An Introduction To Electric Guitar:
Where To Start With Riffs
The transition from strumming chords on an acoustic guitar to rocking out on an electric is actually a very simple one, yet it is made to seem more daunting then it is form the overwhelming amount of musical information found online regarding what new electric guitar players should be practicing.
I hear things like this all the time from new students; “there is so much information out there, and most of it contradicts itself, all I want to know is what am I supposed to practice to improve at the style of playing I like?”
If your a new, or improving electric guitar player and you can relate to the above statement then these series of FREE blog lessons are for you!
In this FREE blog lesson we will be taking a look at where new electric guitar players should be starting with riffs.
The ability to play rock riffs is one of the most important skills for the electric guitarists. I often say to my students “30 seconds of a song is the solo, the other 3 ½ minutes is all rhythm”.
There are many different ways of playing rock riffs that comprise many different techniques and musical concepts, but in todays lesson we will be looking at where to start with some of the rock riff basics.
Power chords (or 5 chords as they are also known) are one of the most popular ways of playing chords with riffs.
One of the reasons behind is power chords sound great with distortion because they have been stripped back to the root note and the 5th. Sometimes full barre chords can sound to rich with distortion.
In the riff below we will be playing a D power chord sliding into an E power chord then playing an E power chord again after playing the low E twice.
Play the D power chord with your 1st finger on the A string at the 5 fret and your 3rd or 4th finger on the D string at the 7th fret then slide this power chord shape up two frets for the E power chord.
Palm muting is used every where in electric riffs so it’s important to both understand this technique and master it.
The key to great palm muting is palm placement, everyone plays the guitar differently and everyone’s hands are different so this will be different for everybody.
We will be applying palm muting to the open low E string each time it is played in this riff so take the palm of your picking hand and rest it on the bridge of your guitar, now start picking the low E string with down strokes.
Gradually move your palm off the bridge and more and more onto the strings, you will find that if you have your palm to close to the bridge while palm muting you wont get the desired palm muting sound you are looking for, and if you have palm to far up the strings towards the neck it will muffle the strings completely, experiment to find the palm position that works best for you.
Hammer Ons and Pull Offs
Hammer ons and pull off’s are used in a great many riffs. In the last bar of the riff below we will be looking at using hammer ons and pull offs on the A and low E strings.
Start by playing the low E at the 5th fret with your first finger, next hammer on to the 7th fret on the low E with your 3rd finger, remember to keep your fingers curved at both the knuckle and the distal joint so that the finger to can fully access the string, the finger tips are the key to accurate playing.
Next play the 5th fret on the A string with your 1st finger and the 7th fret on the low E string with your 3rd finger.
After that play the 5th fret on the A string with your 1st finger, hammer on to the 7th fret on the A string with your 3rd finger and pull off back to the 5th fret on the A string played with your 1st finger.
Next play the 7th fret on the low E string with your 3rd finger and pull off to the 5th fret on the low E string played with your 1st finger.
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