The 50 Hardest Songs To Play On Guitar – Tabs Included

Many guitarists have pushed the envelope of guitar techniques in history. That is how we discover new ways to play guitar and make music.

From crazy tapping solos to unbelievably fast picking techniques or very complex riffs to mind-blowing musical implementations, you’ll find various challenges to achieve on the guitar.

Try to understand what is happening in the songs first, then practice the techniques patiently. I wish you all good luck and fun with this list of guitar gods!

Contents show

Fracture – King Crimson

This tune was recorded in the famous AIR Studios in London. In 1974 the progressive rock giants released their biggest mind-blowers of all time.

The song is written in the 5/4 time signature and has a very fast tempo. Robert Fripp is the genius behind the fantastic riffs, arpeggios, and chord changes. Check him if you are into nerdy, progressive stuff.

Fracture Guitar Tabs

Juice – Steve Vai

For years, this guy led generations to meet with innovative guitar techniques and musical capabilities. Since the late 70s, he has been included in the top 5 guitar virtuoso lists. And he was one of the few back in the day.

This 1995 release of Vai is a swing-infused giant with a tempo of 200 bpm. It is very juicy!

Juice Guitar Tabs

Sultans Of Swing – Dire Straits

Mark Knopfler is one of the other guitar gods who has taught us that you can make rock music without a pick! This tune is one of his band’s biggest hits from 1978. You can find it on the self-titled album.

It is insane how he can shift between melodies and beautiful chords. His playing is one of a kind!

Sultans Of Swing Guitar Tabs

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If you are interested to learn more hard songs, check out my other list Top 50 Easy, Intermediate, Advanced Fingerpicking Songs – Tabs Included

Master Of Puppets – Metallica

This song is one of the band’s masterpieces we all know. It’s maybe not the most challenging Metallica tune, but it is one of the hardest. Their same-titled 1986 album features it.

The tune is a great example of how trash metal music can be progressive. You hear aggressive guitar sounds turning into clean epical realms and giving birth to beautiful solos.

Master Of Puppets Guitar Tabs

Through The Fire And Flames – DragonForce

Here is the most-known power metal, a speed metal band from the early 2000s. Every guitarist who likes metal music and started playing in this era knows them. This tune is a 2006 release.

As the band’s most challenging song, it takes you on a journey of various advanced techniques shifting into each other through a mind-blowing fast tempo.

Through The Fire And Flames Guitar Tabs

Afterlife – Avenged Sevenfold

When this band first came out, they took lots of guitarists’ attention. They released this tune in 2008 and recorded it in California.

All the band members are genius musicians, but as the guitarist, Synyster Gates blows minds. His unique techniques and sound brought so much to the thrash metal scene.

Afterlife Guitar Tabs

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Here is another list of advanced songs you can play 50 Intermediate/Advanced Acoustic Guitar Songs – Tabs Included

Mr. Crowley – Ozzy Osbourne

After being a crazy vocalist for years in Black Sabbath, Ozzy started his solo project with amazing guitarists like Randy Rhoades, Zakk Wylde, and many more. This song was released in 1981.

In this record plays, Randy Rhoades. He was an authentic guitar player, loved by many, and died unfortunately in a plane crash. He contributed well to the heavy metal genre.

Mr. Crowley Guitar Tabs

Drifting – Andy McKee

Here is another famous fingerstyle guitar player. He has written beautiful but challenging songs over the years. This tune was released in 2006 with his album Art Of Motion.

McKee is using his guitar as a percussive instrument as well. He combines fingerstyle progressions, tapping melodies, and arpeggios with a percussive beat and bass walkings on top of it. 

Drifting Guitar Tabs

For The Love Of God – Steve Vai

Here is another instrumental heavy metal song by the beast. You can find it on his album Passion & Warfare. They released it in 1990 with the labels Epic and Relativity.

Check the music video clip of the tune on YouTube beside the live performance. He is playing with the god on a mountain! You can see his techniques and how he plays as well. 

For The Love Of God Guitar Tabs

Fury Of The Storm – DragonForce

This tune is a 2004 release by the band. You could have seen it in Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. The band’s album Sonic Firestorm features the song.

This track is a very challenging speed metal tune. They took the music of their influences, such as Iron Maiden, Iced Earth, or Helloween to another level. So much sweeping and tapping in a fast, fast tempo.

Fury Of The Storm Guitar Tabs

Eruption – Van Halen

VH, one of the greatest guitar players of all time, recorded this amazing solo in 1977. It has a 1:42 length on the record, but he usually performs Eruption for more than 10 minutes on stage.

