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The Forbidden Riff: The list of songs you are not allowed to play between guitar stores

stairway to heaven forbidden riff
The Forbidden Riff: The list of songs you are not allowed to play between guitar stores

The Forbidden Riff: The list of songs you are not allowed to play between guitar stores

Guitar stores are the best place to talk about and shop for guitars, but how do you know what song is permissible? Or, more importantly, what songs are off-limits and will get you banned from a store? Keep reading to find out!

So why is Stairway to Heaven Banned in Guitar Shops?

Many guitar stores have banned the song “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin due to its iconic status and the number of novice guitarists who attempt to play it without being able to do so correctly.

The song is notoriously difficult to play, with its numerous chord changes and solo sections, and as a result, many guitarists end up butchering the song when they try to play it. This often leads to frustration from other customers in the store trying to shop or learn in peace, so the stores have decided to ban the song to keep their customers happy.

The Origin Of The ‘Forbidden Riff’

The “forbidden riff” is a list of songs that guitar stores have agreed not to play in their store to avoid offending customers. The list was first compiled in the early 1990s by a group of London-based guitar store owners and employees, who came up with the idea after repeatedly being asked to turn down the volume of certain songs played in their stores.

The most commonly cited reason a song might be included on the forbidden riff list is that it contains profanity or another offensive language. Other reasons include the song being too loud or aggressive or containing references to drugs or alcohol. Some songs are considered too clichéd or overplayed. However, the ultimate decision to include a song on the list is up to each individual store owner.

While the list is not legally binding, most guitar stores across the UK and Ireland adhere to it out of courtesy.

Forbidden Riffs: The Most BANNED Songs In Guitar Stores

There are a few songs that seem to be universally banned from guitar stores:

1. Stairway to heaven by Led Zeppelin
2 . “Enter Sandman” by Metallica
2. “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple
3. “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix
4. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses
5. “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath
6. “Back in Black” by AC/DC
7. “Wonderwall” by Oasis
8. “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Playing the forbidden riff in a guitar store

These are just a few of the songs that are commonly banned from guitar stores. There are likely many more that vary from store to store. So, if you’re thinking of busting out one of these tunes while browsing the guitars at your local shop, you might want to think again!

Do you know of other songs commonly banned from guitar stores? Let us know in the comments below!