Tag Archives for " Riffs "


Joe Bonamassa LOVES Thirds!

I came across this guitar lesson from Joe Bonamassa recently, and as I was watching, I realized that a lot of the movements he really loves are based on thirds and inverted thirds!

He doesn’t call them inverted thirds, but he should, I guess! An inverted third is simple a normal third turned upside down. Say for instance, G to B is a major third, right? Well, an inverted third would use those same notes, but instead of G being the lowest note, B would be the lowest note instead.

Checkout this lesson, and try to figure out what he’s doing here. Even if you can’t play as fast as Joe can, if you can figure out the principles of what he’s doing, you can apply that to your own playing at your own pace.

I should mention that while I’ve applied them differently than Joe has, I covered the topic of thirds and inverted thirds in quite a bit of detail in my Dynamic Rhythm Guitar course.
You can find more details on that here.

So let’s take an example. At 0:47 that very first riff he’s talking about starts like this: x 10 x x 11 x but then he bends the 11th fret up a semitone. Well, what’s he starting with? That’s a G on the 5th string, and a Bb on the 2nd string… that’s a G minor third. Then, he bends the Bb up to a B, creating a G major third. Voila – thirds in action! Sounds awesome!

Okay, let’s do one more. In Joe’s Trick #3, he shows a really cool way of producing a sound on a standard tuned guitar that sounds like the guitar is actually tuned down lower than it is. He calls it a low V inversion, but you could also call this an inverted third.

Take a look:  At 6:15 he does the first one, and the notes he is using are 3 x 2 x x x. Or, G and E. Well, we’re talking about inverted thirds, so that means that E is our root note, despite being the higher of the two notes, which means we’re dealing with an inverted E minor third.

Fancy name for a very sweet sound.

Regardless of what you call it, learning how to master thirds in your playing is a terrific way of adding a lot of character to your solos and riffs. In my course Dynamic Rhythm Guitar, I didn’t go in the same direction Joe has here, however that is the beauty of thirds – there are literally endless variations and directions you can go with them. The really key thing is to learn to recognize them on the fretboard, and then begin experimenting with them. We do both in Dynamic Rhythm Guitar. Learn more here.


Thirds in D – Advanced Guitar Lesson

In my opinion, if you can fully understand how to use thirds on your guitar, you’ve come a long way… Thirds are one of the best sounding harmonies to the human ear, and there are many, many different ways in which they can be applied on the guitar.

In these guitar lessons I try to bring out elements of that, but to really understand it you’re going to have to dig into this on your own too. I’ve posted videos on thirds in the G major scale, and inverted thirds in G, and today’s guitar lesson looks at some thirds off the second and third strings in D major.

If you can’t see my hand very well, the only two patterns I’m using are the minor third (0-0-0-4-3-0) and the major third (0-0-0-5-5-0). Take those two patterns, and move them up the fretboard, and you’ll find what I’m working with.

If that’s all completely Greek to you, I highly recommend checking out my course on Guitar Scale Patterns, which will really open up the fretboard for you.

The big takeaway from this lesson is recognizing the two different thirds patterns, major and minor, and then recognizing how those relate to the various scale patterns up and down the fretboard. Once you tie them all together in your mind, the whole fretboard is your oyster…

Thirds in D

Watch on Youtube


Pick ‘n’ Pluck – Fingerpicking Technique

This guitar lesson covers a fingerpicking technique that I like using from time to time. The basic idea is that you pick the root note with your pick (plectrum… whatever!), and then you pluck strings 1, 2, and 3 simultaneously after that. This gives a somewhat syncopated rhythmic feel, and it sounds great because you can get really fancy with the bass lines if you want too.

If you want to get technical, I guess this isn’t true fingerpicking; because in that case you wouldn’t be using a pick at all, you’d be using only your fingers. My preference is to combine the use of the pick and the fingers, which is what is referred to as hybrid picking.

If you do want to get fancier with the root notes, think about what the bass player would do in that situation, and try playing around with those ideas. If you know what guitar scales you have to work with, then you can play around in there. In this video you’ll see I do a bit of that with the riff / progression towards the end of the video. There are many other guitar riffs that you could use this with, you just have to be creative.

Pick ‘n’ Pluck – Fingerpicking Technique

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Using Octaves in Guitar Solos

Adding the octave, or perfect 8th interval onto some of your licks can really add a totally new flavor to your guitar solos.

If you’d like to learn more about intervals and the scales, checkout my Guitar Scale Patterns course.

In this lesson, Colin demonstrates how you can use the octaves all over the fretboard. The general rule for finding the octave is to go down 2 strings and up 2 frets… however you have to be careful, because if you’re crossing the 2nd string (B) you’ll need to add one more fret onto that pattern for it to work correctly. Colin talks about this in the lesson.

The hardest part about getting this riff down correctly is learning to mute the string in between the two notes you’re playing. In general, I like to rest my index finger lightly on that in between string to cut down on any noise it produces. It’s worth practicing a bit just to make sure you can get a clean interval while you’re strumming.

Alternatively of course, simply finger pick both notes together, or one after the other, and avoid the problem entirely.

You can find many more guitar lessons by Colin Daniel at RiffNinja.com.

Using Guitar Octaves In Your Solo:

Watch the Guitar Octaves lesson on Youtube


Guitar Fills in D Major

I love improvising – just noodling around in a given key and having a generally good time jamming away on the guitar. A big part of that is in creating fills or riffs in between chords… So today’s lesson is purely to give you a few ideas that you can use to get started creating your own fills. In this video I’ve only looked at D major, and even as is, it’s a bit on the longer side.

Remember, the chords in D major are D, G, A (the I IV V major chords), and the relative minor chords: Bm, Em, F#m.

If you don’t understand where this came from, I’d recommend checking out my Unlocking I IV V lesson as in that lesson I explain how and why chords work together, which is a critical foundation for doing stuff like the improvising and fills we’re talking about today.

So once you’ve got your chords down for the key you’re working in, take one of them and have a look at the scale that it comes out of. In this case, the relative minor of D major is B, and because we’re using open chords, the B minor scale with its root on the 5th string (2nd fret) is ideal. Again – I go over this in a lot more detail in my Guitar Scale Patterns lesson.

Now that you know what chords you’ve got, and what scale is nearby, simply start trying notes or interval combinations from within that scale, and see what you come up with!

Here are a few that I enjoy using:

Watch Guitar Fills in D Major on Youtube

For More Riffs Like This One, Click Here


Hammer On Guitar Tips

Some of you have asked me how to do a hammer on guitar, so this lesson is going to address that.

A hammer on is very simply hitting a guitar string without plucking or picking it at the same time. So you’re just using your left hand for this one. It is a fairly simple technique, but you can use it in some very advanced ways once you’ve got the hang of it.

Hammer on guitar riffs sound pretty cool, and you can also use hammer ons to throw in chromatic passing notes all over the place. Hammer ons are very often used in conjunction with pull offs, which is a related, but separate technique. Try practicing each technique on its own, and then combining them.

Definitely something worth practicing and mastering…

Side note – if you really want to master hammer on guitar riffs, along with pulloffs, string stretching and all those other cool techniques, I highly recommend checking out the Riff Ninja Academy free trial – once inside checkout the “Essential Guitar Techniques” section, as there are in depth videos on each of these techniques.

Hammer On Guitar Tips:

Video Problems? Watch Hammer On Guitar Tips on Youtube.