Guitar riffs are some of the most iconic parts of any song, classic or modern. They're catchy, they're fun and they either get stuck in your head all day or they make you want to get up and dance. As a guitar player, it's always incredibly fun to learn a few riffs. But not all riffs are made equal. These are some really amazing guitar riffs that won't leave you feeling like you got blisters on your fingers!
THE KNACK - MY SHARONA
Even if you don’t recognize the name of this song, or the band, the moment you hear this, you’ll recognize it. This riff is iconic and it’s incredibly fun to play. So much of the song’s identity is due to this riff, which follows the drums’ kick and snare groove. There’s a sharp picking approach that alternates between two octaves. It is as addictive to play as it is to listen to. Learn the full song here.
LISA LOEB - STAY
The main riff in this song is a bit tricky and requires some fingerpicking. The timing is the most important part of this intro and outro riff. The riff is made up of two distinctive parts that aren’t always used together. The riff itself is based on some pretty standard chords like a G, E minor, A minor 7 and C. It’s a simple progression that has been transformed into something a bit more complicated and beautiful. Learn the full song here.
ZZ TOP - SHARP DRESSED MAN
This riff utilizes a type of call and response between two guitars. If you want to play this riff with a single guitar, that’s entirely possible too. But if you do it this way, you’ll have to move your hand quickly from the upper sections of the neck to the lower parts of the fretboard at third position. This is a classic riff and when played with a single guitar, or two, it sounds beefy and mean. Learn the full song here.
HOWLIN’ WOLF - KILLING FLOOR
The rhythm in this from Howlin’ Wolf isn’t traditional and straddles the line between rhythm and lead guitar playing. The song features a number of double stops, and fills all the while playing a very melodic and bluesy riff. Learn the full song here.
THE ROLLING STONES - JUMPIN’ JACK FLASH
One of the best riffs of all-time. It’s simple, and incredibly catchy. You can learn this riff as a beginner or if you’re an experienced guitar veteran with years of playing beneath your fingers, it’s still a blast to learn. The rest of the song also features interesting, layered guitar parts perfect for anyone who wants to add a bit more lead playing to their arsenal. Learn the full song here.