Top 45 Famous & Easy Guitar Riffs For Beginners – Tabs Included


Starting to learn a new skill can be challenging, especially if there are so many things to learn and improve. If you just started learning how to play the guitar, it might be tough for you to find songs and which things to learn. 

Here, I will go through some of the most iconic guitar riffs in history, but with a focus on those that beginners could learn. It is an excellent way to progress and start improving your guitar skills. 

Of course, some of the songs on the list might be a bit tricky for beginners, but it is not something you won’t be able to conquer after a bit of practice. 

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Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana

Smells Like Teen Spirit is the first single from Nirvana’s second album Nevermind. It was released in 1991, and the popularity of the band skyrocketed. Everyone knows this song, there have been numerous covers, and it is considered one of the best songs in history. 

While the majority of the song is simple riffs, there is one tricky part you will need to learn. In the intro and throughout the song, the part of the riff is muted. You will need to practice muting notes if you want it to sound as good as on the record. 

The song played at 120 BPM, Standard Tuning.

Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses

Sweet Child o’ Mine was released on Appetite for Destruction and it is one of the most popular songs by Guns n’ Roses. You probably know this already, but the famous intro for the song is in fact a picking exercise that Slash used. 

As it turns out, it is an excellent choice for the song intro, and it is so much fun to play. Of course, this isn’t the easiest riff on the list, but you’ll be able to improve your technique so much if you manage to learn it. 

The song played at 128 BPM, Standard Tuning.

Back In Black – AC/DC

Back in Black is one of the most popular songs by AC/DC, and it was released in 1980 on the album of the same name. The intro riff is among the most recognizable riffs in the history of music, and it is so much fun to play.

While the chords and technique are not that challenging, the main problem for beginners will be hitting them at the precise time. Try focusing on the tempo and counting properly to play the notes correctly. The second part of the intro might require you to stretch your fingers, but it’s nothing you can’t achieve with enough practice. 

The song played at 96 BPM, Standard Tuning.

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Beat It – Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was the king of pop, but he often experimented with genres and played with other musicians. Thanks to that, we have Beat It as one of the best songs of all time. The guitar on this track was played by great Eddie Van Halen, and he did an incredible job with it.

One of the things I should mention is that the original song is played in different tuning (half step down), but you shouldn’t worry about it. You can still learn how to play the song and find the correct position of your fingers without changing the tuning. 

The song played at 140 BPM, Eb Tuning (1/2 step down from standard tuning)

Enter Sandman – Metallica

Enter Sandman is the song from the famous Black Album, and it is one of the most popular tunes by Metallica. It starts with a beautiful intro, and it tells a story about a child’s nightmares. The main riff was written by Kirk Hammett, and the rest of the song was written by Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield. 

It is a beautiful song, and the main riff is not that hard to play. 

The song played at 120 BPM, Standard Tuning.

Come As You Are – Nirvana

Another great song for all Nirvana lovers out there. Come as You Are is another song from Nevermind and it’s amazing. The best part about the song is that it is so easy to learn. There are no complex chords or riffs, and it is a beginner’s dream.

While the original version is recorded half-step down, it doesn’t mean that you can’t play it without changing the tuning. 

The song played at 120 BPM, D Tuning (1 step down from standard tuning).

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Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes

Jack White is an incredible artist. One of the most popular songs by his band, The White Stripes, is Seven Nation Army. The song was released in 2003, and it is an excellent choice for beginner players. 

What is interesting about Seven Nation Army is that the song includes guitar and drums only. The opening riff is played on an electric guitar, but Jack White used a pitch shift pedal to create a sound similar to bass. But even if you don’t have any pedals, you can still learn to play the song using the equipment you have. 

The song played at 120 BPM, Standard Tuning.

Scar Tissue – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Scar Tissue was released in 1999 on Californication. The album was the first one since John Frusciante returned, and it was an incredible success. Many people will say that this is their favorite album by Red Hot Chili Peppers, and you can see why. 

Among the songs you can find on the album is Scar Tissue, with that beautiful guitar intro. Now, I should mention that this isn’t the easiest song on the list, and you might take some time before you’re able to nail it. Just keep practicing and you’ll be able to play it. 

The song played at 89 BPM, Standard Tuning.

You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC

AC/DC is a legendary rock band that inspired so many players to pick up an electric guitar and start playing. The beauty of AC/DC is that songs sound quite good, but they can be perfect for beginners as well. You Shook Me All Night Long was released in 1980 and quickly became a hit. 

