10 Alt Rock Songs That Are Impossible To Play On Guitar

Riffs to break your hand to.

Tom Morello Rage Against the Machine
Ollie Millington/WireImage

Once the alternative movement kicked into high gear, the era of the guitar god was sent packing along with hair metal. No one wanted to hear mile long solos anymore, and most of the guitar breaks from the grunge bands were more about how much soul you could put into your performance rather than just playing scales at a blistering speed. In between some of the more warped solos though, there were a few songs that could genuinely rip your head off.

As much as these songs still fit under the alternative label, some of these tracks are borderline impossible to match on guitar, either being way too convoluted to fully understand or just too fast for your average guitarist to keep up with. No guitar solo is made exactly the same though, and part of the struggle that comes with learning these solos is just how much time you have to put into actually figuring out what they’re doing, from the different pedals that you need to use to how far you have to stretch to get just the right sound.

Sometimes you don’t even need the scales to impress people either, with these songs going off into weird directions you would have never thought of and leaving you to parse out just what the hell you just listened to. The guitar solo may have been getting old at this point or started to take away from the song, but there was still some fire to come from the fretboard on the alternative side of the tracks.

10. Zero - Smashing Pumpkins

In the era when grunge rock was king, Smashing Pumpkins were a bit of a rare breed of bands that actually seemed like they wanted to be famous. All of the songs off of Siamese Dream tended to sound like they were ready for the arenas, and Billy Corgan even seemed more than happy to embrace the cultural leader role that Kurt Cobain probably didn't want around the same time. Songs like Today and Disarm were the palette cleanser though, and Mellon Collie was when things kicked up a notch.

Aside from all of the weird conceptual pieces that went into the production of this double album, Zero is one of the more aggro singles to come out of the project, driven by metal sounding guitars and different trashy harmonics that sound like they're ripped right off of a Pantera record. For all of Corgan's prowess on the instrument though, James Iha takes the solo here, with different bends and whammy bar dives that will have you wondering how the hell he even managed to get the version that we hear on tape.

Chances are that even James probably couldn't recreate it exactly how it's supposed to go either though, sounding more like a piece of magic made up on the spot when they decided they needed to cut to a guitar solo. The alternative movement may have been arena size, but there was still a punk attitude towards everything, with anti solos like these leading the charge.


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