Forbidden Riff

While nobody remembers when forbidden riffs were banned in guitar stores, we’re sure overuse songs are a problem! As you read this, an acoustic guitarist steps into a guitar store, gets a Fender and connects it to amps.

However, they are not analyzing the tone of the guitar. They’re also not playing with the tone adjustments to fine-tune their sounds. Instead, they would have the guts to perform “Stairway to Heaven,” the world’s most famous guitar store-banned riff!

Let’s look at the issue of practicing forbidden riffs to comprehend better how this insanity began. While musicians believe it is a rite of passage, they are transmitting a musical riff virus driving guitar store personnel insane!

10 Forbidden Riffs At Guitar Store

Take a look, some of the below of forbidden riffs banned at guitar stores.

1) Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine”

This fantastic song from Guns ‘N Roses is a standard in many guitarist collections. It is among those good songs from the soundtrack album, ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ released in 1987.

Slash claimed that the theme was simply a stupid warm-up rhythm he was playing around with, which the band later added.

In 2019, the song was also the first 1980s pop song to surpass one million views. Slash has stated that Sweet Child O’ Mine is now the band’s best-played song in riffs studio. 

This song is more difficult to understand than the earlier ones on the list since the opening riff uses some rather tricky string skips. Well, that implies it is simpler for younger players to abuse and push people insane!

2) Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” 

With such a vast Metallica track, it’s a chance to embrace your true James Hetfield and turn into a down-picking Lord! As a teenage metalhead, You can undoubtedly be guilty of constantly ripping off this riff.

The first song and debut song from Metallica’s 1991 album ‘The Black Album’ is Enter Sandman. The song’s topic centers around the child’s dreams and animals screaming in the dark.

Initially, the lyrics focused on a much sadder theme of crib loss or an infant’s unexpected and mysterious death. Producer Bob Rock urged Hetfield to write new lyrics to bring the song more appealing to the general public. However, anyone needs a lot of talent is required to hit Kirk’s solo. The core riff of entering Sandman is quite simple to learn. 

3) The Animals From House Of The Rising Sun

“House of the Rising Sun” is an Appalachian and British traditional rock music hit. So many singers already sang the song, but The Animals made it a smash in 1964. Due to the apparent band’s sound, experts believe it to be the first rock and roller hit.

The song’s lyrical content explains someone’s incorrect path in New Orleans and advises individuals not to follow their path. If you’re looking for more songs with a related topic, look at our most outstanding songs on supporting others’ playlists.

Simple chord steps are applied with guitar players of all ages who are attracted to low and new player riffs. With the 6/8 pace, it’s simple to see why it is among the most cliched tunes in guitar shops worldwide.

4) The White Stripes Are A Seven Nation Army

You’ve probably lived in a cave without hearing “Seven Nation Army.” The White Stripes’ big single is sung at sports matches, pep events, political events, and other public gatherings.

The White Stripes were Jack White and his sister, Meg White. During their 2002 Australia Tour, Jack showed up with the famous seven-note riff in Melbourne. “Seven Nation Army” was a hit from their Elephant album released in 2003.

While its song seems like it’s from a bass guitar, Jack is performing a semi-hollow body guitar. The instrument changed the guitar’s pitch to sound more like a bass guitar. We feel it will remain a beloved forbidden riff with time and growing notoriety.

It’s no surprise that the song is forbidden at guitar stores due to its toughness, renown, and simplicity of playing the riff in E minor.

5) Back In Black – AC/DC

This outstanding rock song comes from the highly successful album Back in Black. The album has produced over 22 million copies, which makes it the sixth best-selling music in the United States. “Back in Black” is a homage to the band’s founding singer, Bon Scott, who died in 1980.

Brian Johnson, who composed the lyrics, got the job in Scott. While the songs are interesting, the powerful riff draws ambitious guitarists. Many commentators consider “Back in Black” to have the top riff from the 1980s.

The three-chord start riff and drummer Phil Rudd’s deep pocket are simple but addictive. With guitarist Angus Young’s head-shaking antics and preparatory school clothes, it’s no surprise that this song was a radio success.

It’s essential to note how the band exploits the area between the chords and the preceding notes. The calm attracts you, having you tap your feet and wiggle your neck like Angus. Since this clarity is powerful, it is also the reason that performing this banned riff is so common.

Guitarists ramp up the volume and play on a tune guitar store staff. Maybe they’re attempting to impress their pals or a female. Whatever the cause, “Back in Black” is now one of the most overused riffs in history. 

