It’s been a bit since we’ve dissected (bitched about) a guitar list from Gibson.com, so perhaps it would be nice to have a look at the site’s and readers’ Top 50 Guitar Riffs ranking.

It’s a complete fucking disaster, of course.

Maybe that’s a bit too strong. These compendia can’t possibly be all things to all people, and Gibson’s list starts off strong with “Iron Man,” “Sunshine of Your Love,” “Walk This Way,” and (the ultimate guitar riff?) “Smoke on the Water” among the top ten. Also present are (Led Zeppelin’s) “Heartbreaker” and “Crazy Train”—all certified guitar riffs.

I suppose it’s debatable what exactly constitutes a “guitar riff.” To this guitarist, a riff is a signature motif primarily composed of single notes (see “Iron Man”) or dyads (see “Smoke on the Water”). The following inhabitants of the Top 50 do not meet those criteria: “Sultans of Swing” (chord progression), “Rebel Rebel” (arpeggiated lick—I know, now we need to debate what makes a lick), “Sweet Child O’ Mine” (a melodic theme, sure, but a riff?).

The readers’ Top 25 hits on many of the same highlights, rectifies the omission of “Mississippi Queen,”  and (predictably) contains some perplexing choices like “Walk at Night” by Boston (what is that, even?) and “1 a.m.” by Beautiful Creatures. Huh?

Their lists—including the number one riff EVER—can be seen right here.

Figure 1: A guitar riff being played. Glad I could help. Courtesy Slimmphoto.

And if I’m so damn smart, you may wonder, what do I think are worthy riffs? Without further ado, here are the Pointy Guitar, non-binding, Top 21 24 Guitar Riffs of the Moment:

“Cities on Flame” – Blue Öyster Cult
“Beyond the Universe” – Derringer
“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” – Iron Butterfly
“Man on the Silver Mountain” – Rainbow
“Working Man” – Rush
“Just Got Paid” – ZZ Top
“Snakeskin Cowboy” – Ted Nugent
“Girl U Want” – Devo
“She” – Kiss
“Battery” – Metallica
“Oh Well” – Fleetwood Mac
“Muffin Man” – Frank Zappa
“Chiquita” – Aerosmith
“Red” – King Crimson
“All Day and All of the Night” – The Kinks
“Unchained” – Van Halen
“The Rover” – Led Zeppelin
“Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” – Neil Young
“Blind Faith” – Sea of Joy
“Rock Bottom” – UFO
“Allied Forces” – Triumph
“High Wire” – Badlands
“Voracious Souls” – Death Angel
“Dead Skin Mask” – Slayer

Good gawd, what a bunch of old guy rock. Oh well.

Whadda you say, reader?

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