The Most Difficult Acoustic Guitar Song to Play, Ranked

Choose the acoustic guitar song you think is the most difficult!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Jun 19, 2024 06:29
Mastering the acoustic guitar can be a daunting journey, filled with complex chords and intricate fingerwork. Determining which songs present the greatest challenge offers valuable insights for players aiming to enhance their skills. By ranking these difficult pieces, guitarists can set more targeted goals and measure their progress against clearly defined benchmarks. This live ranking system relies on the collective input of music enthusiasts and expert guitarists alike to pinpoint which compositions demand the highest level of proficiency. Voting on these songs not only helps to create a dynamic and up-to-date list but also encourages a community atmosphere where players can share tips and encouragement. Engaging with this list could significantly shape your practice regimen and inspire your next musical breakthrough.

What Is the Most Difficult Acoustic Guitar Song to Play?

  1. 1

    Cliffs of Dover by Eric Johnson

    Though known as an electric guitar piece, its acoustic version requires fast fingerpicking and fluid transitions.
    • Genre: Instrumental Rock
    • Album: Ah Via Musicom
  2. 2

    Dee by Randy Rhoads

    A short classical piece with a variety of techniques showcasing Rhoads' classical guitar influences.
    • Genre: Heavy Metal
    • Album: Blizzard of Ozz
  3. 3

    Asturias (Leyenda) by Isaac Albéniz

    A classical guitar piece that demands precise fingerpicking and dynamic control, originally written for piano.
    • Genre: Classical
    • Composed: 1892
  4. 4

    Drifting by Andy McKee

    Another piece by Andy McKee that combines tapping, harmonics, and a unique percussive technique.
    • Genre: Fingerstyle
    • Album: Art of Motion
  5. 5

    Ebon Coast by Andy McKee

    A modern fingerstyle piece that utilizes percussive hits, alternate tunings, and harmonics.
    • Genre: Fingerstyle
    • Album: The Gates of Gnomeria
  6. 6

    Classical Gas by Mason Williams

    A solo instrumental piece known for its complex and fast-paced fingerpicking style.
    • Genre: Instrumental
    • Released: 1968
  7. 7

    Mediterranean Sundance by Al Di Meola

    A fast-paced flamenco piece known for its rapid fingerpicking and complex rhythms.
    • Genre: Jazz Fusion
    • Album: Elegant Gypsy
  8. 8

    Angeles by Elliott Smith

    A piece known for its intricate fingerpicking pattern and emotional depth.
    • Genre: Indie Folk
    • Album: Either/Or
  9. 9

    Mood for a Day by Steve Howe

    A complex fingerstyle piece by the guitarist of Yes, showcasing intricate plucking and tempo changes.
    • Genre: Progressive Rock
    • Album: Fragile
  10. 10

    Blackbird by Paul McCartney

    A Beatles classic that involves fingerpicking techniques which require precision and delicacy.
    • Genre: Folk
    • Album: The Beatles (The White Album)

Missing your favorite acoustic guitar song?

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About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most difficult acoustic guitar song to play. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or acoustic guitar song is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 2 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each acoustic guitar song once every 24 hours. The rank of each acoustic guitar song is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.


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More about the Most Difficult Acoustic Guitar Song to Play

Mastering the acoustic guitar is a challenging but rewarding journey. Many players seek to push their limits by tackling complex songs. These pieces often demand advanced techniques, precise timing, and a deep understanding of the instrument.

One aspect that makes a song difficult is fingerpicking. This technique involves plucking the strings with individual fingers rather than using a pick. It requires dexterity and coordination. Each finger must move independently, often in rapid succession. Mastery of fingerpicking can take years of practice.

Another challenging element is alternate tunings. Standard tuning is the most common, but many complex songs use different tunings. These tunings change the pitch of the strings, creating unique sounds. However, they also require the player to learn new finger positions and chord shapes. This can be disorienting and adds to the difficulty.

Speed is also a factor. Some songs require the guitarist to play at a fast tempo. This demands quick reflexes and precise movements. Speed exercises can help, but achieving the necessary velocity takes time and dedication. Players must also maintain clarity and accuracy at high speeds, which is no small feat.

Rhythm complexity adds another layer of difficulty. Many advanced songs feature intricate rhythms and time signatures. These can be hard to follow and even harder to play. The guitarist must keep a steady beat while navigating syncopations and irregular patterns. This requires a strong sense of timing and rhythm.

Advanced techniques like hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides are common in difficult songs. These techniques add expression and nuance but are hard to execute cleanly. They require a balance of strength and finesse. Practicing these techniques in isolation can help, but integrating them into a song is a different challenge.

Dynamics play a crucial role in complex pieces. A skilled guitarist must control the volume and intensity of each note. This adds emotion and depth to the music. Achieving this level of control demands a sensitive touch and a deep connection with the instrument.

Memorization is another hurdle. Complex songs often have long, intricate arrangements. Remembering every note and transition can be daunting. Repetition and practice are key, but this process can be time-consuming. The player must internalize the music to perform it flawlessly.

Improvisation can also come into play. Some songs include sections where the guitarist must create on the spot. This requires a deep understanding of scales, modes, and chord progressions. It also demands creativity and confidence. Improvisation is a skill that develops over time and with experience.

Finally, emotional expression is vital. The most difficult songs are not just technical exercises. They convey deep feelings and tell stories. The guitarist must connect with the music on an emotional level. This adds another layer of complexity, as technical proficiency alone is not enough.

In conclusion, the most difficult acoustic guitar songs challenge the player in many ways. They require advanced techniques, precise timing, and emotional depth. Mastering these pieces is a testament to a guitarist's skill and dedication. The journey may be long and arduous, but the reward is a profound connection with the music.

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