Inner sleeve of "All the World's a Stage" - Rush

This post is all about great riffs. Riffs are great for beginning guitar players because they aren’t always extremely difficult like chords, arpeggios or solos. Sometimes they are extremely easy, but also extremely cool! If it seems I’m stuck in a time gone by because most of these are older songs, well… guilty as charged!

A riff is generally distinguished from a solo by several key elements. 1) A riff is usually performed on the lower strings, whereas a solo is more often performed in the higher register of the guitar. 2) A riff more likely involves a short repetitive phrase than an extended melodic form. 3) A riff is more likely to include chords, partial chords, or power chords in combination with single notes. 4) A riff is likely to be the central part of a song, often times the reason for the very existence of the song.

Rock music has so many great riffs, it would be crazy to try and list all my favorites, but here are my top 30 favorites, not really in any order, they are all worthy of being number one!

1) 2112, Rush, Overture, Alex Lifeson

2) Carry On Wayward Son, Kansas, Kerry Livgren

3) Rebel Rebel, David Bowie, Mick Ronson:

4) Black Dog, Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page

5) Purple Haze, Jimi Hendrix

6) China Grove, The Doobie Brothers

7) Satisfaction, The Rolling Stones, Keith Richards

6) Rock Bottom, UFO, Michael Schenker

7) Barracuda, Heart, Roger Fisher

8.) Ironman, Black Sabbath, Tony Iommi

9) Crazy Train, Ozzy Ozbourne, Randi Rhodes

10) Sunshine of Your Love, Cream, Eric Clapton

11) Kashmir, Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page

12) Message In A Bottle, The Police, Andy Summers

13) The Ocean, Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page

14) A Passage To Bangkok, Rush, Alex Lifeson

15) Big Eyes, Cheap Trick, Rick Nielson

16) Satch Boogie, Joe Satriani

17) Queen, Tie Your Mother Down, Brian May

18) Walk This Way, Aerosmith, Joe Perry

19) Working Man, Rush, Alex Lifeson

20) Back in Black, ACDC, Angus Young

21) Sunday Bloody Sunday, U2, The Edge

22) School’s Out, Alice Cooper

23) Day Tripper, The Beatles, George Harrison

24) Enter Sandman, Metallica, Kirk Hammet

25) Have A Cigar, Pink Floyd, David Gilmour

26) Anthem, Rush, Alex Lifeson

27) Ain’t Talkin Bout Love, Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen

28) More Than A Feeling, Boston, Tom Scholz

29) Rock and Roll, Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page

30) Same Old Song And Dance, Aerosmith, Joe Perry

Whew, I better stop there. There are so many more. This list isn’t a bad place for a rock guitarist to start however, so dig in and start learning them!