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 Visitors’ FAQs: First Riffs

  • FAQ: What is a good way to start off playing riffs?  I know my pentatonic scales but there is something I'm not getting.

  • A: Playing lead guitar in an improvised way is similar to the use of any language. You make it up as you go along but you’re drawing on stock phrases that have been learned in the past. That’s why it’s essential to practice and memorise a large collection of riffs and licks, which you then recombine and use in your own way - in other words, copy others first! You’ll probably find that all the greats copied those before them and then rehashed, or played similar phrases in a new musical environment.
    Think of the scales as raw materials that give rise to the licks - they are important - but concentrate on borrowing for a while. For example, if you like the power blues of the late 60s / early 70s why not have a look at Clapton’s solos on Cream’s “Disraeli Gears”. The solos are bite sized and are relatively easy to assimilate......pick your favourite licks and commit to memory! You may need to get your hands on some RELIABLE TAB as well.
    Next, try to incorporate the licks in a solo of your own - combine riffs you’ve learned from various songs and see how it sounds. (This phase is quite experimental.) As you play your own solo, learn how to build it by playing less at the front and more intensely as you go along.
    And just to show you that I’m not beyond shameless self promotion, keep an eye on the solos & licks in Guitar Lix Interactive - the whole idea is to analyse and learn stock phrases which you can then use in your own way!
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Disclaimer: All content is the author’s interpretation of standard music theory, & should be confirmed & validated by your music trainer, tutor or appropriate professional.

Hi from me -  the author - Maurice D’Abruzzo!

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