Top 40 Famous&Easy Grunge Guitar Songs/Riffs – Tabs Included

Grunge is one of the most fun to listen and play genres in rock history with its high tempo grooves and rock-solid guitar tones. With the combination of great lyrics and heavily distorted rock guitar riffs, grunge songs offer great riffs for beginner and experienced guitarists.

Emerged during the mid 80’s grunge is not only a music genre but a subculture. As a music genre, it is an alternative rock style influenced both by punk rock and heavy metal. The subculture is reflected in the lyrics of grunge songs which speak about social and emotional alienation and isolation, self-doubt, abuse, betrayal, psychological traumas, and of course, a big desire for freedom.

There are many great grunge songs, easy and fun to play, especially for entry-level guitarists. The genre has a simplistic approach with rock-solid riffs and tones, making the songs a joy to play. Let’s check some of them to learn and add to our repertoire.

Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana

Probably the most famous grunge tune of history is the iconic song Smells Like Teen Spirit by the most famous grunge band Nirvana. The song does not need much description, as everybody probably heard it before. Released in 1991, the song is one of the most played tunes on the guitar, thanks to its easy yet fun guitar riff.

The song is played with some techniques such as palm mutes and power chords which are ultimately beginner-friendly. It is a great and fun song to play to feel like a rockstar and progress with basic techniques.

Smells Like Teen Spirit Guitar Tabs

Come As You Are – Nirvana

The grunge pioneers Nirvana’s other great tune is Come As You Are from the 1992 Nevermind album. The song quickly became a global hit and received big commercial chart success. The song is remembered with its excellent rock guitar riff played many times throughout the song, accompanied by the iconic chorus and vocals of Kurt Cobain.

As with most Nirvana songs, the song is played with basic power chords and some dead notes to keep the groove. The song also has a pretty straightforward solo for beginner guitarists.

Come As You Are Guitar Tabs

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Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden

Another great grunge band founded by the great vocalist Chris Cornell is Soundgarden. Black Hole Sun is considered their signature song, and it is the most successful hit of the band. The song topped the charts and stayed seven weeks in the peak. 

The slow tempo song has a heavy-sounding tone with excellent lyrics and guitar riffs. It is an easy song to play with arpeggios and some lead guitar melodies, yet you will need to tune your guitar to the drop-D tuning to play it.

Black Hole Sun Guitar Tabs

Lithium – Nirvana

Jeremy is one of the most famous tunes of the American grunge-rock band Pearl Jam. The tune was released in 1992, which was inspired by the incident that a high-school youngster named Jeremy committed suicide in the class. The song got extremely popular after its video release, which was selected as the Best Music Video Of The Year by MTV.

The tune has a simple yet fantastic guitar riff with hammer-ons and power chords. It is played with different variations of the riff throughout the song. The outro is also lovely, with triad arpeggios.

Jeremy Guitar Tabs

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Heart Shaped Box – Nirvana

Another popular Nirvana tune, Heart Shaped Box, from their last studio album In Utero, was released in 1993. The song immediately topped the charts on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks and in several countries. It was also the last song Cobain played live in 1994 before his suicide.

You can play this tune with arpeggios on the verses and power chords on the chorus sections. The solo is also relatively easy and beginner-friendly. The iconic chorus with the bend between the power chords is quite fun to play.

Heart Shaped Box Guitar Tabs

In Bloom – Nirvana

The second track of the legendary Nevermind album is the famous song In Bloom. Written by Kurt Cobain, the song features amazing guitar riffs and lyrics. The song was created as a criticism to mainstream listeners and the music industry in general. 

It is a typical Nirvana song that is played with heavily distorted guitars, basic power chord riffs, and an elementary solo. It is one of the most straightforward songs on the list, perfectly ideal for absolute beginners.

In Bloom Guitar Tabs

Even Flow – Pearl Jam

Even Flow is the second single from their debut album that made Pearl Jam famous worldwide. The great hit song features a fantastic funky rock guitar riff by Gossard and amazing lyrics by Eddie Vedder which is the recipe of most great songs of the band.

The rhythm guitar sections of the tune are played with double note power chords by a guitar with standard tuning while the lead guitar partitions and the great funky rock guitar riff is played with a drop D tuned guitar. Both sections are pretty easy and fun to play.

