25 Hardest Songs to Play on Guitar (With Tabs + Videos)

Hardest Songs to Play on Guitar

Learning the guitar requires considerable patience and dedication. It takes months, even years, of practice to improve your guitar skills—and through cramps and finger pains.

Learning simple guitar arrangements is an excellent place to start scaling the learning curve. It allows beginners and intermediate guitar players to learn practical techniques in playing.

So in this post, we’ll cover the 25 easiest songs to play on guitar. Many of these songs are simplified versions of their original melodies, so even beginners can learn them.

Some pieces may use more sophisticated arrangements, but you can still learn to play them regardless of skill level. These pieces have provided a solid foundation for aspiring guitar players worldwide.

1. “Eruption” by Van Halen

Van Halen is an American heavy metal band known for its top-notch electric guitar melodies. Founded by the Van Halen brothers, they became a critically acclaimed group credited for their significant contribution to the hard rock genre in their time.

Eruption is one of the most popular guitar solos from the band. Many critics consider this piece one of the greatest guitar solos in the history of rock music.

This song changed the perception of hard rock in the music scene. And guitar players would measure their skills on whether or not they can perform Eruption by Van Halen.

Genre Heavy Metal/Instrumental Rock/Hard Rock
Difficulty Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric
TabsEruption by Van Halen Tabs

2. “Through the Fire and Flames” by DragonForce

Are you looking for a challenging piece to play on your guitar? Through the Fire and Flames by DragonForce is certainly one we’d recommend.

DragonForce is a famous British power metal band known for its fantasy-themed lyrics and impressive guitar solos. Critics and fans label the Grammy-nominated group as the fastest band in the world.

Despite its difficulty level, learning Through the Fire and Flames would be beneficial to improve your guitar skills. You’d need considerable patience and commitment, but it’ll be worth it.

Genre Power Metal/Progressive Metal/Rock
Difficulty Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric
TabsThrough the Fire and Flames Tabs

3. “Cliffs of Dover” by Eric Johnson

If you’re a fan of instrumental rock music, you’ll enjoy Cliffs of Dover by Johnson. This hit piece won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance and peaked at number 17 on Guitar World Magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitar Solo chart.

The Celtic-inspired melody of this guitar solo impressed millions of listeners. We particularly enjoyed the technical knowledge needed to play the sweet, violin-like tone from a guitar.

You’d need to be above intermediate level to play Cliffs of Dover, as played by Eric Johnson. But you can certainly work your way through learning one stroke at a time.

Genre Folk/Rock/Instrumental
Difficulty Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsCliffs of Dover Tabs

4. “Caprice No. 24” by Niccolò Paganini (As Played by Eliot Fisk)

Eliot Fisk is a classical guitarist known for his charisma and expertise in his instrument. He’s won several awards, including the Cruz de Isabel la Catolica, for his contribution to music.

That said, his guitar arrangement of Panini’s Caprice No.24 is nothing short of extraordinary. And you’ll need considerable dexterity when using the acoustic guitar to play it effectively.

It’s an ideal piece to learn for individuals who enjoy guitar and classical music together. The arrangement will help improve your chord shifts and fingering as well.

Genre Classical/Solo
Difficulty Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsCaprice No. 24 Tabs

5. “Black Star” by Yngwie Malmsteen

Fans of neoclassical metal music would surely know the name, Yngwie Malmsteen. Music historians and fans dubbed him the originator of this rock music genre.

Black Star is the famous first track in the Rising Force album of Malmsteen. It became one of his staple songs, ranking 36 on Guitar World’s 100 Greatest Guitar Solos.

That said, this piece is notorious for its extremely high difficulty. So, this song might appeal to those who’d want to experience advanced-level play styles.

Genre Neoclassical/Heavy Metal
Difficulty Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsBlack Star Tabs

6. “Tornado of Souls” by Megadeth

Trash Metal is one of the most challenging genres to play on guitar. It uses techniques like palm muting, down-picking, and complex riffs, which most novice players will find difficult.

If you’re testing the waters for Thrash Metal, Megadeth’s Tornado of Souls is one you can’t miss. Most fans would agree that this piece has the best guitar solo in the band’s career.

That said, playing Tornado of Souls would definitely pose a challenge to guitar players of every level. And you’ll need tons of practice to keep up with the fast rhythm and note succession.

Genre Heavy Metal/Thrash Metal
Difficulty Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsTornado of Souls Tabs

7. “La Catedral” by Agustín Barrios Mangoré

Dabbing on different genres is an excellent way to improve your playing faster. Classical and instrumental music, for instance, lets you focus on the technical aspects of the instrument.

Augustine Barrios Mangoré is a giant when it comes to instrumental guitar. Musical historians consider Mangoré the most prolific performer and composer of his time.

La Catedral is a distinctive and evocative piece of music by Augustine Barrios Mangoré. The fair amount of chord shifting makes it an ideal practice for novice and intermediate musicians.

Genre Instrumental/Classical
Difficulty Beginner/Intermediate
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsLa Catedral Tabs

8. “For the Love of God” by Steve Vai

Our list of notable guitar songs isn’t complete without mentioning Steve Vai. And any aspiring guitarist would surely miss out without learning one of his songs.

