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Top 75 Most Difficult Guitar Songs

We’re all at different levels as guitarists. However, no matter how good a player we are, there will be a bunch of guitar songs that are very hard to play. That’s why I decided to compile a short list of what I think are the most difficult guitar songs, regardless of your level.

Table of Contents

So, let’s get straight to it and take a look at the first song…

Most Difficult Guitar Songs

Top 75 Most Difficult Guitar Songs

1 Eruption by Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen is frequently credited for coming up with a new way of playing. The two-handed tapping technique may or may not have been his idea; he claims to have seen Jimmy Page tap one note when he saw Led Zeppelin play live. But that was only one tapped note, not a whole piece of tapped notes. Regardless, with the 1978 release of “Eruption,” we undoubtedly got to hear a flawless performance of this new technique.

It was a ground-breaking recording that changed guitar playing for nearly every guitarist. For Metal and Rock guitarists, tapping would eventually become commonplace and a must-have technique to be mastered.

“Eruption” brought us not only tapping but also the liberal use of arpeggios along with wide-interval playing to a stunned set of fans and the music world at large. The technical skills required to play this song would take years for many to master.

It’s a hugely important song… 

But it was never released as an A-side. Although, it later featured on the B-side of the single “Runnin’ With the Devil,” which was released as a single from the album, VanHalen, later in the same year.

It could be that “Eruption,” with a guitar solo lasting one minute and forty-two seconds, was not seen as single material. However, at least the release as a B-side gave fans the chance to buy it rather than the album. 

Not that it stopped 17 million people from doing just that.

2 The Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing By Joe Satriani

Joe Satriani was one of the most influential guitarists of his time. He is a fifteen times Grammy-nominated guitarist and has sold over ten million records. Plus, he has also toured and collaborated with a ton of superstar bands and musicians.

Along with Van Halen, he helped to develop the new wave of Rock guitar playing. Interestingly, he claims to have used tapping as a technique even before Van Halen. He also claims that he first heard it from Wishbone Ash’s guitarists.

Without the luxury of the internet at the time, it’s hard to say who came up with tapping first. However, it’s fair to say that, most probably, a few stumbled across the idea at pretty much the same time.

Life’s little mysteries, I guess…

“The Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing” was one of Joe Satriani’s most challenging songs to play on guitar. He wrote it whilst under the influence of some kind of narcotic which explains a lot. 

Released in 1989 on the album, Flying in a Blue Dream, it’s a must-listen for any aspiring advanced guitarist.

3 Tender Surrender by Steve Vai

Steve Vai is probably the most famous of Joe Satriani’s guitar students. Kirk Hammett may have one or two things to say about that, but for most of us, we’d agree that Steve Vai is the better guitarist.

Since turning up at Joe Satriani’s house as a fourteen-year-old schoolboy with guitar in hand and no strings, Steve Vai has come a long way. This, in no small part, is down to his insane practice routine. Typically, he’d spend ten hours a day playing guitar during his student days which quite frankly is incomprehensible.

The result?

One of the most technically proficient guitarists of all time. “Tender Surrender” puts all his skills on display, and in places, those skills are utterly and completely mind-blowing. 

Although it’s one of the most difficult guitar songs to play, it starts easily enough, and quite honestly, eighty to ninety percent is more than playable. But, the last ten percent. That is where things are super tricky.

Downright nuts, if you ask me…

The speed of the arpeggio runs, and tapping is crazy. Plus, the fluidity and accuracy are completely off the scale. To get close to the sound is kind of doable, but to sound so good is truly bonkers.

It was released as the last track on the 1996 Alien Love Secrets album. The track is a five-minute “eargasm,” but the best version is live. 

4 Texas Flood by Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughn, I believe, was the greatest Blues/Rock guitarist ever. His timing, finger strength, sense of rhythm, and sheer musicality were incredible. 

Over his entire career, you’d be hard-pressed to find a single mistake despite frequently improvising long and complicated solos. No matter where he was in a song, he always appeared to know right where he was going. 

This was some feat considering he was often drunk and completely wasted on drugs. But he was a guitar maestro.

Not condoning that sort of thing, just sayin’…

“Texas Flood,” released in 1983 from the album of the same name, might not be the most difficult guitar track ever, but it’s not without its challenges. To play it with style and aplomb is a tall order. And if you don’t believe me, give it a try. Still easy?

Now change your strings to 13s, play whilst singing, and finally do all of that and make it sound great whilst paying behind your back. And I don’t mean playing behind your head, just so we’re clear.

You can’t do it? Thought not, and that’s why SRV was a guitar God.

5 Jordan by Buckethead

Buckethead has some serious chops. His technique is excellent, and many of his songs showcase this extraordinary talent. This is no more so than when he performs “Jordan.”