Even Flow Guitar Tabs

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Would? – Alice in Chains

Another great grunge rock band from the ’90s is Alice In Chains. The band’s sentimental track Would? which was written by the guitarist and vocalist Jerry Cantrell to his friend who died in 1990. The song first appeared in the movie Single in 1992 and later was added to the band’s album the same year.

The tune is played with a great guitar riff consisting of power chords and hammer-ons. The original recording features half-step down-tuned guitars, but you can also play it with standard tuning.

Would? Guitar Tabs

Hunger Strike – Temple of the Dog

Hunger Strike is the hit song of the grunge band Temple of the Dog, which was written by the famous musician Chris Cornell. It was released back in 1991 as the first single from the band’s only studio album, Temple of the Dog. For Cornell, the song is like a socialist political statement.

It is one of the most straightforward songs to play on this list as it is played with a basic arpeggio, mostly with open strings. The arpeggio pattern is repeated throughout the tune with minor differences.

Hunger Strike Guitar Tabs

Alive – Pearl Jam

The debut single of Pearl Jam, Alive, is one of the signature songs of the band from their first album, Ten. The song charted in the top 10 lists in many different countries. It is remembered for its great lyrics and extended guitar solo.

Alive has a great guitar riff with power chords and some legatos. The verses and the chorus are played with barre chords.

Alive Guitar Tabs

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Interstate Love Song – Stone Temple Pilots

Released in 1994, Interstate Love Song is one of the biggest hit songs of the American rock band Stone Temple Pilots. It topped the charts the year it was released and stayed there for 15 weeks. The song is about the troubles that the singer Weiland was having with his girlfriend.

You can play the tune with some barre chords and mutes in between. The main guitar riff is also pretty straightforward with bends, some short arpeggios, and triad chords.

Interstate Love Song Guitar Tabs

Plush – Stone Temple Pilots

One of the most successful hits of the American rock band Stone Temple Pilots is Plus which was released in 1992 with their debut album Core. The song is inspired by the Ragtime music of Robert DeLeo, which is reflected in the great guitar riffs of the song.

The tune’s progression consists of many barre-chords and a soft riff in the verses. If you do not have a hard time playing barre chords, you will love this one; otherwise, it is a great song to practice the technique.

Plush Guitar Tabs

Today – The Smashing Pumpkins

Written by the frontman and the lead vocal of the band, Billy Corgan, Today is one of the signature songs of the American grunge band The Smashing Pumpkins. Released in 1993, the song has a great contrast between its up-beat tempo, soft guitar riffs, and dark lyrics about suicidal thoughts.

The song has a tremendous soft guitar riff played on the highest two strings. The verses and chorus is played with a combination of power chords and barre chords. Another plus of the song is the lead guitar which gets in here and there, playing lovely embellishments.

Today Guitar Tabs

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Better Man – Pearl Jam

Better Man is one of the most successful charting songs of Pearl Jam, even though it was never released as a single. It peaked eight weeks in the Billboard charts and is considered one of the greatest hits of the band. The song is a “haunting ballad about a woman trapped in a relationship,” as Rolling Stones magazine put it.

The song is played with 5 chords, mainly beside the guitar riffs, which are played with bass notes followed by arpeggio-like melodies in the higher strings. The melody is beautiful, making the song highly fun to play.

Better Man Guitar Tabs

Them Bones – Alice In Chains

Released in 1992, Them Bones is one of the well-known tunes of Alice In Chains. The song features a chromatic riff in the 7/8 time signature, which sounds super impressive. The chorus of the song is more traditional with a 4/4 time signature. The song was also featured in some movies and TV shows, adding to its fame.

In order to play the song, you should tune your guitar half step down from the drop D tuning. Playing the song is relatively easy as the chords feature much easier shapes in the drop D tuning. Just try to focus on the rhythm and the time signature.

Them Bones Guitar Tabs

Cherub Rock – The Smashing Pumpkins

The crowning achievement of The Smashing Pumpkins was definitely Cherub Rock, released in 1993. Written by the frontman, vocalist, and guitarist Billy Corgan, the song features a fantastic guitar solo and a tasty riff, making the song one of the greatest of the band.

The song is quite easy to play with power chords and rhythmic bass notes. There are nice lead guitar licks occasionally appearing, making the song quite entertaining to play.

Cherub Rock Guitar Tabs

Violet – Hole

Written by the vocalist and guitarist Courtney Love, Violet is the most successful hit of the band Hole. It is a great song reflecting the 90’s grunge scene very well with its power chords, guitar riffs, aggressiveness, and energy, along with the soft verses and harsh choruses.

