Riffs are a great way to get started on bass because they are relatively quick to learn (quicker than full song) and they’re usually quite catchy. So you can play them to your friends and feel like a rock star!
This lesson I cover my top 5 most popular riffs for beginning bass guitarists. We’re going to be looking at:
- Another One Bites The Dust – Queen (time – 1:10)
- Stand By Me – Ben E King (time – 15:16)
- Billie Jean – Michael Jackson (time – 29:51)
- Come As You Are – Nirvana (time – 33:53)
- Sunshine Of Your Love – Cream (time – 38:29)
Another One Bites The Dust – Queen
This riff by the great John Deacon might sound really simple and a lot of players would probably class it as an easy riff to play. But there are a few little challenges in there for the beginning player. We have a few little 16th note skips so it’s good for developing technique and we’ve also got some changes in note duration so that’s good for developing your groove and feel.
Stand By Me – Ben E. King
Stand By Me by Ben E. King is a great riff to learn because it just repeats all the way through and it’s a great example of how some riffs will weave a line through a chord progression.
In the original recording there’s no drum beat. It’s just a triangle, some percussion and the orchestra so I’ve written a basic drum beat that should help with your practice.
Please Note: The original recording of this song is actually in the key of A Major. So if you want to play along with that version, here you go:
Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
Billie Jean by Michael Jackson is a really short riff in the key of F sharp minor and it’s really popular with beginners because it’s so recognisable. There are several different ways of playing the riff but I’m going to show you a simply fingering that’s easy for beginners.
Come As You Are – Nirvana
For this lesson we’ll be playing Come As You Are in the key of E minor but it is worth noting that the live versions always tend to be in F minor. I think this is possibly due to Nirvana tuning down to D on the original and then down to E flat on the live versions but, either way, this fingering will work for playing along with the studio version.
Sunshine Of Your Love – Cream
Lastly let’s look at one of the most famous rock riffs of all time: Sunshine Of Your Love by Cream which is played by Jack Bruce. There are several different variations on this riff depending on where you want to play the end or beginning part of the riff. We’ll just work through the riff that’s used in the intro
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