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45 Best Electric Guitar Songs of All Time

December 22, 2023
best electric guitar songs

I’ve carefully selected the best electric guitar songs of all time, showcasing the incredible power and versatility of the electric guitar.

This article is a tribute to those legendary tracks that have left an indelible mark in the world of music, featuring iconic riffs and solos that continue to inspire guitar enthusiasts and music lovers alike.

Table of Contents

Top electric guitar songs of all time

  • “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne
  • “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana
  • “My Generation” by The Who
  • “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult
  • “Back In Black” by AC/DC
  • “Freeway Jam” by Jeff Beck
  • “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • “Layla” by Derek And The Dominos
  • “Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple
  • “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith

1. “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne

Is there a better way to start this list than with a Prince of Darkness?

Plus, Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” is widely regarded as one of the best heavy metal songs of all time.

Ozzy Osbourne rose to fame as the member of Black Sabbath, but he also had a successful solo career.

And his impact on the heavy metal genre, both as a Black Sabbath member and a solo artist, is undeniable.

That being said, “Crazy Train” certainly deserves a place among the best electric guitar songs of all time.

2. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana

One of the genres of rock music that flourished in the 90s is grunge, and Nirvana’s greatest hits helped define the sound of the genre.

Over the course of their career, Nirvana recorded many great electric guitar songs. 

But “Smells Like Teen Spirit” became their signature song and a timeless rock classic.

Besides being a good song for guitar, this iconic 90s track is arguably one of the best rock songs ever written.

3. “My Generation” by The Who

My Generation” is super popular, uplifting, and loud – it’s simply iconic.

Lyrically, the song is full of angst and rebellion, but the atmosphere of the song is kind of motivating.

Well, if you’re a guitar player, that electric guitar in the song is surely inspiring – Pete Towhshend made its mark here.

And, of course, Roger Daltrey’s vocals fit the song perfectly. 

4. “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult

Here comes another amazing electric guitar song – “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult.

That riff in the beginning is so iconic, and the rest of the song takes you to another place – it’s at the same time cool and a bit melancholic.

Nevertheless, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” is Blue Oyster Cult’s most successful songs, and one of the best 70s rock songs in general.

The song was released in 1976, on the band’s fourth studio album Agents of Fortune.

5. “Back In Black” by AC/DC

AC/DC released “Back In Black” in 1980, on their seventh studio album of the same name.

And it became their best-known hit as well as one of the most famous guitar songs in general.

Moreover, the album became one of the best-selling albums in history, marking a new era for heavy metal.

It was also their first album to feature lead singer Brian Johnson.

6. “Freeway Jam” by Jeff Beck

If you’re looking for good songs for the guitar, this one’s for you.

Jeff Beck’s “Freeway Jam” features melodic riffing and incredible solo parts.

It’s a good song to jam to, and you can definitely learn a thing or two from the iconic English guitarist. 

Rolling Stone describes Beck as “one of the most influential lead guitarists in rock” – and who are we to disagree? 

7. “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

We’re jumping from “Freeway Jam” to “Free Bird.” 

Of course, we’re talking about one of the most popular rock songs from the 70s.

It’s also Lynyrd Skynyrd’s signature song, and a great song to play on guitar.

“Free Bird” starts as a rather soft guitar tune, and then it transforms into a powerful, energetic mess – therefore, it’s incredibly fun to play.

Lyrically, it’s about a man who doesn’t want to settle down.

8. “Layla” by Derek And The Dominos

Although many people associate this song with Eric Clapton, “Layla” was first written and recorded by Clapton’s band Derek And The Dominos.

Either way, “Layla” is regarded as one of the best guitar songs in history.

The song was allegedly inspired by Clapton’s love for Pattie Boyd who was George Harrison’s wife at the time.

Clapton and Boyd eventually married, so some people like to describe “Layla” as a romantic rock song. 

