What’s going on, everybody? Sean Daniel here with Guitar Control, and today we’re going to learn about just riffing out whether you’re on an acoustic guitar, electric guitar, whatever. We’re just going to talk about some interesting techniques and tips you can use to just make really cool sounding rifts. Make sure you click the link below because we’re going to tab out what we’re doing here. Eventually it’s going to be about using your own creativity and building these exercises into your playing. I think one great way to think about riff building, and first before we even get into that, like what makes a good riff? What is a riff anyways? A riff is really just in my opinion, a collection of single notes to come together to make a phrase that you can repeat and make it sound really cool. Okay? One riff that I really like sounds like this.
Okay? Something like that. Right? We have just these different notes on just a couple of lower strings. Usually using the lower strings of a guitar will make the rifts sound heavier, but what we’re going to do is we’re going to do stuff in E-minor. All the great rock riffs are written in E-minor. All right? This is one of the reasons that this is true is because of the low E string being open and then going back and forth between notes in the E-minor scale on the A string. Okay?
What I mean by that is first of all, we need to know the nodes in the E-minor scale because usually minor scale rifts are the sound of rock and roll, whether it’s E-minor, whether it’s A-minor, C-sharp-minor for those really, really crazy guys. But basically the notes and E-minor are E, F-sharp, G, A, B, C and D. Okay? You can learn it all on the low E string, and we ended up with this. E, F-sharp, G, A, B, C, D, E. If we said the notes, the fret markers open, two, three, five, seven, eight, 10, 12. Okay? Now, you can really riff by maybe just throwing some of these notes in there. In fact, the first tab in the linked resource below is really just the E string.
One cool thing that you could do is maybe just put notes in between like a droning type open E sound. In fact, a lot of different things can be played just using open E and then just some of these notes. Right? Really I think the first step is to just learn the scale on one string. Open, two, three, five, seven, eight, 10, 12. Now, that really sounds great, and really just use your creativity and get going on that. But what I think really makes a cool sound especially on guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, whatever is using the open A string as a drone between in its scale on the A string. Okay?
Now a scale doesn’t have to start with the root note. In the case of the low E string, it does. Open two, three. If we have an E after G, A, B, C, D, E, and then you keep going if you want. But knowing those notes on the A string is also super important. Okay? Playing those same notes but starting on at A, you get A, B, C, D, E, F-sharp, G, A. Now it’s the same notes, but the frats are going to be a little different. Now it’s open two, three, five, seven, nine, 10, 12. Okay?
Now it really sounds cool with that open E in between. The next thing we’re going to do is instead of just playing this as its own scale, we’re going to put that open E in between everyone. E, A, B, E, C, E, D, E, octave-E, E, F-sharp, E, G, E, A. Okay? Even just playing through those, really it shouldn’t ever sound super musical whenever you just play a scale in order, but just by inserting that low E string in between those notes, it actually, I think it starts to sound like music and really we’re doing something very non-musical, something that’s just like really arbitrarily educational. Because we have that E in between, it’s creating a tonal center that we’re riffing off of. Okay?
Really I urge you to learn these notes on just the E and the A string. Find out where those notes are, and then just start riffing out. Okay? One thing we can do, we can just maybe concentrate instead of doing the whole string, maybe just concentrate on the first couple of notes, like open A, the B on the A string, the C and the D, so open two, three, five and then put that open E in between. Then just changing the order like we just did right there. Another thing you could do is maybe add certain times you play each note like maybe two times on the E string.
Next thing we can do is we can slide into notes. Now it’s really starting to sound like music in my opinion. Right? This is a great way to start just maybe taking the segments of them. Really learn the names of the notes because it’s going to help you out in the long run. Even though it’s like A, B, C, D. If that’s all you learned from this lesson, it’s just open two, three, five when the A string is A, B, C, D, just the first letters of the alphabet. Right? Putting those in between that E, maybe a… It’s a great way to start branching through the fret board. Again, it’s super helpful for your playing just being able to diagnose where notes are. You really never know how they’re going to come in handy, specifically in riff writing. Just maybe like adding something different. Right? Now that we have those first four notes, one, two, three, four. I’m just changing the order and then hitting to E’s in between.
Then you can start combining them to make something even heavier sounding like if you’re going into a different part of the song. Then after that we can maybe learn some of the higher notes. Right? So we have … Right here, this is the octave E That riff that I played at the beginning is a great classic song. Shout out to anybody who can name that one. Really that goes through out each string. Well let’s actually take the D, the E, the F-sharp G and A. If you take the last four notes, E, F-sharp, G, A.
In fact, that’s going to be the next thing in the tab. It’s going to be two, E’s, seven A, nine A, 10 A. Maybe do that one twice. That’s where I’m just randomly choosing how many times I want to play that open E in between them. Maybe two times. One. Again, it’s a really easy way to just mindless create cool sounding stuff. I really liked the sound of open droning. I guess I don’t even want to know if you want to call that a drone because I am kind of maybe silencing it a little bit more. I think the term drone is more accurate for if you’re like … because then you have that E just wringing out more. However you want to look at it. Really learn those notes, open two, three, five, seven, nine, 10, 12, A, B, C, D, E, F-sharp, G, A on the A string.
On the E string, it’s open two, three, five, seven, A, 10, 12, E, F-sharp, G, A, B, C, D, E. Okay? Any of those notes are going to sound great together in any combination. You can start putting them however you want. I just think it’s a really cool way to maybe approach a different style of playing. Maybe if you’ve never really tried making up your own riffs, this is the fool-proof way. Anything that you do is really going to sound pretty cool because you’re just using notes from the E-minor scale. E-minor is the sound of rock and roll. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Just take some of the resources that we’ve provided below, and I’m excited to see what you guys come up with. Let us know what you think of this last one, what you would like to see more of, and then check out other videos on the Guitar Control channel by myself and other great instructors. Thanks so much.
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