25 Easy Guitar Riffs for Beginners

25 easy guitar riffs for beginners

Looking to learn some easy guitar riffs? This article provides a collection of simple yet catchy guitar riffs that are perfect for beginners. Master these riffs and impress your friends with your newfound guitar skills.

This is a list of 25 easy guitar riffs for beginners.

I made the tabs as simple as possible for you.

And the best part is the fact that all of these riffs come from well-known songs that are fun to play. And by learning a variety of guitar riffs, you’ll get better at:

  • Songwriting
  • Rhythm
  • Scales

And more…

So let’s jump into it.

Easy Guitar Riffs PDF with Tabs and Notation

Easy Guitar Riffs Audio

Here’s the audio for all 25 riffs. It uses Midi.

25 Easy Guitar Riffs

Riff 1: “Aqualung” by Jethro Tull

“Aqualung” is a very simple riff with a bluesy feel that uses both clean and dirty tones, showcasing the catchiness of basic single-note riffs and power chord progressions.

Aqualung Guitar Tab

Listen to Aqualung

Band/Artist: Jethro Tull

Album: “Aqualung”

Riff 2: “Back in Black” by AC/DC

“Back in Black” has one of the most famous and recognizable classic rock riffs of all time! It features straightforward power chords and a catchy, high-energy rhythm perfect for beginners.

The riff also incorporates a quick-paced bend, which sounds awesome.

Back in Black Guitar Tab

Listen to Back in Black

Band/Artist: AC/DC

Album: “Back in Black”

Riff 3: “Barracuda”

“Barracuda” is a powerful riff with a mix of fast-paced galloping, palm muting, and distinct harmonics.

As far as easy guitar riffs go, this one arguably rocks the hardest.

And if you don’t know how to gallop, you’ll simple pick: Down-Up-Down.

Remember to palm mute the open E string throughout the riff.

Barracuda Guitar Tab

Listen to Barracuda

Band/Artist: Heart

Album: “Little Queen”

Riff 4: “Beat It” by Michael Jackson (with Eddie Van Halen)

“Beat It” is a riff recognized by darn near everybody, and has an iconic rock guitar tone.

On top of having an easy guitar riff for beginners, the song also has one of the most popular intermediate guitar solos, which was played by Eddie Van Halen.

Beat It Guitar Tab

Listen to Beat It

Band/Artist: Michael Jackson

Album: “Thriller”

Riff 5: “Breaking The Law” by Judas Priest

“Breaking The Law has one of the most accessible guitar riffs in the world of heavy metal. It’s a great metal guitar riff for beginners, and has the bare minimum aggression needed to be considered heavy metal.

Breaking The Law Guitar Tab

Listen to Breaking The Law

Band/Artist: Judas Priest

Album: “British Steel”

Riff 6: “Come as You Are” by Nirvana

“Come as You Are” defined the 90’s grunge rock era with its haunting, chromatic lines.

The riff has a simple, repeating pattern. And the fact that it uses single notes, rather than power chords, makes this main riff pretty easy.

Come As You Are Guitar Tab

Listen to Come As You Are

Band/Artist: Nirvana

Album: “Nevermind”

Riff 7: “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne

“Crazy Train” has one of the most recognizable intro guitar riffs.

It uses every note of the F# minor scale, making it both fun and ideal for scale practice.

Crazy Train Guitar Tab

Listen to Crazy Train

Band/Artist: Ozzy Osbourne

Album: “Blizzard of Ozz”

Riff 8: “Day Tripper” by The Beatles

“Day Tripper” is a catchy riff that blends common chord shapes with single notes, offering a great beginner’s lesson that teaches you how to put harmony, melody, and rhythm together.

On top of this, its upbeat nature makes it an exciting practice riff for new guitarists diving into The Beatles or classic rock as a whole.

Day Tripper Guitar Tab

Listen to Day Tripper

Band/Artist: The Beatles

Album: Single release / “Past Masters” (compilation)

Riff 9: “Dazed and Confused” by Led Zeppelin

“Dazed and Confused” has a bluesy riff that shows off how easy it is to write something catchy.

