12 Best Rock Songs To Play On Guitar (With Tutorials)

The electric guitar is the best tool for rock music. There is no other instrument that comes close to the ability that the guitar has to create this type of music, and there are so many iconic examples of fantastic rock songs that every guitarist should learn to play.

The list of the best rock songs to play on guitar includes some modern greats and plenty of historical legends, but they are all immense fun to play, they sound amazing, and every guitar player with an electric guitar should learn to play them. Let’s explore some of the best rock songs for the guitar that have ever been written.

rock guitar songs

1. Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes

Seven Nation Army was written by Jack White in 2003. The song was written to be a suave piece that evokes intense emotions of intrigue and depth.

This song is an excellent piece to learn on the guitar. It features a repeating riff that is simple to play but is packed full of dynamics and interesting rhythms. The riff repeats throughout the song, forming a bass line in the verses that is the backbone of the song but swells to an intense, strummed power-chord riff for the chorus sections.

This song also features an interesting solo that closely follows the note phrasing of the main riff but introduces interesting rhythmic changes and forms a fantastic lead section.

Seven Nation Army can be played with a slide for the solo to achieve the true tone of the song, but it can also be played with conventional techniques as well.

This song is a crowd-pleaser; it is widely known, it is exceedingly fun to play, and it is one of the best rock songs written since the year 2000, making it one of the best overall rock songs to play on guitar.

This is a great tutorial for learning to play Seven Nation Army well.

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2. Carry On Wayward Son – Kansas

Carry On Wayward Son is an iconic anthem by Kansas that was released in 1976. This song is a virtuosic piece that is full of complex and intricate guitar parts but carries one of the most memorable selections of riffs and guitar parts of any rock song ever written.

This song is a duet for guitar, as it features intricate sections performed by two separate guitar players. There is a rhythm guitar and a lead guitar, and they play the same riffs throughout the song, with deviation for solo sections and unique runs throughout.

Learning the rhythm guitar is the easiest way to get started with this song, as it holds all of the iconic riffs, solid chord changes, and stand-out runs, but it does not include learning all of the very advanced solos.

Take your time learning the rhythm guitar part, and then move on to the solos once you have a feel for the dynamics, complicated structure, and involved riffs that are used for this song.

Carry On Wayward Son is a masterpiece of guitar playing and is widely regarded to be among the best guitar tracks of all time. There are very few songs that meet this level of playing and dynamics while remaining highly memorable, catchy, and overall interesting to listen to.

Learning this song is a great challenge, but it is also great fun. Every guitar player who loves playing rock songs should learn to play this one at some point in their guitar journey.

Tutorials for Carry On Wayward Son are hard to come by, but this two-part series from Steve Stine is a good one.

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3. Iron Man – Black Sabbath

Iron Man is another iconic anthem rock song, but it is far less intense and intricate to play than some of the others on this list. Iron Man was written by Black Sabbath in 1970 and remained among the most widely-played guitar songs ever.

Tony Iommi’s guitar performance on this track is forever etched in the mind of electric guitar players everywhere. The iconic riff that forms the backbone of this song is powerful yet very simple to play.

Not every guitarist realizes that the main riff of Iron Man is not the only fun and interesting guitar section of the song. This song is full of riff changes, and each one is a thrilling example of an expertly crafted rock riff.

Learning all of the riffs used in this song is a joy for electric guitar players and teaches guitarists many interesting techniques and sonic lessons along the way.

Iron Man also features a dramatic solo full of fast runs, interesting pentatonic licks, and challenging dynamics. This solo is fun to learn but hard to play well.

Learning Iron Man is a rite of passage for rock guitarists, and everyone with an electric guitar should learn this piece of rock history.

Tutorials for Iron Man typically only cover the riffs, but there are some that cover the main solo as well. This video lesson covers the riffs in Part 1 and the main solo in Part 2.

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4. I Love Rock n’ Roll – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

I Love Rock N’ Roll is a song that has marked the world of rock guitar and has continued to be a wildly popular song learned by many young rockers.

This track was released in 1981 and has been at the fingertips of rock guitar players everywhere ever since. There are a few more iconic songs and rock riffs, and I Love rock N’ Roll has become a staple for rock clubs, cover bands, and young musos everywhere.

This song features an iconic power-chord riff interspersed with single-note picking, quick licks, and repeating chord changes.

The structure of this song is simple to learn, but there are some dynamic elements that keep it interesting along the way.

A memorable solo marks the middle section of this song, and it is among the most fun solos to learn of any rock song. It is simple yet intricate and well-crafted to serve the song well overall.

This is an excellent song for every guitar player to learn, and every rocker should have this one memorized by now.

This tutorial takes you through the entire song, including the solo, which is nice.

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5. Black Dog – Led Zepplin

The 1970s were an era of great guitar songs, and Black Dog is among the many that stand out as something truly special.

Black Dog by Led Zepplin was released in 1971 and contains some of the most masterful guitar playing from the band. The song is driven by a hypnotic, repeating riff that blends into add-on licks and colorful runs.

