5 Easy Rock Guitar Riffs Any Beginner Can Master

This time we’re going to discover five cool but deceptively easy riffs that any beginner should be able to get their fingers around.

logo
Ultimate Guitar
5 Easy Rock Guitar Riffs Any Beginner Can Master
13

Welcome to another lesson by TomGuitar! This time we’re going to discover five cool but deceptively easy riffs that any beginner should be able to get their fingers around.

Don’t worry, there’s no “smoke on the water” here; we’re going to go through some different examples that’ll keep you entertained and give you something different to practice. They’re still killer songs, though!

Once you’ve got some of these riffs down you might want to improve your lead guitar too – check out http://tomguitar.co.uk/47-awesome-and-easy-guitar-solos for some great, easy solos that you can learn!

First off I’d like to go through some basic tips that’ll help you learn the riffs more easily.

1) Stay relaxed.

Don’t EVER tense up your hands and try to “force” out the notes. If you’re having difficulty then slow right down so that you can play the riff effortlessly – then, gradually speed up until you get to the right tempo for the song. It might seem a bit boring at first, but when you start getting results you’ll see why this is a much better approach.

2) Break everything down into bite-sized chunks.

If you’re finding the riff difficult then see if you can learn just the first few notes, or the first chord. Once you’ve mastered that then move on to the next part, and so on. It’s never a good idea to take on a whole song at once – break it down and you’ll have a much easier time.

3) Learn from it.

Whenever you learn a new riff, try analysing it. What notes are being used? What’s the rhythm like? What happens if I move it to a different part of the fretboard? Even if you’re a beginner with no theory knowledge you can still try this out; which frets are being used? Get into the habit of doing this so that you can get the most value out of everything you learn. Could you apply some of the concepts to your own riffs?

The Riffs

1) Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (Black Sabbath)

YouTube preview picture

This classic riff from Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath is a great one to learn. It’s based off power chords and is very easy. Just concentrate on getting the power chord shape clean and you’ll have the riff down in no time!

E|-----------------------------------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------------------------------|
G|-----------------------------------------------------------|
D|-7/9-----9-------7/9-----9-------5---7---9----12--9-9------|
A|-5/7-7-7-7--7-7--5/7-7-7-7--0-0--3---5---7----10--7-7--7-7-|
E|-----------------------------------------------------------|

2) Rock and Roll Train (AC/DC)

YouTube preview picture

Next we’ll do a more popular song by none other than rock legends AC/DC! The main riff of this song uses some open chords, but doesn’t actually feature the full chords – instead, just a few notes are used which makes your job even easier! Have fun with it – it’s an epic song.

E|----------------------------------------|
B|---3----3--3----3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-------|
G|-2-2--2-2--2----2-0-0-0-0-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-|
D|-2-0--2-0--0----0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-2-2-2-|
A|-0-0--0-0--0------x-x-x-x---------0-0-0-|
E|------------------3-3-3-3---------------|

3) Caroline (Status Quo)

YouTube preview picture

From the masters of straight up rock, this is a classic riff that’s pretty easy to play. There are two guitar parts in the intro riff to this song and both are quite easy, so if you like the song then learn both!

Here’s the first one:

E|-------------------|
B|-------------------|
G|-------------------|
D|-------------------|
A|-15-17-15-17-15-17-|
E|-13-13-13-13-13-13-|

And here’s the next:

E|-------------------|
B|-------------------|
G|---3-2---3-2---3-2-|
D|-3-----3-----------|
A|-------------------|
E|-------------------|
E|-----------------|
B|-----------------|
G|---3-1---3-1-3-1-|
D|-3-----3---------|
A|-----------------|
E|-----------------|

4) Holy Diver (Dio)

YouTube preview picture

This riff is slightly more challenging than the others, but certainly not out of reach. Take it slow and remember to keep the power chord changes clean.

E|--------------------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------------------|
G|--------------------------------------------------|
D|-5-------5-------5-7-8----5-------5-------8----3--|
A|-3---3-3-3---3-3-3-5-6----3---3-3-3---3-3-6----1--|
E|--------------------------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------|
G|-----------------------------------|
D|-5-------5-------8---3----5---3--5-|
A|-3---3-3-3---3-3-6---1----3---1--3-|
E|-----------------------------------|

5) Day Tripper (The Beatles)

YouTube preview picture

Now we’re going to do something softer. This is a classic riff that every guitar player should know. It’s deceptively easy so have fun learning it! Remember to slow right down if you feel any tension

E|-------------------------------|  
B|-------------------------------|
G|-------------------------------|
D|-------------2-0-----4----0-2--|
A|----------2--------2----2------|
E|-0---3-4-----------------------|

Final Thoughts

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article, and as always if you have any questions, comments or feedback then post it in the comments below!

Don’t forget to check out my website TomGuitar for more 100% FREE content, including lessons, reviews and more!