Steve Vai’s For the Love of God is an excellent pick if you’re looking for a song slightly above your level. This guitar solo features many techniques, like fluid plays and pitch blends.

The three-time Grammy award winner sure knows his way around his craft. And his guitar techniques are fantastic skills you should add to your assets.

Genre Metal/Rock/Progressive Metal/New Age
Difficulty Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsFor the Love of God Tabs

9. “Scarified” by Racer X

Racer X is a heavy metal band famed for its melodic, technical, and high-speed rock music. They achieved remarkable success in the 1980s, releasing over nine albums.

Scarified is a must-learn piece from this band. It’s an instrumental song featured in their album, Second Heat, released in 1987.

The technicality of the composition makes it challenging to play on the guitar. But you’ll get the chance to learn techniques like sweeping, string skipping, and tapping.

Genre Metal/Progressive Metal/Instrumental
Difficulty Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsScarified Tabs

10. “Little Wing” by Jimi Hendrix

If we’re talking about guitarists, Jimi Hendrix’s name would surely pop out. Music critics recognize Hendrix as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.

Little Wing is a famous piece written by Jimi Hendrix. It’s a song flaunting his innovative and blues-inspired style of composition.

The unique sound of Little Wing evokes nostalgia and sorrow. The song features a slow rhythm and tempo, an ideal arrangement for newbie players building their speed.

Genre Blues/Classical Rock
Difficulty Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsLittle Wing Tabs

11. “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits

Rock Music does have the most outstanding guitar solos. And Dire Strait’s guitar melodies and drums are a real treat to any musician’s ears.

Sultans of Swing is the first single-release album from the British rock band. The warm reception from its international audience led to the song peaking no.4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The relaxed rhythm of Sultan of Swings makes it easier to play on guitar. We’d say that the trick to playing this song is familiarizing its rhythm and licks.

Genre Rock/Folk/Blues Rock
Difficulty Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsSultans of Swing Tabs

12. “YYZ” by Rush

Rush is a Canadian rock band most popular in the 80s and 90s. Their albums charted high in several countries, including the US, United Kingdom, and Canada.

People favor Rush’s musicianship, flaunting complex guitar compositions in their songs. Their theme drew heavily from philosophy, fantasy, and science fiction.

YYZ boasts some of the most formidable riffs you can play on guitar. So, it’s a fantastic piece for novice guitar players seeking to improve their riffing techniques.

Genre Metal/Rock
Difficulty Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic/Both
TabsYYZ Tabs

13. “The Spirit of Radio” by Rush

The Spirit of Radio is another guitar masterpiece from the Canadian band Rush. It came with their platinum-certified album, Permanent Waves, released in 1980.

The song peaked at number 14 on UK’s singles music chart quickly after its release. Since then, The Spirit of Radio has become one of the most recognizable songs from the band.

It’s a timeless piece loved by millions of fans worldwide. But playing this song would require larger-than-average size hands for the wide spacing of the notes.

Genre Metal/Rock/Hard Rock/Progressive Rock
Difficulty Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsThe Spirit of Radio Tabs

14. “Canon Rock” by Jerry C (Arrangement of Pachelbel’s Canon)

Classical songs touch every corner of the music scene. And several modern artists, like Jerry C, imbue their heavy-metal craft with an impressive classical touch.

What sets Jerry C’s arrangement of Canon Rock apart is the incredible agility needed to play it. Its wide string skips and fast-paced picking will present a significant challenge for novices.

Luckily, manageable versions of this piece are available. Plus, you can start learning the song in separate portions while scaling your way up.

Genre Neo-Classical/Metal/Rock
Difficulty Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsCanon Rock Tabs

15. “Asturias (Leyenda)” by Isaac Albéniz

Born in the 60s, Isaac Albéniz is an important figure when talking about classical guitar. He’s a piano prodigy known for his compositions based on folk music idioms.

Asturias Leyenda is one of the most notable works of Isaac Albéniz. While the song uses the piano, it presents a smooth note-rolling evocative of a guitar.

There are two sections to Asturias Leyenda: a warm introduction followed by a contemplative chorus. It’s an ideal piece for individuals attempting to improve their note-switching technique.

Genre Chamber Music/Classical
Difficulty Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsAsturias (Leyenda) Tabs

16. “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” by Jimi Hendrix

There’s no arguing against the musical influence of Jimi Hendrix. His approach to guitar compositions changed the way people perceive and make music.

His guitar solo on Voodoo Child is an iconic arrangement lauded by music fans. It climbed several music charts, topping the UK Singles Charts in 1970.

Voodoo Child is a perfect song for guitarists accustomed to the tune and style of rock and blues solos. Intermediate players can hone their skills with Voodoo Child’s riffs and licks.

Genre Classical Rock/Rock
Difficulty Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsVoodoo Child (Slight Return) Tabs

17. “Cemetery Gates” by Pantera

Founded in Texas, Pantera is a heavyweight metal band in the 90s. This band is one of the most influential heavy metal groups, selling 20 million copies of albums and winning Grammys.

