Top 10 Guitar Intros of All Time

Posted by Michael Mueller on February 23, 2010 at 11:18 AM

AC/DCIf you think of the greatest tunes in rock history, they nearly all have an intro riff or hook that just grabs the listener and screams, "Listen to me! Over and over and over again!" Here are 10 of our favorites, and if you want to learn how to play them yet, just click on the title, and download the official guitar tab for just 99¢!

"Purple Haze" Jimi Hendrix
The tritone formed by the bass's E root and Jimi's alternating octave Bb notes command your attention, then the main riff knocks you out.

"Aqualung" Jethro Tull
One of the most unique arrangements of the blues scale ever put to tape.

"Pride and Joy" Stevie Ray Vaughan
After the opening unison E notes, the ensuing 1/4-step bends on the B/G double stop mark one of the highest tension levels in blues riff history.

"Soul Man" Sam and Dave
If you're working on ear training and having trouble with the major 6th interval, look no further than Steve Cropper's sterling sixths riff.

"Sunshine of Your Love" Cream
Conceived by Jack Bruce, perfected by Eric Clapton, immortalized by John Bender in The Breakfast Club.

"Sweet Home Alabama" Lynyrd Skynyrd
How many different ways can you play the open-position turnaround lick? The band played it no less than three different ways themselves within the song.

"Start Me Up" Rolling Stones
Keith Richards once said that all it takes to play guitar is five strings, three fingers, two chords, and one ... well, let's just say "less than flattering yet essential body part." This song embodies that ethos like no other (except the last part, of course).

"Walk This Way" Aerosmith
The bass/hi-hat/snare intro is as much the hook as the E blues scale riff. Together, though, they're timeless.

"Smoke on the Water" Deep Purple
Ha! Bet you thought this ubiquitous gem would be #1! Well, it probably is, but with all due respect to Ritchie Blackmore and Co., Angus and Malcolm are just so much cooler than you are!

"Back in Black" AC/DC
When you hear the opening hi-hat count-in followed by that crunchy E5 power chord, you just know something really cool is about to go down. In fact, it might be the one riff ever written that could turn Pat Robertson into a headbanger.

Send to Friend | Back to Blog Home


Add Comment
Guitar Instructor on March 3, 2010 at 5:55 PM

All great suggestions folks, but Dave (below) absolutely nailed it with Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode." Not quite sure how we missed that one!

Atomic Punk on March 2, 2010 at 8:19 PM

"Soul Man"?! Nice, but not better than Van Halen's "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" or "Stairway to Heaven."

Dave on March 2, 2010 at 9:26 AM

Come on ... Johnny B Good- Chuck Berry Opening chord in A Hard Days Night is awesome as well as the riff in I feel Fine !!

melodymaker145 on February 28, 2010 at 6:20 PM

Gotta vote for Stranglehold by Ted Nugent. That is one guitar, one amp, and two huge cahonies.

gtrplyer on February 26, 2010 at 12:04 AM

Crazy Train Jailbreak Sweet Home Alabama

randyb on February 25, 2010 at 11:51 PM

"Don't Take Me Alive" by Steely Dan with Larry Carlton doing the honors.

drs7777 on February 25, 2010 at 10:57 PM

You Really Got Me....your list is criminally incomplete

Tehan1 on February 25, 2010 at 9:48 PM

One of the best is the intro to James Gang's "Funk 49". It really should be on the list.

Beatlemania on February 25, 2010 at 10:47 AM

It might be a stretch, but I always thought that the opening chord to "A Hard Day's Night" is one of the all time great song intros.

zest on February 24, 2010 at 8:03 AM

areosmith, train kept rolling has to be on the list.