Top 10 Biggest Guitar Fails Ever

Guitar masters can loose their grip from time to time.

Ultimate Guitar

For this week's traditional UG Wednesday Question we asked you guys to name the single biggest guitar fail made by a renowned axeman. A lot of interesting suggestions kept flowing in, here are the ones that made the Top 10 based on your votes.

10. Kirk Hammett's "The Unforgiven II" Fail at Billboard Awards

That first note! Playing with a slide can be a tad tricky, resulting in easy out-of-tune slips like the one Mr. Hammett made at Billboard Awards during the band's "Load/Reload" era.

9. Tom DeLonge's (Blink-182) "First Date" Fail at MTV Europe Awards 2001

Sometimes it's not even a guitarist's fault when screw-ups happen. Take Tom DeLonge's 2001 fail at MTV Europe awards. Throughout the show, the guitar constantly troubled the young singer, due to a wireless transmitter error.

"Unfortunately, one of the guitars used by Depeche Mode from their performance earlier in the night still had its wireless transmitter on, and of course it was set to the same frequency as Tom's guitar," bassist Mark Hoppus said about the event over a decade later.

"After the intro, his guitar cut out completely for the rest of the song. So our triumphant show-closing performance fell flat, as Travis and I played a drum and bass remix and Tom sang along, hoping desperately that something would happen and his guitar would turn back on, or time would stop completely and we could all disappear.

"Neither happened. Then we got back on the plane and flew home. [Producer] Jerry [Finn] laughed at us the whole way. True story."

8. Synyster Gates Falling on Stage

Of course, a fail can be completely unrelated to your instrument, but to your stage behavior. Just check out Synyster Gates' onstage fall during one of the band's earlier live shows.

Despite tumbling across the stage, Syn seems to have just laughed it all off, even getting more crowd support after failing. But 'tis a fail nevertheless, and it's made No. 8.

7. John Frusciante's "Under the Bridge" Fail on Saturday Night Live 1992

High on heroin and on the verge of leaving the band, John Frusciante and RHCP delivered a unique performance of "Under the Bridge" on Saturday Night Live back in 1992. "I felt like I was getting stabbed in the back and hung out to dry in front of all of America while [Frusciante] was off in a corner in the shadow, playing some dissonant out-of-tune experiment," singer Anthony Kiedis said after the show.

However, a solid portion of fans agrees that Frusciante's performance was top-notch in its own way. And really, there aren't much typical fails on this one, as John's in tune and in proper timing pretty much throughout the whole song.

6. Dave Mustaine - "Symphony Interrupted" - "The Ride of the Valkyrie"

Back to sloppy playing, Dave Mustaine's "Symphony Interrupted" bad performance is sometimes attributed to technical issues. However, the squeaky sounds and clearly missed notes are very much present and can hardly be attributed to tech difficulties.

5. System Of A Down - Technical Difficulties Lowlands 2002

We're not sure what's going on here at 3:55, but guitarist Daron Malakian summed it up pretty nicely at the end with "This sucks, and so do we."

4. DragonForce "Through the Fire and Flames" Fail Live at Novarock 2013

Taking stage antics over the line, Herman Li of DragonForce didn't quite manage to pull his trick at last year's Novarock. He did manage to recover from the fail, sort of.

3. Slash F--ks Up "Welcome to the Jungle" Intro

After Axl's epic intro speech, Slash sure knew how to f--k it all up with that guitar intro. The year was 1991 and things were definitely happening for the band.

2. James Hetfield Fails to Switch Guitar Sound

Another source of guitar fails comes from all those pedals, knobs and switches - just take James Hetfield's 2011 sound flop as an example. Papa Het did manage to come out of it fairly nicely, even making a joke or two at the end.

1. Guns N' Roses - Golden Gods Awards 2014 - "Sweet Child O'Mine"

The No.1 fail happened this year at the Golden Gods Awards. We're not sure what happened there, but it sounds like one of those "shreds" videos. Imagine what it would sound like to combine DJ Ashba's sound and Axl's "Mickey Mouse" voice from that "Welcome to the Jungle" fail at Bridge School.

