100 Easy Guitar Riffs for Beginners

Guitar Playing Gray T-Shirt

The joy of picking up the guitar comes with two things- first, the aspiration to play like your guitar heroes, and the second is to jam with your friends.

There’s no better feeling than playing your favorite guitar riffs perfectly in sync with the recording, as if you're there with the band. Every time you get one right, it's a satisfying feeling that makes you want to take on more complex songs. But before we start shredding to Eddie Van Halen, let's cover a few basics...

What Are Guitar Riffs?

You may be wondering, what exactly are easy guitar riffs for beginners? What is a riff? How are riffs composed? How is it different from a melody? And how do I distinguish between them to know what to learn?

In simple terms, guitar riffs are a succession of notes or chords, within the key of the song, tied together in a rhythmically compelling way, making them loopable throughout a section of a song. Using them creates a piece of the song that can be easily remembered by listeners, as they are repetitive in nature and have a sense of groove or rhythm to them.

Guitar riffs have an iconic impact on young guitar players. They inspire you to learn them and hone your skills to be better at playing them for friends or in front of a crowd.

If you're learning guitar riffs for fun and educational purposes, and not planning to perform the song live, there's usually no need to learn the entirety of a song. Just knowing the riff will equip you with the only part of the song people recognize and care about. Learning them will create a sense of accomplishment for those who are seriously inclined towards the instrument, while also allowing you to bond with people, whether playing in a band or even with those listening to your performance.

Guitar riffs are a joy to play, and these are easy guitar riffs for beginners, that you can learn quickly. Let's jump in!

Best Guitar Riffs with Tabs

Sheet Music Tabs Chords Headphones

We'll start with our staff's favorite easy guitar riffs for beginners, with tabs to walk you through how to play them. We've handpicked songs that we believe contain the most memorable riffs that are also not too challenging for beginners to learn. These are the riffs we love, and we think you will too!

  1. "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes
    The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” riff features a memorable and catchy one-string guitar riff, making it a great way to practice iconic guitar riffs on one string while developing rhythm and timing skills.


  2. "Smoke In The Water" by Deep Purple
    Smoke In The Water’s “Deep Purple Riff” features power chords and is highly known to be one of the best guitar riffs ever, especially for beginners.

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  3. "Highway To Hell" by AC/DC
    AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell” riff has catchy open chords and straightforward rock-style playing. It's perfect for practicing rhythm and creating iconic rock sounds.

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  4. "Come As You Are" by Nirvana
    This distinctive grunge riff, one of the guitar riffs on one string, is ideal for beginners practicing minimalistic playing and getting that iconic '90s sound. Take note that this one's tuned in Drop D. But if you're not concerned with the key you're playing it in, you can just play it on your normal E and A strings.



  5. "Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones
    Its riff employs power chords on a single string, making it one of the easy rock guitar riffs to master. It's ideal for beginners who want to start with guitar riffs on one string.


  6. "You Really Got Me" by The Kinks
    It has a straightforward yet powerful guitar riff with power chords and palm muting. Beginners will enjoy rocking out and appreciating classic rock music.


  7. "Every Breath You Take" by The Police
    Police’s “Every Breath You Take” riff has a distinctive but simple arpeggio pattern, making it great for developing fingerpicking skills, chord transitions, and an understanding of melodic phrasing.



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  8. "Nothing Else Matters" by Metallica
    Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” riff combines fingerpicking with open chords, making it one of the easy rock guitar riffs to learn for anyone.





  9. "Rock You Like A Hurricane" by Scorpions

    Scorpion’s “Rock You Like A Hurricane” riff is electrifying and powerful, with heavy strumming and power chords, which are great for improving speed, precision, and classic rock prowess.


  10. "Enter Sandman" by Metallica
    Metallica’s “Enter The Sandman” riff features catchy fingerpicking playing with single notes, making it one of the best guitar riffs ever, and it teaches rhythm, coordination, and the iconic metal sound.


Easy Acoustic Guitar Riffs

Guy playing acoustic guitar

These acoustic songs have beautiful and melodic riffs that resonate with a range of emotions. Mastering them will help develop your fingerpicking skills and enhance your acoustic playing style overall.

