#1
I have been playing guitar for two years, and I might be starting a band as a rhythm guitarist. I really want to crank out good riffs of my own , but it is not happening. Either it sounds like some other riff, say Cowboys or some Bullet riff. What are your approaches to create unique great sounding metal riffs? I know pedaling is fun, but you can only do so much..
Quote by luxeion
i keep asking my dad for wood. but he keeps getting annoyed (he's working on a house). and i'm too young to go outside.

#2
Well i use 2 approaches.

1) Simply improvise. You know songs, use them for inspiration. Example i have a riff inspired by cowboys from hell main riff. (Note: Inspiration =/= copy riffs, some guitarists do this wrong)

2) Imagine a riff you think would sound BADASS in your head, then try to find it on the guitar. Great for getting riffs you like + training your ear.
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#3
Seems like a good approach. One thing I also thought of was to choose a tempo, or use a drum beat and just mess around.

Just an idea though.
Quote by luxeion
i keep asking my dad for wood. but he keeps getting annoyed (he's working on a house). and i'm too young to go outside.

#4
Quote by StrykVladzimsky
Seems like a good approach. One thing I also thought of was to choose a tempo, or use a drum beat and just mess around.

Just an idea though.


If you think it's a good idea, do it! Do what works best for you.

Personally i just come up with stuff in w/e tempo and then when i'm putting the riff into a song i decide what tempo it is most fitted to be played in.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#5
First thing I reckon I should do is get out of standard tuning, I love playing cool songs like from Maiden or the Misfits, but I can't cook up anything with it.
Quote by luxeion
i keep asking my dad for wood. but he keeps getting annoyed (he's working on a house). and i'm too young to go outside.

#6
I personally like to put the guitar down and listen to non-guitar music to hear what other instruments can do. I find sounds I like and I replicate them. If you're finding that you're writing a lot of uninteresting riffs, look for new influences. I am just now getting into Afro-Cuban rhythms and I really want to try to incorporate some of those rhythmic ideas into a progressive metal context.

One thing I like to do is impose arbitrary limits on myself, like a complex time signature or a weird chord progressive, and then see if I can actually write something musical (or even memorable) within those limits. That's where I find myself doing my favorite work - by imposing those limits on myself, I have to really stretch my creativity to make the ends meet properly. Some of my favorite riffs that I've written are ones that I took from those writing sessions.

Writing musical passages is a skill just like any other musical technique. You have to practice it or else you'll stagnate or regress. I like to take a couple hours out of each week and just noodle around programming synthesizers and drum machines.
#7
pick 1 chord you enjoy a lot.. experiment with it.. add another if you feel like it.
Play the hell out of it for as long as you can in as many ways as you can, when you start getting somewhere or when you really enjoy what you are hearing record it.

Now play it back and add a melody, dont stop until you run out of ideas (probably never)
imagine melodies in your head and dont stop untill you get them down.. play the hell out of it try it in any way you can.. that´s it. you have created something of your own.

Listen to what you did the next day and expand on it or completely change it if you dont like it anymore.. repeat.. etc..
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Last edited by Slashiepie at Feb 16, 2012,
#8
What I usually do is pick a key for the song; which usually depends on what mood I am in. For now I'll take the example of Dm (It's a grey and cloudy day, so a minor chord would suit it well).

My first step would be imagine what kind of song I want. I'm thinking right now of a slow-ish kind of song, so I'll set my metronome for 96bpm and listen to the tempo and noodle around on the guitar and find a chord progression that I find suitable for the base of the riff. I'll take Dm, Gm, Am, F as an example.

From there I'll record a backing track with that as the base and put it on a loop. From there I'll listen to it a couple times and normally a riff or an idea for a riff will come out of that.

I usually make about 4 or 5 different versions of the main riff and run them through with my friends/family and from there find the 'keeper.'

Hope my information helped.
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#9
That sounds like a good idea, only thing is I don't have the means to record a backing track.
Quote by luxeion
i keep asking my dad for wood. but he keeps getting annoyed (he's working on a house). and i'm too young to go outside.

#10
Take a riff that you already know and work on changing the riff into a completely new riff. Just by messing around with one riff, you could come up with a lot of cool ideas.

Another good thing to do is create different rhythmic feels. Changing the rhythm of a riff can sometimes turn an okay riff into a good one.
#11
Remember that music has no limits! Try to do what you don't exept yourself to do at all, it may be interesting
#12
Quote by StrykVladzimsky
That sounds like a good idea, only thing is I don't have the means to record a backing track.


You can create one with Guitar Pro, and just loop it.
BEST GEAR IN THE WORLD

PRS Santana SE II with Dimarzio DP100 bridge P/up
BOSS ME-50
Fender Frontman 65r
Line 6 Pocket POD
Dunlop Jazz III picks
#13
Quote by Dan Acheron
Take a riff that you already know and work on changing the riff into a completely new riff


Like what Lamb of God did to Into the pit by Testament? I would consider that a bad idea

The improvising idea others have suggested is probably the best way, just make sure you're paying attention, one false move and you could lose what might have been the greatest riff ever known

Or you could jam some stuff, write it on guitar pro, logic or whatever you're using, and tweak it from there
#14
I've had moments like that where I wasn't listening to myself and I realized I was playing awesome as **** riffs. And then I forget them..
Quote by luxeion
i keep asking my dad for wood. but he keeps getting annoyed (he's working on a house). and i'm too young to go outside.

#15
^^If that's the case, get yourself a recorder or figure out a way to write the chords down.

If writing good riffs were easy, we'd all be rock stars. I've only come up with 5 or 6 riffs in my 14 years of playing that I'm really proud of/think they could go somewhere.

As Geldin said, your influences don't necessarily have to come from guitar music. If you like something you hear in a movie soundtrack, classical piece, video game, etc, you can turn it into a guitar riff with the proper techniques. Then tweak it to make it your own.

Edit* - I think riff-making is one of the most underrated aspects of guitar playing. So much attention goes to the "shredders" and lead players when really, they're just noodling without a solid riff/rhythm behind them. While riffs can often be pretty easy to play -- it's very difficult to come up with something original that grabs people's attention. My $.02.
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Last edited by KailM at Feb 17, 2012,
#16
Try to compose on other instruments instead. For example, the guitar stuff Matt Bellamy of Muse comes up with is somewhat unconventional sounding partly because the guy writes on piano, not guitar.
#17
Start with a really simple chord progression. Then just start messing around until you tweak it into something to your liking. I almost always start simple and build from there.
#18
Oh wait i realised another one i use quite often!

Can you read sheet music? If not, learn it! It's a great skill!

Anyways, what i was going to say is that i often learn pieces made for other instruments to get inspiration. For example, sax lines are really awesome for lead work. True story.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#19
I can't read music...True rockstar!
Quote by luxeion
i keep asking my dad for wood. but he keeps getting annoyed (he's working on a house). and i'm too young to go outside.

#20
Quote by StrykVladzimsky
I can't read music...True rockstar!


You can always be a rockstar with the knowledge of reading music.
It's really benefitial, give it a try.

Great site: http://www.musictheory.net/
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#21
I've heard of that site, I'll give it a shot! Thanks.
Quote by luxeion
i keep asking my dad for wood. but he keeps getting annoyed (he's working on a house). and i'm too young to go outside.