Nevertheless, the song has a distinctive guitar riff, and you should definitely add it to your repertoire.

9. “Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple 

Without a doubt, “Smoke On The Water” has one of the most recognizable guitar riffs.

Besides the famous 4-note riff, Deep Purple’s classic also has an interesting story behind it.

The song was actually inspired by the real smoke on the water, spreading over lake Geneva in Montreux, Switzerland. 

The smoke came from a burning casino that caught fire during a Frank Zappa concert, after someone from the audience fired a flare gun.

Smoke on the water, a fire in the sky…

10. “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith 

“Walk This Way” is one of Aerosmith’s biggest hits.

It was released on the band’s album Toys In The Attic in 1975, but it gained new popularity after the release of Run-D.M.C.’s cover version.

Hip hop group helped Aerosmith revitalize their career in the 80s, and it also marked the beginnings of the new subgenre of rap rock.

All in all, “Walk This Way” is definitely one of the most iconic electric guitar songs, and it’s also incredibly fun to play on guitar.

11. “Hotel California” by Eagles

This iconic electric guitar track was released on Hotel California, one of the greatest albums of all time.

It was the band’s first album with guitarist Joe Walsh, and it’s fair to say that he did a good job.

The guitar in “Hotel California” can’t be ignored, and it gives the song a hauntingly beautiful atmosphere.

So if you’re looking for rock classics to add to your guitar repertoire, you should definitely go for Eagles.

12. “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin

Speaking of rock classics… “Whole Lotta Love” is absolutely epic.

And that Jimmy Page guitar riff is insanely good.

“Whole Lotta Love” is the opening track on Led Zeppelin’s second album, Led Zeppelin II.

It became their first US hit, and it eventually ended up on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. 

So it’s no wonder that many artists covered the song over the years, including Jeff Beck, Aerosmith, and AC/DC.

13. “Wanted Dead Or Alive” by Bon Jovi 

“Wanted Dead Or Alive” is a rock power ballad released on Bon Jovi’s 1986 album Slippery When Wet.

The song begins with a 12-string guitar riff, and then the electric guitar comes in.

There’s also a great guitar solo in the song, which ultimately makes it fun to play on electric guitar.

All things considered, “Wanted Dead Or Alive” is one of Bon Jovi’s best hits, and it definitely deserves a spot on this list.

14. “Eruption” by Van Halen

When it comes to epic guitar solos, it doesn’t get better than Van Halen’s “Eruption.” 

“Eruption” is in fact a guitar solo performed by Eddie Van Halen, but it’s also a track from the band’s self-titled 1978 debut album. 

The song also popularized tapping, a playing technique of fretting a string in a single motion.

So if you’re a guitar player looking for a challenge, there you go – “Eruption” tutorials are waiting for you. 

15. “Master of Puppets” by Metallica 

“Master Of Puppets” is also hard to play, unless you have advanced guitar skills.

In fact, the song’s interlude is fairly easy to play on guitar, but then it gets pretty hard.

Nevertheless, “Master Of Puppets” is a guitar masterpiece – it’s a perfect blend of heavy metal and progressive rock styles. 

It’s also Metallica’s signature song and one of the best rock songs of the 1980s.

Also, the song saw resurgence in popularity after being featured in the Stranger Things Season 2 – if you’re a fan of the show, you already know what scene we’re talking about.

16. “More Than a Feeling” by Boston 

“More Than a Feeling” is an unforgettable rock tune from the 80s and a classic rock radio staple.

It’s a great song to play on guitar – it’s very uplifting and powerful, as well as emotional. 

And it has a melodic guitar solo familiar to all old rock music fans.

The lyrics of the song are based on the idea of losing someone close, and the whole song took Tom Scholz five years to complete.

17. “Tom Sawyer” by Rush

As the band known for making memorable progressive rock tunes, Rush definitely proved their worth with “Tom Sawyer.” 

It’s a hard rock track from their 1981 album Moving Pictures.

