5 Iconic Rock Guitar Riffs Lesson

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5 Iconic Rock Guitar Riffs Lesson

Hey everyone, today I am taking it in a lighter direction and will be teaching you 5 iconic guitar riffs that every guitarist ought to learn and be able to play.  Tabulature and video lesson are below explanation.

First up is “Sweet Child Of Mine” by Guns & Roses. This riff is basically a pedal point riff (check out my Yngwie lesson for more info on this type of idea) in the key of G but the tonality is D mixolydian, the 5th mode of G major.  Pick it all downstrokes if you can as it makes the notes more even. I try to play downstrokes as much as possible as it really does sound better up to a certain tempo threshold.

Figure 2 is “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.  This riff is also in D mixolydian and this will take some pretty good picking technique to make it happen.  Try picking it the same way every single time so your brain can latch onto it faster.

Figure 3 we have “Jumping Jack Flash” by The Rolling Stones. This is in an open G tuning (no big E string, Keith takes it off) with a capo on fret 4.  I would suggest counting this and the other riffs if you are a beginner as it really does help get these riffs into the brain as well as training your ear to pick up such rhythms because of familiarity.

Figure 4 is “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix.  This one starts off with tritones played by the bass and guitar in combination then moves into a riff drawn from the E minor pentatonic scale.  This riff utilizes open strings to facilitate shifting which is a great way to move positionally down or up the fretboard smoothly.

Finally we have “Stairway To Heaven,” which is currently bringing Led Zeppelin troubles as a 2nd trial is about to begin on whether Jimmy Page stole the introduction to the song from “Taurus” by the band Spirit. This riff utilizes what is called a “line cliche” which is when one voice moves chromatically through the same basic chordal background.  Try to use a one finger per string type approach for the fingerpicking hand to keep things organized.  The toughest change in this is from the C/G chord to the D/F# chord.  Make that the focal point of your practice and you will pick the riff up faster.

I hope you enjoyed this lesson and I will be back soon with another.


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