Cemetery Gates is a famous power ballad from Pantera. It’s the longest song in the band’s discography and peaked at number 48 on US Rock Tracks Top 60.

That said, this piece requires considerable agility to play on guitar. But you should be able to play it smoothly, banking on your knowledge of power chords and harmonics.

Genre Groove Metal/Heavy Metal
Difficulty Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsCemetery Gates Tabs

18. “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne

If you’re a fan of Black Sabbath, then you probably know about Ozzy Osbourne. The British musician was Black Sabbath’s vocalist before splitting and pursuing a solo career.

Crazy Train is the debut single of Ozzy Osbourne as a solo artist. The iconic riffs and arrangement of the piece made it one of his signature songs.

The song is an excellent starter for people who want to explore many playing methods. It includes simple shreds and taps, perfect for intermediate-level guitarists.

Genre Metal/Heavy Metal
Difficulty Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsCrazy Train Tabs

19. “Snow (Hey Oh)” by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Known for their music combining funk and punk rock, Red Hot Chili Peppers took the music scene in the 80s. And the band surely didn’t skimp with their guitar melodies.

Snow Hey Oh is recognizable for its gentle melodic approach. You may even be familiar with this piece through television shows, movies, and the WWE Wrestlemania. 

The song is rich and simple enough for novice and intermediate players to practice. The melody follows a single pattern throughout the song, so you’ll need that extra endurance.

Genre Alternative Rock/Indie Rock/
Difficulty Beginner/Intermediate
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsSnow (Hey Oh) Tabs

20. “Fives” by Guthrie Govan

The prolific guitarist, Guthrie Govan, is known for working with several bands, like Asia, Aristocrats, and GPS. He also has a solo album entitled Erotic Cakes, released in 2006.

One quality of Guthrie Govan’s music that makes it notorious is the varying note groupings in his songs. And this musical perk remains in his Fives run.

Fives’ fast-paced rhythm and astonishing chord shifts can be daunting for the average player. It’d take lots of practice, but this piece might help you scale the learning ladder.

Genre Rock
Difficulty Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsFives Tabs

21. “Anji” by Davy Graham

We talked about the most influential guitar music of the rock and classic rock genres. But we can’t consider the list complete without Davy Graham’s Anji. 

Music critics and historians regard Davy Graham’s work as era-defining. He’s one of the pioneers of folk-revival music along with Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and Alan Lomax.

The acoustic fingerstyle of Anji is a critically acclaimed composition. It’s far from easy to play, but the speed and precision needed for the song should come with time and consistency.

Genre Blues Folk/Instrumental
Difficulty Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsAnji Tabs

22. “Selkies: The Endless Obsession” by Between the Buried and Me

Between the Buried and Me is a band specializing in the progressive metal genre. The band is known for using varied musical genres involving progressive, death, and avant-garde metal.

One notable guitar work from Between the Buried and Me is the solo in their song Selkies: The Endless Obsession. It’s one of the songs in their 2005 album, Alaska.

Selkies: The Endless Obsession boasts Paul Waggoner’s outstanding sweep-picking. Trying this piece might help develop your sweep picking—a must-have skill for aspiring guitar players.

Genre Metal/Progressive Metal
Difficulty Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsSelkies: The Endless Obsession Tabs

23. “Always With Me, Always With You” by Joe Satriani

Want to learn advanced guitar techniques and methods? Learn from Joe Satriani, a 15-time Grammy nominee with six gold and platinum albums.

Always with Me, Always with You is a remarkable piece from the decorated rock guitarist. It’s a heartful, slow, melodic song, perfect for learning and experimentation.

Compared to his other hit pieces, Always with Me, Always with You is easier to play on guitar. The straightforward structure and unhurried rhythm offer a fun playground for novice players.

Genre Rock/Pop Instrumental
Difficulty Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsAlways with Me, Always with You Tabs

24. “Master of Puppets” by Metallica

This band doesn’t need any introduction. We’ve seen and heard Metallica’s music on TV shows and featured in movies from the 80s until today.

But if you’re planning on playing some of their songs, Master of Puppets is a must. After all, this classic piece is making waves even in today’s music scene, nailing the top 40 in the UK’s chart.

Critics hail Master of Puppets as a masterpiece and avatar of thrash metal music. It’s beginner-friendly, with several interpretations and covers you can use as a reference.

Genre Rock/Thrash Metal
Difficulty Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsMaster of Puppet Tabs

25. “Crossroads” by Cream (Originally by Robert Johnson, as Played by Eric Clapton)

Fans of Blues Rock music would agree that Eric Clapton is a prominent contributor to the genre. His mastery of Blues Rock techniques, and outlandishly fast runs, inspired many rock artists.

His rendition of Cream’s Crossroads guitar solo reminds us of his technical prowess. Almost half a century later, fans still revere it as a legendary performance from the Grammy-winner musician.

Here’s the amazing bit: Eric Clapton’s arrangement rotates around three easy blues chords. So you can most definitely explore and play around with this song all you want.

Genre Hard Rock/Blues Rock
Difficulty Intermediate/Advanced
Type of GuitarElectric/Acoustic
TabsCrossroads Tabs

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