Guitar Riff Off: Jimmy Page vs. Jimi Hendrix – Who Will You Choose?
NEW YORK - JANUARY 28: Jimi Hendrix performs at the Felt Forum on January 28, 1970 in New York City, New York. (Photo by Walter Iooss Jr./Getty Images)
This Is Gonna Be Fun
There are thousands of guitar riffs in rock ‘n roll but not every single one of them become so iconic or even easily recognizable. And it goes without saying that some of the best come from our favorite guitar heroes. For this riff-off, we’re shifting our focus to two guitar players whose talent and influence cannot be stated enough. Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix dominated during different eras but we’re not here to pick which is the better guitarist.
We’ll look at three of their greatest riffs and compare which is the best.
Black Dog vs Little Wing
Musicians and non-musicians alike will surely agree that Black Dog‘s guitar riffs are one of Page’s shining moments as a guitarist. Mostly, because it’s not easy to play. It’s tricky and challenging. For Little Wing, this ballad may be simple but it takes a lot to pull it off seamlessly. Think about it, it has been covered numerous times by other iconic guitarists and yet no one did it quite like Jimi Hendrix.
WINNER – Black Dog because of its complexity.
Purple Haze vs Whole Lotta Love
There’s beauty in Purple Haze‘s simplicity. It was built around the Hendrix Chord and relatively easy to learn. But while anyone can practice endlessly and with enough hard work, manage to sound almost similar to Hendrix, it’s hard to replicate his magic. Whole Lotta Love, on the other hand, is truly iconic and for good reason. It’s heavy but enchanting. In an interview with Jimmy Page, he said:
“I wanted a riff that really moved, that people would really get, and would bring a smile to their faces, but when I played it with the band, it really went into overdrive.”
WINNER – Purple Haze because it’s a monolithic riff – one that has influenced and inspired thousands of other musicians.
Voodoo Child vs Kashmir
In 2009, Music Radar named Voodoo Child as the greatest riff of all time – following a poll conducted on 5,000 users. It’s as if we actually need any validation. The wah-wah pedal made such a huge difference and Hendrix’s brilliance showed through. Only a musical genius can come up with something as hypnotic as this riff.
Kashmir shows Jimmy Page at his absolute best. It’s masterful and emotive. Any music buff has heard it at least once in his life. Page himself knew it’s one of his finest works. He told Guitar World:
“The descending chord sequence was the first thing I had—I got it from tapes of myself messing around at home. After I came up with the da-da-da, da-da-da part, I wondered whether the two parts could go on top of each other, and it worked! You do get some dissonance in there, but there’s nothing wrong with that. At the time, I was very proud of that, I must say.”
WINNER – Voodoo Child. Kashmir is excellent and epic but Voodoo Child is in a league of its own.
At the end of the day, there’s no such thing as the ultimate best when it comes to guitar riffs. There are several things to consider but mostly, it’s just up to the listener. More often than not, it’s about personal preference.
So, which songs did you pick? Which guitar player had better riffs? Share it with us!