There are four guitar riffs throughout the song, which are all power chord riffs. The song is relatively straightforward and fun to play.

Violet Guitar Tabs

I Stay Away – Alice in Chains

I Stay Away is the Alice In Chains track from their 1994 EP Jar of Flies. The song was one of teh greatest tunes of the album and was nominated for a Grammy the same year. The piece is quite soft compared to former songs of the band and the era in general; however, after the pre-chorus, it gets into a dark realm with a sludgy electric guitar and vocal harmony. 

The song uses a lot of instrumentation, like string instruments. The guitar partitions are played with basic chords and single-note riffs, but you will have to tune your guitar to the drop D to play them.

I Stay Away Guitar Tabs

River Of Deceit – Mad Season

River OF Deceit is the only single from the American rock band’s only album Above from 1995. It reached number 2 on the rock lists with its excellent guitar riffs and mystical lyrics inspired by the 1923 book The Prophet by Khalil Gibran.

The song has a nice opening guitar riff with hammer-ons and pull-offs before it starts using chords and double-stops in the verses and chorus.

River Of Deceit Guitar Tabs

Machinehead – Bush

The post-grunge tune Macihehead by the English band Bush is another great song with a typical grunge riff. The 1996 song features nice power chords with basic single-note riffs. The heavy-sounding sections of the song are pretty entertaining to play.

Machinehead Guitar Tabs

Vasoline – Stone Temple Pilots

Vasoline is yet another great grunge song from the Purple album of the American rock band Stone Temple Pilots. The song has an amazing bass intro with a wah-wah effect and a peculiar tone. You can replicate the bass riff with an electric guitar, and the rest of the song is quite easy to play with power chords.

Vasoline Guitar Tabs

Doll Parts – Hole

Released in 1995, Doll Parts is another famous song of the American alternative rock band Hole. The song was written by Courtney Love, and she admitted the song was about her feelings and insecurities after she met Kurt Cobain.

The song is relatively straightforward to play with three open chords; Am, C, and G. It is one of the most beginner-friendly songs on the list.

Doll Parts Guitar Tabs

Nearly Lost You – Screaming Trees

Nearly Lost You is the most successful hit song of the American rock band Screaming Trees, thanks to the song’s appearance in the movie Singles. The 1992 tune features a nice guitar riff along with some basic chords. It is a relatively softer grunge tune, making it an easy song to play.

Nearly Lost You Guitar Tabs

Big Empty – Stone Temple Pilots

Known for its appearance in the famous movie The Crow, Big Empty is yet another great song from the rock band Stone Temple Pilots, released in 1994. The song is played with 8 chords and some easy yet rock-solid guitar riffs. There is also an elementary solo with great grunge characteristics with repetitive licks and great bends.

Big Empty Guitar Tabs

Tomorrow – Silverchair

Australian rock band Silverchair is a lesser-known grunge band from the ’90s. Their breakthrough hit Tomorrow topped the charts and remained there for 6 weeks in England which became the signature song of the band.

The tune is played with great rock guitar riffs, both in clean and distorted tones. The choruses consist of power chords, while the verses have some tasty riffs.

Tomorrow Guitar Tabs

Chloe Dancer / Crown Of Thorns – Mother Love Bone

Seattle rock band Mother Love Bone’s best song is Chloe Dancer / Crown Of Thorns, which is actually two songs that emerged together. The song is played with some straightforward arpeggios and power chords. The solos with heavily distorted guitars are the shining stars of the songs.

Chloe Dancer Crown Of Thorns Guitar Tabs

Rearviewmirror – Pearl Jam

Written by the vocalist of the band Eddie Vedder, Rearviewmirror is one of the greatest hits of the rock band Pearl Jam. It is one of the few songs Vedder plays guitar, and the song is played with two guitars; one with a clean, the other with a distorted tone.

There are nice guitar riffs on the lower strings, along with some power chords on the chorus sections—a great grunge tune to play with fellow guitarists.

Rearviewmirror Guitar Tabs

Superunknown – Soundgarden

Superunknown is the instrumental grunge tune from the same-titled album by the American rock band Soundgarden. It is one of the lesser-known tunes of the breakthrough album of Soundgarden, yet it offers excellent guitar partitions.

It is a great song for players who like lead guitar parts as the song is full of great licks and melodies. It is played with a drop D tuning, which is the most challenging part to play the song.

