An easy guitar riff is a riff that is typically made up of just a few notes that create a very recognizable pattern. It can also be based around a set pattern of chords that form the foundation of a song. A riff is a building block. Many songs, such as the Stones’ (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction and AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” are built on these types of riffs. The Stones riff is single notes and the AC/DC song is built around a chord riff that carries the song.
A lot of guitar riffs aren’t difficult to play. In fact, some of the best guitar riffs are easy. You can find an easy guitar riff by searching online. Think of some of your favorite songs and what musical phrase makes them immediately recognizable. You’ll find that quite a few of the examples you come up with have riffs that are easy to play and make up the majority of the song. It’s certainly the case with the two songs mentioned above.
The Nirvana song “Come as You Are” shown here employs an extremely easy to play riff (three notes) that carries the song. Give it a try.
The next example is a classic riff just about anybody who hears it can recognize. It’s from the song “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath.
Notice how this riff employs the use of both chords and single notes with a hammer-on technique. It’s a little harder than the previous example, but still very easy to play. Give it a try. It’s a favorite riff of mine.
Here’s an idea. Sit down and turn up your guitar. Try writing an easy guitar riff of your own. It’s okay to take inspiration from some of your favorites. Listen to some of your favorite bands and identify the riffs. After listening to a few, you’ll find it gets easier to pick them out. Notice how those riffs form the basis of the song. When you have a few ideas bouncing around in your head, write your own. Use power chords, single notes, or a combination of the two like in the Black Sabbath example to write your own easy guitar riff. You might even find it inspires you to write a whole song, and if it does, let your creativity flow and go with it. Writing riffs, and learning them, is addictive. Once you start, you might just find yourself coming up with great riffs regularly. Keep a recorder handy. You never know when the next classic rock riff will be born.