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10 Classic Rock Guitar Tabs


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Classic Rock Solos, Riffs, Intros and Tabs...

Any list of classic rock songs is going to be super subjective, and I'm sure there might be a specific song, not on here, that you can think should be.  If that's the case, remember that this is not necessarily a "best of" kind of list, it's just a collection of classic rock guitar tabs that are simple to learn and are popular across the web, and guitar world in general.  To truly benefit from this page, here are three things you need to take note of:

(1) You need to know How to Read Guitar Tabs.  Otherwise nothing on this page is going to make sense.  My guide is simple and straightforward so if you've never used guitar tablature before, go read it now...

(2) Some of the Solos\Riffs employ certain guitar techniques such as bending and sliding.  If you don't know what these are, read the notes section after each song, or head on over to the Guitar Techniques section of this site.

(3) It's hard to define exactly when the "classic rock" period (late 60's to late 70's) started and ended, and folks sometimes fight over whether a song is "classic rock", "hard rock", "rock and roll" etc.  If you're looking for a song that's not on this list, try the best guitar riffs section, or have a look at these guitar solo tabs for more songs.
Learn to Play 10 famous classic rock guitar tabs using this simple guide that include riffs from Guns 'n Roses, Aerosmith, Boston, Led Zeppelin and a few more...
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Classic Rock Guitar Tabs 1:
More Than A Feeling (Boston)

Memorable and very, very catchy, "More than a feeling" was written by Boston's founder Tom Scholtz, in his basement during the mid-seventies.  It took him nearly five years to complete the song, but his hard work clearly paid off, since today with this classic rock hit is played over the radio, everyone wants a part of the feeling.  The "More than a feeling" lyric of the chorus actually refers to the emotion awakened when one again hears an old, familiar song.
Notes on the Song

The INTRO & VERSES Picking line (acoustic) is played 2-3 times before the singing of the first verse starts.  The picking line is continues throughout the verse followed, by, after the last words ("I closed my eyes and I slipped away...") the Pre-Chorus Riff played high on the fretboard with treble-overdrive.  Immediately on the last note of this riff (12th fret on the G string) the Chorus chords start.  These are power chords played in succession (G, C, Em and D repeated throughout the chorus).  You'll need a nice overdrive sound for the chorus as well.
Classic Rock Guitar Tabs 2:
Sweet Emotion (Aerosmith)

Released in 1975 as part of their "Toys in the Attic" Album, this classic rock hit (which clearly precedes the later pop-rock genre) was one of the first truly successful songs for Aerosmith which rocketed them into stardom and fame.  The song was written by singer Steve Tyler, and bassist Tom Hamilton.
Notes on the Song

This song has a repeated bass-line that is repeated during the intro of the song (which is not tabbed here).  The guitar bit (the verse Riff above) starts immediately after the verse lyrics begin ("Talk about things and nobody cares...").  This riff is played using overdrive distortion.

With the same sound you'll play the post-verse riff right after the last lines of the verses.  This riff is repeated after every verse and later a second guitar joins in which plays the same riff in harmony.  The chorus of the song (where the lines "Sweet emotion..." is repeated) uses the bass line riff.
Classic Rock Guitar Tabs  3:
Paint it Black (Rolling Stones)

Written by Mick Jagger (Lyrics) and Keith Richards (Melody), Paint it Black is considered by Rolling Stone magazine to be among the Top 500 best songs of all time.  It was the first US hit song that included an Indian instrument! (The classic riff below was actually originally played on a sitar, not a guitar).  The song's somewhat cryptic lyrics apparently revolve around the funeral of an anonymous young girl.
Notes on the Song

The tab above shows the intro of the song, which is likely it's most well-known part.  It was originally played on a Sitar, but sounds equally great on a guitar.  The first two lines consists of fairly straightforward finger picking, using the open E string as a pedal-note.  The last part has some fairly fast fingerings using hammer's and pull-off's on the B string.

The final part of the intro is simply the strumming of the E-minor chord around the time when the drums and the rest of the band fall in.
Notes on the Song

The first three notes (A--0-1-2--) should be played with alternate picking to help you play it fast enough.  Playing with up and downstrokes is always quicker than playing all the notes with a downstroke action.  If you're not used to alternate picking, this might take some practice.

The mute on the top string (E--x-) can be achieved by simply resting a finger against the string (not fretting it!) and plucking the string once.

Aerosmith uses an overdrive/distortion effect for this riff and you can do the same to get the full effect of it.  You can also have a look at this video version of the tab.
Classic Rock Guitar Tabs  4:
Walk This Way (Aerosmith)

Walk This Way has a lot in common with "Sweet Emotion" (#2 above):  They appeared on the same album and formed part of a string of hits that brought mainstream success to Aerosmith.

The more famous version of the song was the 1980's cover (in collaboration with Aerosmith) by Run DMC which actually spawned a new sub-genre of rock called Rap-Rock.
Classic Rock Guitar Tabs 5:
Free Bird (Lynyrd Skynyrd)

Featuring on the Southern Hard Rock Band's debut album in 1973 this power ballad has a mesmerizing intro, making extensive use of slide-guitar.