With this particular riff you’re simply playing a B power chord 3 times, then playing a small pentatonic box shape that stems from the power chord.

Since this riff has no open chords, you can play it at any fret on the A string. This is called transposition, which is the process of moving a riff or lick to a different fret, and maintaining the same fret-hand fingerings/ intervallic structure.

Dazed And Confused Guitar Tab

Listen to Dazed And Confused

Band/Artist: Led Zeppelin

Album: “Led Zeppelin” (debut album)

Riff 10: “Enter Sandman” by Metallica

“Enter Sandman” is an intense riff the defines Metallica’s sound for darn near everything beyond their 4th album.

It makes for one of the best beginner metal riffs for learning rhythm, and learning the entire song will help you grasp other common metal guitar techniques such as palm muting, power chords, and sliding.

Enter Sandman Guitar Tab

Listen to Enter Sandman

Band/Artist: Metallica

Album: “Metallica” (The Black Album)

Riff 11: “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” by Joan Jett

“I Love Rock ‘n Roll” is a straightforward yet instantly recognizable riff, featuring some hefty power chords and a solid rock rhythm.

It’s perfect for any guitar beginner looking for a catchy tune to kickstart their rock journey.

It uses a simple power chord progression in E minor: E5-A5-B5. These are arguably the most used power chords on guitar.

I Love Rock n Roll Guitar Tab

Listen to I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll

Band/Artist: Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

Album: “I Love Rock ‘n Roll”

Riff 12: “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath

“Iron Man’s” heavy riff is a legendary representation of Sabbath’s dark and distinctive sound. It is truly the epitome of traditional heavy metal.

This riff uses power chords and sliding, and the sliding power chords will require a fair bit of practice on your part.

Iron Man Guitar Tab

Listen to Iron Man

Band/Artist: Black Sabbath

Album: “Paranoid”

Riff 13: “My Girl” by The Temptations

“My Girl” is a soulful and happy guitar riff. It showcases a mellower side of guitar playing, making for a great practice riff outside of rock music.

The riff moves from C major pentatonic to F major pentatonic, making it a great riff for practicing your major pentatonic scale.

My Girl Guitar Tab

Listen to My Girl

Band/Artist: The Temptations

Album: “The Temptations Sing Smokey”

Riff 14: “One” by Metallica

“One” is one of the most epic and intense songs in heavy metal. Unlike “Enter Sandman”, which you looked at earlier, this song truly shows off Metallica’s signature sound from their early days, when they were the kings of metal.

The song opens with a clean, melodic riff with a great use of open strings. If you decide to push further into learning the song, you’ll be greeted by heavy, palm-muted chords and eventually encounter some rapid tremolo picking riffs.

One Guitar Tab

Listen to One

Band/Artist: Metallica

Album: “And Justice for All”

Riff 15: “Original Prankster” by The Offspring

“Original Prankster” bursts with punk energy, featuring a fast-paced, 8th-note rhythm.

This main riff from the song is ideal for new or intermediate guitarists exploring punk-rock styles, and makes for a good and fun alternate picking exercise.

Original Prankster Guitar Tab

Listen to Original Prankster

Band/Artist: The Offspring

Album: “Conspiracy of One”

Riff 16: “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath

“Paranoid” is a quintessential and iconic heavy metal riff showing us how influential Tony Iommi and Black Sabbath are in the metal guitar scene.

Its use of power chords and hammer-ons makes it an ideal starting point for beginners learning the foundational sounds and techniques of classic heavy metal.

Paranoid Guitar Tab

Listen to Paranoid

Band/Artist: Black Sabbath

Album: “Paranoid”

Riff 17: “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix

“Purple Haze” is Jimi Hendrix at his best. The main riff is simple, yet unique and psychedelic, and is a groundbreaking riff that has inspired guitarists for countless generations.

