The First 10 Metal and Hard Rock Riffs That You Need to Learn

You can’t learn everything right away. The same holds true for those who decide to start playing online poker: you begin with the rules and the basic techniques and gradually grow as a player. The same can be said for those who want to become metal guitarists so it’s best to begin with the easiest riffs to play. Here are ten metal and rock riffs that should be a good place to start.


Smoke On The Water – “Deep Purple”

Simple, very simple. And yet unforgettable. Anyone who has picked up a guitar and has a metal inclination has played the main riff from “Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple. In 2022 it’ll turn 50 years old!

Led Zeppelin – “Whole Lotta Love”

Going further back in time to 1969 comes the iconic opening of “Whole Lotta Love.” Three notes, two chords and one of the most unforgettable riffs in the history of music comes to life. Just keep in mind that the song is heavily based on “You Need Love” (1962) by the bluesman Muddy Waters who in turn had resumed a piece by Willie Dixon.

AC/DC – “Thunderstruck”

The difficulty of execution increases with this one, but not by too much. Feel all the energy of Angus Young’s small fingers while he plays the intro, sometimes with alternate strumming, other times with the legato technique, using the hammer-on and pull-off techniques.

Metallica – “For Whom the Bell Tolls”

“For Whom the Bell Tolls” is one of the Metallica songs most played by fans worldwide as it’s one of the easiest tracks by the Four Horsemen that you can learn. The difficulty of the riff and the main rhythm for both guitar and bass are elementary enough that a beginner should be able to catch on with a little practice.

Slayer – “Seasons in the Abyss”

More than just the main riff from “Seasons in The Abyss” by the most evil of evil bands Slayer, it’s fairly easy to learn the introductory arpeggio and play it accurately after only a few months of guitar lessons, even a classical instrument.

Black Sabbath – “Iron Man”

Unlike what most young people think, “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath is not about the Marvel character but a time traveler. The riff is simple and makes you want to play it over and over. Even the variations in the song are easy to learn.

Metallica – “Enter Sandman”

The opening riff for “Enter Sandman,” and really all of the Black Album, has left its mark even outside the usual circle of Metallica fans and metalheads. Easy to play, it gives enormous satisfaction to those who have been playing for a few months or even weeks.

Rage Against The Machine – “Bulls On Parade”

We leave the canonical boundaries of metal and move on to Rage Against The Machine’s crossover style. The riff in “Bulls on Parade,” played in unison by bass and guitar, is very simple but gives an extraordinarily effective feel. Simple to play, you won’t stop repeating it for quite a long time!

Nirvana – “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

More boundary crossing, this time into the grunge genre. Once you’ve learned to make the “full” chords with all of your fingers, performing the Nirvana anthem will be very simple and will give you the motivation to continue playing and getting better.

Black Sabbath – “Paranoid”

Like Metallica, Black Sabbath deserve a double mention thanks to “Paranoid.” Its riff still sounds powerful all these years later and playing it really requires a minimal knowledge of guitar technique.

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