A Simple Idea For Creating Cool Riffs

If you are like many guitar players who write there own songs, you might find it hard from time to time to come up with new ideas. It is especially frustrating when you are sitting down with your band mates and you are expected to come up with a new cool Riff on the spot. I’ve been in this situation more than once and was just sitting there for half and hour or longer and hoped to stumble upon something that sounded cool. Sometimes I came up with something reasonably good and sometimes I didn’t.

If this sounds familiar too you and you are also sometimes struggling to create cool riffs hang on, I’m going to show you an approach I use that enables you to quickly create a couple of interesting sounding riffs. This approach also helps you to integrate some new ideas in your songwriting, if you feel you need some fresh air in your songs.

For this approach you are basically choosing a single string and a key to start with. It could be any key, but for now I am choosing A minor as an example. At first you are going to pick out a couple of notes on your starting string, I use the G and A note on the D string:


Next you are choosing a neighbouring string and map out all notes in the key of A minor, I use the A string for now:


What you are going to do now, is to add single notes of the A string on top of any of the starting notes G or A we have chosen on the D string. The G and A note on the D string will be the highest sounding notes in your riff, while you are adding notes from the A string as the lower sounding notes of the riff on top. This will help you to break out of only using power-chords in your riffs. Of course you need to pay attention that the two notes on the A and D string are close enough together, so that you can actually hit them at once. If it is not clear for you how to do this, here is an example how you could approach it:


As you can see, I have been using the A note on the D string for the first two measures as foundation and the G note for the 3rd and 4th measure and just added various notes from the A string on top.

You can do the same thing with the next higher string to the D string and map out the notes in the A minor Key on the G string:


If you do it that way, you will have the A and G note on the D string as being the low notes in your Riff. Here is an example of how this could look like:


You can come up with some pretty cool sounding riffs as I’ve shown above with this approach. Now go on and create your own riffs, experiment with this method and have fun!

This article was written by Marco von Baumbach, Guitar Instructor in Wuppertal, Germany. If you want to find out more about him, you can do so on his website, about Gitarrenunterricht in Wuppertal

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