What's The Fastest Riff/Lick Ever Played On Guitar?

Curious what the responses might be. What is the absolute most blazingest hot rails to hell run ever played on electric guitar?

My submission is Yngwie Malmsteen’s terrible song off his debut record “Now Your Ships Are Burned”. To spare you the agony of his shitty singer and awful songwriting (although this riff is an interesting time signature), the relevant part occurs at about 2:51 of this youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UE_i-AIQZto

So what is the fastest riff/scale/run you’ve ever heard on electric geetar?


I don’t know if it’s the fastest, but Ten Years After’s Alvin Lee’s intro to “I’m Going Home” certainly deserves honorable mention.

Nuno Betancourt’s Flight of the Bumblebee might be up there. It’s on one of the Extreme albums…

I recommend the song Destiny by the Japanese band “Galneryus”, guitarist = “Syu”.

(his guitar is an ESP Artist Series Crying Star)

It sounds a lot like Jimmy Page trying to play fast.

Not too bad…that’s kinda an “overall speed of the piece” thing though…looking for a passage in a song that is just ridiculously fast, like in my OP.

Hey, a band with guitar playing like Yngwie’s with equally bad songwriting!


If you youtube “Flight of the Bumble Bee, world record” you’ll get a whole bunch of videos of people doing it at ever faster times.

Here’s one that, well, I don’t know exactly what to make of, but it made me giggle uncontrollably for a moment. (i.e. the last 10 seconds of the video).

Just for old times sake, how about Dave Edmunds’ version of Sabre Dance?

Napalm Death - You Suffer

It’s again a “fast piece” rather than a “fast run/riff”. And that 1400+bps thing at the end is definitely worthy of laughter as it’s utterly impossible to execute.

Thanks for that, never heard it. Great tone from the Tele, but no…not nearly fast enough. Is anyone listening to the Yngwie riff at the timeline I indicated in the OP?


Reminds me of the opening to Pantera’s “Domination”


Guys like Tosin Abasi make yesterday’s shredders into mere cheesegraters. Cite & cite.

Any of today’s sweep-picking technical guitar wizards can play fast enough to start fires, and there’s a lot of them: Chimp Spanner, Obscura, Necrophagist, Beyond Creation… And that’s not even counting the people who are actually trying to play as fast as possible all the time like Speedwolf and Zeke, for instance.

Heck, listen to the insane solos in most Slayer songs; they blow Yngwie J. Malmsteen away.

But one of my favorites is the solo in United Forces by Stormtroopers Of Death. Click here to jump right to the solo at 1:34

This is pretty damn cool. But Bo, I am more speaking to a singular scalar run like in my OP…did you listen to it (I have a feeling you’ve heard it before given your preferences)?

Christ, did anyone ever play a scale as fast as Yngwie in my OP? It’s a blur, but a very well articulated blur of notes that appear and are gone before you can barely hear them.

I’m not talking about extended solos or “newer” guitarists “blowing away” the “old guard” of Mamlmsteen, Vai, etc. I’m talking about a very singular occurrence, which is in my OP, of a run of notes that scours the fretboard so fast it’s like you didn’t even hear it right.


The fastest player I know, and I know this is real because I shot the video, is Reverend Peyton. Check out how fast he’s moving.

This thread topic makes my brain hurt.

Simpler is better. Less is more.

(FGiE, sorry for thread-shitting; you are welcome to slam me. I am hoping my support of your guitar quest in that other thread earns me a bit of lee way when it comes to this topic…)

Speed kills :cool:

Paul Gilbert. Start watching at 3:40.

To go even faster, he uses a cordless drill.

I’m with WordMan on this one. But my candidate is the solo in Pearl Jam’s ‘Comatose’ (somewhat ironically heh).

That Jason Becker guy was pretty good. He plays the piece impressively fast, but then he hits the ending part

Yeah, the thing is any player can get that sort of speed if they try, but it’s mostly just dick waving for the metalheads. Once Eddie did it back on VH1 it became a thing. I was playing in bands back then and it was a pain in the ass.

In the end, electric guitars are pretty forgiving and designed for speed. Or at least it’s easy to set them up to provide E-Z speed runs. That’s not to say there’s not talent and skill involved, but it’s not something that is all that impressive after a while.

Still, if I must…

Check out Alex Lifeson and the beginning 30 second of La Villa Strangiato - which he plays on an acoustic. Higher tension strings, harder to pull and so forth.

Nearly cited that one as an example of the silly stuntiness of speed.

Speed in guitar playing is like Scofield Units for hot peppers, Hoppiness for IPA beers, Ivy League schools on resumes, or male peacock feathers - an identifiable stand-in for the actual thing that matters, and which gets hyped beyond all reasonableness…again, sorry for threadshitting.

EVH did ruin it - and didn’t even mean to. He loved slop - wanted to sound like he was falling down the stairs and somehow managed to land on his feet. I love that - but other guys coming after him only heard the speed…and sped past the real thing that mattered. Sigh - and sorry again.

Well, at a minimum he’ll go down in history as one of the men who utterly changed the way guitars are played. There’s a lot to be said for that.

Oh yeah - Eddie Van Halen was a fuckin’ rock guitar singularity - after him, everything about rock and many other forms of guitar was simply different. It’s just interesting how different sub-genres co-opted different parts of him - some took the speed and tap work, some took the SoCal pop-metal and morphed it into hair metal, some took the freedom to mess up and build guitars. He’s like Michael Jordan - dominating technically while influencing all the other aspects, too - shoes, baggy shorts, basketball as global, overall licensing, etc.

Speed was a spice to EVH - he just did it better than everyone. But his composed leads to Runnin’ With the Devil or Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love are first-year simple. He served the musical need - just strutted doing it. Big difference.