The Most Difficult Guitar Riff: Ranking the Ultimate Guitar Challenge

Choose the guitar riff you think is the most difficult!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Feb 22, 2024 05:38
Welcome to StrawPoll's ultimate face-off, where guitar enthusiasts and shredders unite to determine the most difficult guitar riff of all time! Our platform has curated thousands of polls and rankings, and now it's time for you to cast your vote on this electrifying subject. From lightning-fast finger tapping to mind-bending chord progressions, we've compiled a list of notorious riffs that have left even the most seasoned guitarists in awe. But we know that there are countless hidden gems out there, so don't hesitate to chime in with your suggestions to make this ranking even more epic! So, grab your guitar, crank up the volume, and let's see which riff reigns supreme as the ultimate six-string challenge!

What Is the Most Difficult Guitar Riff?

  1. 1
    58
    votes

    "Eruption" by Van Halen

    Eddie Van Halen
    This instrumental track features some of the most intricate and lightning-fast guitar work ever recorded.
    Eruption is a groundbreaking guitar solo that revolutionized the rock genre. It was created by the legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen and captured the attention of guitarists and music enthusiasts worldwide. The solo is a highlight of Van Halen's self-titled debut album, released in 1978.
    • Album: Van Halen
    • Release Year: 1978
    • Duration: 1 minute and 42 seconds
    • Genre: Hard rock
    • Technique: Tapping
    "Eruption" by Van Halen in other rankings
  2. 2
    44
    votes
    This instrumental track features a complex mix of fast picking, finger-tapping, and sweeping arpeggios that require incredible technical skill.
    The "Cliffs of Dover" is a mesmerizing guitar solo found in the instrumental track of the same name, composed by Eric Johnson. It is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful guitar solos ever created.
    • Album: Ah Via Musicom
    • Genre: Instrumental Rock
    • Length: 4 minutes and 10 seconds
    • Released: 1990
    • Key: G major
    "Cliffs of Dover" by Eric Johnson in other rankings
  3. 3
    27
    votes
    This song features an unrelenting barrage of fast alternate picking and sweeping arpeggios that require incredible speed and precision.
    Through the Fire and Flames is an intense and highly technical guitar riff that was featured in the song of the same name by the band Dragonforce. It is renowned for its fast-paced arpeggios, intricate solos, and challenging technical requirements.
    • BPM: 200-220
    • Key: Bm
    • Time Signature: 4/4
    • Guitar Technique: Alternate picking, sweeping, tapping
    • Difficulty Level: Very high
  4. 4
    14
    votes
    This song features a complex mix of fast picking, sweeping arpeggios, and intricate phrasing that requires a high level of technical skill.
    Tornado of Souls is a guitar riff by the American thrash metal band Megadeth. It is widely considered as one of the most difficult guitar riffs due to its intricate and fast-paced nature. The riff is characterized by its complex fingerpicking patterns, fast alternate picking, and wide stretches across the fretboard. It showcases legendary guitarist Marty Friedman's technical proficiency and creativity.
    • Difficulty Level: Extremely challenging
    • Tempo: Very fast (around 200 BPM)
    • Time Signature: 4/4
    • Complexity: High with intricate patterns
    • Picking Technique: Alternate picking
  5. 5
    22
    votes
    This song features a mix of fast alternate picking, sweep picking, and intricate phrasing that requires a high level of technical skill and precision.
    Cemetery Gates is a guitar riff by the American heavy metal band Pantera. It is featured in their 1990 album Cowboys from Hell. The riff is known for its technical complexity, combining fast palm-muted power chords with melodic lead lines and intricate picking patterns. It is frequently cited as one of the most challenging guitar riffs to play due to its combination of speed, precision, and synchronization between the guitarists. Cemetery Gates is considered a classic in the heavy metal genre and showcases Dimebag Darrell's exceptional guitar skills and musical creativity.
    • Album: Cowboys from Hell
    • Year: 1990
    • Genre: Heavy metal
    • Difficulty Level: Advanced
    • Techniques Used: Palm-muted power chords, melodic lead lines, intricate picking
    "Cemetery Gates" by Pantera in other rankings
  6. 6
    9
    votes
    This instrumental track features a mix of fast alternate picking, sweep picking, and intricate phrasing that requires a high level of technical skill and precision.
    "Technical Difficulties" by Racer X is a highly challenging guitar riff known for its lightning-fast speed and intricate patterns.
    • Speed: Extremely fast tempo, played at around 200 beats per minute
    • Alternate Picking: Incorporates intense alternate picking technique throughout the riff
    • Sweep Picking: Includes demanding sweep picking sections
    • String Skipping: Involves advanced string skipping patterns
    • Tapping: Utilizes intricate tapping techniques in various sections
    "Technical Difficulties" by Racer X in other rankings
  7. 7
    9
    votes
    This instrumental track features a mix of fast alternate picking, sweep picking, and intricate phrasing that requires a high level of technical skill and precision.
    The 'Black Star' is a challenging guitar riff composed by Yngwie Malmsteen, a Swedish guitarist known for his incredible speed and technical skills. This riff is a part of the song 'Black Star' from his 1984 album 'Rising Force'. It showcases Malmsteen's virtuosity and incorporates elements of neoclassical and heavy metal styles.
    • Album: Rising Force
    • Year: 1984
    • Genre: Neoclassical Metal
    • Tempo: Fast
    • Key: E minor
    "Black Star" by Yngwie Malmsteen in other rankings
  8. 8
    6
    votes
    This instrumental track features a mix of complex time signatures, fast alternate picking, sweep picking, and intricate phrasing that requires a high level of technical skill and precision.
    The Dance of Eternity is a highly complex and virtuosic instrumental track by the band Dream Theater. It is known for its intricate guitar riffs, intricate time signatures, and challenging technicality.
    • Album: Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory
    • Year: 1999
    • Length: 6:13
    • Genre: Progressive Metal
    • Time Signature: Various (including 5/4, 11/8, 7/8)
    "The Dance of Eternity" by Dream Theater in other rankings
  9. 9
    10
    votes
    This instrumental track features a mix of fast alternate picking, sweep picking, and intricate phrasing that requires a high level of technical skill and precision.
  10. 10
    5
    votes

