Classic Riffs: The Beatles

Difficulty: Easy/Medium | Guitar used: Fender Telecaster | Tuning: Standard

In this latest classic riffs article I’m taking a look at the some iconic Beatles riffs and perhaps some less well known but equally interesting ones. You would be forgiven for thinking Beatles songs are all just strumming chords due to the beginner books that simplify all their songs into basic chords. However, when you start exploring their music you quickly realise there’s a lot more to it then that!

Day tripper

|----------------------------------|
|----------------------------------|
|----------------------------------|
|-------------2-0------4-----0-2---|
|----------2---------2-----2-------|
|-0---3-4--------------------------|

It may be tempting to play some of the notes with hammer-ons but try and resist! All notes should be left to ring out. One of the most iconic riffs from the 60s.

I feel fine

|--------------------------------|-------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|-------------------------------|
|------------------12-11-9----11-|-----------------10-9-----9----|
|----12-12-10--------------12----|----10-10-8------------12---12-|
|----12-------12-----------------|----10-------10----------------|
|-10-----------------------------|-8-----------------------------|

|-------------------------|-------------------------------|
|-------------------------|-------------------------------|
|---------------5-4-2-0-4-|-------------5-4-2-0-4---------|
|-----5---3---------------|---5---3-----------------------|
|-----5-----5-------------|---5-----5---------------------|
|-3-----------------------|-3-----------------------------|

I’m sure that in the original recording this is a combination of John and George but my tab sounds ok with a single guitar. This needs to be played with a bit of swing rhythm and is a surprisingly tricky little riff!

Octopus’s Garden

|----------------------------------------|
|--------------12h14p12------------------|
|------9h11s13----------13p11s9--/12-/13-|
|-9h11---------------------------/13-/14-|
|----------------------------------------|
|----------------------------------------|

|--------------12----------------------------|
|-----------------14-12----------/10-/11-/12-|
|------9h11s13----------13p11s9--/12-/12-/13-|
|-9h11---------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------|

This is a great little riff built from the E pentatonic major scale. Most of the notes are played with hammer-ons, pull-offs or legato slides so watch the tab carefully.

Helter Skelter

|----0---|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|
|---12\--|/3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-|
|--------|---------------------------------|
|--------|---------------------------------|
|--------|---------------------------------|
|--------|---------------------------------|

|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0--|
|-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-|-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-1--|
|---------------------------------|----------------------------------|
|---------------------------------|----------------------------------|
|---------------------------------|----------------------------------|
|---------------------------------|----------------------------------|
                                   G5
|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|-----------------|
|-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-|-----------------|
|---------------------------------|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|
|---------------------------------|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|
|---------------------------------|-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-|
|---------------------------------|-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-|
 E
|-----0-0-0-0-----0-0-0-|
|-----0-0-0-0-----0-0-0-|
|-----1-1-1-1-----1-1-1-|
|-----2-2-2-2-----2-2-2-|
|-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-|
|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|

I think you can probably trace back all modern metal and hard rock to this song. I like to play the G5 chord with open notes for a fatter sound but feel free to play it with the usual power chord shape.

I Want to tell You

|--------------------|-------------------------------|
|--------------------|-------------------------------|
|----2--0------------|-----0-------------------------|
|--------------2-----|---------0---------4---0-------|
|-0----------0-------|--0----------0-----------------|
|--------------------|-------------------------------|

Make sure all the notes ring out and avoid any hammer-ons or pull-offs, even if it seems natural to use them.

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