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

Classic Riffs: Hard Rock and Metal

In this latest Classic Riffs article I’ll be teaching a collection of essential metal and hard rock riffs. I’ve dug out my Epiphone SG for these recordings as it’s humbuckers all the way. The riffs range from easy to quite tricky and include some common rock techniques such as palm muting and fast down-stroke picking.

Please note that some of the riffs require drop-D tuning so make sure you tune your low E down to D when advised.

Crazy Train

Difficulty: medium | Tuning: standard | Artist: Ozzy Osbourne | Guitarist: Randy Rhodes

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

Start slowly and get the fingering right, before trying to play this at speed. Other than that this shouldn’t be too difficult but it sounds awesome!

Master of Puppets

Difficulty: advanced | Tuning: standard | Artist: Metallica | Guitarist: Kirk Hammet/James Hetfield

 P.M............................................|
||--------------------------------------------------------------------||
||--------------------------------------------------------------------||
||--------------------------------------------------------------------||
||--------------------------------------------------------------------||
||-----2-----3-----4-----3-----2-2-----2-----3------5s4---5s4---5s4---||
||-0-1---0-1---0-1---0-1---0-1-----0-1---0-1---0-0--3s2-0-3s2-0-3s2---||

This classic chromatic riff is a bitch to play but thankfully it’s only repeated a couple of times in the song. Start slowly and build up to speed. PRACTICE makes perfect!

Killing in the Name

Difficulty: medium | Tuning: drop-D | Artist: Rage against the Machine | Guitarist: Tom Morello

||-------------------------------||
||-------------------------------||
||---------x-x-------------------||
||---------x-x-3h4---------------||
||-----3h5-x-x-----5--0--2h3--2--||
||--0-----------------0--2h3--2--||

Plug in Baby

Difficulty: medium/advanced | Tuning: standard | Artist: Muse | Guitarist: Matt bellamy

|--------------------------|---------------------------|--------------------------|
|--------------------------|-----------7h8p7-----------|--------------------------|
|--------6--------6--7-----|--6--7--9---------9--7--6--|-----6--7-----6--7--9--6--|
|--8--9-----8--9--------9--|---------------------------|--9--------9--------------|
|--------------------------|---------------------------|--------------------------|
|--------------------------|---------------------------|--------------------------|

|-----------------------------|--------------------------|------------------------|
|--------7--7h8p7------7------|--7-----------------7--9--|-9b10--7-----7----------|
|--7--9------------10-----10--|-----7-----------7--------|----------10---7--6--7--|
|-----------------------------|--------7-----7-----------|------------------------|
|-----------------------------|-----------9--------------|------------------------|
|-----------------------------|--------------------------|------------------------|

Back in Black

Difficulty: medium | Tuning: standard | Artist: AC/DC | Guitarist: Angus Young

|-------------------------------------|--------------3-0-----------------|
|------------------3-3-3--------------|--------------------3-0-----------|
|------------------2-2-2----------2-2-|2-----------------------2b42p0----|
|-2----------------0-0-0----------2-2-|2---------------------------------|
|-2-------------------------------0-0-|0---------------------------------|
|-0-----------------------------------|----------------------------------|

|------------------------------------|--------------------------------|
|-----------------3-3-3--------------|--------------------------------|
|-----------------2-2-2----------2-2-|2-------------------------------|
|-2---------------0-0-0----------2-2-|2-------------------------------|
|-2------------------------------0-0-|0-------2-----2-----2-----2-----|
|-0----------------------------------|----------4-----5-----6-----7\--|

My own summer (shove it)

Difficulty: easy | Tuning: drop-D | Artist: Deftones | Guitarist: Stephen Carpenter

||------------------------------------||
||------------------------------------||
||------------------------------------||
||------------------------------------||
||------------------------------------||
||------------------------------------||
||-0-11-12-0-11s8-0-8-0-8s7-0-8-5---5-||

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.