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Rock Guitar Lessons • Best Rock Guitar Riffs • Strum Patterns, Full Songs, Tab, Chords, Video Lessons.

Updated on January 6, 2019

Unique introduction into the world of blues guitar!

Learning Blues Guitar

I have been teaching guitar professionally since 1992, when Don’t Fret Guitar Instruction was established. Over the years, I have taught countless students (beginners to advanced) how to play or improve their chops. Past students include four members of PROTEST THE HERO.

With this book, my goal is to relate the scales with chords and rhythms as opposed to just learning solos or licks and having no idea how to apply them. Good rhythm playing and knowledge is crucial to good soloing and vice versa. This comes through understanding the relationship between chords and scales. This book provides that important foundation.

The book is unique in the fact that each chapter is based around a different key signature and an open (contains unfretted notes), pattern of the pentatonic scale. There are five chapters covering the key signatures of E, A, D, G and C, and the five open ‘box patterns’ (scale patterns) of the pentatonic scale. Eventually all the box patterns are covered, from the open strings to the fifteenth fret.

There is no endless scale practice or useless licks to learn. Instead, each chapter begins with a chord progression, moves into various rhythm patterns derived from the chord progression, and then culminates with solos based on the scale and key covered. These solos tie in with the chord progression and rhythm patterns to form a complete lesson for each chapter.

The book is progressive. Upon completion, the student will have a solid foundation in blues guitar, and will understand the rhythm, lead connection.

The book is best studied from beginning to end, without slighting any material. All theory is explained in the simplest terms. There are fretboard diagrams for the scales, chord grids, and photos of hand positions as well as videos posted on YouTube to aid in the learning process.

It is best, but not necessary, to have a knowledge of barre and open chord shapes before beginning this course. All the chords have fretboard grids associated with them.

Good luck and have fun. Music is a celebration. Enjoy!

Lorne K. Hemmerling


A riff in music, is loosely defined as a short phrase that repeats throughout the song. For some guitarists, this is the only part they learn before moving on to the next song. They are usually fun to play and sound impressive. As a guitar teacher, I stress learning the whole song, at least the rhythm part. I have become so used to hearing these riffs played wrong (especially Smoke On The Water), that I have made it a point to correct students as soon as possible. Here is my list of some of the most common and cool sounding guitar riffs ever written.

In The Style Of Thunderstuck (AC/DC)

This riff is based in the key of E Major. The first two bars outline a B Major arpeggio: B (root), D sharp (third), F sharp (fifth). The third and fourth bar form an E minor arpeggio: E (root), G (minor third), B (fifth). The fifth and sixth bar are based entirely in E Major and repeat throughout most of the song. If you have ever seen AC/DC live, you will know that Angus Young does not play this like the studio version. That is, it is not repeated throughout the song. Instead he inserts it when it is necessary and moves into chords when it isn't. This is a great warmup, and should be fairly easy to execute fast, due to the fact that it is positioned on one string. Start slow, make sure it is clean (no notes left out or picked incorrectly), then gradually increase the speed. Also, try this with only hammer ons and pull offs. Try muting the high E and G strings with the fret hand, when performing this technique. That way you will avoid having those strings ring.

Here is one of my students, 12 year old Kyle Renton, performing the piece with hammer-ons and pull-offs. Notice how he is muting the adjacent strings with his pick hand.

Helluva song.

Guns N' Roses DVD's

Guns N' Roses - Use Your Illusion I (World Tour 1992 in Tokyo)
Guns N' Roses - Use Your Illusion I (World Tour 1992 in Tokyo)

Shot live as two separate volumes during the band's 1992 world tour in Tokyo, each video is a collection of their live performances. Night train, Mr Brownstone, Live and let die, It's so Easy, Bad Obsession, Attitude, Pretty Tied Up, Welcome to the Jungle, Dont Cry, Double Talkin Juive (MF), Civil War, Patience, November Rain.


In The Style Of Sweet Child Of Mine (Guns N Roses)

This is one of the hardest riffs to execute cleanly, due to the string skipping involved. Once again, a great exercise for this technique. Based entirely in the key of D Major, each section is repeated twice. The only note that changes from section to section is the root note. Try using pick direction #1 (all downstrokes), until you have become familiar with the patterns, then move to alternate picking (pick direction #2). I recently clicked on a YouTube video of Slash, on stage, making mistakes during this intro. AND HE WROTE IT!!