It is the first single with Brian Johnson, and the band has played it on live shows ever since. The best thing about the song is that it’s quite simple, and you will have a great time learning how to play it. 

The song played at 126 BPM, Standard Tuning.

La Grange – ZZ Top

ZZ Top has been around for quite a while, and they recently celebrated their 50th anniversary. La Grange remains to this day one of the most popular songs by ZZ Top, and it sounds so good. The tune is based on the traditional boogie blues, and it isn’t nearly as difficult to learn as it sounds. 

The song was released in 1973 on the album Tres Hombres, and it is so much fun to play. You can try it on the clean channel, or you can add a bit of drive if you feel like it. 

The song played at 162 BPM, with triplet feel, Standard Tuning.

Song 2 – Blur

Song 2 or “woo-hoo”, as people often call it, was released in 1997. The song became an instant hit, and it is still the most popular song by Blur. Song 2 is easy to play, it’s fun, and there are no tricky bits. The majority of the song is simple riffs, and you can learn to play it without any problems. 

Interestingly, the song was intended as a joke. No one had the idea that the record label would accept it, nor that the audience would love it. Needless to say, the title of the song was a working title, but the name stuck. 

The song played at 130 BPM, Standard Tuning.

Are You Gonna Be My Girl – Jet 

Are You Gonna Be My Girl is a song by Jet, and it was released in 2003. The song is a typical modern rock tune, it’s powerful, and it can be so much fun to play. While it sounds so much better with one guitar, you can still experiment with one to get that famous sound. 

The best thing about this song is that it is easy to learn, and it involves just a couple of basic chords. 

The song played at 203 BPM, Standard Tuning.

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – The Rolling Stones

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction was released in 1965, on the album called Out of Our Heads. The song was the first number one in the U.S. by the Rolling Stones, and it quickly became a hit all across the globe. The powerful riff at the beginning of the song is quite easy to play, but it still sounds incredible. 

If you are a fan of the Rolling Stones, you will love playing this one, and it is a perfect starting point for all beginners out there. The song is in the key of E. 

The song played at 132 BPM, Standard Tuning.

Smoke On The Water – Deep Purple

Smoke on the water is one of the most recognizable riffs in the history of rock music. The song was released in 1972 and instantly became a hit. But the reason why many players love this song by Deep Purple is that it’s so easy to play. 

Finding a song that sounds good and powerful but won’t require you to spend months practicing is not something you can easily find. Fortunately, Smoke on the Water is as easy as it gets. You’ll be able to learn how to play it in no time. You can also play it on one string, but you would need to go up and down the neck too much. 

The song played at 112 BPM, Standard Tuning.

Paranoid – Black Sabbath

You can love them or hate them, but there is no doubt that the Black Sabbath was an important part of music history. The band was a pioneer of the heavy metal genre, and they managed to inspire so many musicians throughout their careers. Their second album, Paranoid, was released in 1970, and the title song became a worldwide hit.

Paranoid is one of the most popular and best metal songs in history, and it is so much fun to play. Fortunately, the song is not difficult, so you will probably have a great time learning it. 

The song played at 165 BPM, Standard Tuning.

Message In A Bottle – The Police

Sting is an excellent musician and his career has been filled with incredible songs. But one of the most popular ones is from his time in the Police. Yes, I’m talking about the Message in a Bottle. The song was released in 1979 on the album Reggatta de Blanc and is one of the greatest songs of all time.

When it comes to the guitar part, Andy Summers did a great job. The guitar is beautiful, and it is easy to play once you get a hang of it. It requires a lot of stretching, but it is quite satisfying when you manage to play it perfectly. 

The song played at 150 BPM, Standard Tuning.

Alive – Pearl Jam

No one could have expected the impact the first single from Pearl Jam would have. Alive became an instant hit, as well as the rest of the Ten album. Soon the song became rather popular, and it helped create a new genre in the nineties. Pearl Jam, along with Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and Nirvana helped shape the nineties.

The best thing about this song is that it can be quite easy to learn. The whole idea of the movement was to eliminate shedding and complex parts, and Alive is perfect for all beginners out there. 

The song played at 75 BPM, Standard Tuning.

Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Fortunate Son is a song by Creedence Clearwater Revival, and it was released in 1969 on the album called Willy and the Poor Boys. The song became an anti-war theme almost immediately, and a symbol for all people against the Vietnam war. The popularity of the song didn’t fade even after decades, and it is still a common theme in movies and video games. 

When it comes to playing it, the song is quite easy, and you will have so much fun learning it. 

