Here are my top 10 list of best rock riffs. Everybody’s list will be different to each other. For me the main cause that lead to my list over here is that the riff is reflecting the sound, power, and melody of the song. Please note that I am not a guitar expert, just a normal rock music fan so I could not describe these gems in detail like in Guitar Magazine or something like that 😀 Feel free to tell me yours
The list is not in order :
1. DEEP PURPLE – Smoke on the Water
A mandatory riff for whoever wanted to start playing guitar. Ritchie Blackmore said he was inspired by classical music, but I think no one cares because it is so easy but popular.
2. GUNS N’ ROSES – Sweet Child of Mine
Who on earth doesn’t know this riff? Slash rules.
3. JOURNEY – Stone in Love
Powerful, straight to the top, you can feel the vibe of the song by listening to the main riff at the beginning. Neal Schon is a very underrated guitarist.
4. CREAM – Sunshine of Your Love
A typical busy but technical riff which carry the entire elements of this song, even the vocal was sung across the riff. Eric Clapton’s masterpiece.
5. MR. BIG – Green Tinted Sixties Mind
Very technical but beautiful riff, very rare but imaginative. Paul GIlbert’s masterpiece
6. RAINBOW – Since You Been Gone
I bet nobody would complain if I put more than one Ritchie Blacmkmore’s riff over here. This piece is so crunchy, catchy, easy listening, and so on.. Well you know it was RItchie who transformed this song into a world wide popular.
7. EUROPE Let the Good Times Rock
Kee Marcelo really made a roaring high-notes riff which streams so beautifully altough LtGTR is sung with mostly low and medium notes. First time hear the riff I was like ‘Wow!’. Usually guitarist play medium notes for the riff but this is a great exception.
8. LED ZEPPELIN Heartbreaker
This list would be nothing without Jimmy Page’s piece of action. And here it is, IMO the best riff Jimmy has made during his Led Zeppelin days.
9. LYNYRD SKYNYRD Sweet Home Alabama
An Americana riff. I think it is symbol of American music, across the riff I can feel the Souther Rock anthem, country flavor, and blues feeling inside. If you dance with the riff, you can also feel the RnB touch (ha!)
10. OZZY OSBOURNE Crazy Train
Perhaps someone who could compete Eddie Van Halen during the 80’s (RIP Randy Rhoads). The riff in the beginning and in the middle show what Randy had up off his sleeve, very technical and complex but also crunchy and enjoyable. As a casual rock fan I couldn’t explain how the riff was composed but that’s all I can say.