Besides awesome guitar playing, the song also conveys an important message.

The lyrics revolve around an idea of a modern day rebel with a non-conforming, free spirit.

No, his mind is not for rent

To any god or government…

18. “Rock You Like A Hurricane” by The Scorpions

Scorpions are known to combine various genres, including hard rock, glam metal, heavy metal, and soft rock.

For example, their best-known hit “Wind Of Change” is a power ballad, but the band is mostly associated with energetic songs with electric guitar.

“Rock You Like A Hurricane” is one of the popular metal songs released in 1984.

It’s taken from the band’s ninth studio album, Love at First Sting.

19. “All Right Now” by Free 

“All Right Now” is a popular rock track from the early 70s.

It originally appeared on the band’s third album Fire and Water, and it became one of the band’s most memorable songs. 

In essence, “All Right Now” is fun and uplifting, and it reflects a youthful, carefree spirit associated with summertime.

Therefore, it’s a very enjoyable guitar song to play, and the song’s melodic guitar solo is relatively easy to play even for beginners.

20. “Rainbow In The Dark” by Dio

Released in 1983, “Rainbow In The Dark” is hands down one of the best old heavy metal songs.

The song is considered to be a Dio classic, and it showcases Ronnie James Dio’s powerful voice and energy.

“Rainbow In The Dark” features an amazing guitar solo performed by Vivian Campbell, a Dio guitarist who also played with Def Leppard, Whitesnake, and Thin Lizzy.

And when it comes to Dio’s career, he also sang for Black Sabbath, Elf, Rainbow, and Heaven & Hell. 

21. “Pride And Joy” by Stevie Ray Vaughn

If you’re looking for an electric guitar song with a touch of blues rock and electric blues, this one’s for you.

In fact, “Pride And Joy” is based on the so-called “classic Texas shuffle”, a twelve-bar blues arrangement usually notated in the key of E.

Well, the song is definitely proof of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s talent and passion.

After all, Vaughn is known for his masterful guitar performances, and it’s often referred to as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

22. “We Are The Champions” by Queen

“We Are The Champions” is probably one of the most popular electric guitar songs in history.

Queen’s classic also became a sports anthem, and it has been a part of matches around the world so many times.

There’s a story that Freddie and his bandmates wrote the song in only two hours – that’s hard to believe, but on the other hand, we’re talking about genius creative minds.

Either way, “We Are The Champions” is a powerful and epic rock track that will probably never get old.

23. “Wasted Years” by Iron Maiden 

Iron Maiden is by far one of the best heavy metal bands in the world.

So if you’re looking for great guitar songs, Iron Maiden has plenty to offer.

However, there’s something about the song “Wasted Years” that will make you want to grab your guitar right away.

The song was released in 1986, and that opening guitar riff quickly became popular among guitar players.

“Wasted Years” is also featured at the beginning of their 2008 documentary “Flight 666.”

24. “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry

It doesn’t get more iconic than “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry.

The song has a recognizable guitar intro that will transport you to the 1950s.

It’s often credited as “the first rock & roll hit about rock & roll stardom”, and that couldn’t be more true.

Chuck Berry was a true musical genius, and his guitar solos and showmanship shaped rock n’ roll.

25. “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd 

If you’re looking for some guitar inspiration, you can always listen to Pink Floyd and David Gilmour’s masterful guitar playing.

For this list, we picked “Comfortably Numb”, one of the band’s best known songs from The Wall.

The song has a mysterious feel in the beginning, and then it transforms into a powerful and sentimental chorus.

And of course, the guitar solo gives it the final touch of greatness.

26. “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks 

“You Really Got Me” has a recognizable opening guitar riff that immediately pulls you in the song.

The song was released in 1964, and it influenced many rock musicians who came afterward, especially because of its power chords. 

There was a rumor that Jimmy Page performed the guitar solo, but that turned out to be untrue.