It's today considered to be Lynyrd Skynyrd's signature song and has been called "the most requested song in the history of rock music."  The song's opening line was born when the band's guitarist was asked that question by his girlfriend one day, and he noted the lyrical power in the phrase.
Classic Rock Guitar Tabs 6:
Carry On My Wayward Son (Kansas)

Though today this song is perhaps well-known due to a paranormal US hit-TV show, it was originally written by progressive Rock Band, Kansas, in 1976 as their first Top 40 Hit.

The song has great guitar parts (intro & solo) and lyrics make veiled reference to the famous story of the "Prodigal Son" from the Bible, in Luke chapter 15.
Notes on the Song

This intro riff is played after the initial capella rendering of the chorus.  The riff is played at moderate tempo which shouldn't prove too challenging for intermediate players.  In the original recording by Kansas there are two guitars during the intro and the second guitar plays a different riff during the second part of the intro.  The main guitar though, just repeats the main riff as indicated above.

The ending of the intro consists of two-note power chords with some vibrato at the end.  After the intro, when the lyrical verses start, a piano takes up the accompaniment.
Classic Rock Guitar Tabs  7:
Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin)

Dangerously considered by many to be the "Greatest Rock Song of All Time", Led Zeppelin's classic rock hit is a must learn (which is why every new guitarist tries, usually a bit too early).  During the 1970's this song was the most requested radio single in the United States.

Zeppelin's guitarist, Jimmy Page, originally used a double neck guitar when playing this song.
Notes on the Song

This riff forms part of the intro to the song and is hugely popular amongst guitarists.  It requires quite a bit of experience with fingerpicking, especially with getting your chord formations and timings right.  This is also a fairly long piece so it's a good idea to learn it alongside the original.

You can also have a look at the video version of this tab.
Classic Rock Guitar Tabs  8:
Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd)

Written in response to two of Neil Young's songs (which broadly accused Southerners in the United States of Racism), "Sweet Home Alabama" apparently came to Bassist Ed King in a dream and is still popular today.

The song's lyrics have, aside from bashing Neil Young, a few other tongue-in-cheek political references.
Notes on the Song

The intro part of the song is played twice before the verse starts.  The intro has a few fast fingerings with pull offs and a bend at the end (5th fret of the G string).  Once the verse starts the melody simplifies with an easier picking line.

The entire riff (Intro + Verse) is played with an acoustic sound.
Classic Rock Guitar Tabs 9:
November Rain (Guns 'n Roses)

At nearly 9 minutes this power ballad is one of Guns 'n Roses' longest songs, and also one of its more recent - appearing in 1992, much later than any other song in this list.

It was written by the Band's front man, Axle Rose and features a classical orchestral backing.  The music video for the song was one of the most expensive ever produced.
Notes on the Song

For beginner players, If you need help with any of these chords have a look at my article on beginner guitar chords (which teaches the four basic chords G, C, Em and D).  You can also grab any of these free guitar chord charts which shows the fingering for nearly all the chords you get.
Classic Rock Guitar Tabs  10:
Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd)

One of Pink Floyd's most famous hits, "Comfortably Numb" is well-known for its guitar solos (in the middle and end of the song).

The song's lyrics recount an experience by a fictional and embittered rock star (called 'Pink') as he undergoes treatment by an anonymous doctor.
Notes on the Song

For beginner players, If you need help with any of these chords have a look at my article on beginner guitar chords (which teaches the four basic chords G, C, Em and D).  You can also grab any of these free guitar chord charts which shows the fingering for nearly all the chords you get.
Where to from here?
Learn Beginner Guitar Tabs
For more free song lessons, I highly recommend you check out what I've written on Jamplay.  Jamplay has over 350 professionally transcribed and recorded song lessons (the very best on the Internet).
Learn Chord Sets
Jamplay is Amazing
More Than a Feeling
(Boston)
Sweet
Emotion

(Aerosmith)
Paint it Black
(Rolling
Stones)
Walk This
Way

(Aerosmith)
Free Bird
(Lynyrd
Skynyrd)
Comfortably
Numb

(Pink Floyd)
November
Rain

(Guns 'n
Roses)
Sweet Home
Alabama

(Lynyrd
Skynyrd)
Stairway to Heaven
(Led Zeppelin)
Carry on My
Wayward Son

(Kansas)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Learn to Play More Than a Feeling by Boston
Learn to Play Sweet Emotion by Aerosmith
Learn to Play Paint It Black by The Rolling Stones
Learn to Play Walk This Way by Aerosmith
Learn to Play Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Learn to Play Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd
Learn to Play November Rain by Guns n Roses
Learn to Play Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Learn to Play Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin
Learn to Play Carry on My Wayward Son by Kansas
Learn to Play More Than a Feeling by Boston
Learn to Play Sweet Emotion by Aerosmith
Learn to Play Paint It Black by The Rolling Stones
Learn to Play Walk This Way by Aerosmith
Learn to Play Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Learn to Play Carry on My Wayward Son by Kansas
Learn to Play Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin
Learn to Play Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Learn to Play November Rain by Guns n Roses
Learn to Play Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd
Notes on the Song

The sliding riff above (slides are indicated with the > symbol) is played during the intro
of the song and forms part of the iconic sound of this song.
Even if you don't have a slide (the cylindrical metal pipe used by many country guitarists
when playing slide guitar) you can still make this piece sound authentic by using regular
sliding with your fingers.  It's advisable to listen to the original recording to get the sound
and feature right.