The track was never released as a part of an album. It came out in 2006 on Guitar Hero II as a playable tune. Because of its popularity, it was released three years later as a downloadable piece of music, but it was never available in physical form.

Very ahead of its time in that respect…

“Jordan” contains some super-fast licks and runs that would challenge even the best guitarist. There’s plenty of tapping and crazy hammer-ons and pull-offs when it lets rip about halfway through. As if all that isn’t enough, there are also offbeat rhythms and extensive use of a pitch shifter.

It is a killer track, and if it’s your kind of thing, you should also listen to “Night of the Slunk,” which was released in 1999 off his album, Monsters and Robots.

6 Cowboys from Hell by Pantera

7 The Crusade by Trivium

8 Miserlou by Dick Dale

9 For the Love of God by Steve Vai

10 Through the Fire and Flames by DragonForce

11 Cliffs of Dover by Eric Johnson

12 Technical Difficulties by Racer X

13 Black Star by Yngwie Malmsteen

14 The Dance of Eternity by Dream Theater

15 Canon Rock by JerryC

16 Caprice No. 24 by Niccolo Paganini (arranged for guitar by Julian Bream)

17 Always with Me, Always with You by Joe Satriani

18 Glasgow Kiss by John Petrucci

19 La Grange by ZZ Top

20 Far Beyond the Sun by Yngwie Malmsteen

21 Surfing with the Alien by Joe Satriani

22 Tender Surrender by Steve Vai

23 Seize the Day by Avenged Sevenfold

24 Under a Glass Moon by Dream Theater

25 Satch Boogie by Joe Satriani

26 Paranoid Android by Radiohead

27 Flight of the Bumblebee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (arranged for guitar by Steve Morse)

28 YYZ by Rush

29 Mr. Crowley by Ozzy Osbourne (featuring Randy Rhoads)

30 Bad Horsie by Steve Vai

31 Scarified by Racer X

32 The Trooper by Iron Maiden

33 The Glass Prison by Dream Theater

34 Stratosphere by Stratovarius

35 Blue Powder by Steve Vai

36 Waves by Guthrie Govan

37 Thunderstruck by AC/DC

38 One by Metallica

39 The Extremist by Joe Satriani

40 Sails of Charon by Scorpions

41 Snow ((Hey Oh)) by Red Hot Chili Peppers

42 Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin

43 Clap by Steve Howe

44 Cliffs of Rock City by Paul Gilbert

45 Snowball of Doom by Racer X

46 Paranoid by Black Sabbath

47 Voodoo Child (Slight Return) by Jimi Hendrix

48 Black Magic Woman by Santana

49 Aces High by Iron Maiden

50 Midnight by Joe Satriani

More 25 Most Difficult Guitar Songs

    1. Fives by Guthrie Govan
    2. The Faded Line by Lamb of God
    3. Megalodon by Mastodon
    4. Outworld by Outworld
    5. Floods by Pantera
    6. The Light and Shade of Things by Fates Warning
    7. War by Meshuggah
    8. Summer Song by Joe Satriani
    9. Dream Theater by The Dark Eternal Night
    10. Guthrie Govan by Wonderful Slippery Thing
    11. In Flames by The Jester Race
    12. Steve Vai by The Attitude Song
    13. Iron Maiden by Hallowed Be Thy Name
    14. The Faceless by Autotheist Movement II
    15. Muse by Knights of Cydonia
    16. I Am the Black Wizards by Emperor
    17. Death by Symbolic
    18. Trivium by Ascendancy
    19. Eric Johnson by Manhattan
    20. Periphery by Have a Blast
    21. Revocation by Across Forests and Fjords
    22. Paul Gilbert by Frenzy
    23. Animals as Leaders by Physical Education
    24. Slayer by Angel of Death
    25. Necrophagist by Fermented Offal Discharge.

Interested in Playing the Guitar?

If so, take a look at our detailed articles on Amazing Acoustic Guitar Solos You Must HearEasy Electric Guitar Songs for Rock & Metal BeginnersEasy Songs to Learn on the Electric Guitar for Beginners, and How To Practice Guitar Chords for more useful information.

Also, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Parlor Acoustic Guitars, the Best Hollow And Semi-Hollow Guitars, the Best Jazz Guitars, the Best Blues Guitars, the Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500, and the Best Guitars For Small Hands you can buy in 2023.

And don’t miss our comprehensive Squier Affinity Telecaster Review, our Schecter C1 Platinum Review, our Epiphone SG Special VE Review, our Fender American Professional Jazzmaster Review, and our Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro Review for more great guitars currently on the market.

Most Difficult Guitar Songs – Final Thoughts

So, there you have it. It takes years to master the guitar, but I’m sure you’ll agree these five of the most challenging guitar songs would stretch even the most proficient player. This was only a short list, so apologies for any glaring omissions, and I hope you enjoy having a go at least one or two of the songs.

Until next time, keep on playing.

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