As a parent, there is perhaps no better gift that you can give your child than the gift of music education. Music education can help children develop emotional intelligence, creativity, and problem-solving skills. These skills are all applicable to nearly every aspect of their young lives. A guitar is a popular option for children, as the instrument doesn’t have to be complex and can be learned at one’s own pace. Many parents choose to introduce children to either the electric or the acoustic guitar, both of which are great options. Today, we’re going to discuss how your child can learn simple guitar riffs, a challenging yet rewarding technique.
Your child may find playing the riffs a challenging task, but it doesn’t have to be. Riffs may seem to be packed with notes and require many technicalities. However, once you learn how to pick up the notes, you are more than well on your way to becoming a guitar player.
Let’s start with the basics.
What are Guitar Riffs?
If you have ever listened to a song with a short repeated pattern at the beginning, you’ve listened to a riff. Riffs are essential to learn, as they give structure to a song and provide a backdrop to a rhythm guitar or any solo instrument.
At their core, riffs are composed of simple note progressions. They may also contain repetitive chord progressions that use a rhythm pattern specifically, and you can choose either chords or scale notes as per your comfort level.
Some of the most recognizable songs have riffs in the intros, etching them into our minds. Mastering the following riffs will polish your child’s technique and allow them to master a wide array of songs after that.
We recommend using an electric guitar to play these riffs. You can add effects such as overdrive, distortion, and even a chorus with an electric guitar.
Best Guitar Riffs to Learn
Smoke on the Water
If you are just getting started on the guitar, then the ‘Smoke on the Water’ is the perfect place to start. Released in 1972 by the legendary English hard rock band Deep Purple, Smoke on the Water is an all-time favorite guitar riff that the hand’s guitarists have played for decades.
The Smoke on the Water riff was written by Richie Blackmore, the lead guitarist of Deep Purple. This riff is particularly popular among beginner guitarists because of its simple structure of chord shapes and easy-to-grasp melody.
This riff starts with a C note followed by a D# and F. The last note is F#. To take it a step further, you can play the power chords D5, F5, G#5, and G5 on the 5th and 6th strings before moving to the 6th fret while moving through the open position.
Seven Nation Army
“Seven Nation Army,” a famous rock song by the band The White Stripes, was first made famous by star Martin Collins. Even today, decades later, playing this song will still incite singing, dancing, and joy.
This iconic set of notes consists of distorted vocals accompanied by a simple drumbeat and a bass-like riff. White has created a mesmerizing effect by playing his guitar through a pitch shift effect and plays the notes as power chords. You can follow the notes G, D, A, and E.
Simply play the following chords to play chord melodies: each chord times up to the same note in the bass riff.
E (7th fret, 5th string)
G (5th fret, 4th string)
D (5th fret, 5th string)
C (3rd fret, 5th string)
B (2nd fret, 5th string)
These can be played as straight chords or as power chords.
“Beat it” is another popular number by Michael Jackson from his studio album, Thriller, which includes Eddie Van Halen’s guitar solo. This is a good riff to score, coming from the talented guitarist Van Halen and successful performer Michael Jackson.
Other than the solo section, the song consists of just two parts. First is the main riff that consists of the guitar part played in the intro and chorus. This pop riff is relatively straightforward, with little to no difficulty with articulations. The second part of the song has the verse in the form of power chords.
This riff sits on four bars which are best played on an electric guitar. You need to play the notes G, B, G, E, F# in sequence for the first bar. For the second bar, you can play E, D, D, E. Repeat the notes of the first bar for the third bar and play notes E, D, for the fourth bar.
The only articulations you will encounter are a slide down to note G on the 3rd fret of the 6th string at the beginning of bar 1 and note E on the 2nd fret of the 4th string at the start of bar 2.
Come as You Are
“Come as You Are” by American band Nirvana is a track from their second album, Nevermind, from 1992. Frontman Kurt Cobain wrote the song and played an eight-second solo guitar riff in the song’s introduction.
To try your hand at playing the song yourself, play the whole riff on low E and A strings, which are the two thickest strings. They have been tuned down a whole step to low D and G, respectively. If you want to reproduce the original sound of the riff, you can also utilize a chorus effect.
The two-bar riff starts with a three-eighth-note D, D, and D# that gives the rhythm a bit of flavor. Play the notes D, D#, E, G, A, alternating between the open, 1st, and 2nd fret positions of the guitar.
The D, D#, and E notes are played on the 6th string in the open position, fret 1, and fret two, respectively. The G note is played on the 5th string in the open position, and the A note is played on fret two.
Day Tripper, a Beatles classic, is one of the simpler riffs to learn as a beginner. It’s played well on both an acoustic and electric guitar.
Play notes on the thickest strings of 6th, 5th, and 4th strings that vary from open positions to fret 4. The whole riff is based on the E minor pentatonic scale and has two bars that repeat several times throughout the song. You can play notes in the sequences E, G, G#, B, E, D for the first bar. For the second bar, play B, F#, B, D, E.
Eye of the Tiger
“Eye of the Tiger,” the American classic by Survivor, was part of the theme song for the Rocky III film from 1982. This riff first gained notoriety in the classic film and has since become a favorite among guitarists due to its simplicity.
To play it yourself, you’ll need to use the power chords C5, A#5, G5, G#5. You’ll play C5 and A#5 on the 5th, 4th, and 3rd strings. You can play G5 and G#5 on the 6th, 5th, and 4th strings and make sure to slide through the chords.
Another popular anthem by Bruce Springsteen, “Glory Days”, was part of his album “Born in the USA” (1984). This riff is considered the easiest of all riffs as it uses only two power chords.
The riff is written in the G key, and the notes in the scale are G, A, B, C, D, E, F#G. You have the A5 played on 5th, and 4th strings, as well as the D5 power chord, played on the 4th and 3rd strings. They are only two chords you need to master to sail through this popular riff, making it a great place to start.
Learning the riffs in your favorite classics doesn’t have to be a daunting task. It truly doesn’t matter what level of guitarist you are – you can work riffs into your music however you’d like.
The riff is arguably the most crucial learning of guitar playing. Get started today! For more information on how to get started with guitar riffs, visit the BYJU’S FutureSchool’s School of Music website to sign up for a FREE trial music class in a live 1:1 setting with an experienced instructor.