Nevertheless, “You Really Got Me” is a timeless rock tune, and it reflects the spirit of its era perfectly. 

27. “Sunshine Of Your Love” by Cream

Cream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love” is another iconic song with electric guitar.

The main riff is a true representation of the late 60s sound, and it still sounds amazing.

The song’s lyrics were written by a Canadian songwriter and poet, Pete Brown, and he used the metaphor of sunshine to describe the feeling of intimate love.

In a way, it’s a rather simple song, but it’s captivating, catchy, and timeless.

28. “Beat It” by Michael Jackson 

If you’re looking for a fun and exciting song to play on the electric guitar, look no further.

“Beat It” is a Michael Jackson classic, and arguably one of the most famous 80s songs.

Jackson produced the song along with Quincy Jones, who encouraged the King of Pop to include a rock track on his album.

The song turned out to be one of the best-selling singles of all time, and a Thriller favorite. 

There are many “Beat It” guitar tutorials online, so you can easily rock this timeless hit in your living room.

29. “Eight Mile High” by The Byrds

Listening to “Eight Mile High” by The Byrds will take you on a nostalgic, psychedelic journey.

The song is somehow very relaxing, and the band later confirmed the lyrics revolve around drug addiction.

However, playing “Eight Mile High” isn’t so relaxing – certain parts of the song require some guitar experience.  

But if you can handle faster and more complex guitar riffs, then you won’t have any problems.

30. “Addicted To That Rush” by Mr. Big

“Addicted To That Rush” is another great guitar song you should add to your repertoire.

However, Mr. Big’s 1989 hit is a bit challenging to master – besides an opening tapping riff,  it features complex bass and guitar tapping lines.

So if you’re confident enough, rock on.

Alternatively, you can always have a listening party and appreciate Paul Gilbert’s and Billy Shehan’s magic.

31. “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd 

When thinking about easy-going rock tunes, “Sweet Home Alabama” is one of the first songs that come to mind.

This tune feels like pure summer, and it brings back so many positive memories.

Moreover, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s classic has some awesome guitar riffs, and you can easily learn it, regardless of your level. 

And of course, there’s that cool guitar solo in the middle ideal for more experienced guitar players.

32. “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)” by The Rolling Stones 

Let’s be honest – this list wouldn’t be complete without the Stones.

They are one of the best rock bands of all time, and they have released countless rock hits.

“I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)” is probably one of their most recognizable songs.

Written by Jagger and Richards, the song was released as a part of their album Out Of Our Heads

In essence, the song is energetic and uplifting, and it owes all of that to its memorable repetitive guitar riff. 

33. “Wild Thing” by The Troggs 

The Troggs released “Wild Thing” in 1966, and the song became an all-time rock classic. 

And even though it’s an oldie, “Wild Thing” is one of the cool electric guitar songs – there’s something very confident and cool in its atmosphere.

It’s also a rather simple song, but this 3-chord tune became a number one hit, becoming one of the band’s most successful songs. 

Wild thing, you make my heart sing… 

34. “Day Tripper” by The Beatles 

The Beatles are hands down one of the most influential bands in music history.

And they released countless tunes that became timeless classics, many of which are songs with electric guitar.

“Day Tripper” might not be their greatest hit, but it’s definitely one of their best electric guitar songs.

It was released on their 1966 album Yesterday and Today (the one with the babies on the cover.)

35. “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath 

If you play Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” on the electric guitar, the feeling of invincibility is guaranteed.

The song came out in 1970 on Black Sabbath’s famous album Paranoid, and it earned the band a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance.

In 2008, “Iron Man” experienced a revival in 2008, thanks to Marvel’s movie Iron Man

But even without the movie, “Iron Man” is by far one of the most legendary electric guitar songs.

36. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses 

Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about Guns N’ Roses.

After all, their signature song “Sweet Child O’ Mine” is a pure electric guitar classic.

The song is taken from the band’s 1988 debut album, Appetite For Destruction.

