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how to play guitar like prince

How to Play Guitar Like Prince | A Tribute to a Music Legend

how to play guitar like prince

The world was stunned on Thursday morning when news broke that music legend Prince had died at the age of 57.

Fans, celebrities, and fellow musicians took to Twitter to share their reactions, memories, and condolences. Shortly after, various tributes sprung up all over the internet, as the world mourned the music icon.

One of the best ways to honor the late star is to share his (many)talents. Celebrate Prince and learn to play his famous guitar licks in this video from Jonathan B


How to Play Guitar Like Prince


how to play guitar like prince

Want to see these guitar licks and techniques in action? Check out Prince’s Super Bowl XLI performance here!

We’ll never forget Prince and his contributions to music and the world. What’s your favorite Prince song? What will you remember most about the legendary musician?

Jonathan BPost Author: Jonathan B.
Jonathan B. is a guitar instructor, Temple University Music Theory graduate, and YouTube creator living in State College, PA. Learn more about Jonathan here!

Photo by Sound Opinions

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guitar riffs

10 Must-Know Rock Guitar Riffs

guitar riffs

Whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate guitarist, you probably have a few songs and riffs on your must-learn list. Well, it’s time to get to work! Here, Boston, MA guitar instructor Christopher S. brings you the 10 signature guitar riffs that every guitarist should know…

No matter which type of music you’re into, when you learn guitar, you’re entering a new, sometimes cult-like world. Like any pursuit in life, the more you know about that skill, the more you have to say about it. The cult aspect of guitar is that you have to be able to talk the talk and walk the walk.

Electric guitar is what many people want to explore when they begin guitar lessons. For this reason, I have put together a road map of easy guitar riffs that will help you navigate this new world. Having a good supply of well-known guitar riffs is a right-of-passage into the rock guitar players world.

Learn these 10 guitar riffs, and I guarantee, you’ll be accepted into any and all rock ‘n’ roll circles.

“Purple Haze” – Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix is one of my personal favorite rock guitar heroes. This opening line is one of the most well-known guitar riffs out there. Hendrix’s heavy use of the distorted guitar is a killer sound that makes this relatively simple guitar riff sounds awesome.

Learn to play this, and you’ll be well on your way to learning the life and techniques of the rock guitarist.

guitar riffs


“Layla” – Eric Clapton

This iconic rock song ranks at number 27 on Rolling Stone’s top 500 rock songs. The song was actually dually written by Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon, and first released by their band Derek and the Dominos. Clapton recorded it later in his career as an all-acoustic song.

Both versions are equally well-known in the rock world, but the original version has the awesome guitar riffs that make the song so incredible.

guitar riffs

guitar riffs


“Johnny B. Goode” – Chuck Berry

This song is a true classic and an excellent example of how blues music bridged the way for Rock “n” roll. The amazing bluesy intro gives this song an awesome start, and the fast vocals were a completely innovative way to sing the blues at the time.

The must-know guitar riff comes when Berry is shouting “Johnny B. Goode” in the chorus. This riff is an absolute staple for rock guitarists.

guitar riffs

guitar riffs

guitar riffs

guitar riffs


“Back In Black” – AC/DC

Speaking of amazing guitarists, while AC/DC’s guitarist is technically simple, he’s one of the most most rockin’ guitarists known to man. This list would not be complete without an amazing riff by the one-and-only, Angus Young.

The song “Back in Black” is one of the most well-known rock songs in the rock guitar repertoire. It’s such an easy riff to play, so why not learn it and show off your rock moves?

guitar riffs


“Stairway to Heaven” – Led Zeppelin

This guitar riff may not be as easy as the others, but it’s one you need to know! “Stairway to Heaven,” by the legendary Led Zeppelin, is at the top of several rock music charts. We have a lot to learn from the great Jimmy Page.

guitar riffs

guitar riffs stairway3 stairway4

 


“Rebel Rebel” – David Bowie

David Bowie was a huge influence on the rock scene and he made some exceptionally awesome songs. This is a cool song for all guitarists to learn.

Bowie uses this riff through almost the entire song; which means, if you learn this riff, you have practically learned the whole thing!

guitar riffs


“You Really Got Me” – The Kinks

The Kinks are one of the classic bands from London that came onto the scene with greats like The Beatles. They were soon part of the “British invasion,” and were active in the music scene from 1963-1996.

This song was a Billboard hit, and to this day, still covered by many rock groups. The riff is a true classic that every guitarist should learn. If you’re really ambitious, you can even learn the rocking guitar solo!
guitar riffs

guitar riffs

guitar riffs

guitar riffs

 


“You Only Live Once” – The Strokes

Besides the fact that this song is accompanied by a cool music video, The Strokes are an awesome rock band with some really fantastic guitar licks for the modern rock guitarist.

guitar riffs

guitar riffs2

guitar riffs3

guitar riffs

guitar riffs

 


“Paranoid Android” – Radiohead

One of the most influential rock groups of the century, Radiohead formed in 1985 and the band members are some of the greatest musical innovators of our time. This song, from their album Ok Computer, was one of their most popular songs in 1997.  To this day, this rock guitar riff is well-known among guitarists. It’s is one of the pivotal points that brings us into the true modern rock ’n’ roll of today.