This riff makes for a great intro to lead guitar for beginners because it features bends, slides, and Hendrix’s well-known blend of rhythm and lead guitar techniques.

Purple Haze Guitar Tab

Listen to Purple Haze

Band/Artist: Jimi Hendrix

Album: “Are You Experienced”

Riff 18: “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley

“Redemption Song” is a fun and recognizable acoustic riff, and allows you to dive into reggae-inspired rhythms.

It’s also a great song for learning and practicing the G major pentatonic scale.

Redemption Song Guitar Tab

Listen to Redemption Song

Band/Artist: Bob Marley & The Wailers

Album: “Uprising”

Riff 19: “Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones

“Satisfaction” is a timeless riff, and a true demonstration of classic rock ‘n’ roll.

The main riff is a simple single-note phrase, and makes for an excellent study in both rhythm and melody for beginner players.

Satisfaction Guitar Tab

Listen to (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Band/Artist: The Rolling Stones

Album: “Out of Our Heads” (US release) / “December’s Children (And Everybody’s)” (UK release)

Riff 20: “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes

“Seven Nation Army” is a cool riff created using a guitar and an octave pedal. It’s a perfect starting point for beginners seeking a catchy and recognizable tune outside of classic rock.

Note that the original version of “Seven Nation Army” was played in an alternate tuning, unlike the tab that you see here.

Seven Nation Army Guitar Tab

Listen to Seven Nation Army

Band/Artist: The White Stripes

Album: “Elephant”

Riff 21: “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash

“Should I Stay or Should I Go” is a spirited punk-rock riff characterized by its abrupt rhythm, which is a blend of common open chords and straightforward strumming patterns.

This sounds great as both an electric or acoustic guitar riff, and I suggest playing it with downstrokes.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go Guitar Tab

Listen to Should I Stay Or Should I Go

Band/Artist: The Clash

Album: “Combat Rock”

Riff 22: “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple

“Smoke on the Water” is one of the most iconic easy guitar riffs that serves as a foundational piece for many beginners.

It features a memorable, easy pattern of double stops. And while it may be a simple tune, it’s a killer rock riff, and it has inspired a lot of people to learn the electric guitar.

Smoke on The Water Guitar Tab

Listen to Smoke on The Water

Band/Artist: Deep Purple

Album: “Machine Head”

Riff 23: “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream

“Sunshine of Your Love” is a well-known blues-rock riff that combines combines elements of both lead and rhythm guitar.

It’s composed using the D minor blues scale, which makes it great for scale practice, and for understanding how you can use the scale to write your own music.

Sunshine of Your Love Guitar Tab

Listen to Sunshine of Your Love

Band/Artist: Cream

Album: “Disraeli Gears”

Riff 24: “Symphony of Destruction” by Megadeth

“Symphony of Destruction” is a powerhouse of a thrash riff, and is one of my favorite easy guitar riffs in metal music.

It’s probably Megadeth’s easiest riff, and will help you understand the power of palm muting, power chords, and the Phrygian mode for riff writing.

Symphony of Destruction Guitar Tab

Listen to Symphony of Destruction

Band/Artist: Megadeth

Album: “Countdown to Extinction”

Riff 25: “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks

“You Really Got Me” is an energetic riff that serves as an entrance to the world of rock guitar. It was originally played by the Kinks, but Van Halen did an awesome version of the song, which I suggest you check out.

If you end up learning the full song, you’ll notice that the main riff remains the same, but just moves places. This makes it easy to learn and memorize.

You Really Got Me Guitar Tab

Listen to You Really Got Me

Band/Artist: The Kinks

Album: “Kinks” / “The Kinks” (US release)


Now you have 25 easy guitar riffs to learn. Make sure to listen to the song that each riff comes from, as this will help you with rhythm.

If you want to learn the full versions of each song, I suggest using Songsterr. It has a great built-in tab player, and the tabs are accurate.

Remember to take your time and practice these riffs slowly at first, gradually increasing your speed as you get down the rhythm, techniques, and fret-hand fingerings.