The song played at 138 BPM, Standard Tuning.

Barracuda – Heart

Barracuda is the most popular song by Heart, and it was released in 1977. The popularity of the song didn’t fade, and it was a part of the Guitar Hero video game, and it kept having an important part on VH1 and other music channels. 

As for the difficulty of the song, it is not as challenging as you would expect. It gives you a nice opportunity to practice your picking hand and it sounds really good. Of course, it might require practice to perfect it, but that can apply to any other song in existence. 

The song played at 135 BPM, Standard Tuning.

Breaking The Law – Judas Priest

It wouldn’t be fair to avoid mentioning Judas Priest. This British heavy metal band made an important mark on the history of rock and metal music, and there are so many great songs to pick. 

The best course of action is, of course, to pick the most popular song by Judas Priest which is Breaking the Law. It was recorded in 1980, and it appeared on British Steel. The intro riff is so good, and it is surprisingly easy to learn. 

The song played at 165 BPM, Standard Tuning.

Holy Diver – Dio

There are so many things to say about Dio. He was one of the greatest singers in heavy metal, and he inspired many players across the globe. Holy Diver is a song from his first solo album, and he recorded it after he left Black Sabbath. 

The song’s primary theme is fantasy, and it draws inspiration from the Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons. The intro riff sounds quite good, and it is easy to learn. 

The song played at 94 BPM, Standard Tuning.

Plush – Stone Temple Pilots

Plush is the biggest hit by Stone Temple Pilots, and it was released in 1993. The song became an instant hit in the U.S., and it received numerous awards. While Stone Temple Pilots are not as popular as the “big four of grunge,” it is still an excellent song to learn. 

There are no tricky parts you will need to battle, and the majority of the song is simple riffs and chords.

The song played at 72 BPM, Standard Tuning. 

London Calling – The Clash

London Calling is the name of the third album by the Clash, and also the lead single. This song is primarily post-apocalyptic, political, and powerful, which is something you would expect from the Clash. 

The interesting part is that the famous riff in the intro consists of a single chord or riff. While the bass line keeps changing, and the second guitar adds to the atmosphere, the lead guitar remains the same. Needless to say, it isn’t very difficult to learn, but it is so much fun. 

The song played at 130 BPM, Standard Tuning. 

Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand

The next stop on the list is a Scottish indie rock band. Franz Ferdinand released its debut album in 2004, and with it, the song Take Me Out. It soon became one of the most popular songs at the time, and it sounds quite good. If you are a fan of indie rock, you probably already know this one. 

When it comes to the guitar, Take Me Out is easy to learn, and you won’t need to struggle with it. All you need to know is a couple of riffs, and you’ll be ready to go. 

The song played at 110 BPM, Standard Tuning. 

Iron Man – Black Sabbath

One of the most famous riffs in the history of music, along with ridiculous lyrics is what makes Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne so special. While it is not the most popular Iron Man you can find today, the song is still one with an incredible riff and beautiful sound. 

It is another song from Paranoid, and it tells a story of a time-traveling man going into the future. His primary focus is to stop the apocalypse, and everyone mocks him. As a result, he starts planning his revenge on humankind, which results in the apocalypse he tried to stop. 

The song played at 70 BPM, Standard Tuning. 

Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd

Another iconic riff comes from Lynyrd Skynyrd and their most popular song Sweet Home Alabama. It was released in 1974 on the album called Second Helping. The intro riff is something you probably heard time and again, and it is quite easy to learn. 

Of course, if you never had experience with hammer-ons and pull-offs, you might need to practice it for a bit. The best course of action would be to start slow and build your way up. Don’t worry, the song is not hard to learn, and you’ll be able to perfect it with just a bit of practice. 

The song played at 100 BPM, Standard Tuning. 

Fear Of The Dark – Iron Maiden

Fear of the Dark is a song from the album of the same name, released in 1992. It was written by Steve Harris, and it’s one of the most popular songs by Iron Maiden. The song has two guitars, but the recent live performances include three. Of course, you don’t need to learn all three guitars from the start, and you can start slow with this intro.

As you can probably guess from the title, the song is about a person having a phobia and being afraid that something is lurking in the dark. 

The song played at 76 BPM, Standard Tuning.  In the last section of the riff, the tempo is decreased several times as written in the tabs.

Fade To Black – Metallica 

Fade to Black was the first power ballad recorded by Metallica, and it appeared on Ride the Lightning from 1984. The song gave us a glimpse into what this band had to offer, and it was amazing. Many people across the world fell in love with Metallica thanks to this song.