This feast of guitar music includes examples of tapping, fast picking, an amazing sound, and the VH genie. He plays it in half-step down tuning.

Eruption Guitar Tabs

Pride And Joy – Stevie Ray Vaughan

SRV is one of a kind. He doesn’t only play the blues. He made it something else. If you believe that blues can’t be progressive or there is not much to do with the blues, check out this one.

Firstly, he can play so fast, and his mind and playing expand in blues structures. He released this tune in 1983. You can find it on his album Texas Flood.

Pride And Joy Guitar Tabs

Classical Gas – Mason Williams

This guy was an instrumental classical crossover pop player from the ’60s. He released this masterpiece in 1968. This record is a milestone for many guitarists.

Williams plays arpeggios and chord progressions with a classical perspective. Tommy Emmanuel has an amazing performance with this composition. He took the classical playing of Mason to another level. Give it an ear! 

Classical Gas Guitar Tabs

Blackened – Metallica

This tune is the first track of the fourth Metallica album, “…And Justice for All.” The band released this progressive thrash metal album in 1988. It is one of my favorites.

The song includes fast-picked riffs, and its complexity grows with every minute. Pay attention to Kirk’s solo. It is very hard to play. You can manage it with good practice, though.

Blackened Guitar Tabs

Speed Kills – Michael Angelo

If you know this guitarist from the glam metal band Nitro, you know what you are dealing with here. He is the master of speed, and he can play very emotionally at the same time.

This one is a record from his 1991 guitar method book. He shows every trick he knows. Like his crazy left-hand positionings, fast shredding, and picking techniques he can use in every scale possible.

Speed Kills Guitar Tabs

Tornado Of Souls – Megadeth

Here is the hardest Megadeth tune ever. They released it in 1990. You can find it on the legendary thrash metal album Rust In Peace.

The tune starts with a riff, including harmonics, and goes to another one and then another one. It has 13 riffs and very technical lead solos. You can hear the rage of Dave Mustaine and his friends.

Tornado Of Souls Guitar Tabs

The Dance Of Eternity – Dream Theater

This track is the 10th song of the DT album, Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory. It was released in 1999 and became a milestone for 2000’s’ progressive metal music.

The song has complex time signatures throughout the tune. You have to count every picking and every move you make. John Petrucci is unbelievable!

The Dance Of Eternity Guitar Tabs

Pull Me Under – Dream Theater

Here is another DT tune from 1992. Their beautiful album Images and Words features it. This album is the most fan collector studio album of the band.

As with many DT tunes, this track also includes mind-blowing guitar compositions. Playing any DT song is a challenge for even advanced guitarists. The riffs and the melodies change almost every second.

Pull Me Under Guitar Tabs

Neon – John Mayer

This tune is a 2001 release from the album Room for Squares. He received a Grammy award for his vocal performance with it, but he is incredible on the guitar as well!

This track is maybe the most technical song of Mayer. He shows every possible trick he can play on this one. And the sound of his guitar is fantastic here.

Neon Guitar Tabs

Flight Of The Bumblebee – Nikolai Rimsky (Korsakov)

Here is a classical masterpiece that guitarists have loved to play for years. It is quite a challenge. The original piece was written in 1899 and is likened to the flight of a bumblebee because of its fast-changing patterns.

Check out the live performance of Nuno Bettencourt as well to be inspired. It is not an easy song to play, so be patient.

Flight Of The Bumblebee Guitar Tabs

Cliffs Of Dover – Eric Johnson

This guy is another innovative guitarist. He can do so much with his classic Fender Stratocaster. The song is one of his masterpieces from 1990. And it appears on his album Ah Via Musicom.

The tune is considered to be a neo-classical rock song. He plays classical structures on his guitar with perfect technicality -a great composition!

Cliffs Of Dover Guitar Tabs

Far Beyond The Sun – Yngwie Malmsteen

The 1984 release of Malmsteen is a grammy awarded piece as the best rock instrumental performance. He is another unforgettable guitar god who still plays fantastic pieces.

In modern times, he writes unique classical pieces with a Fender Strat and an aggressive guitar sound. This piece flies from technique to technique, and it flies fast.

Far Beyond The Sun Guitar Tabs

Mediterranean Sundance – Al Di Meola & Paco de Lucia

Here is a beautiful and challenging duet by two famous guitarists. It is a new-age flamenco piece from 1977. You can find it on Meola’s album Elegant Gypsy.

Paco and Al change from lead to rhythm according to each other and jam together on a flamenco progression. Al plays a steel strung acoustic while Paco plays a classical guitar.