Sweet Child O' Mine • Main Riff

Sweet Child O' Mine • Rhythm Guitar

This is the basic rhythm guitar chart for the song. Many of the sections are repeated to keep the transcription to a minimum of pages. Basically everything in the song happens in fours or twos. For example, the verse is usually two lines or eight measures. For an explanation of the rhythm slashes see, Runaway Train, for the strumming pattern, see You Belong With Me, and for the chords, see Forever And Always.

On the video, I have played the power chords at the end as inverted two note chords. These can be played with a one finger barre, making them much easier to execute at this tempo.

Sweet Child O' Mine • Rhythm Guitar

Sweet Child O' Mine • Intro and Rhythm Guitar

Great video. Great band.

In The Style Of Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne)

One the best rock guitar intros ever written, and just an overall great song. Randy Rhodes has long been recognized as one of the greatest guitarists to have ever lived. Based entirely in F sharp minor (relative to A Major: they share the same key signature), this is definitely a killer riff. I remember attending the MIAC show in Toronto, Ontario. Michael Angelo was performing at a clinic for Dean guitars. He was doing his trademark, two handed playing on a double neck guitar. Amazing. If you have never seen it, check it out. He was going through a pile of riffs. When he hit this one, everyone started nodding their heads.

Randy Rhodes on guitar. Ozzy Osbourne

In The Style Of Enter Sandman (Metallica)

Based in the E minor blues scale (a minor pentatonic scale with a flat fifth included), it seems as though Metallica have spent their whole career in this scale. The flat fifth lends a mean, nasty sound to the minor pentatonic and is mostly used as a passing tone. Many blues riffs and solos utilize this pattern.

Enter Sandman • Complete Rhythm Guitar

This is the entire rhythm guitar part note for note (I may have missed one part of the intro, but this is the way I have always played it). A mixture of riffs, power chords, open strings, clean tone and distorted tone, this is a great guitar piece. Where palm muting is indicated, use heavy palm muting, and your bridge pickup with tons of distortion. The desired sound is menacing and disturbing, strengthened by the flat fifth interval from the Blues Scale, a Metallica trademark.

Enter Sandman • Rhythm Guitar

Enter Sandman • Complete Rhythm Guitar

Official video.

Metallica DVD's And Music

Metallica - The Videos 1989-2004
Metallica - The Videos 1989-2004

With a Rick Rubin produced new album expected in 2007, the band s first in four years, Metallica churns the waters with its first-ever musicvideo retrospective. Featuring 21 videos and bonus features, spanning the album years 1989 to 2004, from And Justice For All to St. Anger, the collection showcases hard rock s greatest band. Ranked eighth on the list of the biggest selling groups in history


In The Style Of Smoke On The Water (Deep Purple)

This the big one, the king daddy of all rock guitar riffs. Even Lars Ulrich (Metallica's founding member and drummer), called this the 'RIFF OF LIFE'. Another minor blues scale riff (G minor blues scale), I have heard this played wrong more than any other piece of music!. Comprised entirely of inverted two note power chords (the fifth is on the bottom and the root is on the top), this riff should go down in history as the most overplayed. Forget Stairway To Heaven. There should be a sign in every music store: NO SMOKE ON THE WATER!

Smoke On The Water • Rhythm Guitar

This is a basic power chord part for the entire song. Most of the chords are arpeggiated and very close to the original recording. When we perform this with students, we add another guitar playing two note power chords notated in eighth notes without arpeggiation. The two parts compliment each other very well, one with the broken arpeggios and one with the strummed (all downstrokes), power chords.

On the video, I am playing the second power chord part.

Smoke On The Water • Rhythm Guitar Chart

Smoke On The Water • Rhythm Guitar

In The Style Of TNT (AC/DC)

This is the first riff in the power chord section of my Rhythm Guitar Method. Execute the root position E5 and A5 with the first finger. Use the second finger to pick up the G on the sixth string. In order to cut off the opening E5 sharply, try laying the palm of your fret hand on the strings right after it is picked. Better yet, (and they did not do this), try adding two muted strums before moving to the G. This technique keeps the whole thing in time.