The song offers everything, a beautiful slower intro, great build-up, and a stunning solo in the end. Of course, it might take you a while to perfect the fast riff changes in the end, but you can learn how to play the intro of the song with ease. 

The song played at 116 BPM, Standard Tuning.

Born To Be Wild – Steppenwolf

Another classic from the sixties is Born to Be Wild by Steppenwolf. It was released in 1968, and it became a symbol for all the bikers across the globe. Many people recognize Born to Be Wild as the first heavy metal song in history, but it’s more in line with hard rock. 

Born to Be Wild is fun to play, and it is surprisingly easy. All you need is to turn on the volume and start rocking. The only thing you need to worry about while learning the song is the strumming technique and being on tempo. 

The song played at 148 BPM, Standard Tuning.

(Don’t Fear) The Reaper – Blue Öyster Cult

(Don’t Fear) the Reaper is a song by Blue Öyster Cult, and it was released in 1976. The song is a mixture of psychedelic, soft rock, and hard rock, and it became the biggest hit by this American band. The song is beautiful, unique, and offers you a great chance to improve your guitar skills.

The opening riff is quite easy, but it will give you a nice opportunity to perfect your picking technique and chord switching. Of course, you can learn how to play the rest of the song, but it might get tricky. 

The song played at 140 BPM, Standard Tuning.

Owner Of A Lonely Heart – Yes

Owner of a Lonely Heart is a song recorded by the British band Yes. It is their first song that became popular in the U.S., and it has one of the most recognizable riffs. The song is not that challenging to play, and you will need to learn a couple of riffs to be able to play it without any problems. 

As you can probably guess, you might need a bit of practice to perfect pauses and riff changes throughout the song. 

The song played at 120 BPM, Standard Tuning.

Seek & Destroy – Metallica

For those that enjoy heavier sound and thrash metal, this is something they shouldn’t miss. Metallica is a part of the “big four” when it comes to thrash, and they have been rocking for decades. One of the biggest hits from Kill ‘em All is Seek & Destroy.

The song is fast, powerful, and has one of the best riffs you can encounter. Even though we are talking about Metallica, Seek & Destroy is not that hard to play. At least the first part. Although it becomes quite tricky near the end of the song and the solo. But the first part is great for beginners. 

The song played at 140 BPM, Standard Tuning. 

God Save The Queen – Sex Pistols

If you mention punk, it is difficult not to think of Sex Pistols. One of the best songs by the band is God Save the Queen. As you can guess from the punk song, it’s quite easy to play. All you need to know is a couple of riffs, and you’ll be ready to go. 

Needless to say, the riffs in the song are not challenging, and you’ll be able to learn them in no time. Of course, the more you practice the better it will sound in the end. 

The song played at 152 BPM, Standard Tuning.

Money – Pink Floyd

Everyone lost their mind when Pink Floyd released The Dark Side of the Moon in 1973. Money is one of many songs on this album, and it sounds so good. The first thing you’ll notice is that it isn’t in standard 4/4 tempo, but in 7/4 instead. 

Don’t let this scare you. Money is still easy to learn, and the opening riff sounds amazing. Just try playing along with the song to get used to the time signature, and everything will be well. Some of the songs by Pink Floyd can be a bit challenging, but fortunately, Money isn’t one of them. 

The song played at 120 BPM, Standard Tuning.

You Really Got Me – The Kinks

You Really Got Me was released in 1964, and it was one of the first hard rock songs. The entire song was built on power chords, and it has that famous riff that everyone wanted to learn. As you can probably guess, the song is quite easy, and all you need to do is learn a few riffs, and practice your timings.

While the basic riff is quite easy to learn, you will still need to practice playing it on time. 

The song played at 132 BPM, Standard Tuning.

Dream On – Aerosmith

Dream On is a power ballad by Aerosmith, and it was released in 1973. The song was written by Steven Tyler, and it became an iconic tune of the era. Dream On is famous for many reasons. Firstly, it was one of the songs where Tyler started to feel more comfortable singing, and it was the time when people could finally hear his, now well-known, scream. 

Furthermore, the climax and the entire production of the song are mindblowing. In an interview, Steven Tyler said that he wrote the song when he was 14. 

The song played at 80 BPM, Standard Tuning.

House Of The Rising Sun – The Animals

Another timeless classic is House of the Rising Sun. The song is a traditional tune but it was popularized by the Animals. This version came out in 1964, and it is one of the most popular rock songs in history.