Mediterranean Sundance Guitar Tabs

Recuerdos De La Alhambra – Fransisco Tarrega

This song is a classical guitar piece from 1899. It is a popular piece used as a soundtrack in many fields, like video games, movies, and TV shows.

The tune is played with fingering. The same rhythmic pattern goes throughout the song with different chord progressions and melodies. You should give it a try. It feels amazing.

Recuerdos De La Alhambra Guitar Tabs

Guitar Boogie – Arthur Smith

This track is maybe not the hardest song on the list, but it was a mind-blower for its genre and time. It is a hillbilly boogie rock and rolls tune from 1946.

So many guitarists recorded their versions over the years. From Tommy Emmanuel to Jeff Beck or Chuck Berry to Freddie King tributed, the guitar legend.

Guitar Boogie Guitar Tabs

YYZ – Rush

The famous band Rush writes this instrumental, progressive rock song. Their album Moving Pictures features it. They released this piece in 1981.

When playing any Rush song, every guitarist should think twice. And YYZ is one of their trickiest tunes to play. Because of its complex timings and patterns in 10/8 time signatures, it is hard to play for many.

YYZ Guitar Tabs

Technical Difficulties – Racer X

The tune is a 1999 release and appears on the same-titled album. This one is the band’s most famous song. You might have heard this speed metal band from the fantastic guitarist Paul Gilbert. He is amazing.

As befits the name, this song includes various difficult techniques throughout the whole tune. Nobody does the tapping like Paul Gilbert!

Tecnhical Difficulties Guitar Tabs

La Catedral – Agustin Barrios Mangore

This guy is one of the first guitar masters in South America. He wrote music for his entire life and should be one of the firsts who recorded his vinyl in the early 10s.

This piece is a beautiful classical guitar composition with Latin influences. It includes harmonics, arpeggios, melodies, and complex progressions. It must have been challenging for Barrios’ timers.

La Catedral Guitar Tabs

Round Midnight – Wes Montgomery

This one is a bebop tune composed by Thelonious Monk. It was released in 1944, became a standard for jazz music, and was honored in the Grammy Hall of Fame in the early 90s.

The song might not be the most challenging, but it has a complex structure. And you might not get it at first sight. But it is so much fun when you play it right.

Round Midnight Guitar Tabs

Jordan – Buckethead

This song is a mind-bender. It is a progressive metal tune from 2009 and was released as a single. You can also find it in the 2006 Guitar Hero video game.

The tune is already hard to play, and in addition to that, you have to deal with lunatic digital effects and setups to sound right. It is such a challenging one.

Jordan Guitar Tabs

Frantic Disembowelment – Cannibal Corpse

Here is a gigantic death metal song from 2004. This band deserves attention and respect. The song is so hard to play. And they have so many songs like this.   

This song is played in A# Standard tuning setup with a 7 string-guitar. They play so fast. I can’t even follow it with my eyes and ears at first glance. They are insane!

Frantic Disembowelment Guitar Tabs

Ghost Of Perdition – Opeth

This track is one of the most tricky tunes to play by Opeth. It appears on their 2005 album Ghost Reveries.

The tune is written in DADFAD Tuning. And starts with a 6/4 time signature, then shifts into 12/8 in the middle of the song. After that comes back to 6/4 and later goes into 4/4. Keep tracking the time!

Ghost Of Perdition Guitar Tabs

Arpeggios From Hell – Yngwie Malmsteen

This tune wasn’t recorded for an album first. Now we can find it on a compilation album of YM called High Impact. It includes his recordings after 1993.

The song is a neoclassical heavy metal tune. Malmsteen composed this one for a video for guitar players. It is called this because it has an extreme arpeggio composition.

Arpeggios From Hell Guitar Tabs

Altitudes – Jason Becker

This one is an emotional story. The song was featured in Becker’s only studio album, Perpetual Burn, in 1988. It is his only album before he was diagnosed with ALS.

Jason doesn’t need any other record to prove his playability, though. This track is a highly technical and difficult tune to perform for many guitarists out there.

Altitudes Guitar Tabs

Divinations – Mastodon

This band is a huge alternative metal band. It makes incredibly creative compositions. As one of the hardest tunes to play from them, Divinations is a must to listen to and practice.

The song was released in 2009 and appeared on the album Crack the Skye. It is played in D Standard tuning. Both the solos and the riffs take time to understand.

