5 ways to write a great guitar riff

Angus Young
(Image credit: Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Our list of the 50 greatest guitar riffs reads like a who’s who of the history of rock, with classic acts hitting the heady heights of, well, pretty much the entire top 50 if we’re honest. Newer acts received far fewer votes by comparison. 

Perhaps it’s just a matter of renown; it’s just harder for younger bands to be as well-known as acts who may have been around for 40 or 50 years. Here we’re looking how those classic riffs were written.

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Total Guitar editors

Total Guitar is one of Europe's biggest guitar magazines. With lessons to suit players of all levels, TG's world-class tuition is friendly, accessible and jargon-free, whether you want to brush up on your technique or improve your music theory knowledge. We also talk to the biggest names in the world of guitar – from interviews with all-time greats like Brian May and Eddie Van Halen to our behind the scenes Rig Tour features, we get you up close with the guitarists that matter to you.