There’s always been something special about playing a great guitar riff. Riffs that are memorable, get stuck in your head, and that everyone knows are actually in many cases are relatively easy to play. That’s because most people remember simple melodies that they can hum along to. I don’t think many people would be able to hum along to “Through the fire and flames”.
In this post, I’ve compiled a list of over 50 easy guitar riffs that are great for both beginner and intermediate-level players. Many of these guitar riffs focus on plucking technique (e.g. Heartbreaker by Led Zeppelin) although I’ve also included guitar riffs that are chord or power chord based (e.g. You Really Got Me by The Kinks).
In the list below, I’ve compiled a list of what I consider to be 50+ of the best easy guitar riff songs I know. For each song, I’ve linked to a variety of online resources to help you learn them. As you may have already noticed, the table below includes 4 columns:
- The song title (linked to the song on Spotify) and artist
- Tabs from Ultimate-Guitar and Guitar Pro tabs
- A link to a video lesson of how to play each song / guitar riff
- Official guitar tabs
If you prefer to learn a new song by tab, I’d highly recommend using the Guitar Pro tabs whenever available as it can definitely help you get a better feel for the timing of each tab and provide you with more tools to learn guitar riffs and songs in general much faster.
This list is in no particular order so feel free to jump in wherever. Pick a song you like, and start learning how to play its riff with one of the options provided.
Happy guitar playing!
What Exactly Is a Guitar Riff?
A riff is a repeated sequence of notes or chords used in a song. How riffs are used isn’t always the same. Some songs use riffs as the basis of the entire song while others use a riff for just a short section of the song.
A great riff is memorable and easily identifiable. That’s exactly what each of the songs in the list above have, they’re guitar riffs that most people would recognize.
However, this brings up the question of how does a lick differs from a riff? Well, a lick is usually a short phrase or sequence of notes used to add a bit flair or color to a section of a song. These are typically used in accompaniment with the main melody and typically aren’t repeated like most riffs.
Which Riffs Should You Start Off With?
When looking at the list above, it may be a bit overwhelming to see 50+ guitar riff song suggestions. You may not know where to start depending on your skill level. Below, is a short list of 5 songs you should start out with and learn the main riffs of as a beginner guitarist as well as 5 songs you can start with as an intermediate guitarist. Once you’ve learned these, feel free to head back up to the list above and start learning others as you wish.
- Walk This Way
- Enter Sandman
- Seven Nation Army
- Funk #49
- Beat It
- The Ocean
- Do I Wanna Know
- Crazy Train
Hopefully, this list of easy guitar riffs has provided you with some ideas of memorable riffs you can learn as a beginner or intermediate player. The great thing is, there are tons of resources out there to help you learn all of these songs. Depending on which medium you prefer to learn from (written, audio, or video) links to each are included above for all songs.
If you think I may have missed any great easy guitar riffs in the list above, don’t forget to leave a comment below. Let us know what your favorite guitar riff is!
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