6) The Staircase to Heaven

Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” produced and published in 1970 and November 1971, was one of the most famous rock songs ever. “Stairway to Heaven” isn’t genuinely forbidden at most guitar stores; even though they do, it’s almost a prank rather than an official policy.

But, the mythology of why it is forbidden in guitar stores runs far broader than the cozy confines of a local music store. Truthfully, the opening chords of Stairway to Heaven are classified as the “forbidden riff” or “forbidden song” in some areas.

The beginning riff of Stairway to Heaven, “He-who-must-not-be-named” from Harry Potter, is considered banned by some people who are so opposed to the song they can’t stand hearing it performed.

7) Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd

What collection of overplayed melodies will be done without such a ridiculously catchy piece by Lynyrd Skynyrd?

Sweet Home Alabama was published as the first single from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s second studio album, ‘Second Helping,’ in 1974. This was the band’s first colossal smash and remained their best track.

The production of this song was in reaction to a Neil Young track that tells us the south’s inhabitants mainly were racists with old viewpoints. Instead, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s song is about southern pride and all that is wonderful in Alabama. Neil Young later confessed that he regrets the lyrics of a song.

Playing this masterpiece song for the chord on guitar will most likely be the most difficult of all the songs on our list. Even though most of the riffs are essential, you’ll often notice challenging sections where your fingers are set in unlikely places!

8) Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” is one of the most simple yet easily recognized power chord riffs. It’s imagination to realize how much music was already formed on a large power chord base. The four chords and basic rhythm that comprise the majority of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” are the most famous, which is impressive enough and is not to make it a global success.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” was one of two bonus tracks before Nevermind in 1991, and “Come As You Are” was the next. The last song’s goal was to make a small impact on radio airplay, but “Smells Like Teen Spirit” became a best seller. Along with the remainder of the Nevermind album, this entire rise is when rock became mainstream.

9) Deep Purple – Smoke On The Water

What makes Smoke On The Water a banned riff?

The famous riff from this classic rock standard is so easy that most beginner players should be able to learn it within a few weeks (or even days!) of picking up a guitar. And the majority do!

This song can be your first introduction to power chords; if you have it down, you will like a rock, GOD. In any situation, it can not be the guitar store staff who will suffer; but maybe your parents.

The song was sung in 1972, inspired by the previous year’s fire at The Casino in Switzerland. Deep Purple saw Frank Zappa perform live at The Casino when the fire broke out. They would start recording their next album at the venue the next day.

A layer of smoke was on top of Lake Geneva when the fire went down. This became the track’s title, with the lyrics focusing on the drama of attempting to record their album.

10) Crazy Train – Ozzy Osbourne

Crazy Train was the first single from Blizzard of Ozz, Ozzy’s initial solo album after leaving Black Sabbath in 1979. The lyrics focus on the Cold War, and the song has an anti-conflict message.

Randy Rhoads and bassist Bob Daisley were model train lovers, which inspired the song’s title. According to Daisley, Randy’s amp’s noises sounded a little like a mad train.

The beginning riff is perhaps the most overplayed and annoying to guitar store personnel, but the main stanza riff is also an excellent belter! They’re both pretty simple to master, but when you crank up the volume, they sound simply like a monster.

Where Did The Forbidden Riff Originate?

The forbidden riff originated in the 1970s as a prank or fun at the guitar retailers on London’s famed Denmark Street. Employees began to share lists of songs they couldn’t bear hearing from the (mostly beginner) musicians practicing their instruments.

The lists increased over time as new and popular songs became the standard for beginning players to learn.


What Is The Forbidden Riff?

The forbidden riff is any cliched tune banned from being performed at guitar stores. The list also includes several well-known yet simple-to-learn riffs and melodies that guitar sales staff hear abused regularly.

What Is A Guitar Riff?

Riff music is a repeating stream of tones or chords. A guitar riff is attractive and offers rhythm and flair to a musical piece. People listen to riffs in rock, funk, jazz, and Latin music, and we can see this in almost any genre.

How Come You Can’t Play Stairway To Heaven At A Guitar Store?

The main reason Stairway to Heaven is ‘banned’ at many guitar stores is due to a video being played many years ago. The truth is that the song is not banned from recording; people who learn to play the guitar play this song. If you start playing this famous tune, you won’t be fired from any guitar stores.

Final Thought

Although many other ban riffs did not cut, our top 10 are the most well-known riffs forbidden in guitar stores. And, despite our best efforts to warn, educate, and put an end to this musical plaque, we do not doubt that it will continue.

Remember our list when you get your new guitar, and avoid playing any of these banned tunes! You’ll make the world, especially guitar stores, a better place.

Sharing is caring

Related Articles