  1. "Blackbird" by The Beatles
    The Beatles' acoustic guitar riffs in the song feature fingerpicking with intricate patterns and melodic runs. It improves finger dexterity, precision, and musicality.
  2. "Dust In The Wind" by Kansas
    The acoustic guitar riffs in this classic song involve fingerpicking and simple chord shapes. It improves fingerstyle technique and chord transitions while providing a beautifully melodic piece for players.
  3. "Angie" by The Rolling Stones
    The song's acoustic riff features intricate fingerpicking with open chords. Learning it improves fingerstyle skills, chord embellishments and provides players with an emotional, melodic composition.
  4. "Take Me Home" by John Denver
    John Denver's iconic song has a simple riff with melodic fingerpicking pattern. It's a great way for learning fingerstyle technique while also playing an iconic country song.
  5. "Stupid Boy" by Keith Urban
    This guitar riff features simple chord progressions and strumming patterns. It's a good riff to learn because it develops rhythm and provides a heartfelt country song to practice.
  6. "When You Say Nothing At All" by Keith Whitley
    Keith Whitley’s “When You Say Nothing At All” riff features a fingerpicked arpeggio pattern and gentle chords are featured in this well-known song, which is great for practicing fingerstyle techniques and playing a lovely country ballad.
  7. "Misty Mountain Hop" by Led Zeppelin
    Led Zeppelin's "Misty Mountain Hop" has a catchy, bluesy guitar riff with hammer-ons and pull-offs. It improves finger dexterity and classic rock-style playing.
  8. "Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton
    Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” riff features a beautiful melodic guitar playing that is performed with fingerpicking and bends, as it improves finger control and while having an appreciation for classic rock ballads.
  9. "Drive" by Incubus
    It features an iconic acoustic guitar riff with fast chord changes and a solid strumming pattern. Learning it enhances your skills in acoustic guitar playing and adds to your repertoire of acoustic guitar riffs.
  10. "More Than Words" by Extreme
    The riff has a gentle fingerstyle pattern with harmonics. Ideally, it enhances your fingerpicking and dynamics and conveys emotive expression on the guitar.

Easy Rock Guitar Riffs

Tattoo guy playing electric guitar

This selection includes classic songs with surprisingly easy to play yet compelling guitar riffs. They are great for beginners who want to venture into rock guitar and develop a solid foundation.

  1. "Man In The Box" by Alice In Chains
    This classic riff features palm-muting and heavy power chords. It's excellent for learning simple rock guitar riffs as well as developing rhythm and dynamics.
  2. "Undone" by Weezer
    This song by Weezer has a laid-back and catchy guitar riff played with fingerpicking. It's good for learning fun alternative rock riffs and enjoying a popular song.
  3. "Reptilia" by The Strokes
    The Strokes' "Reptilia" riff is a catchy and energetic riff that employs fast alternate picking and single notes. Learning it improves your speed, precision, and rock-style playing abilities.
  4. "Dammit" by Blink-182
    Blink 182's "Dammit" riff is a fast and energetic pop-punk riff with alternate picking on single notes. It improves rhythm, speed, and punk-style playing.
  5. "When I Come Around" by Green Day
    It has a memorable and melodic guitar riff with power chords and palm muting, and learning it builds rhythm, speed, and punk-style playing.
  6. "If You Want Blood" by AC/DC
    It features a memorable and powerful guitar riff, simple power chords, and fast strumming. It teaches rhythm, coordination, and classic rock-style playing.
  7. "On A Plain" by Nirvana
    Nirvana's song features a catchy, melodic guitar riff with power chords and heavy strumming. It teaches rhythm, dynamics, and grunge-style playing.
  8. "Everlong" by Foo Fighters
    The Foo Fighters' "Everlong" has a memorable and emotional guitar riff with fast alternate picking and power chords. It improves rhythm, precision, and modern rock-style playing.
  9. "Fat Lip" by Sum 41
    Sum 41's "Fat Lip" features an energetic guitar riff with alternate fingerpicking and palm muting. Learning it improves rhythm, speed, and pop-punk playing style.
  10. "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams" by Green Day
    It has a cool and melodic guitar riff with power chords. Learning it adds to your collection of easy rock guitar riffs and improves your rock guitar playing skills.

Easy Country Guitar Riffs

Cowboy hat playing country acoustic guitar

While not all country songs have simple yet catchy country guitar riffs. They're perfect for beginners exploring the country genre, helping you grasp the characteristic rhythms and techniques used.

  1. "Chicken Fried" by Zac Brown Band
    This contemporary country classic has a catchy guitar riff that helps develop strumming and fingerpicking skills, perfect for those aiming to master the country guitar feel.
  2. "Mama Tried" by Merle Haggard
    The signature intro guitar riff is a staple in classic country music, making it a must-learn for any aspiring country guitarist.
  3. "Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks
    This song's guitar riffs, both in the intro and throughout the verses, embody the country genre's spirit, great for practicing rhythm guitar in a country context
  4. "On The Road Again" by Willie Nelson
    The riff is composed of simple chord strumming and a catchy melody, making it simple and ideal for learning classic country-style playing.
  5. "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus
    This riff by Billy Ray Cyrus features a basic chord progression and strumming pattern, making it great for learning country strumming and enjoying a fun, popular song.
  6. "Wagon Wheel" by Bob Dylan
    Bob Dylan’s “Wagon Wheel” riff features basic chord progressions and strumming, making it an excellent starting point for beginners interested in country-style and folk-inspired music.
  7. "Independence Day" by Martina McBride
    This track's riffs are a mixture of country and rock, providing an excellent opportunity to explore the blending of genres on the guitar.
  8. "Guitars, Cadillacs" by Dwight Yoakam
    The guitar riffs in this song, heavily influenced by honky-tonk and rockabilly styles, provide a great example of the diverse range of sounds in country music
  9. "East Bound and Down" by Jerry Reed
    This song’s fast-paced country riff will challenge your picking speed and accuracy, making it an excellent study for advanced country guitar players
  10. "Fishin’ in the Dark" by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
    The song’s easy and catchy guitar riff makes it a great entry point for beginners into country guitar, while also being a crowd favorite at gatherings

Easy Famous Western Guitar Riffs

Country Western Acoustic Guitar Player

This collection includes songs with quintessential guitar riffs reminiscent of the old west. Playing these riffs will add a distinctive, genre-spanning flavor to your playing style.

  1. "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash
    Johnny Cash's intro riff is a simple and catchy country-blues pattern. It's ideal for practicing basic fingerpicking and country-style playing for beginners.
  2. "Ring Of Fire" by Johnny Cash
    The riff on this classic song combines fingerpicking and strumming patterns. It's ideal for practicing easy country guitar riffs and rhythmic playing.
  3. "The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly" by Ennio Morricone
    This well-known Western guitar riff incorporates fingerpicking, slides, and a twangy tone. Learning it adds a famous Western guitar riff to your repertoire while also demonstrating your appreciation for classical spaghetti Western music.
  4. "Ghost Riders In The Sky" by Stan Jones
    It's another famous Western guitar riff that uses open string picking, slides, and hammer-ons to conjure up images of cowboys riding through the night sky.
  5. "El Paso" by Marty Robbins
    This classic Western song's distinctive guitar riff with Spanish influence offers a unique blend of country and folk styles typical in Western music."
  6. "Take Me Back to Tulsa" by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys
    A western swing classic, this song's rhythmic riffs will help players understand the foundations of the Western swing style.
  7. "Knockin On Heaven’s Door" by Bob Dylan
    It uses the G, D, and Am chords and has a melodic guitar riff with a simple strumming pattern. Learning it will help you improve your rhythm and appreciation for classic folk-rock music.
  8. "Big Iron" by Marty Robbins
    Its catchy Western-style guitar riffs and cowboy narrative make it an essential study for the genre.
  9. "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me)" by Frankie Laine
    The guitar riff of this iconic western song represents the loneliness of the west, an integral theme of the genre.
  10. "Rawhide" by Frankie Laine
    Known for its driving rhythm and Western theme, the guitar part of this song is a classic in cowboy-style music.

Easy Cool Guitar Riffs

The highly unique and distinguished guitar riffs in this list have become their song's identity. Learning them will boost your guitar-playing repertoire, making you a more versatile player that can quickly whip out a guitar line that everyone loves.

  1. "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry
    This famous riff combines elements of blues and rock with catchy melodies and simple power chords, making it perfect for practicing fundamental skills because it is an iconic and widely recognized riff.
  2. "Master of Puppets" by Metallica
    Metallica’s "Master of Puppets" riff features a quick-paced, powerful, and intricate thrash metal guitar playing, making it great practice for improving precision, speed, and coordination.
  3. "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix
    This masterpiece combines power chords, slides, and iconic wah-wah pedal use. It's an excellent riff to grasp foundational rock techniques and develop a unique sound.
  4. "Black Sabbath" by Black Sabbath
    This classic riff features a haunting, heavy-power chord sequence. It's a great riff for learning hammer-ons and pull-offs.
  5. "Walk" by Pantera
    This classic metal riff is played with heavy, aggressive single notes, making it ideal for metal chugging practice as well as developing rhythm and precision.
  6. "Bulls On Parade" by Rage Against The Machine
    Another riff with palm-muted power chords and rhythmic muting that is great for developing rhythmic precision and a powerful sound.
  7. "Breaking The Law" by Judas Priests
    The driving and heavy guitar riff on "Breaking The Law" comprises single notes. It is great for improving rhythm, coordination, and traditional metal-style playing.
  8. "Californication" by Red Hot Chili Peppers
    This melodic and intricate guitar riff uses slides and fingerpicking, and learning it develops finger coordination and adds a recognizable rock riff to a player's repertoire.
  9. "Symphony Of Destruction" by Megadeth
    Megadeth's "Symphony of Destruction" riff is a powerful, intricate metal riff with power chords and fast picking. Learning it improves speed, precision, and metal-style playing.
  10. "The Adults Are Talking" by The Strokes
    The Strokes' melodic and intricate guitar riff employs slides and fast picking. It improves your finger coordination and adds a modern rock riff to your repertoire.

Easy Classic Guitar Riffs

These songs have iconic "classic" guitar riffs that have stood the test of time. Learning them will give you a deep understanding of songwriting and riff construction, essential for any aspiring guitarist.

  1. "Sweet Child O’Mine" by Guns N’ Roses
    Arguably one of the most well-known guitar riffs ever! The primary riff in this crowd-favorite song is played with fast alternative picking, adding to your cool guitar riff repertoire, while also improving your lead guitar skills.
  2. "Stairway To Heaven" by Led Zeppelin
    Led Zeppelin's “Stairway To Heaven” acoustic guitar riff in the song combines fingerpicking with arpeggios and chord progressions, greatly improving finger coordination, dynamics, and musical storytelling.
  3. "Psychosocial" by Slipknot
    The riff, tuned in Drop A, combines heavy power chords with fast alternate picking on one string—excellent practice for guitar riffs on one string and developing precision.
  4. "Otherside" by Red Hot Chili Peppers
    It has a catchy and melodic guitar riff that combines heavy single notes and slides. Learning it aids in the development of rhythm, dynamics, and rock-style playing.
  5. "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath
    Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" features a timeless, heavy guitar riff with powerful chords and hammer-ons. Learning it improves rhythm, metal-style playing, and appreciation for classic rock.
  6. "Sunshine Of Your Love" by Cream
    The guitar riff is bluesy and iconic, with hammer-ons and bends. It improves finger dexterity and fosters an appreciation for classic rock guitar playing.
  7. "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath
    "I... Am.. Iron Man!"
     Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" not only has a name everyone recognizes, but also a heavy and powerful, highly recognizable guitar riff with power chords and slides. It teaches rhythm, precision, and iconic metal-style playing.
  8. "New York City Cops" by The Strokes
    It features a simple yet catchy one-string guitar riff. It's a great way for beginners to experiment with guitar riffs on one string and enjoy indie rock music.
  9. "Back In Black" by AC/DC
    AC/DC’s “Back In Black” riff It has a powerful and instantly recognizable guitar playing as it uses open chords and palm muting to improve rhythm, precision, and classic rock-style playing.
  10. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana
    It features an iconic grunge-inspired guitar riff complete with power chords and palm muting. It introduces you to alternative rock and helps you improve your rhythm and punk-style playing.

Easy Popular Guitar riffs

Recognizable riffs that everyone knows and anyone can learn to jam to. These riffs are not only simple to learn, they're also widely known and appreciated, making them perfect for impressing friends or adding to your repertoire.

  1. "Another One Bites The Dust" by Queen
    It has a catchy and memorable bassline that can be adapted to guitar with single notes and muted strumming. Learning it improves rhythmic precision and classic rock flair.
  2. "Beat It" by Michael Jackson
    It features a catchy and energetic guitar riff with fast alternate picking and palm muting, as famously performed by Eddie Van Halen. It improves rhythm, precision, and pop-rock style playing
  3. "Paradise City" by Guns N’ Roses
    Learning the song's catchy, energetic guitar riff, which employs alternate picking and barre chords, improves rhythm, precision, and rock-style playing.
  4. "Message In A Bottle" by The Police
    The Police’s “Message In A Bottle” riff features a timeless and catchy guitar fingerpicking and arpeggios, making it a great addition to your repertoire of classic guitar riffs and improves finger control.
  5. "Crossroads" by Cream
    Cream's "Crossroads" riff features classic blues-rock guitar playing with hammer-ons and vibrato, teaching you classic guitar riffs and improving your blues playing techniques.
  6. "Eye Of The Tiger" by Survivor
    Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" has an iconic and energizing guitar riff with power chords and palm muting. Learning it improves rhythm, precision, and the excitement of classic rock.
  7. "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" by Pat Benatar
    Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" features a catchy, rhythmic guitar riff with power chords and palm muting, which will greatly improve your rhythm and rock guitar techniques.
  8. "Do I Wanna Know" by Arctic Monkeys
    Arctic Monkeys' "Do I Wanna Know" has a groovy, atmospheric guitar riff with slides and single notes. It improves finger control and modern rock-style playing.
  9. "One" by Metallica
    The song's guitar riff is emotional and intricate, with bends, hammer-ons, and alternate picking. It improves your speed, precision, and appreciation for metal guitar playing.
  10. "Wonderwall" by Oasis
    Oasis' "Wonderwall" has a memorable and melodic guitar riff with strumming and chord changes. It improves your rhythm and acoustic guitar playing skills.

Easy Guitar Riffs on One String

Continuing our selection of easy riffs, here's a few straightforward songs that are so easy you could play them on just one single string. They are ideal for beginners, and will help you familiarize yourself with the guitar fretboard and improve your picking accuracy.

  1. "Jambalaya" by Hank Williams
    This country guitar riff features basic chords and downward strumming patterns, making it one of the great easy country guitar riffs for learning and enjoying playing.
  2. "Lose Yourself" by Eminem
    Power chords and heavy strumming characterize this memorable guitar riff. Learning it improves your rhythm and palm muting while also adding a hip-hop flavor to your guitar playing.
  3. "Day Tripper" by The Beatles
    The Beatles' "Day Tripper" has a catchy and bluesy guitar riff with hammer-ons and pull-offs. It improves finger dexterity and fosters an appreciation for classic rock guitar playing.
  4. "Livin’ On A Prayer" by Bon Jovi
    This song has a memorable and anthemic guitar riff with single notes and palm muting, and learning it builds rhythm, precision, and classic rock-style playing.
  5. "Rumble" by Link Wray
    Link Wray's "Rumble" features a gritty and innovative guitar riff that employs power chords and the Blues scale, introducing you to classic guitar riffs and the history of rock 'n' roll.
  6. "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC
    AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” riff features an electrifying, fast-paced guitar playing with some hammer-ons and alternate picking, which is great for developing of speed, precision, and classic rock prowess.
  7. "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson
    Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" features an iconic bass riff adapted for guitar with muted strumming. It helps with rhythm, finger control, and appreciation for funk-pop music.
  8. "Don’t Stop Believin" by Journey
    The song's guitar riff is catchy and melodic, with single-note picking and power chords. It improves finger dexterity and classic rock guitar skills.
  9. "Smooth Criminal" by Michael Jackson
    Cool guitar riffs with staccato picking and sliding are featured in the song. It adds one of the best guitar riffs to your repertoire and improves your funky playing abilities.
  10. "TNT" by AC/DC
    Played on the low-E string, it features iconic and energetic guitar riffs on one string. Learning it enhances rhythm, precision, and classic rock guitar techniques.

Hardest Guitar Riffs

Guy playing guitar behind head

Transitioning away from easy riffs, these songs present more of a challenge. Not all of these are extremely difficult, but they do contain more complex guitar riffs that will test your technical proficiency. We've sorted them by level of difficulty, with the easiest first, so you can gradually work your way up. Mastering them (especially if you master ALL of them) will definitely level up your guitar skills and set you apart as a more advanced player.

  1. "Last Resort" by Papa Roach
    Papa Roach's "Last Resort" features a powerful melodic guitar riff with palm muting and fast picking. It improves rhythm, precision, and rock-style playing.
  2. "Sultans of Swing" by Dire Straits
    This Mark Knopfler classic requires a unique fingerpicking style, combining both rhythm and lead guitar techniques. The intricate arpeggios and quick transitions are challenging, but learning this riff will greatly enhance your fingerpicking technique and versatility in playing different music styles.
  3. "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne
    Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" features a powerful, iconic guitar riff with fast alternate picking and power chords. It teaches speed, precision, and classic metal-style playing.
  4. "Jolene"by Dolly Patron
    The riff features a simple chord progression and fingerpicking pattern. It's a good riff for learning and practicing country fingerstyle techniques.
  5. "Omerta" by Lamb of God
    The song features a heavy, aggressive guitar riff with palm muting and alternate picking. Learning it develops precision, speed, and metal guitar playing skills.
  6. "Snow (Hey Oh)" by Red Hot Chili Peppers
    John Frusciante's fast-paced, finger-picked riff demands a great deal of dexterity and precision. The quick transitions between notes can be tough, but learning this will surely improve your fingerpicking speed and accuracy.
  7. "Master of Puppets" by Metallica
    This riff involves rapid downpicking and complex palm-muted patterns, making it a challenge even for seasoned players. However, mastering it can greatly enhance your picking technique and your ability to maintain a steady rhythm amidst rapid note changes.
  8. "Black Dog" by Led Zeppelin
    This iconic riff by Jimmy Page weaves between chords and single note lines, challenging due to its irregular rhythm and syncopation. Despite its complexity, mastering it offers a great opportunity to learn about unique rhythm patterns and chord embellishments, enriching your improvisation skills.
  9. "B.Y.O.B." by System Of A Down
    The song features a fast, heavy, aggressive guitar riff with fast alternate picking. Learning it improves speed, precision, and metal-style playing. Good luck! :)
  10. "Cliffs of Dover" by Eric Johnson
    To be honest, this song has no business being on a list of "Easy Guitar Riffs for Beginners". Known for its speedy sequences and intricate melodic patterns, it's one of the most difficult well-known guitar riffs out there. The alternating picking and precise fretting require advanced technique and precision, making it a serious challenge. Learning it will not only improve your picking and fretting skills, but also your ability to play melodically. Make it this far, and you're on to great things!

There are thousands of songs with easy guitar riffs to learn and play, but these one hundred are some of the best to you get you started. Mastering them will undoubtedly take your guitar playing to the next level. Before you know it, you could be playing them in a cover band, with cheering crowds as you shred! So, there's no reason to wait. Grab your guitar, pick a riff from our list, and start your musical journey today!  

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Lisa McMichaels

Surprised to see Everlong. thought it was a little tricky toplay

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