Superunknown Guitar Tabs

Touch Me I’m Sick – Mudhoney

Released in 1988, Touch Me I’m Sick is a great song with dark and sarcastic lyrics written and released by the band Mudhoney. Along with the lyrics, the song has amazing distorted and fuzzy toned guitar riffs. It is mainly played with power chords with a typical grunge approach.

Touch Me I’m Sick Guitar Tabs

Feel The Pain – Dinosaur Jr.

Feel The Pain is the Dinosaur Jr. song from 1994, which is especially praised for its amazing guitar riff the song was built around. Along with the great riff, the lyrics of the song are also great, which is about regret and uncertainty.

The riff is played double-notes with a capo on the 3rd fret. The rest of the song is played with aggressive power chords, a grunge classic.

Feel The Pain Guitar Tabs

Pretend We’re Dead – L7

The American all-female rock band L7’s hit grunge song Pretend We’re Dead was released back in 1992, achieving good national and international success. The song was featured in many games such as GTA: San Andreas and Rock Band 2.

The song is relatively straightforward with two riffs; one with power chords, the other with a basic short single-note melody.

Pretend We’re Dead Guitar Tabs

Animal – Pearl Jam

Animal is the 1994 song of Pearl Jam which features a great grungy guitar riff and a basic solo. The song is mainly played with power chords and mutes in a rocky groove, but the riffs and solos are the gems of the song—an excellent grunge tune to play.

Animal Guitar Tabs

Backwater – Meat Puppets

Meat Puppets’ famous tune Backwater is yet another great grunge tune with two great guitar solos, a nice power chord riff, and an arpeggiated bridge. Especially the guitar solos are pretty lovely for beginner players, as the licks are easy and fun to play.

Backwater Guitar Tabs

Out There – Dinosaur Jr.

Out There is the famous Dinosaur Jr. song which is well-known for its guitar solo and use of chimes. The 1993 tune has a bit of a complex yet amazing guitar riff. The rest is played with basic chords and power chords.

Out There Guitar Tabs

Jessie – Paw

American alternative rock band Paw is an underrated grunge band from the 90s. Their tune Jessie was quite famous and was featured in some video games like Road Rash. It is played with power chords and palm-muted grooves, which give a heavy tone to the song.

Jessie Guitar Tabs

In N Out Of Grace – Mudhoney

Another early grunge tune by Mudhoney is In N Out Of Grace from 1988. Besides the power chord verses and chorus, the song offers an extended yet basic guitar solo for beginners.

In N Out Of Grace Guitar Tabs

Swallow My Pride – Green River

One of the oldest songs on the list is Swallow My Pride by Green River from the year 1985. The song is one of the early examples of the grunge genre with its heavily distorted guitars, basic guitar riffs, power chorded verses, and aggressive tone in general.

Swallow My Pride Guitar Tabs

Lizzy – Melvins

The 1994 song Lizzy by the rock band Melvins is the most successful hit of the band, released in 1993. It is a typical grunge tune with power chorded verses and a chorus with a short basic guitar solo. The guitar tones are again heavily distorted.

Lizzy Guitar Tabs

Seether – Veruca Salt

Released in 1994, Seether is the grunge single by the American alternative rock band Veruca Salt. The song is played with a half-step down tuning and mainly consists of power chords. The song offers nice palm-muted grooves with a heavy tone making it quite entertaining to play for rock lovers.

Seether Guitar Tabs

Grease Box – TAD

Grease Box is the 1993 tune by the rock band TAD from their Inhaler album. The song sits somewhere between metal and grunge with heavily distorted guitars, high-tempo drum grooves, and a riff-based song structure. You can play the tune with power chords and the basic main riff with single notes. Do not forget to add plenty of distortion to your tone!

Grease Box Guitar Tabs


Grunge is one of the easy yet most entertaining genres to play for rock guitarists. Mainly the songs feature great power chorded verses and choruses, easy yet rocky guitar riffs, and elementary solos. Most songs offer great partitions for beginner guitarists to progress with their techniques while having fun with heavily distorted guitars and unique riffs.

All of the songs on the list are beginner-friendly and offer many great sections for guitarists. Playing these riffs will not only enrich your repertoire, but they will help you build solid ground with your rock guitar techniques.

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I have been playing guitar since 2004. As long as I can remember I always had a huge passion for rock music and I extremely enjoy playing it. Helping people on their rock journey is what drives me to keep on playing. Read More About Me

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