Trending lessons

17 comments sorted by best / new / date

    dirtdevilfox
    These are all pretty easy songs to play for beginner. I started out with Sabbath, Dio and yes day tripper. first song was day tripper. Holy Diver was easy to learn except the solo. I had to learn by ear cause there was no internet or tabs back in the 80's. had a friend teach me some power chords and i was off to a good start.
    RuleTheStage
    No need to argue people, we are all here with the same common goal. These are easy exercises to practice with. They just seem hard in the beginning, because your fingers are not use to the movements just yet. that is all part of muscle memory, and finger strengthening. My buddy told me in the beginning..I know it seems hard now, but if you do it enough times, eventually it will come to you. things will seem grimm at first, then all of a sudden, you wake up one day, and you find yourself doing it...SO KEEP DOING IT!!!!!  
    hak_hap
    this will probably make real beginners feel like shit...
    Guitar-Made-Eas
    Sorry if you think they're a bit difficult. As I said they're not intended to be "smoke on the water" - they're different examples that any beginner should be able to master with enough practice.
    hak_hap
    "With enough practice" applies to EVERYTHING so that's an excuse. When you say "ever beginner can master" that implies you can master it as a beginner, you even said EVERY beginner and that is just not true so I commented. Also I was commenting because I feel for beginners reading this article, I play for 14 years. No offense.
    Guitar-Made-Eas
    "Beginners" includes more than just people who've been playing for a few weeks. EVen if you've been playing as long as a year you can still be called a beginner, because compared to most guitar players you probably are. All of these riffs are of a beginner level - none of them are difficult.
    bulldog00206
    Quit whining, I've been playing for almost 50 years and I am definitely a beginner. The instructor is correct, break it down, play it as slowly as you have to, to play it cleanly. Then play it over and over till you don't have to think about it. The speed will come
    Robert Callus
    Correct. All the material presented here can be learnt in the first year of one's learning, so it is suitable for beginners. Someone who's just looking for the very basics, how to hold the guitar properly or how to read tab will not be looking for 5 easy riffs.
    hak_hap
    I don't care for the dislikes, just look at the 50% dislikes for this article, that speaks for itself. This IS misleading because you say EVERY beginner...that is untrue and frustrating for those BEGINNERS who aren't ready for Dio yet..."none of them are difficult"...what a great message to early beginners. "OK, I'm shit then"...Like how can you even say that when this article is for EVERY beginner? 
    Yunamaus95
    I just started guitar playing and found this site and I agre the riffs are not super easy like real beginner easy
    hak_hap
    So I'm not crazy...
    Guitar-Made-Eas
    I never said you were, and neither did I tell beginners that if they can't play these riffs then they're "shit", as you so eloquently put it. Calm down, you're making yourself look silly. It's one of millions of free (yes, I wrote this to be nice, so don't take it for granted) lessons on the internet available for beginners. I'm completely open to criticism as long as its civil, which this isn't. EDIT: Oh, and another thing - 50% downvotes also, incredibly, happens to mean 50% upvotes. It now has more upvotes than downvotes too, so you're even wrong there.
    hak_hap
    [deleted]
    hak_hap · Mar 13, 2017 01:43 PM
    B1000
    Hak hap, it sounds like you've got some serious issues, man. Guitar-Made-Eas is just trying to help people. If you think it's a bit difficult for complete beginners, that's completely fine, but please don't beat down on the good people who are just trying to help. Count to 10 and keep things positive/constructive 👍
    hak_hap
    Well, read the whole thing. I started off with a short statement, it was just my opinion and not offensive at all. Then the guy defended his choices and I said why I still disagree. But no insight whatsoever. I basically repeated that "All beginners" isn't the same as "beginners with enough practice" but he didn't seem to understand. I was just, quite fairly, saying the premise is wrong. Until now everything was cool and on an educated level. BUT what pissed me off was reading how another guitar teacher basically called riffs that only advanced beginners might be able to master EASY. It just pissed me off because you should never call any exercise easy as a guitarist. That to me is pretentious, so I replied a little heated yeah. The whole thing could have ended there but then the guy put words in my mouth, saying I'm calling all beginners "shit" which made me furious and I think that is justified. I'm trying to make the guy understand that I'm trying to give perspective on how beginners might receive those exercises because the article says "ALL BEGINNERS" and he even admitted it's for advanced beginners. But him putting those evil words in my mouth plus he became personal on me AND said very pretentious things. So yeah, I was mad by that time. It did escalate but I refuse to accept that I'm like 100% wrong from the beginning in every way and that I have to accept that pretentious douchery and even bragging about being a good person and that lie about what I supposedly said about beginners. I'm usually a calm person but 1. I call out teachers when I see they don't get what EARLY beginners really need (lesson wise and when it comes to sentences like "those riffs are easy, ANYone can play them" and 2. I don't take that pretentiousness from a guy basically saying "I'm such a good person, I make free lessons, don't take it for granted" as if that was actually the point. Hope this gave some insight on the whole thing, cheers mate. was pretty unnessecary to say I have issues (as you might see from this long explanation), but fine, I see where you're coming from EDIT: I'll do it like the nice teacher and give you a thumb up for your reply