Divinations Guitar Tabs

Phunkdified – Justin King

You can find this tune on the 2001 album Le Bleu by King. It is so much even for a one-person show but a child’s toy for him. You can hear on the record how he effortlessly plays it.

This tune is written in DADGAD Tuning. It is one of the masterpieces of modern fingerstyle guitar playing.

Phunkdified Guitar Tabs

Satch Boogie – Joe Satriani 

Here is another Satriani tune from 1987. His fantastic guitar album Surfing with the Alien features it. It is the 55th song on the Guitar World Magazine list of greatest guitar solos.

The song is an instrumental rock fusion tune. And it has an insane composition and is hard to play. Still, you see him playing it on stage like it’s nothing.

Satch Boogie Guitar Tabs

Play With Me – Extreme

This band is not a regular glam metal band at all. The band always pushes its genre’s limits and plays on the edge. Their self-titled 1989 album includes this tune as the album’s last song.

Bettencourt plays this tune in half-step down tuning. Welcome to the combination of classical compositions with glam metal and not sounding bizarre.

Play With Me Guitar Tabs

Birds Of Fire – Mahavishnu Orchestra

This band includes John McLaughlin as a guitarist. And it is already something challenging even to listen to the song. In 1973 this tune appeared on the same-titled album. 

The song is a jazz fusion, progressive rock tune. It has very complex instrumental layers. And the band uses crazy time signatures throughout the record. 

Birds Of Fire Guitar Tabs

Perpetual Burn – Jason Becker

The tune is the second song of the same-titled album. It is one of the greatest examples of neoclassical metal music. 

Becker is shifting between modes and scales before you’ll even recognize them. 

Perpetual Burn Guitar Tabs

Speed Metal Symphony – Cacophony

Marty Friedman and Jason Becker form this band. Here is a 1987 release of the duo.

Some say that they play even faster than Malmsteen on this record. They sound incredible.

Speed Metal Symphony Guitar Tabs

Ice 9 – Joe Satriani

This tune is another song from Satriani’s second album from 1987. He produced it himself with John Cuniberti back in the day. 

The song has very sophisticated melodies and riffs. He knows how to be authentic in combining various genres as well. 

Ice 9 Guitar Tabs

Extreme Unction – Necrophagist

Here is a very challenging song by a technical death metal band. It was released in 1999.

The tune has a tempo of 210 bpm and requires a D Standard Tuning setup. It contains various time signatures to play.

Extreme Unction Guitar Tabs

Vengeance – Yngwie Malmsteen

Let’s look into another neoclassical metal song by the guitar gods. This one is a 1995 release from an album called Magnum Opus.

It requires lots of fast picking, sweeping, knowledge of complex modalities, reverb, distortion, a Fender Strat, and a big heart!

Vengeance Guitar Tabs

Django – Joe Pass feat. Grant Green

Pass is an Italian-American jazz guitar player. He has played with many jazz giants since he was even 14 years old.

This tune is one of his most-known performances of all time. Give this guy an ear because he is more than he is rated.

Django Guitar Tabs

Mombasa – Tommy Emmanuel

This guy is an amazing guitar player. You must study his music if you are into folky, jazzy playing styles.

The song was released in 2000 on his album Only and recorded in Germany.

Mombasa Guitar Tabs

Closed Eye Visuals – Meshuggah

This band is making djent, avant-garde groove metal music. The tune is a 2002 release and appeared on its album Nothing.

Pay attention to the complex tuning systems the guitarists use before you dig in.

Closed Eye Visuals Guitar Tabs

Get Out Of My Yard – Paul Gilbert

This song is a fantastic instrumental guitar piece from 2006. You can find it on Gilbert’s album Get Out of My Yard.

He plays this in EADEEE tuning. The first three strings are tuned to octaves of E. It is an incredible tapping performance.

Get Out Of My Yard Guitar Tabs

City Nights – Allan Holdsworth

This jazz fusion tune is from a 1989 album called Secrets. It is a challenge for any guitarist. 

Every instrument in this song is going wild and beyond comprehension. 

City Nights Guitar Tabs

On Impulse – Animals as Leaders

Here is another djent band and its tune from 2009. The self-titled album has this track as the 4th song. 

The guitarist plays it with a 7-string guitar in standard tuning. It is a brilliant composition and very creative. 

On Impulse Guitar Tabs

Conclusion

There are so many geniuses and crazy people pushing the limits of musical structures in history. Here are only a few of them mentioned. Please search for more and always have an open mind to witness more!

Be patient if you want to achieve your goals on your guitar. Practice well and listen to different kinds of music and guitar players from various genres to improve your musical capabilities.

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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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