Guitar hero on PlayStation or Xbox opened the door for everybody to get a feel for playing rock songs on a guitar (plastic buttoned guitar). And although that buttoned guitar is as far from actually playing the song on a real guitar it did list some extremely challenging songs to play. As we reminisce back to the days of drunken Guitar hero we decided to list the most difficult rock songs to play on a guitar. These rock songs will give your guitar skills a serious run for their money.
Whether it’s tracks from Dream Theater, Metallica, Dragon Force, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jimi Hendrix, The Smiths, Animals as Leaders or Van Halen, these guitar riffs will make you re-think the fretboard.
Our only criteria was that it’s not only the solo that qualifies the song for our list, but the rest of the song as well no matter how majestic or epic it may sound. We were after skill, technique and talent.
1. Jimi Hendrix – Voodoo Child
Speed is one thing. Imitating Jimi’s sound is something on a whole different level. Nobody has his sound and he does a million things that you just can’t pick up on. It may not be lightning fast but it’s all technique. You can’t practice what Jimi does. He does a lot of chord variations that have you wanting to smash your guitar in a million pieces because it’s too complicated to learn. You have to feel the song, there’s no way to practice it, you have to get given the notes and the order but no one will ever get the timings or the little changes and nuances correct
2 .Dragonforce – Through the flames
Let’s start with arguably the most challenging song. Through the flames was played live multiple times and nailed by Herman Li and Sam Totman. It’s not a computerized song, it is the real deal, and the absolutely craziest and near impossible song to cover. This is the most blazing metal song I have ever heard. The speed and tone of Li and Totman easily beat out anything on this list. This song uses a much more diverse set of scales than Van Halen’s eruption.
3. Eric Johnson – Cliffs of Dover
The man Eric Johnson! His groovy technical skills is unmatched as he remains among the top guitarists in the world. As his signature tune, the song sees Eric utilizing a variety of techniques, all while putting musicality first. It requires a master level of lots of unusual techniques like string skipping, alternate picking, chicken picking… It’s also a long instrumental song, full of changes, so it’s not very easy to remember the entire song.
4. Racer X – Technical Difficulties
Paul Gilbert is the star in this one – Racer X and “Technical Difficulties.” The title says it all…
5. Van Halen – Eruption
Another classic song by legendary Eddie Van Halen. This song is very difficult to get right. The tapping part at the end is the least of your problems and is about the only part of this song that anyone ever gets right. Many will claim to be able to play Eruption but somehow they never materialize in real life. Eruption is nearly impossible and if you can actually play it 100% through to the letter, then count yourself among the elite 0.01% of people ever to pick up a guitar. Also Eddie recorded this in 1978 and it still kicks the s* out of guitarists!
6. Animals as Leaders – CAFO
Few people know Mr. Tosin Abasi and the band Animals as Leaders’ “CAFO”. They released this as a part of the band’s 2009 self-titled debut album, the song was entirely recorded by Tosin, with Periphery’s Misha Mansoor handling a fair share of production and mastering duties.That thumb slapping technique is ridiculous.
7. Dream Theater – The Dance of Eternity
As is often the case with Dream Theater, this song is not just a struggle to play on guitar, but for any instrument involved. Released on 1999’s “Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory,” the “Dance of Eternity” has just about as many time signature changes you can pack within 6 minutes. Some would argue that Technically this is the hardest song on the list by far. The entire song varies through complex melodies, constantly changing time signatures and what some people could even describe as complete technical insanity. It does have easy parts, like the passage consisting only of open Bs. The guitar solo, on the other hand is insanely difficult.
8. Megadeth – Tornado of Souls
Mustaine and Megadeth deserve major kudos for their contribution to the music industry and Tornado of Souls will forever be one of the greatest pieces of music ever written. Universally hailed as one of the finest guitar solos of all time
9. Avenged Sevenfold – Afterlife
Even Synyster Gates, the guy who made the solo for the song, admitted that at the beginning he didn’t know how he was going to play it live. Loaded with triplets at 185 bmp. Considered as one of the most difficult guitar solos of all time. Plus we really love A7X!
10. Cacophony – Speed Metal Symphony
When you put together guitar masters Jason Becker and Marty Friedman, you get Cacophony, one of the most technical guitar acts of all time. Representing them on this week’s list, you folks voted for the title track of their 1987 debut album “Speed Metal Symphony.” Lots of Shredding going on here. Although we felt that we had to add Becker’s signature song, the title track of Jason’s 1988 debut album “Perpetual Burn.” We’ll list them both:
11. Cannibal Corpse – Frantic Disembowelment
Death metal behemoths Cannibal Corpse does a stellar job with “Frantic Disembowelment.” Getting this to sound clean and succeeding in actually remembering the entire song is a massive task!
12. Rush – La Villa Strangiato
The solo in the middle starts off slow and builds into a climax that sends chills down your spine. Alex Lifeson’s timing and patterns are strange and unique, but it works so well. Alex Lifeson doesn’t get nearly enough credit as a guitarist. The riffs throughout the song make you cramp up, but it doesn’t matter anyways because the intro solo tires you out before you have a chance at any riffs. The solo halfway through the song has reportedly made your ambitious guitarists trying to learn this song’s fingers bleed!