Wicked song!

In The Style Of Cat Scratch Fever (Ted Nugent)

This is a chordal based riff based in the key of A minor (relative to C Major). Use your first and third fingers to execute the two sting barres (first finger for the second fret, third for all the other barres). This will make the slides much easier. Use the second finger for the G and the third finger for the G sharp, when performing the connecting notes in the second and fourth bars. I love the way this riff sounds. Very mean, perfect for the song.

Killer riff!

In The Style Of Lager And Ale (Kim Mitchell)

Kim Mitchell is a Canadian, and the founding member and driving force behind Max Webster. If you are not familiar with him, do yourself a favour and look him up. Another riff based in A minor, it includes elements of blues riffs (one that comes to mind is La Grange, ZZ Top). Hold your first finger on the A5 throughout, while using your fourth finger for the fifth fret and your second finger for the third fret and the microtone bend on the low G.

Kim is now a DJ on Q107 in Toronto.

In The Style Of Iron Man (Black Sabbath)

This is one of the most requested riffs out there. The key signature is B minor, relative to D Major. On the recording, one guitar plays this occasionally while the other performs the same riff with power chords. Use your first finger for the second fret, fourth finger for the fifth and third for the fourth fret.

In The Style Of Hells Bells (AC/DC)

I have found that students have a hard time with this one. The stretch from the C5 to the G/B at the end in the fourth bar is quite difficult if you finger the C5 normally (with the first and third finger). Try using the first and fourth finger for both chords. The movement back up the neck to restart the riff can be challenging. Do not play the A on the fifth string after one pass. Instead, hold the A5 at the end for the half beat. Form a root four A5 power chord at the beginning (seventh fret, fourth string and ninth fret, third string), then use a first finger barre for the remainder of the chords before descending the neck for the C5, G/B and A5. Very dark, menacing sound to this riff.



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    • Lorne Hemmerling profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorne Hemmerling 

      7 years ago from Oshawa

      Thanks Michael. I have been doing this so long, most of the work is already done. It's great getting it out there. Thanks again, my friend!

    • Michael J Rapp profile image

      Michael J Rapp 

      7 years ago from United States

      Great lessons, and a very well made Hub. You really seem to know your stuff!

    • Lorne Hemmerling profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorne Hemmerling 

      7 years ago from Oshawa

      Thanks very much.

    • one2recognize2 profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      Awesome hub and very nicely put together. Voted up, awesome, useful and interesting... :)

    • Lorne Hemmerling profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorne Hemmerling 

      7 years ago from Oshawa

      I have added video files to this hub. Got one of my students to perform a very tricky technique.

    • Lorne Hemmerling profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorne Hemmerling 

      7 years ago from Oshawa

      Hi Bob. Thanks for the comment!!!

    • Lorne Hemmerling profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorne Hemmerling 

      7 years ago from Oshawa

      Hi Brandon. All these are great songs. Most of the work had already been done. I have been teaching professionally for many years. I had to write the text. Always hard to get started, but as usual, once I do, it comes fast. Thanks so much for the comment and the votes!!!

    • diogenes profile image


      7 years ago from UK and Mexico

      I thoroughly enjoyed reading my first hub in Etruscan!


    • Brandon Spaulding profile image

      Brandon Spaulding 

      7 years ago from Yahoo, Contributor

      This is a great hub! I have enjoyed heavy metal since I was in elementary school. I love to work out to heavy metal in the gym. I can tell you put some serious effort into this hub. However, I would bet you really enjoyed doing it too. Voted up, interesting, awesome, and useful.

    • QualityContent profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice hub on riffs. All these songs are great. A good riff can just make a song timeless.

    • Lorne Hemmerling profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorne Hemmerling 

      7 years ago from Oshawa

      Thank you.

      Thanks so much for the comment!! Some riffs just have a life of their own. Fun to play.

    • tammyswallow profile image


      7 years ago from North Carolina

      How awesome! There are some guitar riffs I hear that make me wish I played the guitar.. Are You Gonna Go My Way by Lenny Kravits and Hallowed be thy Name by Cradle of Filth. I love it and a great music hub. Bravo!


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