The 50 greatest guitar riffs of all time

The 50 greatest guitar riffs of all time
(Image credit: Future / Magic Touch)

Which is truly the greatest riff of all? Total Guitar is tackling this thorny subject and aiming to end the debate once and for all. To do so, we asked readers of Guitar World for their help as we posted a poll to gauge their collective opinions. To begin with, we prepared a shortlist of our own favourite riffs – well, short-ish!

Even following a strict self-imposed ‘one riff per artist’ rule we were only able to pare our selection down to 125 riffs. That meant no Paranoid, nor even Highway to Hell. One riff per band. That was the rule. And, though it was possible to offer up alternative suggestions, by and large, it seems the good readers of Guitar World agreed with our selection.

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Amit Sharma

Amit has been writing for titles like Total GuitarMusicRadar and Guitar World for over a decade and counts Richie Kotzen, Guthrie Govan and Jeff Beck among his primary influences as a guitar player. He's worked for magazines like Kerrang!Metal HammerClassic RockProgRecord CollectorPlanet RockRhythm and Bass Player, as well as newspapers like Metro and The Independent, interviewing everyone from Ozzy Osbourne and Lemmy to Slash and Jimmy Page, and once even traded solos with a member of Slayer on a track released internationally. As a session guitarist, he's played alongside members of Judas Priest and Uriah Heep in London ensemble Metalworks, as well as handled lead guitars for legends like Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols, The Faces) and Stu Hamm (Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, G3).