Famous Guitar Riffs and Intros

Many guitarists begin their journey into guitar by jumping straight to learning their favorite songs.   Although it's not the way I'd personally recommend, for some people, it works phenomenally well.  If a new player is highly motivated to learn a particular song, sometimes they'll play it enough to eventually master it, and learn some technique and coordination in the process.

Here's some famous guitar riffs and intros that tend to get students excited to begin learning.  Some of the arrangements are exact, and some are simplified slightly to make them more accessible to new students.

Wish You Were Here Modern Pop - Score.pdf

Wish You Were Here

This famous intro by Pink Floyd uses a combination of chords and melodic lines.  Watch the chord shapes carefully, and notice that your 3rd and 4th finger can stay in the same place throughout the whole intro.

For this intro, just repeat the music as many times as you want, then when you're done, end the song on a G chord.

Master of Puppets Full Tab - Score.pdf

Master of Puppets

This iconic intro by Metallica, released in 1986, was made even more famous with it's inclusion in the popular Netflix series "Stranger Things".

The band actually plays the entire song with downstrokes, which is insane.   You can choose to play it with alternate picking if that's easier for you.  

This songs is also a great way to begin learning power chords.

Crazy Train Complete Tab - Score.pdf

Crazy Train

This wild guitar intro was released by Ozzy Osbourne in 1980.   Crazy Train was Ozzy's first hit single after leaving Black Sabbath.  The iconic intro has been recreated and used in dozens of other songs of various styles.

This simplified arrangement of the intro is designed for students who are just learning power chords for the first time.

No lyrics on this one, since it's just an intro.

Chasing Cars - Score.pdf

Chasing Cars

This song, released in 2006, is Snow Patrol's biggest hit.  The verses are incredibly easy to play.  The song uses the same chord progression for the entire song.  In this arrangement, the verses are played with the single notes (tabs) and the choruses are played with chords, but feel free to change it up as you see fit.

 Chords Used: A, Esus4, E, Dadd9, Asus4

The rhythm on this song is just steady 8th notes.

Banana Pancakes Full Tab - Score.pdf

Banana Pancakes

This song, released by Jack Johnson in 2005, helped propel Jack Johnson to stardom.   This song uses some 7th barre chords, as well as slides, so it will be easiest for those who have been playing for a year or two.  

Here's a basic lesson plan on 7th chords if you're new to them.

The Cave Full Tab - Score.pdf

The Cave

This song was released by Mumford and Sons in 2010.  This song uses my personal favorite tuning: "open D tuning".  It also uses a Capo on the 2nd fret.

In open D tuning, you'll tune your strings in such a way that playing all the open strings at once will create a complete D chord.  If you need help tuning to Open D Tuning, here's a tutorial to help you.

And here's a tutorial of the song.

Back in Black - Score.pdf

Back in Black - Intro

AC/DC released this iconic track in 1980 on their 7th album.  This album was the first album to feature their new singer, Brian Johnson.

Just looking at tabs to this song can still leave some players confused.  Watch a recording of the intro here first, and you'll have a much easier time.  

Demolition Lovers - Score.pdf

Demolition Lovers - Intro

My Chemical Romance released this song in 2002.  The song was inspired by a couple that stole a car, went on a joy ride, and got themselves killed in a car accident.   The eerie intro reflects the somber nature of the song and lyrics.

I simplified the Gsus4 and G chords at the end of each phrase so that it can be played by new students.  

Enter Sandman:Come as you are - Score.pdf

Enter Sandman/Come as You Are

Here are two very famous, but very short, intro riffs.  I figured I'd put them both on one page.  

Enter Sandman, by Metallica, was released in 1991.  I often uses this one for teaching power chords.

Come as you are, by Nirvana, was also released in 1991.  This intro is how many guitar players get their start on guitar since it's only one note at a time, and only played on the 5th and 6th strings. 

Smoke on the Water - Score.pdf

Smoke on the Water

This is Deep Purple's most famous riff by far.   Smoke on the water was released in 1972, and it's probably the most commonly learned guitar intro of all time.

I've got a super easy version, and the real version written.  Both versions are pretty easy.

Seven Nation Army - Score.pdf

Seven Nation Army

This award winning track was released by The White Stripes in 2003 and has become one of the most recognizable riffs of all time.  

This one is written only in tabs, so if you're unfamiliar with the rhythm of the song, just take a minute and listen to it here. 

I've written the basic riff, the embellished riff, and then a version of the riff that uses power chords instead of single notes.