Cool Guitar Riffs #3: Inverted Thirds

Today’s guitar lesson has some cool guitar riffs and ideas for you, but this time I also get into the theory behind the riffs – just a bit ;).

Theory is incredibly useful for a) finding cool guitar riffs, and b) figuring out what the heck is going on musically when you hear something cool. Take for instance a song like Purple Haze. Jimi heard that in his head, but now we can describe what he was doing by using theory…

In this video, I’m talking about the key of G, but please take a moment once it is done, and think about how you can apply it to the other keys. If you watch carefully, what I’m doing in here can be applied to other keys from a pattern perspective too. Very cool. Perhaps I should do a followup on that actually…

Anyhow, we’re looking at the second interval of thirds in the Am, Bm and C chords. In my guitar theory course I teach how all the major and minor chords (triads) break down into just two sets of intervals. Well, these cool guitar riffs use the second set of intervals in those chords.

Before your eyes roll back in your head trying to figure all this out, I should mention that this trick is incredibly common. Brown Eyed Girl and Fortunate Son are two songs that spring to mind immediately that use these intervals, but there are literally hundreds and hundreds…

Yah, I know it probably sounds complicated, but please have a watch through the video, and I’ll try to help with any questions if you leave them below the video.

Video Problems? Watch Cool Guitar Riffs #3 on Youtube

For More Riffs Like This One, Click Here

If you liked the style and difficulty level of this guitar riff, you might like to check out my short course that contains a bunch more guitar riffs in G major.

Leave a Reply 14 comments

Walt Peters - September 9, 2010 Reply

Good Lesson John;
Thank You for the Cool Tones from Partial
Cords……..Thank You…….. Where-z the Bricks.???


    Skip Kanosky - November 5, 2010 Reply

    Thank you I learned something new today!

Craig Lawson - November 1, 2010 Reply

Great sounds! Always wanted to get into something like that but never could figure it out.Thanks!

Walt Peters - November 4, 2010 Reply

Very Good Lesson JON Thank You…….
A tiny bit complicated, but thats GOOD, things should get more
complicated as ya go along…………

Thank You Again…….
Wal of the`RAPIDS“CEDAR`that is


Carlos - November 4, 2010 Reply

Jon, thanks!
I just started checking your videos and I will stop at your page often, believe me.

Randall Davidson - November 4, 2010 Reply

Jon, I’ve got a takamine f-310 Too where did you find the serial no. ?

    Jonathan Boettcher - November 5, 2010 Reply

    Hi Randall, look inside the sound hole, on the end of the neck – that’s where I found mine.

Bob - November 8, 2010 Reply

Brilliant post Jonathan, one of your best! I learnt more in that video than in many many hours of practise. The art of changing chords and making it sound interesting also is a real challenge. Well done!

steven petty - January 4, 2011 Reply

excellent lesson john.keep em coming.

Krishna Murti - March 1, 2011 Reply

A very good lesson. I have learnt something new.It sounds really great. I have used it on some Indian song and that stund a lot of Indian Guitarist. Thankks for the Tip

Nick108 - March 10, 2011 Reply

Anything with only a hint of Hendrix, must be absolutely pure genius, only one problem, my two brain cells don’t work that well anymore.

Forever - June 22, 2011 Reply

Knocked my socks off with knoweldge!

Shaun Costello - July 13, 2011 Reply

As always -great stuff Jonathan. Keep em coming. Still getting heaps from the 1 1V V course.

geordie - December 21, 2011 Reply

hi johnathan – just love the way you get right in there and explain things – no fancy trimmings just down to earth lessons that are so easy to follow – love this latest vid on inverted thirds – it really has cleared up a lot of things going round in my head – thank you – may I wish you a merry christmas

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