Classic Riffs: Rage Against The Machine

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

My recent poll results showed that learning RATM riffs is what you want so lets get stuck in! Tom Morello’s playing makes great use of effects and interesting techniques to create those awesome sounding lead parts. However, his riffs are pretty much based on pentatonic and blues scales and thankfully require little more than a bit of gain on the amp!

I remember first hearing their 1992 self titled debut album and being totally blown away by it and have been a fan ever since. I’d love to have seen them live when they were still making a name for themselves: Live in 93

Sleep Now In The Fire

||-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-------------------||
||-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-7b8-7-5-----------||
||---------5bc-----|---------5bc-----|---------5bc---5-|-7b8-7-5-7-5-------||
||-7-7-5-7-----7-7-|-7-7-5-7-----7-7-|-7-7-5-7-----7-5-|-7b8-7-5-7-5-7p5-7-||
||-0-0-0-0-----0-0-|-0-0-0-0-----0-0-|-0-0-0-0-----0-0-|--------0--------0-||
||-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-------------------||

The ‘bc’ means blues curl or a quarter note bend. Almost like vibrato really, just try and get somewhere between the 5th and 6th frets. The tricky part is in the last section where you need to bar the 7th fret and bend the 4th, 3rd and 2nd strings up to the 8th fret all at the same time.

Bombtrack

||-------------------------|--------------------------||
||-------------------------|--------------------------||
||-------------------------|-----------------6--5--4--|| X3
||-------4------------4--2-|-------4---------6--5--4--||
||-------------------------|-----------------4--3--2--||
||-0--2-----0-2--0-2-------|-0--2-----0-2--0-4--3--2--||

|-------------------------|---------------------------|
|-------------------------|---------------------------|
|-------------------------|-----------------6---------|
|-------4------------4--2-|-------4---------6---------|
|-------------------------|-----------------4---------|
|-0--2-----0-2--0-2-------|-0--2-----0-2--0-4---------|

The chorus riff from Bombtrack should be easy enough to learn. Note the power chords on the 5th string that include the 6th string for a fatter sound (they’re actually chord inversions…but that sounds boring!).

Know Your Enemy

|---------------------------------|------------------------------|
|---------------------------------|------------------------------|
|---------------------------------|------------------------------|
|---------------------2-----------|--------------------5--4--2---|
|-4------4----4-------0--4--4--4--|-4------4----4------3--2--0---|
|-0h2----2----2----0-----2--0--2--|-0h2----2----2---0------------|

|---------------------------------|------------------------------|
|---------------------------------|------------------------------|
|---------------------------------|--X------X-------X------------|
|---------------------2-----------|--X-6----X-4-----X-2-----X----|
|-4------4----4-------0--4--4--4--|--X-4----X-2-----X-0-----X-2--|
|-0h2----2----2----0-----2--0--2--|-------------------------X-0--|

Although just simple power chords, the quick changes aren’t easy!

If you check out this article you’ll find the main riff to Killing in the Name

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2 Responses to Classic Riffs: Rage Against The Machine

  1. dad says:

    Great riffs on RATM. Need some Manic Street Preachers intos, always great chord sequences.

  2. Joel Babb says:

    YAY I voted RATM. More good songs Paul again excellently recorded and performed. With my setup i do find it hard to get an authentic RATM sound, but with a little imagination you can hear what track the riff is from. oh the fact its only played at half speed doesn’t help. lol

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