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Groovy Aerosmith Guitar Lesson
In this Aerosmith guitar lesson, Guitar Control Instructor, Robert Baker, is going to get you grooving like Joe Perry and Brad Whitford. Robert is going to cover two different Aerosmith riffs, first he will go over Sweet Emotion, and then Walk This Way. Two extremely groovy riffs. Robert loves this riffs because they are completely groove based. Some songs are based off of how complex they are, or how many notes the guitarist can cram into it, but these two riffs are based on rhythm. You can’t help but hear these riffs and start moving to them, they totally get you moving. So let’s breakdown these two Aerosmith classics!
Step 1: The Scale
Luckily in this Aerosmith guitar lesson both of these riffs are in the key of A minor and both use the same pattern of the A minor pentatonic scale, box 4. To play this scale pick the 6th string open to the 3rd fret with your second finger, and the same thing on the 5th string, play open to the 3rd fret. Play the open 4th string then play the 4th string 2nd fret, do the same thing on the 3rd string, play the open 3rd string to the 2nd fret, then on the 2nd string play the 1st to 3rd fret with your pointer to ring finger, and on the 1st string play the open 1st string to 3rd fret using your ring finger on the 3rd fret. You’ll be able to see how they throw in these little fills or single notes and they’re all out of this scale.
Step 2: Sweet Emotion
First we are going to go over Sweet Emotion. This riff starts with an open Dsus2 chord. The Dsus2 chord has an open 4th string, pointer on the 2nd fret 3rd string, and ring finger on the 3rd fret 2nd string. Robert includes the open 1st string, the high E, but it’s not required. Then we are going to go to a normal open A5 chord. So an open 5th string and your pointer on the 4th string 2nd fret, and also holding down the 3rd string 2nd fret. So to strum these first two chords, I strum down on the Dsus2 chord and up on the A5 twice. The two ups in a row adds a little more grit to it, you may have heard this effect before in songs like La Grange by ZZ Top as they dig into that fill distorted classic riff.
We are going to follow that rhythm with a fill. Starting on the 3rd fret pull off to open on the 5th string, to the 3rd fret 6th string, back to the open A5 chord once, and then back to the 3rd fret 6th string. And there’s the first fill. If you are enjoying learning this riff be sure to check out our full lesson for how to play Sweet Emotion. After the fill go back to the Dsus2 strumming down and then two ups again on the A5. Then comes fill two where you go back to the 5th string 3rd fret and pull off to the open string, then pick the 3rd fret 6th string then straight back into an A5. Alternate between these two fills and that is basically the riff! You’ll notice that when Robert is playing this riff, his picking hand is moving a lot and he is throwing in a lot of ghost notes. Ghost notes are notes that are not perfectly in time, but add a lot of style and feel. Robert is throwing in a lot of ghost notes where he is hitting the strings but he is not necessarily playing a chord. See 3:30 to see him demonstrate it. There is a lot of fretting hand muting and scratching going on. For starters, you can still get the same groove without adding in all these little details, but adding them in makes your playing much more percussive. If you are just starting out I wouldn’t worry about throwing in all of these details now, I would just focus on getting the overall groove and changes down first, and then worry about adding in those advanced details to bring out the percussive side of this riff.
Step 3: Walk This Way
This opening riff is obviously incredibly famous and starts out again in that same box 4, A minor pentatonic scale that we were just using for Sweet Emotion. Starting with an open 5th string and then picking the 1st fret 5th string holding it down with your pointer and the 2nd fret 5th string with your middle finger. Then you’re going to kind of roll your middle finger down to grab the 2nd fret on the 4th string. Then repeat all of that, but this time you follow with an open low E, the open 6th string. Then go back to the open 5th string, to the 1st fret 5th string, to the 2nd fret 5th string and repeat it twice. This time you’re going to go to the 3rd fret 6th string and then the 2nd fret on the 4th string. So basically we are playing that same riff always twice, the open 5th string to the 1st fret 5th string to the 2nd fret 5th string and then doing different endings each time. So we do the main riff with ending one, then repeat the main riff with ending 2, repeat the main riff with ending 1 again, and then repeat the main riff and this time you almost doing ending 2 except instead of picking just the 2nd fret 4th string you play an open A5 power chord. An open A5 power chord has an open 5th string and then you bar the 2nd fret 4th string and the 2nd fret 3rd string with your pointer finger, and play only the 5th, 4th, and 3rd strings. After the A5 the song goes into the next riff but today we are just going to focus on this main one and getting it down. So remember this riff is all about the groove and all about the rhythm in which you are playing it in. You’d be surprised once you get going on it and really have it down you’ll get that kind of bounce to your hand.
Recap: Aerosmith Guitar Lesson
I hope you enjoyed this Aerosmith guitar lesson! These two super groovy and rhythmic riffs will definitely give your strumming hand a work out. A great lesson in rhythm but also in writing. These riffs are both fairly simple, yet totally stand out and are almost impossible to get out of your head. Showing you like Robert mentioned earlier that some riffs are written as show off riffs or to show you how many notes the guitarist can possibly fit in, but these were written to groove, and these two riffs are completely groove based. So remember to slow these down and let your strumming hand be the focus picking up on all the small details Joe Perry and Brad Whitford add in to make these two stand out, classic riffs.