And the song’s main guitar riff is hands down one of the most popular guitar riffs in rock music.

Interestingly, that riff came from Slash’s guitar exercise – he was improvising and playing with riffs, and that’s how the famous “Sweet Child O’ Mine” riff was born. 

37. “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” by Judas Priest

Here comes another electric guitar gem – “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” by Judas Priest.

Judas Priest released this gem on their 1982 album Screaming for Vengeance, and it helped them reach mainstream fame.

As their guitarist K.K. Downing said, you couldn’t turn on a rock radio station anywhere in North America without hearing this song.

38. “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix

When it comes to cool songs for guitar, “Purple Haze” is definitely on the list.

It’s an iconic tune characterized by Hendrix’s innovative guitar playing – it features the signature Hendrix chord.

The song simply stands out from other tunes from that era, and it captures the sound of the Jimi Hendrix Experience perfectly.

As a result, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and is included on lists of the greatest guitar songs.

39. “Message In A Bottle” by The Police

“Message In A Bottle” is a Police classic, and one of the most recognizable songs from the 1970s. 

Written by Sting, the song has the sound of the reggae rock/new wave style of the band’s early music.

So if you’re looking for good songs to play on guitar, you can’t go wrong with “Message In A Bottle” – it’s not too fast, yet it’s very fun to play.

40. “Oh, Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison

On the other hand, the guitar riff in Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman” can get pretty fast.

However, if you can handle faster tempo and a couple of barre chords, you’ll master it rather quickly.

After its original release in the 60s, many musicians made a cover, including Van Halen and Al Green.

The song was also later used for the title of the 1990 film Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere.

41. “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes 

When it comes to the most iconic riffs, “Seven Nation Army” also comes to mind.

The song features a bass-like riff, created by playing a guitar through a pitch shift effect.

“Seven Nation Army” is taken from the White Stripes’ album Elephant, and it became their signature song.

Thanks to its catchy riff and powerful beat, the song also became a stadium anthem. 

42. “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” by The Clash 

“Should I Stay Or Should I Go” is regarded as one of the greatest rock songs of all time.

It was recorded in 1981, and its uplifting, catchy melody still rocks the radio stations.

The song became popular among younger generations too after being featured in the TV show Stranger Things.

Either way, The Clash’s classic is a must-learn for every aspiring guitar player.

43. “I Love Rock And Roll” by Joan Jett 

And the same goes for our next song – “I Love Rock And Roll” is simply a rock classic.

It was originally recorded by the Arrows, but it became popular after Joan Jett released a cover version in 1981.

Joan Jett’s version became a huge hit, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Over the years, the song has been covered by many musicians, including Britney Spears.

44. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by The Beatles 

If you’re wondering what are the best Beatles songs, many would agree that “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is on the very top of the list. 

And there’s no doubt about it – it’s a timeless song, and one of the most famous guitar songs in music history.

So even though this is not the most obvious choice for an electric guitar, we decided to include it on our list.

At the end of the day, you can always add your personal touch to this Beatles classic.

45. “Let It Go” by Def Leppard 

We saved the last spot for Def Leppard, one of the most successful heavy metal bands in the music industry.

The band is often associated with the new wave of British heavy metal movement of the early 80s, and the 1980s were definitely a decade when they recorded their best work.

“Let It Go” is taken from their 1981 multi-platinum album High n’ Dry, and it remains one of their most memorable tracks. 

Best Electric Guitar Songs – Final Thoughts

Although this is far from every good song with electric guitar, it’s time to wrap it up.

Making this list reminded us once again what an amazing instrument electric guitar truly is.

If these songs inspired you to learn how to play electric guitar, you’ll be happy to hear that it’s never been easier to learn the electric guitar by yourself.

And if you’re already an experienced guitarist, we hope this list reminded you of some iconic tunes you can add to your repertoire. 

Similar Playlists:

Best Acoustic Guitar Songs

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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