how to play guitar riffs

Welcome back! Today I wanna teach you how to play guitar riffs.

Riffs are widely used among guitar players. Oftentimes we compose a song around a riff. So what is a riff anyways? To me a Riff is a melodic rhythm guitar. It is usually the main part, the hook, of a song. Sometimes it is the main part in the bridge of a song.

Today I wanna show you a way to play guitar riffs using nothing but 2 strings. It is very common for guitar players to use an open string as a pedal and combine it with a more melodic pattern. Let’s check out the scale we are going to use for this, which we’ll spread out across the 5th string of your guitar:


Now let’s come up with melody using some of the notes of the scale I just showed you. For this melody I wanna add some rests and combine different rhythms, like this:


It’s starting to sound like a guitar something, not quite a riff yet but it’s getting there. Remember how I told you that guitar players like to add an open string as a pedal tone? Well, let’s give it a try. Since we originally used the E minor pentatonic scale, I think our best bet is to use the 6th open string. Let’s check it out:


This already sounds like a riff. Turn up the volume of your amp, get a Les Paul or an Ibanez with a whammy bar and you are good to go. One thing I would totally add to this riff is chords! That would just bring it to another level. Since our melodic line is already pretty busy, we are going add the chords in the less busy part, the last the notes. Let’s just add some power chords. Power chords will always work well with riffs. You can usually just replace the notes and add a power chord on top of it. Let’s check it out:


Well this is all for today! I hope you enjoyed it and please remember to check out more lessons at

How to play your favorite songs from the 60's & 70's on the guitar


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