Black Dog is interspersed with vocal breaks that give the song its power, only to have every gap filled with a masterful riff. The chorus sections of the songs are a combination of bluesy rhythms and chord changes, giving the song a classic feel that no bands come close to today.

The middle-eighth section is a quieter part of the song, with the silence broken by a ripping blues solo that is fun to play and accessible for any guitar player above an intermediate skill level.

Black Dog is very fun to play, it demonstrates an interesting mix of rock n’ roll and electric blues, and the main riff should be a staple in every guitarist’s repertoire.

This tutorial by Sped Spedding is an excellent way to learn how to play this legendary guitar song.

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6. Killing In The Name – Rage Against The Machine

Released in 1992, Killing In The Name by Rage Against The Machine became the soundtrack of a generation. This song perfectly defines the counter-culture that Rage Against The Machine embodied as a band and has remained one of the best rock songs to this day.

This song is good for guitarists to learn due to its unorthodox structure and use of guitar effects. The main guitar section is tuned to Drop D and involves a heavy-picked riff that follows a subtle yet powerful intro.

The main guitar riff builds dynamically throughout the song, becoming more intense with each measure of the piece. The riff is simplified and built back up into a chorus change multiple times, becoming more complex and interesting with each playthrough.

There are several unique and interesting runs dispersed throughout the piece, but the main draw for this song is the rhythmic, hypnotic riffs that form the foundation of the music.

There is a solo in this piece, but it remains unplayable without the correct array of effects to match the tone. Without using the right effects, the solo is beyond the reach of most players, but the main guitar parts of the song are ideal for all rock guitar players.

Learning this song will expand your mind as well as your musical ability while keeping you on the edge of your practice seat the entire way through.

There are several video lessons on how to play this song, but those tutorials cover how to play the song and the solo without any specialized effect pedals.

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7. Whole Lotta Love – Led Zepplin

Whole Lotta Love is from 1969, a time when rock was just making its way into the international limelight, and it became a timeless song that every rocker holds in high esteem.

This song by Led Zepplin is another classic that features a repetitive yet hypnotic riff that drives the foundation of the song. The guitar tone used in this piece embodies the tone of classic rock, and every guitar player should learn to dial in the ‘Whole Lotta Love’ tone on their own gear.

Learning this song teaches a player to keep type while creating space for runs and licks to color in the gaps.

The main riff of this great song is a driven, palm-muted chord riff that escalates throughout the song and develops into the chorus riff as it goes. The guitar, bass, and drums work together to support the vocals of the piece, providing a solid foundation for clarity and authentic musical craftsmanship.

The song gives way to a soundscape of drum chimes, cymbals, and sweeping guitar effects. This section breaks open into a ripping guitar solo that is filled with fast blues runs, powerful rock riffs, and intense areas of the classic shed.

This is a song that should be in the repertoire of every rock guitar player, and learning the solo will push the limits of what you know how to do on your instrument. Whole Lotta Love is exceptionally fun to play, instantly recognizable, and is a song that many consider a rite of passage for rock guitarists.

This excellent video lesson covers exactly how to play every aspect of this great tune.

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8. Back In Black – AC/DC

A list of rock songs for guitar would not be complete without Back In Black. This song from 1980 was written, performed, and recorded by AC/DC, one of the most legendary rock bands ever.

This song is a guitar masterpiece from beginning to end. The song opens with a section of drum strikes and guitar scratches that make way to the iconic main riff of the song, which is a rhythmic, intense progression of punchy chords and legendary licks.

This iconic riff and chord progression continue throughout the verses of the songs, with the chorus section being a great progression of big chords and perfect rhythms. The structure repeats until the solo, which is the true star of this show.

The Back In Black solo is famous for its masterful use of rock and blues licks strung together perfectly in a way that suits the song and creates excellent tension and release. The solo ends with the chorus, which breaks away into a bridge section that is full of driven riffs and bass lines.

After one more chorus, another guitar solo breaks into the structure, forming the outro of the piece, and bringing the song to yet another new height of the musical form. The song fades away with this triumphant solo, leaving every guitarist wanting more.

This is a tune that every guitar player learns to play at some point, regardless of the type of music they play. If you own an electric guitar, you are sure to learn this song at some point. The instrument was made for songs like this, and it is a disservice to the electric guitar not to learn Back In Black.

This song is wonderful to play, it is not complicated at all, and every section is something that can teach any guitarist a good lesson in tight rhythms, catchy licks, and musical solos.

A few decent tutorials for Back In Black exist, but there are none better than this one from Dave.

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9. Enter Sandman – Metallica

Enter Sandman was thrust forth into the world in 1991, and the world was never the same again. A song about childhood nightmares that become one of the most widely-known guitar songs ever written.

Enter Sandman by Metallica is a symphony of intense riffs, memorable lines, well-formed licks, and clever chord changes. The solos are legendary, and there is nothing about this song that guitar players should not learn.

