Five Classic Riffs Every Budding Guitar Player Has Tried to Learn

Not being interested in learning scales or the names of the notes, you did the logical thing and skipped STRAIGHT to convincing yourself you could play any guitar riff in existence a week after attaching a strap to your shiny black Stratocaster.

|
Sep 10 2013, 5:20pm

If you're anything like me—which, face it, you are/aren't (circle the one that is true)—you bought a Squier Electric Guitar starter pack from Guitar Center in 7th grade (minus 10 points, Tyler) and immediately figured out that barre chords are for guys with ponytails and they hurt your tiny hands like woah. So, not being interested in learning scales or the names of the notes or really anything practical concerning the instrument, you did the logical thing that any pre-pubescent child would do and skipped STRAIGHT to convincing yourself you could play any guitar riff in existence a week after attaching a strap to your shiny black Stratocaster.

Here are the ones you spent many, many hours in your bedroom trying to figure out. If you were smart and had some chutzpah, you did it the old fashioned way and listened to the song over and over again in little bitty pieces, mashing your fingers on that gigantic rosewood fretboard untill the sounds coming from your eight-inch solid state practice amp resembled the guitar solos of your heroes by 1-5 percent.

The Eagles - "Hotel California"

You know what I'm talking about. If you've ever seen any live videos of the Eagles—and c'mon, everyone has in their not-so-finest moments—you will have noticed that Joe Walsh made the goofiest faces in the history of rock guitar. How he got into the band, I don't know, but I liked him because his fingers did things that are actually humanly impossible to do if you are under 5'4" and have difficulty holding up the guitar for more than 20 minutes at a time, 'cause shit, it's heavy.

Eric Clapton - "Layla"

Eric Clapton is God or whatever, but when you're in middle school, you didn't realize God started playing electric guitar many, many years before he released a really soulful acoustic version of Layla that may or may not have been recorded in front of an audience. It's hard to tell if those are people or robots.

Bob Marley - "Redemption Song"

Every warm-blooded male in America has voluntarily or involuntarily fretted those notes in the key of G and gotten a quarter of a chub from how beautiful they are. This one was also an ego booster because, unlike most of the others on this list, it was easy to achieve an ounce of resemblance to the REAL THING.

Smashing Pumpkins - "Tonight"

Smashing Pumpkins gave you yet another reason to wipe the tears from your eyes with your calloused fingers because, hey, it had four notes and only one of them was a pull-off. Raise your hand if it took you a week to figure out what a "pull-off' meant in tab form, and be honest with yourself here—no one's looking.

Pink Floyd - "Wish You Were Here"

Ubiquitous in suburban bedrooms in both the UK and US, Pink Floyd was always right on the fringes of being cool. That didn't stop you from wanting to emulate whichever one of those hippies was the guitar player. I swear I had a friend whose entire CD collection was the full discographies of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, the Who, Genesis, and (you betcha) Pink Floyd. And, yes, when the slide guitar part entered, you probably signed off and went to go wolf down three bowls of cereal.

Stories