘Day Tripper’ is instantly recognizable and will surely impress your friends and audience. By learning this riff, you’ll gain a better understanding of the blues scale and how it can be incorporated into rock music.

    ‘Day Tripper’ is played in the key of E and primarily uses power chords, making it accessible for beginners. Once you’ve mastered the intro riff, you can move on to other sections of the song and explore more advanced guitar techniques.

    Practice playing ‘Day Tripper’ at a slow tempo and gradually increase the speed as you become comfortable with the notes. The more you play and practice, the better you’ll become at executing the iconic guitar riff.

    With ‘Day Tripper’ in your repertoire, you’ll not only improve your guitar skills but also be able to jam along with one of the most beloved Beatles songs. It’s a fantastic track to add to your guitar playlist and showcase your rock prowess.

    So grab your guitar and start learning ‘Day Tripper’ by The Beatles. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned guitarist, this iconic riff will undoubtedly enhance your musical journey. Let the bluesy vibes of ‘Day Tripper’ inspire your guitar playing and take you on a musical adventure!


    Learning guitar riffs is an essential step for any aspiring guitarist. Not only do guitar riffs enhance your playing skills, but they also introduce you to various guitar techniques that will help you grow as a musician. The 8 iconic guitar rock riffs we’ve shared in this article are the perfect starting point for beginners.

    By practicing these riffs, you’ll develop your technique, timing, and overall understanding of the instrument. Each riff offers something unique and represents different eras and genres of music, giving you a well-rounded foundation to explore further.

    So, if you’re ready to take your guitar playing to the next level, grab your guitar, tune it up, and dive into these legendary riffs. Let the passion and energy of the music fill you as you learn and master each riff. Remember, the journey of becoming a great guitarist starts with dedication and practice. Unleash your inner Rockstar and embark on an exciting musical adventure!

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