It starts with an arpeggiated A minor and follows the same pattern throughout the entire song. Of course, the most challenging part for beginners will be to nail those chord changes, but it is worth the time and effort. 

The song played at 110 BPM, Standard Tuning.

Cocaine – Eric Clapton

Clapton is one of the best guitar players to this day, and there are so many great songs you can learn. Unfortunately, some of them can be a bit challenging for beginner players, and you might struggle to learn them. One of the easier ones is Cocaine, originally written by J.J. Cale. 

The song was released in 1977 on the album called Slowhand. Cocaine is easy to play, and it just has a few riffs. It is one of the easiest songs you can learn by Clapton, and it can be so much fun to play. 

The song played at 103 BPM, Standard Tuning. 

Rock You Like A Hurricane – Scorpions

Another incredible heavy metal song comes from Scorpions. Rock You Like a Hurricane was released in 1984, on an album Love at First Sting. The song became a huge success thanks to MTV, and it is considered one of the greatest hard rock songs of all time. 

The song is also great for those learning how to play the guitar since it offers different difficulties based on each part. For example, the intro riff is quite easy, but the solo near the end of the song can be a bit tricky. 

The song played at 120 BPM, Standard Tuning. 

Purple Haze – Jimi Hendrix

The next one on the list is by Jimi Hendrix. It is difficult to create a guitar-related list without mentioning Hendrix. Many people consider him to be one of the best players of all time, and he had so many great songs. One of the most popular ones is Purple Haze. 

The song was released in 1967, on the album Are You Experienced. Of course, the best thing about the song is that you’ll get a chance to learn the famous Hendrix chord. You can use it in other songs if you feel like it, and it will give them a nice flavor. 

The song played at 106 BPM, Standard Tuning.

The One I Love – R.E.M.

The One I Love is a song by R.E.M. and it was released in 1987. Over the years, it became one of the most popular tunes by the band, and they often played it live. Not only does it sound quite good, but it is also easy to play. 

You won’t struggle with it even if you are a complete beginner, and it is a nice song to have in your repertoire. If you have effects or pedals on your amp, you can add those to spice up the sound as well since the song is not played on the clean channel.

The song played at 128 BPM, Standard Tuning. 

Sunshine Of Your Love – Cream

Sunshine of Your Love was released in 1967, and it is one of the most popular songs by this incredible trio. It was one of the first songs to incorporate elements of psychedelia, pop, and hard rock. Clapton continued to play it from time to time on his live performances, and the trio reunited in 2005 for a series of shows. 

The song is an excellent starting point for beginners, and it isn’t as hard as you’d think it would be.  Of course, you might need to get used to the tempo and chord/riff changes in the intro and throughout the song. 

The song played at 112 BPM, Standard Tuning. 

I Wanna Be Your Dog – The Stooges

I Wanna Be Your Dog is a song by the Stooges and it was released on their debut album in 1969. The beauty of the song (besides Iggy Pop) is in its simplicity. The entire song has three chords or riffs. G, F#, and E repeat throughout the entire song, except for two brief changes. 

And even though the song is so simple, it still managed to change the music and inspire so many artists. The song appeared in numerous movies, video games, and it has countless covers. 

The song played at 120 BPM, Standard Tuning. 

Steady, As She Goes – The Raconteurs

Steady, As She Goes is the first single by the Raconteurs, and it became a relatively popular tune. It was written by Jack White and Brendan Benson, and White plays the guitar and sings on the record. 

The song is a mix of garage rock and power pop, and it is amazing. If you are a fan of Jack White, you will love playing this one. 

The song played at 124 BPM, Standard Tuning. 

School’s Out – Alice Cooper

School’s Out is considered Alice Cooper’s signature song. The inspiration for the song was Cooper’s answer to the question “what is the best three minutes of your life?” He said that the first one was Christmas morning, and the second one was the last three minutes of school before the summer break. 

The intro riff is legendary, and it sounds quite good. It is not the easiest one on the list, but it isn’t the hardest one either. 

The song played at 132 BPM, Standard Tuning. 

Summary

Just because a song is difficult to play, doesn’t mean it’s good. Here, you have a list of popular and beautiful songs that are quite simple, and perfect for all beginners out there. Hopefully, you will try them out and you will manage to learn how to play them. 

Some of the riffs on the list might be a bit challenging, but I believe you’ll be able to learn them. It is an excellent way to improve your knowledge and take your guitar-playing skills to the next level. 

Jacob

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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