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Last Updated on February 12, 2024 by Teemu Suomala

Learn epic blues guitar riffs to wow your dog and impress your wife. No fluff, just blues magic. Note, this article gives you the backstory and how to use blues riffs (plus some riffs). This article teaches you more blues riffs.

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Author: Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I love guitars and have played dozens and dozens of different guitars through different amps and pedals over the years, and also, building a website interested me, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website.

I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have also been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as SongsterrMusicnotesGuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar.

I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog (I guess that went the right way…).

Mastering the Riffs

So, you want to jam out like the blues legends? Get ready to learn the crucial secrets of the blues guitar riffs that will make your neighbors wish they could be as cool as you.

Starting with the Basics

Before you can run, you’ve got to walk—and in the world of blues, that means getting down with the basic 12-bar blues riffs. These babies are like the bread and butter of blues guitar, the foundation upon which all blues riffs are built.

How transform into a Party Jukebox everyone Admires in 5 days?

Here’s your number #1 riff you can use to play rhythm for pretty much any blues song:

YouTube video

Once you’ve got this riff down, you’re ahead of the majority of the people wanting to learn blues. You got the secret riff that always works.

Note that you just can’t use it from the same position for every song. No no no. This is easy, but not that easy. Experiment with this riff to find the sweet spot for each song. But once you find it…oh boy.

Amping Up Your Riff Game

Now that you’re friends with the basic riff, let’s amp up your game with some riffs from real songs that’ll make your dog howl in delight (or maybe that’s just because it’s dinner time).

  • First, Cold Shot by SRV. This song has a relatively slow but amazing-sounding blues-rock riff. You can move it up and down the fretboard, so it’s extremely versatile. Excellent beginner blues riff.
  • Again, from SRV, but a more traditional one: Life By The Drop. It gives you excellent stop-and-go style blues riff practice and challenges you a little. But it’s still something that pretty much anyone can master in one sitting.
  • Most challenging one, but probably the coolest. Hey Hey by Eric Clapton. It’s an acoustic blues riff, but nothing stops you from playing it on electric. I teach you blues fingerpicking like nothing else. This is probably the least versatile as a riff, but the technique you master while nailing this done will be your secret weapon in the future.

Now grab that guitar, slap on a smile, and start riffing like the blues boss you’re destined to be. But before you do that…ff you want to remember just 1 thing about blues riffs, it’s probably this one…

Key to playing blues riffs like a pro is the first having the ability to technically play the riff, then add the right emotion, and then experiment with the riffs (try it in different locations, add notes, etc.).

Crafting Your Own Blues Sound

Once you’ve got a grip on some classic blues guitar riffs, it’s time to throw in a dash of yourself. Here’s how you can stir up the blues pot with your own flavor.

Mixing Riffs and Techniques

You’re not just reheating leftovers here, you’re cooking up a storm! Take those riffs you’ve been practicing and start sprinkling in some zesty techniques that’ll make them taste like new.

Hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, and that sweet, sweet vibrato — they’re your salt, pepper, garlic, and a hint of cayenne. Each of these techniques can transform a simple riff into a gourmet blues feast. For example, a slide into the root note of your riff can make your audience feel like they’re sliding into home plate on a cloud.

Here’s a little cheat sheet for spicing up those riffs:

TechniqueEffect
Hammer-OnsGive your notes a smooth, legato feel
Pull-OffsLike a magic trick
SlidesGlide from note to note with style
VibratoMake that last note quiver with emotion

These are the basic techniques that drive more than 80% of the results for you in terms of blues riffing. First, master these techniques. Second, become the master of adding these spicy techniques to your playing just the right time. That’s it.

Smart Practice Makes Perfect

You know what they say: practice makes perfect. But when it comes to mastering those soulful blues guitar riffs, it’s not just about practicing; it’s about practicing right. We do not want to waste our time right?

Building a Practice Routine

First things first, consistency is key. You don’t want your guitar skills to be like that gym membership you got in January – full of good intentions but collecting dust come February. Set aside a regular time each day for practice, even if it’s just for 15 minutes between walking the dog and dinner with your better half.

Practice every day.

Here’s a simple structure to get you started:

  1. Warm-Up (5 minutes): Limber up those fingers with some blues guitar scales. Think of it as a pre-workout for your digits.
  2. Technique Practice (10 minutes): Dive into the techniques that give blues riffs their flavor: hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, and that sweet, sweet vibrato. Each day, focus on a different technique to keep things spicy. Use backing tracks to make all this fun and non-repetitive.
  3. Riff Practice (10 minutes): Work on a couple of different blues guitar riffs every day. Remember, variety is the spice of life (and blues).
  4. Applying What You’ve Learned (10 minutes): Mix these riffs and licks into some blues guitar backing tracks and let your hair down. This is where you get to play around and see what works.
  5. Cool Down (5 minutes): End with a few mellow blues guitar chords to wind down. Your fingers will thank you.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Even the best-laid practice plans can lead to a rut if you’re not careful. Here are a few pitfalls to dodge:

  • The Monotony Trap: If you find yourself playing the same old riffs day in and day out, you’re in the monotony trap. Mix it up, challenge yourself with new riffs, and keep the blues alive.
  • The Speed Demon: Sure, playing fast is impressive, but accuracy is the name of the game. Slow down, focus on the feel and emotion of each note, and then gradually pick up the pace.
  • The Lone Wolf Syndrome: Blues is all about soul and connection. Don’t isolate yourself. Hop onto blues guitar forums or jam with friends to get feedback and inspiration.
  • The “All Gear, No Idea” Guy: Gear can be great, but don’t hide behind it. Before splurging on that shiny new acoustic blues guitar, make sure your basics are solid.
  • The “Practice Makes Perfect…Eventually” Fallacy: Practice is essential, but don’t be the guy who thinks he’ll wake up one day playing like Stevie Ray Vaughan without putting in the effort. Stay committed, and progress will come.

Conclusion

Congratz bro. You just learned the most versatile blues riff you can imagine…plus 3 riffs that help you progress faster, key techniques to use, and some practice tips that can save you years of clueless wandering in the world of blues. I have done my part. Now you just got to take action. See ya!

Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I also noticed that most guitar websites don’t do a really good job, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website. I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as Songsterr, Musicnotes, GuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar. I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog(I guess that went the right way…). Expertise: guitar learning techniques, electric guitars, and guitar amplifiers. You can connect with me on LinkedIn or just email me.
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Marv

Great article! thank you