A Thread Dedicated To Shred: TWID's Top Ten Guitar Riffs

Guitar Chords are easy, yet complicated. Here are some good riffs

Of all things Dude and holy, none are holier or more Dude than the metallic medley of power chords that is the guitar riff.

And out of the billions of guitar riffs ever composed, here are a handful that do the most blissful damage to the airwaves around us. Sound patterns that accelerate adrenaline, instantly bring about a chill, and make you forget that you're human for a little while.

10. The Man's Too Strong - Dire Straits

This song seems to tell a story before the lyrics are sung. 79 seconds of finger picking culminates in one of the more powerful strums recorded in a studio.

9. Heartbreaker - Led Zeppelin

This is the most flexible of their rock anthems, and therefore deserves a spot at number 9.

8. What You Are - Dave Matthews Band

Great buildup in this song. And the buildup is just long enough without being too long (sometimes a negative characteristic of DMB). At the 1:01 mark, this great guitar riff enters and stays throughout the song oscillating in intensity.

7.  Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana

The song is a continuous string of contradictions in an attempt to explain the apathy of a teenage revolution. The riff on the other hand, is a lot more memorable and its passively aggressive sound doesn't need interpretation.  

6. Back In Black - AC/DC

Simple, but the sent message is effective. A message that still reverberates today. Comprising a few power chords, and then a complicated, but complementing scale.

5. Mighty Wings - Cheap Trick

This one is real easy, but tends to get overshadowed because it's a "Soundtrack Song." The power chords are hit hard from the beginning and stay melodically-tuned with the speed, power, and intensity of a MiG-28 jet fighter

4. Break Stuff - Limp Bizkit

Although I may be invoking the spirit of a thousand clowns by nominating this riff, I offer a counterpoint: justifiably name a song that is a greater mosh pit catalyst than this one. Anyway, let's keep rollin' rollin' rollin' to the top 3.

3. Thunderstruck - AC/DC

Go to Ultimate Guitar and see if you can figure out how to play this. This is a riff that matches difficulty with aesthetic really well, and has been known to exhaust adrenal glands across the country.

2. Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love - Van Halen

Who says you can't have three apostrophes in the title of your song? When you have an opening riff that sends chills through the arena, you can do just about anything you want (and Van Halen did).

1. Layla - Derek And The Dominos

This song has such an amazing "goosebump factor" that it can't be ignored when making a top ten list of guitar riffs. The riff immediately elicits a CNS response in the opening, and the solo adds references to the resume in Eric Clapton's most innovative song. Like something that catches your eye, this catches everything else, and I have no choice but to make it number 1.

Hope you enjoyed this 10 riff rock block. If not for affirming or revealing what you already knew, at least for it being a ten item list in a blog all on one webpage.

Party on, Wayne.

Party on, Garth.

Also, let's give this guy a shout-out: