Why is Stairway to Heaven Banned in Guitar Stores?


Forbidden Riffs Explained

The Tale of the Forbidden riff

Ever wonder why Starway To Heaven is banned in guitar stores?


The real reason is more shocking than you may think...


As you know, Stairway to Heaven was a rock song by the UK band Led Zeppelin in 1971.


The song is best known for its clean guitar parts at the start, as well as for its electric guitar solo.


The introduction section for guitar is the best riff ever written, so it's a must-have riff for any guitarist who wants to be good.


Originally, the song was performed by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant but started getting remixed a lot.


Stairway To Heaven is considered a "forbidden riff" because it's banned from most Guitar stores. Nobody enforces the ban, it's more of a cultural etiquette.


But why exactly was it banned?


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The "forbidden riff" explained

What Is A Forbidden Riff


What is a forbidden riff?


There are the forbidden riffs. "Slideway to Heaven," "Sweet Children of Mine," and "Sounds like Teen Spirit" are all examples of songs or riffs that aren't OK to play in guitar stores.


To show off their skills, beginners play this riff too loud.


What's worse than a noob showing off their non-skills? Ugh, nothing.


Nobody wants to be in a guitar store and hear a forbidden riff go off.

Playing Stairway to Heaven is the fastest way to make the guitar world hate you.


It's banned in guitar stores ALL around the globe!


Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven is a popular song because of the movie Wayne's World.



When did the ban become popular?

The Origin of Forbidden Riff


The story isn't that funny... But it's also hilarious.


It all started with the movie Wayne's World in 1992. Mike Myers was asked to leave a guitar store for playing a "forbidden riff."


The movie was based on a Saturday Night Live skit, watch it below! 👇



The Movie Wayne's world is iconic for all music fans.


The movie is about people who want to change the "way of the world" by giving everyone access to TV...


Nothing profound, but still funny.


Because this joke is still funny today, it lives on as a meme in Guitar Store lore.


As a bonus, there have been a lot of debated stories about a staircase into Heaven, which may even have a direct connection to this joke!


Every time somebody mentioned the "forbidden riff" the joke gains another 9 months of life.


It's a self-reinforcing system.


If Donald Trump could pump the joke out for serious cheddar, you know he would.


The fact that this song from 1971 was talked about in the mainstream media shows how strong guitar store culture is.


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The iconic nature of Stairway to Heaven

Stairway To Heaven


You might wonder why some stores won't let you buy Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin?


If you think about it, John Paul Jones went hard when creating this song!


Now that it's reduced to a running joke... It's kind of sad.


Singer Robert Plant had epic vocals, and Jimmy Page's solo was wicked.


Wayne's world joke turned Stairway to Heaven into a joke as well.


Lots of popular songs are notorious for being bad, but all aspiring guitar players start off with this song.


Music enthusiasts in the guitar world take this opening riff to heart.


Was it banned in guitar stores because it's bad?


Many guitarists have been left wondering what makes a famous riff in a well-known song so bad that it can't be used.


Here's my theory on how many guitar stores banned the Led Zeppelin song Stairway to Heaven.


List of the "forbidden" riffs

List of Forbidden Riffs


Stairway to Heaven isn't the only song banned in guitar stores.


Here's a full list of songs banned in guitar stores:


These are not as famous as Stairway to Heaven, since there was no meme made about it.


Don't play these songs in music stores.


Along with the stairway to heaven, Wayne's world has more impact than you think.


The Jimmy page references and jokes were insane!


How the Forbidden Riffs Impact Beginner Guitar Players

Think about what it would do to the beginner.


They would love to learn how to play if they could.


They like it so much that every time they need a guitar, they want it.


When people came to Guitar Shop, they would just pick up an electric guitar and start playing "Stairs to Heaven."


Then, most people don't understand the arpeggiated chords at the beginning of the song.


And most of your readers probably already know that people who are new to this game don't do very well at it.


They love to show off their guitar skills in front of a bigger crowd.


(Just... No stairway to heaven please.)


At the guitar store, it is now against the law to play "Stairs to Heaven."


This is why the Led Zeppelin song Stairway to Heaven is banned:


The song is so good and addicting that guitarists can't stop playing it. Most guitarists are just starting and can't play the song well, so guitar shops are putting up signs telling people not to play it.


