3 May 2010

Learn to Play Guitar - 3 Easy Guitar Riffs

Guitar riffs have a distinctive sound that has been the signature of thousands of rock, pop, soul and funk songs since the 1950s. Learn how to play some cool guitar riffs in this easy guitar lesson.

We're going to take a look at three classic riffs used by artists such as Chuck Berry, The Beatles and countless others. You'll need to know how to read a little tab to follow and learn the examples.

1. Chuck Berry Style Guitar Riffs

Back in the 1950s Chuck Berry became one of the creators of rock 'n' roll when he coupled the classic blues guitar style with binary four beat rhythms and gave birth to rock and roll.

Berry's signature guitar sound is based upon a riff widely used in the blues. This blues riff is played on only two strings and uses a moving line on the top string to create its familiar sound. Here is an easy to play two bar example based on open chord positions.

    E                 A
    1   2   3   4     1   2   3   4  
 e -----------------|-----------------
 B -----------------|-----------------
 G -----------------|-----------------
 D -----------------|-2-2-4-4-2-2-4-4-
 A -2-2-4-4-2-2-4-4-|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-
 E -0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|-----------------

2. Sus Chord Riffs

Here's an effect based on sus chords that sounds great in rock and pop songs. This kind of sound is used by The Beatles and many other classic rock artists.

Sus is short for suspended, the 3rd of the chord has been replaced by the second or fourth degree causing it to lose its major or minor quality. The resulting chord seems to float undecided, suspended somewhere between major and minor.

Here's a short example using open D and A chord positions.

    D                 A
    1  2    3    4    1  2    3    4
 e -2--3-3--2-0--2--|-0--0-0--0-0--0-
 B -3--3-3--3-3--3--|-2--3-0--2-3--2-
 G -2--2-2--2-2--2--|-2--2-2--2-2--2-
 D -0--0-0--0-0--0--|-2--2-2--2-2--2-
 A -----------------|-0--0-0--0-0--0-
 E -----------------|----------------

3. G major pentatonic riffs

Get a neat country or country rock influenced sound with these easy to play riffs from the G major pentatonic scale. You can use these riffs over a progression with G, C and D major chords.

First, let's take a look at the G major pentatonic scale position used to create the riffs. If you're not familiar with this scale practice playing it up and down to get the hang of it.

 e --------------------------0--3-----
 B ---------------------0--3----------
 G ----------------0--2---------------
 D -----------0--2--------------------
 A ------0--2-------------------------
 E -0--3------------------------------

Now you can combine this scale with some easy open G and C chords like in this example.

    1  2   3   4      1  2   3   4 
 e -3---------------|-0---------------
 B -0---------------|-1----------0-3--
 G -0---------------|-0--0-2-0-2------
 D -0------2-0------|-2---------------
 A -2--0-2-----0-2--|-3---------------
 E -3---------------|-----------------

This kind of riff sounds great with some hammer-ons and pull-offs. Once you're comfortable with the chords and scale work some hammer-ons and pull-offs to and from the notes on the second and third frets into your riffs.


These 3 easy guitar riffs create the distinctive sound of numerous rock and pop hits. Learn to play them and you are well on your way to becoming a great rhythm guitar player.

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1 comment:

Alan Hastings said...

Great information. Thank you.

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