What is the Forbidden Riffs? Why they are banned in Guitar Stores?

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Guitar Riffs

Guitar riffs are the repetitive notes or chords from any song that we can play over and over again to form the hook line or music of the song. They can also be played just once, but these riffs are catchy and are just the notes that steal the limelight of the song. Rock, jazz, metal, blues- all are based on guitar riffs. Since these are the repetition of a single chord, the riffs are the easiest thing that any beginner can master within seconds. That is why riffs shall always be the most played part of any song.

What are Forbidden Riffs?

Now the question arises that what are forbidden riffs? Well, this was actually a concept born as a joke in a guitar store in London in 1973, but the joke has received its global acclaim and it prevails all over the world till today. Basically, forbidden riffs are those chords which are so overplayed and literally butchered by any newbie at a guitar store that the store owners have forbidden those lists of songs from being played in the store. Stairway to Heaven is a classic example of this forbidden riff. The beginners often play the riffs horribly and sabotage the song’s charms. The guitar store owners get frustrated with it as it is a nuisance for them to hear the same riff being played badly time and again. So, they have actually banned the riff of those songs from being played in the store itself.

Why Can’t You Play the Forbidden Riff in Guitar Stores?

Forbidden riffs are thus those riffs that you cannot play anymore at the guitar store. After the 1992 American comedy movie Wayne’s World where Wayne was bid by the store owner to play Stairway to Heaven, this concept was even more popularized and it gained more mileage. Stores literally began to put up signs like- NO STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN after the film. This is one of the most popular forbidden riffs and we will tell you why so.

Why is Stairway to Heaven Banned in Guitar Stores?

Stairway to Heaven was composed and released by Led Zeppelin in 1971. It sold 37 million of its copies with the year of its release and the melody spread like wildfire due to its mesmerizing musical pieces that made this masterpiece a classic work of art. The guitar riff that forms the introduction of the song is the easiest notes that any amateur and beginner can pick up. What they do now is go to the guitar store, keep on playing this riff on loop on the guitar they wish to purchase, to the point where the store owner gets frustrated and bans the song. Playing poorly the same riff is often frustrating and boring. So, the owners made a list of such banned riffs that are prohibited from being played in the stores. And these songs are as follows-

List of Forbidden Riffs

  • Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin
  • Enter Sandman by Metallica
  • Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • Iron Man by Black Sabbath
  • Smoke on Water by Deep Purple
  • House of the rising sun by The Animals
  • Nothing Else Matters by Metallica
  • Smells like teen spirit by Nirvana
  • Seven Nations Army by The White Stripes
  • Wonderwall by Oasis
  • Back in Black by AC/DC
  • Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne
  • Sweet child o’ mine by Guns and Roses
  • Everlong by Foo Fighters
  • Bleed by Messhugah
  • Walk by Pantera
  • Eruption by Van Halen
  • One by Metallica

These are the banned riffs that the store owners’ disdain whenever any customer or beginner play this.
However, we have an opinion about this. Though the concept of forbidden riffs in guitar stores is a joke, in reality, the owners will never stop you from playing those riffs again and again. They may be annoyed, but at least they will know that you are a beginner. So, they will help you instead by giving you generous discounts and links to classes from where you can hone your adept skills. Also, you are about to make an investment and check the guitar’s quality rather than throwing a concert. Thus, do play any melody you like even if it is forbidden and buy the guitar according to your liking.

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