If you’re at the stage of your guitar-playing career that you are ready for a bit of a challenge, then these songs might help you take the next step.
We’ve pulled together the ultimate list of the hardest songs to play on the guitar – featuring intricate riffs, delicate solos and rapid shredding. Along with each song we’ve included a link to the guitar tab so you can have a go at learning it yourself.
Check out our complete list of the 64 hardest songs to play on guitar:
Tornado Of Souls – Megadeth
Featuring on the thrash metal legends 1990 album ‘Rust In Peace’, Tornado Of Souls contains what is widely regarded as the hardest guitar solo to play.
A lot of guitar players will enjoy playing along with the intro and verse riffs, but Marty Friedman’s blistering, highly technical and unforgettable guitar solo is almost impossible to duplicate.
Cliffs Of Dover – Eric Johnson
Few musicians have elevated the act of playing guitar into an art form quite like Eric Johnson.
Just the intro to 'Cliffs Of Dover' features scary speed and a ridiculous level of string-stripping and phrasing that only the most experienced and dedicated guitar players can get close to. The song continues to flow along and evolve with several riffs and melody lines competing for prominence.
Fracture – King Crimson
King Crimson main man Robert Fripp has called Fracture one of the most difficult songs he ever performed – which is saying something for him.
Taken from the groups 1974 LP “Starless and Bible Black”, this 11-minute monster of a song is a dense mix of different guitar elements, from nimble-fingered solos to heavy riffs.
A great song to attempt when you want to work on all the different aspects of guitar playing.
Sultans Of Swing – Dire Straits
Part of Mark Knopfler’s genius is to make some of the most technical guitar lines ever look and sound so simple to play.
If you doubt this, have a go at keeping up with him throughout the imperious Sultans Of Swing. If the rapid verse and chorus interchanges don’t finish you off, the electrifying solo at the end definitely will!
Knopfler does all of this without using a plectrum and adds new licks and fills at every turn, which may not seem like a big deal at first but over the 5 minutes running time it becomes a bit of a challenge.
We’ve featured the epic 10 minute live version above to give you a true appreciation of how hard this song is to play.
Through The Fire And Flames – DragonForce
Widely regarded as the hardest song to play on Guitar Hero, DragonForce’s ‘Through The Fire And Flames’ poses a massive challenge to all guitar players.
The music video version above has been cut down to 5 minutes, so seek out the full 7 minute version for all of the different guitar parts and riffs.
Released in 2006, ‘Through The Fire And Flames’ is the band’s most challenging song to play – which is saying something considering guitarists Sam Totman and Herman Li admitted that it took them about 10 years to master the playing style needed on the album it taken from – ‘Inhuman Rampage’.
CAFO - Animals As Leaders
Released on Animals As Leader’s self-titled 2009 album, ‘CAFO’ is a tour-de-force showcasing guitarist Tosin Abasi’s singular talent.
Try and keep up with the lightning fast finger work and seamless transitions if you can, but it’s probably more enjoyable to stand back and admire a true master at work.
City Nights – Allan Holdsworth
Jazz fusion legend Allan Holdsworth developed a guitar-playing technique that was completely his own, and as such it’s pretty much impossible for anyone else to duplicate.
‘City Nights’ is one of his shorter songs, so you would think it might be easier to replicate – but the sheer speed and control of his fretwork is out of reach for us mere mortals.
Drifting – Andy McKee
Some players are able to turn the guitar into a completely different instrument, and Andy McKee is certainly one of those players.
He is a famous exponent of the fingerstyle playing method, using progressions and percussion tapping to create a melody, beat and bass line all in one. It’s seriously impressive, and extremely difficult to replicate!
Eruption – Van Halen
The late, great Eddie Van Halen is one of the most influential guitar players ever – and excelled at writing licks and solos that were frustratingly difficult to play along to.
This solo only features for less than 2 minutes on record, but Eddie was known to play it for over 10 minutes during live shows.
There are many Van Halen songs that offer a challenge to amateur guitarists thanks to Eddie’s use of the whammy bar and riff stacking, but ‘Eruption’ is one of the hardest to play note-for-note.
Far Beyond The Sun – Yngwie Malmsteen
Swedish guitar legend Yngwie Malmsteen may sometimes look like a parody, but his ability is beyond question.
‘Far Beyond The Sun’ is just pure joy played frantically across a the fretboard of an overworked Fender. Notice how Yngwie barely glances at the fretboard for the entirety of the 6 minutes playing time.
If you still want more of a challenge, here is the extended list of difficult songs to play on the guitar. Good luck!
Frantic Disembowelment – Cannibal Corpse
Get Out Of My Yard by Paul Gilbert
Jordan – Buckethead
Juice – Steve Vai
Mediterranean Sundance by AL Di Meola
Neon by John Mayer
Perpetual Burn – Jason Becker
Play With Me – Extreme
Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Francisco Tárrega
Speed Metal Symphony – Cacophony
Technical Difficulties – Racer X
The Dance Of Eternity – Dream Theater
Waves by Guthrie Govan
Bark at the Moon by Ozzy Osbourne
Afterlife – Avenged Sevenfold
Altitudes – Jason Becker
Arpeggios From Hell – Yngwie Malmsteen
Birds Of Fire – Mahavishnu Orchestra
Blackened – Metallica
Breaking All Illusions by Dream Theater
Classical Gas – Mason Williams
Closed Eye Visuals – Meshuggah
Danse rythmique by Ida Presti
Divinations – Mastodon
Django – Joe Pass feat. Grant Green
Extreme Unction – Necrophagist
Flight Of The Bumblebee – Nikolai Rimsky (Korsakov)
Folios by Tōru Takemitsu
For The Love Of God – Steve Vai
Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Fury Of The Storm – DragonForce
Ghost Of Perdition – Opeth
Gris y mar by María Luisa Anido
Guitar Boogie – Arthur Smith
Head in the Clouds by Maria Linnemann
Ice 9 – Joe Satriani
La Catedral – Agustin Barrios Mangore
Master Of Puppets – Metallica
Mombasa – Tommy Emmanuel
Mr. Crowley – Ozzy Osbourne
On Impulse – Animals as Leaders
Phunkdified – Justin King
Pride And Joy – Stevie Ray Vaughan
Pull Me Under – Dream Theater
Round Midnight – Wes Montgomery
Satch Boogie – Joe Satriani
Sonata Giocosa by Joaquín Rodrigo
Speed Kills – Michael Angelo
Symphony of Destruction by Megadeth
The Animal by Steve Vai
Vengeance – Yngwie Malmsteen
YYZ – Rush
Symbiotic in Theory - Necrophagist
Passionflower - Jon Gomm
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