What makes a perfect guitar riff?
It's difficult to boil down, a certain amount of skill is required, a selection of effects pedals usually helps and at least a basic understanding of musical structure... , but perhaps the most enduring and consistently proven, contributing factor is attitude.
Without attitude, a guitarist can have all the skill in the world, but their playing will sound derivative, uninspired and boring, like Eric Clapton's persistence to play the blues in the least interesting way possible. We get it Clapton, you were great in Cream, then you said all that racist nonsense in the '70s and ever since you've been playing the safest version of the blues while you atone for your sins...
Everybody has that friend who can 'play' Voodoo Child, but it doesn't sound like Hendrix does it... It was Jimi Hendrix's attitude that gave that riff its edge.
Well, luckily during the 2010s, there was still enough attitude going around for guitarists and rock bands to deliver the goods.
These were the riffs that permeated the ear drums of rock and non-rock lovers during the last decade, filtering into the mass consciousness and becoming universally recognised as modern rock classic.
10. Sixteen Saltines - Jack White (2012)
Jack White was always going to deliver the goods when it came to his first solo album. Blunderbuss was packed full of guitar sounds that only could have come from the fingers of the former White Stripes singer.
The second single from the album, Sixteen Saltines, was oozing with guitar sounds that had the whiff off his former bands all over them, but the riffs were more reminiscent of the work he did with the The Raconteurs rather than the White Stripes, perhaps due to the addition of a backing band, regardless these similarities were no bad thing.
Jack White has such a distinctive sound that any musical project he contributes to, is going to have that unmistakeable Jack White energy running through. And, this track was no exception, remember when we talked about attitude? Jack White's playing is all about attitude.
It's rare that musicians going solo manage to stay on top of the game, but White had his finger on the pulse of rock 'n' roll, with his riffs sounding more mature than his previous work, but no less relevant to what was going on in the music scene. Sixteen Saltines is classic White, simple chord progressions with some biting guitar riffs interjected with plenty of character.