The Most Difficult Song to Play on Guitar: A Challenging Musical Feat

Choose the song you think is the most difficult!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Apr 14, 2024 06:41
Welcome to StrawPoll, the ultimate hub for guitar enthusiasts! Today, we present you with a mind-boggling challenge to rank the most difficult songs to play on the guitar. Our list includes thousands of polls and rankings, covering various music genres and iconic guitarists that have left their mark in history. So, whether you're a seasoned pro or a passionate beginner, we invite you to dive into this melodic adventure and cast your vote for the most intricate, finger-twisting masterpiece that left you awestruck. And hey, if you think we missed a hidden gem, feel free to suggest an option and join the ranks of fellow guitar aficionados. So, grab your guitar and prepare to be amazed by the world's most challenging riffs and solos that await your judgment. Let the strings decide!

What Is the Most Difficult Song to Play on Guitar?

  1. 1

    "Eruption" by Van Halen

    Eddie Van Halen
    This song is known for its incredibly fast and complex guitar solo, which includes tapping, sweeping, and string skipping techniques.
    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
    This song features intricate fingerpicking and alternate picking patterns, as well as a difficult solo that incorporates legato and sweep picking techniques.
    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
    Originally written for the orchestra, this piece has been adapted for guitar and requires tremendous speed and accuracy to play the rapid, buzzing notes.
    The Flight of the Bumblebee is a classical piece originally composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. It is commonly known for its fast tempo and complex melodic lines. The song has been covered by various guitarists, who have adapted the challenging composition for guitar performance.
    • Tempo: Extremely fast
    • Difficulty level: Very challenging
    • Technique: Requires advanced finger dexterity and picking skills
    • Melodic complexity: Involves intricate, rapid arpeggios and runs
    • Key signature: Primarily in A major but modulates through multiple keys
  4. 4
    This song is known for its fast-paced, sweeping guitar riffs and solos, which make it a popular choice for expert-level Guitar Hero players.
    Through the Fire and Flames is a fast-paced power metal song by the British band DragonForce. It is known for its extremely challenging and intricate guitar parts, making it one of the most difficult songs to play on guitar.
    • Genre: Power Metal
    • Album: Inhuman Rampage
    • Released: 2006
    • Length: 7:20
    • BPM: 200
  5. 5
    This song showcases Malmsteen's signature style of neoclassical metal, with intricate arpeggios, sweep picking, and lightning-fast alternate picking.
    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
  6. 6
    This instrumental song is a showcase of Paul Gilbert's virtuosic guitar skills, with fast alternate picking, tapping, and legato techniques.
    "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
    Based on Johann Pachelbel's famous "Canon in D," this song features fast, intricate fingerstyle guitar playing with a rock twist.
    Canon Rock is a highly complex and challenging instrumental rock song that has gained significant popularity among guitarists worldwide. The song is an adaptation of Johann Pachelbel's Canon in D, arranged and performed by the Taiwanese musician JerryC.
    • Difficulty Level: Very Difficult
    • Tempo: Moderate to Fast
    • Genre: Rock
    • Key: D Major
    • Time Signature: Common time (4/4)
  8. 8
    This song features a complex, melodic guitar solo with sweeping arpeggios, tapping, and vibrato techniques.
    Tender Surrender is a highly technical and challenging instrumental guitar song that was composed by Steve Vai. It was released in 1990 as part of his album 'Passion and Warfare'. The song showcases Vai's virtuosic guitar skills and intricate playing techniques, making it one of his most challenging pieces to perform.
    • Album: Passion and Warfare
    • Year: 1990
    • Genre: Instrumental rock
    • Length: 5 minutes and 9 seconds
    • Key: E minor
  9. 9

    "Scarified" by Racer X

    Paul Gilbert
    Another Paul Gilbert masterpiece, this song features blistering fast alternate picking and sweep picking, with some tapping thrown in for good measure.
    “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
  10. 10
    While not as technically challenging as some of the other songs on this list, "Little Wing" is known for its intricate chord progressions and nuanced playing style, requiring a great deal of feel and finesse to play correctly.
    "Little Wing" by Jimi Hendrix in other rankings

Missing your favorite song?


Ranking factors for difficult song

  1. Technical complexity
    This includes the variety and intricacy of techniques required to play the song, such as fingerpicking, tapping, sweep picking, string skipping, and alternate picking. A song that demands mastery of multiple advanced techniques would be considered more difficult.
  2. Speed and tempo
    Fast-paced songs or those with rapid tempo changes can be challenging to play, especially if they involve complex picking patterns or chord progressions.
  3. Fretwork
    This refers to the movements and positions of the fingers on the fretboard. Songs with wide stretches, large leaps between frets, or demanding finger placement will generally be more difficult. Additionally, playing in less common or difficult-to-play keys can add to the challenge.
  4. Chord complexity and progression
    Songs with unusual, complex, or rapidly changing chords can be harder to play, as they require the guitarist to change hand positions quickly and accurately.
  5. Rhythmic complexity
    A song with intricate and syncopated rhythms adds another layer of difficulty, as the guitarist must keep time while navigating complicated patterns.
  6. Melodic complexity
    A song with an intricate and challenging melody will often require more skill to play, as the guitarist needs to be able to execute complicated sequences of notes.
  7. Stamina and endurance
    Some songs are not only technically demanding but also require the guitarist to maintain their performance level over an extended period. This can be particularly challenging if a song involves fast picking, complex finger work, and challenging techniques sustained throughout the entire song.
  8. Genre-specific techniques
    Some genres have specific techniques or playing styles that can make a song more challenging. For example, a flamenco or jazz fusion piece might introduce techniques and styles not typically found in other genres, making the song harder to play.
  9. Personal skill and experience
    Ultimately, a song's difficulty level will vary depending on the individual guitarist's abilities and experience. What one player may consider incredibly challenging might be relatively easy for someone with more experience or expertise in a particular technique or style.

About this ranking

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


  • 149 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

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

More information on most difficult song to play on guitar

Playing the guitar is an art form that requires a great deal of practice and skill. While there are many songs that can be played with just a few chords, there are also those that are notoriously difficult to master. From complex fingerpicking patterns to lightning-fast shredding solos, guitarists have been pushing the limits of what is possible on the instrument for decades. But what is the most difficult song to play on guitar? This is a question that has sparked much debate among guitarists and music lovers alike. In this article, we will explore some of the contenders for this title and what makes them so challenging to play.

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