Playing famous guitar solos and licks can be really fun. Plus, if you’re hoping to impress someone, a well-known lick can go a long way. We’ve picked out a handful of rock guitar licks that sound great and are at an intermediate level of difficulty. All of them were originally played on an electric guitar with a set level of distortion and overdrive, but feel free to add your own twist. Try playing them with a clean sound, or even on an acoustic guitar if you want to try a different sound.
Aside from our picks, there’s plenty of guitar tutorial videos available to check out online. If you find a really good guitar lick tutorial, feel free to let us know! Here are our seven top licks that everyone is sure to recognize:
7. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana
Even though Kurt Cobain has been gone for a while, his musical genius still lives on through his songs.
With the guitar lick from “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, you’ll feel like you’re back in the grunge era.
6. “Enter Sandman” – Metallica
Metallica has a few guitar licks that are fun to play, but our favorite is this one from “Enter Sandman”.
If you like playing the lick, try learning the whole song next!
5. “Wild Thing” – The Troggs
There have been many versions of this song throughout the years, but the original “Wild Thing” is still well known to everyone.
Not only is it an instantly recognizable song, the riff is actually quite simple to play.
4. “Beat It” – Michael Jackson
No countdown would be complete without a Michael Jackson song. With “Beat It”, you’ve got a great riff that you can play and even sing along with if you want to.
Of course, it might be hard to moonwalk while you’re playing guitar licks!
3. “Layla” – Derek and the Dominos
This is one of the more complicated guitar licks of our top seven, but that just makes mastering it more satisfying. While “Layla” is a classic tune, it’s still a really rocking song to play. Even if a younger generation won’t recognize it right away, everyone will still respect how cool it sounds.
It’s hard to beat the classic sound of Eric Clapton. You might find yourself spending a little more time working the lick up to speed, but when you get there it’s a lot of fun to play!
2. “Crazy Train” – Ozzy Osbourne
If you’re a fan of heavy metal, you’ve probably heard of Ozzy Osbourne. While his personal life has been in the spotlight in more recent years, the music that he’s put together has been fairly illustrious.
The guitar lick from “Crazy Train” is very well known, and sounds really nice even if you’re playing it on acoustic guitar.
1. “Smoke on the Water” – Deep Purple
It’s hard to find someone who has never heard “Smoke on the Water”. Even if they don’t know the name of it, the simple pattern is well known to anyone who’s familiar with rock music.
Aside from being very familiar, this riff is pretty easy to pick up and play on any guitar.
When you’re deciding which rock guitar licks to work on, make sure to work with your guitar teacher. He or she might have others to recommend, and can also listen to your progress and help you out with anything that needs to be polished a bit more. Search for your guitar teacher now!
Photo by Serjão Carvalho