The song begins with a harder fingerpicking pattern by Thom Yorke, however, this is the main guitar riff which appears in the second half of the song when it really starts to pick up. Learn this riff and watch other guitarists bow in awe of your skills.

guitar riffs

guitar riffs


“I can’t Get No Satisfaction” – Rolling Stones

Last, but certainly not least, one of my favorite songs by one of the greatest rock groups of all time, the Rolling Stones. This song is a must-know rock classic.

The band has been a rocking since 1962, and they’re still at it! This band has been known to have a long rivalry between who is better, the Stones or the Beatles. People say that if The Beatles were the white knights of music, then the Stones are the black knights. For the time, they were extremely controversial; filled with rocking lyrics and a stage presence that you would not want your mother to see, this band stormed the billboards with hit song after hit song.

I suggest that you learn this guitar riff, it’s really not that difficult!

guitar riffs

Remember, while you can try to replicate other artists, when it comes to guitar, the goal is to be yourself. Learn the songs and guitar riffs that you love, and develop your own way to play them.  Learn these 10 amazing guitar riffs, and you’ll be on your way to becoming a great guitarist and artist!

Post Author: Christopher S.
Christopher S. teaches bass guitar, guitar, and composition in Jamaica Plain, MA. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Humboldt State University and is currently attending New England Conservatory for his Master of Music degree. Christopher has been teaching students since 2004. Learn more about Christopher S. here!

Photo by Gabriel Pollard

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Test Your Guitar Riff Knowledge

It’s hard to imagine the rock and roll world without Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child o’ Mine” – its instantly recognizable intro, the mid-song guitar solo – Rolling Stone magazine even included it on its list of 40 Greatest Songs that Changed the World.  So it’s no surprise that Slash – the man who penned that world-changing riff that starts the song – is being recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Guitar International.

Now it’s time to test your knowledge: what other guitar riffs have made a notable impact on the rock genre?  Here are the top 5 from a recent list from Gibson.com:

5. “Back in Black,” AC/DC (1980)

Angus Young channeled the rock and roll gods when he conjured the opening riff for the title track to AC/DC’s Back in Black album. The song was their way of paying tribute to the band’s fallen singer, Bon Scott. Three staccato-hard, crunchy chords – E, D, A – then a sliding, bending scale back down to E. The riff is unique, bone-crushing, and it instantly grabs your attention.

4. “Iron Man,” Black Sabbath (1970)

Sinister, menacing and filled with foreboding, “Iron Man” remains, for many, the heaviest heavy metal riff of all time. In 2008, Tony Iommi told Gibson.com that the riff came to him during a rehearsal. “It was one of those occasions when I said, ‘I’ve got a riff, I’ll come up with something.’ Then I just built it … it just sort of happened.” Adding to the riff’s power is the fact that Ozzy Osbourne chose to double the guitar part with his vocal, an approach the singer often took with Sabbath songs. Hearing the riff for the first time, Osbourne remarked that it sounded “like a big iron bloke walking about.” So dark were “Iron Man” and other Sabbath riff-rockers, early critics often overlooked the melodic power at their core. Black Sabbath were in fact huge Beatles fans who simply wanted to give their material a frightening twist. “It was something different,” Iommi said, “something about supernatural things.”

3. “Whole Lotta Love,” Led Zeppelin (1969)

Jimmy Page can claim more than a few of the greatest riffs in rock, and Led Zeppelin fans will always debate which one is the best. But none packs more swagger than the riff that drives “Whole Lotta Love.” Page played the heavy blues riff on his Sunburst ’59 Les Paul Standard, although there’s some debate as to where and when the riff originated. Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones said it came out of an in-concert jam for “Dazed and Confused” and other sources attribute it to another concert improvisation, but Page has claimed that it was one of the riffs he wrote during rehearsals for Led Zeppelin II. The song became an instant classic and was performed at every subsequent Zeppelin gig (often as the closer).

2. “Smoke on the Water,” Deep Purple (1972)

They are, quite simply, the holy chords of rock. By guitarist Ritchie Blackmore’s standards, “Smoke on the Water” is actually a pretty simplistic riff, considering this is the same mage who summoned “Lazy,” “Burn,” “Woman from Tokyo,” “Man on the Silver Mountain” and a host of other alchemic finger-twisters. But the impact of “Nuh. Nuh. Nuh. Nuh. Nuh. Nuh-uh. (etc., etc.)” is undeniable. Ask any music store clerk, any marching band director or any guitarist worth his salt and they’ll all tell you that those driving chords are a core component of the universal language of rock.

1. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” The Rolling Stones (1965)

No other riff has ever captured the essence of rock and roll as succinctly, elegantly and infectiously as the one for “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” With just a handful of notes, Keith Richards crafted a guitar-based mantra upon which rock’s rebellious spirit could be perfectly hung. The riff came to Richards in his sleep, and he woke up just long enough to record the part on a portable cassette player. The band later recorded an acoustic version at the Chess facility in Chicago, and then did the definitive version – using a Gibson distortion pedal – at RCA Studios in Hollywood. Remarkably, Richards at first envisioned the riff as a horn line. “The fuzz tone came in handy so I could give a shape to what the horns [would later] do,” he writes, in his biography. “But the fuzz tone had never been heard before anywhere, and that’s the sound that caught everybody’s imagination.” Nearly a half-century later, it still does.

What do you think – are these the top 5 guitar riffs in your book?

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