The song opens with a clean riff that sets the tone for the entire track. The riff builds into an overdriven repetition of the same riff but includes more double stops and intensity.

The song builds with the same iconic riff and repeats in a similar way throughout the verse sections of the piece, always calling back to the chugging riff that makes the song so iconic.

Melodic interludes break the noise, and the chorus calls back to the same heavy playing of the main verses.

Single-note lines of wah-fueled melodies fill the gaps in the piece, and the song repeats until we reach the solo. The solo of this song is an interesting mix of shredding and melodic licks, interspersed with good use of guitar effects and a diverse selection of drums and bass to support it.

The bridge is another callback to the original riff, but it builds into the biggest chorus section of the piece, which is a lesson in song construction for all guitar players.

The song fades out and ends the same way it began, completing the cycle of the guitar dream that is Enter Sandman.

This song is far less difficult to play than it sounds, and every guitarist who enjoys playing rock and metal will enjoy learning this song.

The riffs are fun to play, the structure and chords used are simple to understand, and the powerful tone of the piece is a joy to play through overall. There are few songs as fun to play as Enter Sandman by Metallica.

This video provides an excellent slow-tempo playthrough with good tabs to follow and will teach you everything you need to play this song.

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10. Runnin’ Across the Tracks – Billy Talent

Runnin’ Across The Tracks was released in 2012 and marked the return of true rock guitar virtuosity for many players.

This song is a rollercoaster of big, complex guitar riffs, bigger guitar chords with unique phrasing, intense rhythms, amazing breaks, and interesting fills. The guitar work of Ian D’Sa from Billy Talent is a gem in a world of lackluster guitar playing and fills guitarists with inspiration.

This song holds an intense story, contains an interesting mix of instrument use, and is exciting all the way through.

The fast pace of the track, combined with the very quick chord changes and unusual guitar phrasings, make this one of the most challenging rock songs to learn, but once you have conquered this piece, there will be very few chord changes that you cannot learn.

Understanding the form and progression of this song can be a significant challenge, but it is well worth all the time and effort to learn.

Listen to the song as much as you can before learning it to get a feel for what the song entails, and approach the chord progressions with patience. This song is not for the very faint of heart, but those who are brave enough to take it on will become a better musicians for it.

There are no tutorials on how to play this tune, but watching this well-filmed playthrough will give you a good insight into how to get it done well.

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11. Little Too Loose – Mr. Big

A Little Too Loose came out in 1991 and remains surprisingly unknown by many guitar players, which should not be the case, as this track is something truly special.

Mr. Big is an iconic band for many reasons, but the guitar playing of Paul Gilbert is a bright star in the music of the band, and this song displays much of what is considered to be world-class guitar playing.

This song is a combination of rock and electric blues and is driven by a rocking blues riff that repeats throughout the form of the song, forming its main theme. Fast, complex riffs and runs break up the form of the piece, and the chorus is made up of a classic blues progression.

The solo of the piece is something to behold and is a joy to listen to. A short solo that perfectly suits the song, which is not impossible for the average guitarist to learn but is still impressive and interesting.

This song is punchy, bold, big, and sounds great. Learning even parts of this song is sure to keep you entertained and keep those around you impressed with your playing.

Crank up the overdrive and bring out your blues roots, and this song will be a pleasure to learn. A Little Too Loose is a great song for every rocker and will scratch the blues itch every time you play it.

There are no playthroughs or tutorials for this track, but there are several good guitar tabs available if you have the time to go through them to learn the song.

12. Voodoo Child -Jimi Hendrix

Recorded in 1968 and released in 1970, Voodoo Child is one of those songs that every guitar player knows, but few learn to play well. This is a challenge to learn well, but it is well worth the time and effort to learn.

Voodoo Child by Jimi Hendrix and the Jimi Hendrix Experience is legendary in the guitar world. The entire song is one iconic riff interspersed with intense solos and blues runs that only Hendrix could write.

This song tells a classic blues story. It is dynamic, full of wide range, and is a showcase of the ability of the original electric blues master.

Learning to play Voodoo Child well will stretch every guitarist, but it opens the door to great improvisation and will teach every guitarist who learns it a great deal of musicality.

Every verse is occupied with a great Voodoo Child riff, every chorus is full of a classic blues progression, and every song section is marked by a ripping blues solo.

If this is not a song for guitar players, then nothing is. Voodoo Child is something that every guitar player should attempt to learn on some level and is a true icon of rock and blues for the guitar.

These two video tutorials are a great way to learn how to play this iconic blues rock tune.

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Conclusion

There are too many great guitar rock songs to put on one list. Take the time to explore every rock song that you can, and your guitar playing will become better as you go. Learn every rock song that you can, and the lessons that you learn will be invaluable.

Explore as many different artists from as many different eras as you can find, learn everything, and your guitar ability will become something to reckon with. Begin with these songs, and you will quickly develop all of the rock skills.