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 in the comments.

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.

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


  2. 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


  3. 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!

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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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