Total Guitar launches poll to find the greatest guitar riff of all time

(Image credit: Future / Kevin Nixon)

Total Guitar is looking for a democratic solution to one of the most hotly debated questions in guitar playing: what is the greatest guitar riff of all time? 

The lure of the riff has inspired millions of players pick up the electric guitar. Everyone starts with a riff. It's the foundations of the song. But finding the greatest? Sheesh! That is a debate that has set bandmate against bandmate, ruined many a family dinner – our friends at TG want to settle it once and for all.

Of course, there has to be some ground rules. In order to give someone other than Tony Iommi a chance of winning, there is a strict one riff per artist rule. And, well, that's it really. Head on over to our friends at to cast your vote. 

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(Image credit: Future)

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You can even vote for multiple riffs if you fancy. Wait, shouldn't that be a rule? But that's the thing with riffs; there are so many of them.

A quick scan of the list reveals some of the usual suspects. ”Ah, good afternoon, Iron Man, we have been expecting you.” And there are some deeper cuts, too. ”Iron Man, have you met Man In A Box? Oh you two really should have a lot to talk about.”

There are artists from across the length and breadth of the guitar canon, but can anyone stop Slow Hand or Jimmy Page finishing on the podium? If we judge a riff by its infectiousness, surely The Knack have a chance.

If you don't see your favourite on the list, you can write one in. The results of the poll will be published in issue 346 of Total Guitar magazine , which hits the UK news stand on 4 June 2021.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.