One of the most iconic sounds in the world is the sound of a strong guitar riff. You have Iron Man from Black Sabbath or Smoke on the Water from Deep Purple, these are riffs that live effortlessly through multiple generations. How cool would it be to make your own, something so catchy that you and others can’t stop humming or tapping their feet. I can’t promise that any riff that you create will still be in people’s minds twenty years down the line. I am sure you will be able to bring down a local gig with your band if you get the formula right though. Below I have included some hints and tips that can help when it comes to writing your riff.
I have had a chat with Tom Hess guitar maestro about creating that perfect riff, before we get into it let’s find out a little more about Tom.
Tom has over 3 decades of experience when it comes to guitar playing; he has had success with his bands Rhapsody of Fire and HolyHell. Academically Tom has also managed to gain two music degrees, one in music theory and the other in composition. Tom now dedicates a lot of his time to teaching other through his online courses.
Establish a Rhythm
Usually when it comes to riffs, most inexperienced players believe that riffs only consist of power chords. You can create a pretty decent sounding riff based on power chords absolutely, however to master the power of writing a great riff you need to start to add notes to the power chord. Adapt the rhythm to your level of guitar playing.
Don’t Focus Just on The Guitar
When creating a riff you need to keep in mind the sound that the other instruments will be bringing to the table. The sounds from the other instruments in the band will help round off the perfect riff. Add layers to the riff, your bassist doesn’t have to be playing the same rhythm and figure out the pace for the drummer.
Master the Minor Pentatonic Scale
The Pentatonic Scale is one of the most commonly used scaled when it comes to creating a riff. This scale has been used for well over 50 years and has featured in many of the most iconic riffs off all time. There any examples of how to learn this scale online but master it and you have the bases in place to start creating a masterpiece.
Creating the perfect riff will rarely come instantly; it is down to a lot of trial and error. Jam with it; don’t get disheartened if it is not coming to you straight away. Even if you think you have something but can’t move it to the next step, be patient, don’t lose your temper. Once you have the rhythm the rest will come in time. Creating music is a constant learning curve, take your inspirations and build from what you know.