115 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Next top's gotta be stage rants.
    I'm gonna guess Axl will win that one
    Definitely. The one where he almost gets hit by what appears to be a hard skin filing stone made for the hard skin on ones heels.
    yeah...the whole walking off stage during his after james hetfield was hit by pyro and ending up with a riot kinda puts him up there
    I think the usually-nice Josh Homme may have that one...he bottled a guy for being a prick after a good minute of calling him every name under the sun.
    Haha, I had an idea that Malakian would be on here.. If it's not him messing up 'cause he's too busy jumping around, he seems to consistently have technical difficulties. Yet he always makes a joke out of it. When I saw them in Milan last year, at one point, the guitar wouldn't switch to clean, and he simply started dancing and playing air guitar around the stage. Was awesome haha.
    Hes one of my all time favorite guitarist... But Frusciante always was a world class d-bag personality wise. That's great you want to experiment. But don't do it on national tv while promoting your latest album without talking to your bandmates first. What a jerk.
    He quit the band almost immediately after this. According to Anthony's autobiography he was in a pretty messed up state of mind. Either way, I think that version sounds awesome up until the ridiculous yelling near the end.
    I actually liked the version/video. I had never seen it before. Was it the same show where they were playing Stone Cold Bush and Fru was pissing around so kedis kicked him in the ass? But clearly by seeing Kedis in the video and and reading what he said about it... He wasn't ok with it and I just see it as Frusciante being a childish d@ck.
    Kiedis accidentally whacked a mic into Frusciante's face (is what I think you were referring to) - yes, it was the same night.
    He didn't like that the band were playing tv shows and going massively big. He's famously anti-fame.
    Frusciante botched the performance after Kiedis kicked him into his microphone earlier in the night. It was just all tension at this point. To call him a jerk is a tad presumptuous, but I mean hey who isn't a jerk.
    I think the next one should be biggest guitar fails by newer bands. In the voting article, there were some hilarious videos which deserve to be seen by many
    or guitar saves
    Raise that roadie's wage! F*cking amazing, you wouldn't have even noticed anything was ever wrong.
    I hope you're talking about the epic guitar spin fail where the guys guitar strap broke and the axe sailed about 20 feet up into the air
    john frusciantes rendition of 'under the bridge' wasn't a fail, he was merely improvising for a song on live television that he grew to hate.
    System really pulled that off and made it an excellent part of the performance. Daron is awesome.
    No Lil Wayne?
    That is one of the obvious ones (and would be in the top places of the list), but the article, where you voted for biggest guitar fail, did say no Lil Wayne or Fred Durst.
    Did it not occur to you that most Lil Wayne nominations were most likely in jest and due to UG telling everyone they couldn't nominate him?
    Yes, though he was an obvious fail, but he wasn't the best jests suggested in the comments section (fails done by up-coming bands, or new bands).
    I think the Guns N Roses Fail is pretty close to lil waynes performance.
    Fudge that man Fred Durst should have been #1!
    I feel your down votes are unjust and not enough people have seen the "solo" you are referring too. It is painful but because its Durst also a delight.
    To be fair, I was joking. After seeing every other post in the votes being for Lil Wayne or Fred Durst despite the article clearly stating they wouldn't accept them, I thought I'd continue the joke. I guess unless you write SARCASM in big letters it may not be recognised...
    The downvotes are there because you guys are illiterate.
    why did Kornohilic get downvoted, you all are illiterate, the vote was for biggest guitar fails by ACTUAL GUITARISTS and specifically stated the fred durst and lil wayne fails were NOT part of this
    Honestly, I do not know where UG took this list from cause most of these were not even nominated.
    Pretty sure all of these were nominated dude.
    6. Dave Mustaine - "Symphony Interrupted" - "The Ride of the Valkyrie"???? 10. Kirk Hammett's "The Unforgiven II" Fail at Billboard Awards????
    I saw both of these in the comments Wednesday morning after I got off work because I remember watching both of them.
    Go check the comments section of the Wednesday question and see for yourself man
    I love the people here and on other past news postings on the chili peppers SNl performance praising John. Just shows how many people DON'T have a good ear for music. It wasn't enough that he totally screwed up the tempo, but he was hardly "in tune" most of the time as the article above suggests. I can't find any clips from earlier in the show when there was an incident between John and Anthony but it's really irrelevant. He screwed over Flea and Chad as well. It just sounds awful. I know everyone on here always praises him, and on the albums he's awesome, but his whole anti-fame crap is obnoxious. He's lucky they let him back in with Californication.
    No offense, but you're just being obnoxious. The version sounds cool. Yeah, it's weird and doesn't sound like it should fit, but it does, and that is why it sounds cool. Its dissonant. Yes, he was being a douche, we can agree on that. But don't tell other people what they should or should not like. And stop assuming people don't have a good ear for music because they enjoyed something that you didn't. It's just childish.
    There's a difference between you saying that Imagine Dragons are the greatest band in the world with the best songs and me saying they suck on ice. That's personal opinion, it just goes to someone's preference on the type of music they like, therefor no one is really right or wrong. However, there's really no room for opinion on whether or not something is played in the right key, the right progression, etc... This guitar performance on SNL is compelte rubbish and completely off and out of tune. I'm not telling you what you should like, I'm stating a fact about the playing being bad. It's bad because it's completely out of tune and a mess. If you can't recognize that it's out of tune, I can only deduce that you have a bad ear for music. Not because of the kind of music you like, but because you clearly can't distinguish between an in tune and out of tune song. Unless you like complete avant garde playing where there is barely any structure, you should be able to call this a bad guitar version of Under the Bridge.
