One of the most iconic rock bands in history, AC/DC made their mark with the high-energy guitar onslaught of Angus and Malcolm Young. The brothers wrote their fair share of killer riffs with unique chord voicings, minor and major pentatonic scales, and break-neck double stops. While the catalog of rockin' AC/DC songs is nearly endless, we'll let you in on the top 5 AC/DC riffs we think you should have in your back pocket.
Highway To Hell
This tune kicks off with a truly iconic riff using open power chords. Starting on the and-of-3 gives this riff a unique syncopation against the straightforward drum beat. There's a ton of space between the strums, so you'll need to mute the strings. If you happen to have a Marshall stack laying around, you can fill the empty spaces with some tasteful feedback.
Back In Black
If you don't recognize this riff, you might need to go back to the School of Rock, -- but don't worry, we're here to teach you. Back In Black opens with a memorable riff combining chord punches, muting, syncopation, and some quick bluesy licks. The licks go by pretty fast and can make it tricky to incorporate the chord strums, so take it slow and bring it up to speed over time.
In keeping with the name of the song, the riff that opens TNT starts with an explosive low E chord, then bursts into a catchy verse that uses open position power chords and some perfectly positioned pull-offs to interplay with the vocal melody. Mimicking the beginning of the song, the riff ends by hanging on an A chord to create a little tension before the chorus.
Bust this one out next time you're trying out an SG at your local guitar shop and you'll be sure to turn some heads. Hells Bells kicks off with an ominous sounding arpeggiated riff that makes use of syncopation and some open strings, so you'll have to make sure you're being pretty accurate with your picking pattern. The best part about this riff is that it comes back in the chorus, but it's cranked to 11 and locked-in with the rhythm section for maximum power.
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
While it may be one of AC/DC's simplest, the central riff of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap packs a serious punch in the key of E minor -- and it's pretty easy to learn. Using open position power chords that strike mostly on the off beats, you can master this riff by switching back and forth from E, to G5, to E, to A5, to E, to D5, and finally back to E to finish it off.