    "Scarified" by Racer X

    Paul Gilbert
    This instrumental track features a mix of fast alternate picking, sweep picking, and intricate phrasing that requires a high level of technical skill and precision.
    “Scarified” by Racer X is a highly challenging and technically demanding guitar riff that showcases virtuosic shredding abilities. It is a blistering instrumental track filled with lightning-fast guitar runs, intricate sweeps, and intense tapping sections. The creator of this impressive guitar riff is Paul Gilbert, the lead guitarist of Racer X.
    • Time signature: 4/4
    • Song length: 3 minutes and 40 seconds
    • Album: Second Heat
    • Release year: 1987
    • Key: E minor
    "Scarified" by Racer X in other rankings

Missing your favorite guitar riff?

Graphs
Discussion

Ranking factors for difficult guitar riff

  1. Speed
    Faster riffs require greater dexterity and agility from the guitarist, making them more challenging to play.
  2. Technicality
    Riffs that involve complex techniques like finger tapping, sweep picking, and string skipping demand a higher level of skill and precision from the player.
  3. Finger stretching
    Riffs requiring wide stretches across multiple frets can be difficult and taxing on the hand.
  4. Position changes
    Frequent and rapid position shifts along the neck of the guitar can add difficulty to a riff, requiring the player to navigate the fretboard smoothly and accurately.
  5. Syncopation and rhythm
    Complex and intricate rhythms, along with syncopated patterns, can make a riff harder to perform and maintain consistent timing.
  6. Chord shapes and fingerings
    Unconventional, complex, or dense chord shapes can present difficulties for the guitarist, as they might require uncomfortable hand positions or muting of certain strings.
  7. Melodic and harmonic intricacy
    Riffs that contain many notes and involve complex melodic lines or harmonies are generally more difficult to perform.
  8. String muting and noise control
    Riffs requiring precise and controlled muting techniques to prevent unwanted noise or to create specific sounds can add an extra layer of difficulty.
  9. Overall endurance
    Long, repetitive, or fast riffs can be physically demanding for the guitarist, requiring stamina and strength to maintain their performance throughout the song.
  10. Originality and uniqueness
    A riff that is unconventional or does not follow standard guitar-playing patterns may require a learning curve for the guitarist, making it more challenging to master.

About this ranking

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

Statistics

  • 2445 views
  • 202 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

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

Categories

More information on most difficult guitar riff

The guitar has been an iconic instrument in the music industry for decades, with countless legendary guitar riffs etched into the memories of music lovers around the world. However, some guitar riffs are notoriously difficult to master, requiring a high level of technical skill and precision to execute flawlessly. From the intricate fingerpicking of classical guitar pieces to the lightning-fast solos of heavy metal, the most difficult guitar riffs challenge even the most experienced guitarists. In this article, we'll explore some of the most challenging guitar riffs ever written and delve into the techniques and skills required to play them.

Share this article