The 30 greatest grunge guitar riffs

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Flannel shirts. Ripped jeans. Long (non-sprayed) hair. Second-hand guitars. And loads of classic riffs. Grunge went global towards the end of 1991, when three now-landmark albums were all released within a span of a few weeks – Nirvana’s Nevermind, Pearl Jam’s Ten, and Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger (plus, the year-old Alice in Chains debut, Facelift, hitting just a short while before).

And, for a spell, grunge was undoubtedly rock’s leading style – as evidenced by seemingly non-stop coverage of the “Seattle sound” in print and on MTV, with its influence even spreading to fashion, advertising, and politics. 

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Greg Prato

Greg is a contributing writer at Guitar World. He has written for other outlets over the years, and has been lucky to interview some of his favorite all-time guitarists and bassists: Tony Iommi, Ace Frehley, Adrian Belew, Andy Summers, East Bay Ray, Billy Corgan, Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee, Les Claypool, and Mike Watt, among others (and even took lessons from John Petrucci back in the summer of ’91!). He is the author of such books as Grunge Is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music, Shredders: The Oral History of Speed Guitar (And More) and Touched by Magic: The Tommy Bolin Story.