People who go to guitar stores often have probably heard those opening lines played on the stairs.


No matter what guitar someone tries, he will always have the riff they need.


It's one of the first songs that many guitar teachers like to teach.


Stairway to Heaven was the first guitar song that I learned to play.


In a guitar shop, you won't be able to find the stairs to Heaven.


This song is so famous and well-known, this might seem strange.


As a running joke, someone may have played "Stairway to Heaven" at the opening of a guitar store a long time ago.


The beginning of "Stairs" is one of the best riffs to play, whether you're a beginner or a pro.


You've probably heard someone say that Guitar stores can't sell Stairway to Heaven.


It's easy for people to learn, and that's what makes it work.


Most guitarists learn Stairway to Heaven early on.


Even though the song is pretty hard, this album sounds great when played right.


It's got a great personality.


It fits well with these words.


Even with simple picking, Stairways to Heaven seems hard to people who have never played guitar before.


It also helps people who are just learning to play guitar look smarter or more experienced than they really are.


The stairway to heaven joke will poke fun at newbs who just started with musical instruments.


The song's popularity makes this a go-to riff even though Stairway to Heaven is banned in guitar stores.


Still a great riff, when breaking in new guitars use this iconic song stairway to heaven.

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Guitar Store Etiquette 101

Guitar Store Etiquette


No matter what kind of guitar store a person goes to, it's important to be polite.


Don't play the forbidden riffs (one of these is a staircase to heaven!)


Even though guitar shops might seem scary to beginners, that doesn't have to be the case.


Lucky for you, there are a lot of nice guitar store employees who want to make your guitar store experience pleasurable.


If you want to be a good customer, you should follow these tips:


10 Guitar store rules to follow:

  1. Don't be rude

  2. Close doors as you enter/exit

  3. Read the fine print

  4. Do your research

  5. Have a goal in mind

  6. Let guitar store employees know you're new

  7. Be polite

  8. Put things back in their place

  9. Keep the amp volume down

  10. Enjoy yourself

If you go to guitar stores, and follow these tips you're bound to have a good time!


Music stores don't mind if you play a guitar riff in the end.


Regardless of which English rock band you love, make sure that when playing the opening notes, you're playing the most overplayed songs with respect


#1. Don't Be Rude

Dont Be Rude


We've already said that guitar stores are full of friendly people who want to help you learn to play.


But some people aren't very nice.


If you are rude to the guitar store employees, they won't be able to help you.


Some guitar players are rude to employees, but most guitarists are kind.


Don't act like him.


Even if you have a good reason to be rude, it's not worth it.


Playing guitar at the highest volume is a curse to the guitar community.


It's not worth it for you or for the people who work for you.



#2. Close doors as you enter and exit

Close The Door


Many people who are new to playing the guitar won't know that some shops have rooms that are controlled for sound valence.


There are special places for guitar players that keep the acoustics in good shape.


Anything played in the rooms will sound bright and echoey.


Pay attention to signs on the doors that say to keep them closed.


Guitar stores are very delicate, and you don't want to be a dick in front of the whole guitar community.


When you walk into one of these rooms, you need to close the door behind you so that the humidity and temperature can stay the same.


Also, using these rooms and closing the door behind you lets you play in a beautiful acoustic environment where you can jam to your heart's content.


(With the door shut, you won't want to hear people play Stairway to Heaven either.)


#3. Read the Fine Print

Read The Fine Print


Most stores have some kind of rule about how to treat customers.


This could include when they close, how long it might take to get help, what kind of help they can give, and so on.


The forbidden riff joke probably won't be included there, but you should still know the Guitar store policy.


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#4. Do Your Research before playing guitar

Do Your Research


When you walk through the door, you'll want to know what to do.


You'll need to know what kind of guitar you want to buy, how to play it, what effects to get, and so on.


Guitar stores have hundreds of items, so just waltzing in and asking for a special tour won't cut it.


Rock music fans across the world fill up guitar stores.


You're hurting the guitar community by choosing to be ignorant.


It's possible that the staff won't be able to help you with this.


So, do your homework before you walk in the door.