    Nero Galon
    I honestly thought the performance was a beautiful disaster. And i'm not a John fanboy either.
    Though a lot of these are definitely cringe-worthy, I think they serve as a fair reminder that even the most notable of us mess up sometimes. Fame certainly doesn't mean perfection.
    The worst fail I've ever heard (which is a pretty unknown one) can be heard on the bonus disc of Evergreys "A night to remember". Their awesome intro is playing and when the first song ("Blinded") is supposed to start the lights go on and the frontman says "eeer...we seems to be having a bit of a technical issue". What a nightmare of a gig. X)
    What about Krist Novoselic throwing his bass up in the air and it smashing him in the face on the way down?
    Hahahaahaha! omg when sinister falls, its so ****ing funny! Family Guy HUMOR!
    Can't really call the system of a down one a fail for the actual musicians lol "bad guitar" I'd say they went with it pretty well for as much as it sucked that it happened
    Travis Barker aside, Blink 182 will never be accused of being virtuoso players, but that video to me just proves the strength of the rhythm section and their abilities as showmen. Still funny though.
    The big fail here is the quality of the videos ... even the 2014 one ...
    I can't believe that the guy in #1 didn't try to just play something different that still fit. The string is clearly out of tune, so do what all guitar players do and compensate. I feel bad though, he was probably handed that guitar right before the song started and told it was in tune. Definite fail by all involved.
    Well, it IS the intro to Sweet Child O Mine, you kind of have to play it the way it was written. It doesn't get any more "signature" than that lick, and it's a song everyone knows. I do agree though, that was probably more of a "guitar TECH fail" than the player's fault..
    weird how cobain never really played correctly at all, i guess thats just artistic expression.
    Maybe the worst comment I've read on ultimate guitar all month. And that is seriously an incredible achievement. Congratulations sir.
    Man, Herman Li is looking old these days, more like Dr Wen from Scrubs :') Such a great band live though!
    Speeding up your guitar in the studio is one thing, and then replicating live is another for Herman li he should really leave the shredding to someone who can do it.
    Is sounds like he plays over a backing track and/or the keyboardist plays most of the notes.
    Slash's wasn't even a **** up, clearly Matt came in at the incorrect time. Frusciantes wasn't too bad either, just seemed like John bringing his solo stuff into the band. #1 was probably well deserved though
    Why does UG keep asking questions and then they neglect the user votes?
    Number 7 isn't even a fail, but way to include it UG. A fail would be something wrong with sounding of the guitar tech or it just not working in general, or to some fail stunt. I would hardly call John Frusciante completely out of it on heroin and showing how much he hated fame by 'purposely' (the key word not accidentally)playing the song incorrectly to be a fail that should be on this list.
    Disagree. You can intentionally do something, and if it doesn't work, it's a valid fail.
    But it did work.. just sayin.
    Funk Monk
    It didn't work. The band conformed to it and tried to make it work. He still messes up throughout the performance, like accidently going to the outro chord progression. Too many people back up John Frusciante's Douchebaggery.
    This is a decent list. How about The fact that the Yanks qualified out of the world cup group? Could not manage a single shot on goal against the mighty Germans. They are getting good at "soccer" lol. Its football.
    No actually it's soccer. And no one here even cares about soccer other then high school kids. And to be honest the only reason anyone over here watches it is because the USA team is almost decent this year and we enjoy beating down the the rest of the world in anything... Be it golf, soccer,hockey, polo, basketball, Olympic games or war.
    You are the only country that calls it "soccer". You all should focus on the real American sport: American "eggball" and your superbowl garbage. There is a reason football is the most loved sport and nothing comes close to the world cup.-There, I said it
    Yeah man, Superbowl is totally lame. Makes me wonder why corporations pay such hard millions for 30 seconds of advertising time Have an open mind man
    Yeah, because watching 50 people run for half a mile, only for the ball to get turned over, and then they run the other way for half a mile, repeat, for 4 hours is SO entertaining. By the way, did you hear the last world cup game set a new world record for highest scoring soccer game of all time! 1-0. Also had the most shots on goal ever, 4.
    Agent Steel did #2 at their Hammersmith Odeon gig. I don't remember what song it was, but oh, speed metal sounds funny unplugged.
    Agent Steel did #2 at their Hammersmith Odeon gig. I don't remember what song it was, but oh, speed metal sounds funny unplugged.
    Up until 40, that "version" of Under the Bridge sounded fine to me, not that different really.
    does it get any worse than this? guy can't even tune his guitar properly
    He's probably not the one who tuned this guitar. Don't try to raise your self-esteem this way lol.
    I don't really get what was entirely wrong with #1
    The guitar is out of tune for the entire main riff of the song. To me, anyway, it stops sticking out after a while...but it definitely isn't right.
    Where is my vote for Every time Lil Wayne holds a guitar?
    If you had read the article then you would have noticed they said no Lil Wayne or Fred Durst. They only wanted actual long term guitar players.
    Maynard screws up ,really funny
    i like it how even after his guitar falls the dragon force guy starts doing the trick again anyway. Imagine if it fell twice in one show! Half these weren't even there fault anyway so they had no reason to be ashamed the other ones while maybe embarrassing were all pretty small mistakes that they could just laugh off. That sweet child sounded like some one using dial up though