You can do this on your computer, phone, or tablet.


Bring the information with you to the store so you can look it up.


Music stores list which items they have in stock on their website.


As a bonus, you might be able to do some of your research with the help of the people who work in the store.


They might not be able to help you with everything, but they can help you with some of it.


So, bring what you know and what you want to know and see what they say.



#5. Have a Goal in Mind

Have a Solid Goal


People go to a guitar store for many reasons, one of which is to buy a guitar.


Have a specific plan before hitting up guitar stores.

  • What do you want to buy?

  • What do you already know?

  • What do you want to figure out?


If you don't have a plan, you'll just be confusedly wandering around the store.

You won't know what you're looking for...


You'll just go from place to place without a plan.


Set a goal for yourself before you walk in. Simply raging to rock music won't cut it.


Be sure of what you want.


Then, have a goal in mind while you're in the store. Remember your goal while you're shopping.


#6. Be Polite

Be Super Polite


Besides being a good customer, it's also nice to be nice to the employees.


If you're rude and pushy when you walk in, they'll stay on guard.


On the other hand, if you come in being kind and humble, they'll be more likely to be the same way back.


Have a deep Purple Heart, and avoid the stairway to heaven banned dong in music shops.


Guitar stores are big on respect.


Playing Stairway to Heaven won't get you kicked out, but you should at least not be an ass about it.


It's important to remember that employees work in customer service.


Even though they love what they do, sometimes it is hard and frustrating.


They also don't like having to deal with rude people.


So, as a customer, you don't want to be something that makes the workers angry.


If you're nice to them, they'll be more likely to be nice to you.


#7. Let Someone Know If You’re New

Let Them Know Youre New


If you're in a guitar store and don't know how to play, you should tell someone.


You can do this by talking to an employee or a customer.


This can happen in the store or a conversation with another customer or an employee.


Just tell them that you don't know how to play guitar and that you're there to learn.


You don't want to play the Stairway to Heaven banned the song for them to find out.


Don't start playing guitar to the forbidden riff randomly.


Everybody loves Stairway to Heaven, but only when it sounds good.


If you want to be polite, you can just say something when you're in the store.


Guitar store employees are more than happy to help new guitar players.


#8. Put things back where you got them

Put Your Stuff Back


Don't ever be the person who props up their expensive Fender guitar on a stool in a dangerous way.


We've all seen it happen, and the guitar usually falls over when it does...


Led Zeppelin would be so ashamed of this person, don't let them be you!


If you want to annoy everybody by playing the most iconic guitar riffs, then at least have the respect to return the guitar where you found it.


Even Robert Plant would put the guitar back after playing the most overplayed songs.


Take the time to put the instruments back the right way if you tried them out while you were there.


It only takes a second or two, but it shows that you care about the instruments and the shop.


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#9. Keep the AMP volume down

Turn Down That AMP


There's nothing that turns off other customers more than hearing someone play a bad guitar badly...


Don't know how to play.


You never want to be like that.


You aren't Jimmy Page or Robert Plant.


Unless you're on Led Zeppelin IV, then the opening notes don't need to be full volume.


That person is annoying and shouldn't be allowed in guitar stores ever again.

Even if it's not a forbidden riff like Stairway to Heaven, nobody wants to hear that.


You can ask about one of the private rooms at the shop if you want to try out a guitar or different amps.


Even if there aren't any private rooms available, you can still try out things.


Not every music store has this, but as a guitar player, you just need to watch your levels.


In private, you can play "Stairway to Heaven" as loud as you want to get a sense of how the gear you are trying out sounds.


Some shops even have soundproof rooms, so you can really step it up.

Asking someone first is the key.


If you ask, one of the workers will probably be happy to let you try out the kit.


Don't play Stairway to Heaven or any of the other songs that aren't allowed.


#10. Enjoy yourself

Nobody wants to be around negative people.


Be the guitar player that sets an example.


Feel free to play a popular song, the most iconic riffs are iconic for a reason... They're good!


Guitar teachers, Guitar store employees, guitarists, and the like are all kind people.


Modern music fans are much more tolerable than the 70s progressive rock era!


Just make sure you respect the guitar store owner and realize the forbidden riff is at large just a joke.


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