Indispensable Riffs, Fills and Chops for Every Musician


By PAUL BOTHNER MUSIC | May 15, 2017
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Indispensable Riffs, Fills and Chops for Every Musicianntro riffs for the Keyboard, Guitar and Bass.

If you are looking for some chord charts, then check out our article on 4 Chord Songs That Changed the World.

Indispensable Riffs, Fills and Chops for Every Musician

There are a few songs that every musician learns at some point in their playing career. Songs like Smoke on the Water and Girl from Ipanema seem to make their way into the repertoire of every player.

This is because of the popularity and simplicity of the songs. They are iconic tracks that have become part of the lives of tens of thousands of people.

Most Loved Rock Solos

This week we’ll be taking a look at some of the most iconic solos to grace the world of Rock and Metal.

GUITAR – Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin is the grandfather of metal. Without the influence of Led Zeppelin, the world of music would be vastly different. In 1971 the band released their fourth studio album. Like the previous three albums, the fourth was untitled and simply called Led Zeppelin IV.

One of the bands most iconic songs came from this album; Stairway to Heaven. Now is the time to conquer this epic solo!


BASS – Anaesthesia – Cliff Burton (Metallica)

Having died at only 24, Cliff Burton was taken before his time. According to Rolling Stone Magazine poll, Cliff Burton was voted as the 9th greatest bassist of all time.

His playing style was solid yet technical. Any bass player who has spent time learning a Burton solo can attest to his brilliant writing style and technique. If you’ve never learnt one of his solos before, then jump straight into Anaesthesia.


KEYS/SYNTH – The Ytse Jam – Kevin Moore/Jordon Rudess (Dream Theater)

The name Ytse comes from the band’s original name, “Majesty” which was reversed and is pronounced YitSay.

When Dream Theater does an instrumental track, each member gets to go all out, and with Ytse jam, each of the band members gets a chance to shine! So, while the song was written while Kevin Moore was in the band, there are great versions where Jordon Rudess gets to demonstrate his chops. Since Jordon Rudess is the current keys player for Dream Theater, we have included one of his transcriptions for the Ytse Jam Solo.


DRUMS – YYZ – Neil Peart (Rush)

Rush has done what very few bands can do – they made a three-piece band sound huge.

The piece’s introduction played in a time signature of 5/4, repeatedly renders “Y-Y-Z” in Morse Code using various musical arrangements. In 1982 the song was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Instrumental Rock category.

Rhythmically speaking, this song is incredibly fun to play. Try out the drum solo, as transcribed by the Drum Ninja. Be sure to check out his page for a few more lessons and drum tracks.


Iconic Riffs


In this session, we will take a look at four Indispensable Iconic Riffs that shook the world!

GUITAR: Crazy Train – Ozzy

After Ozzy left Black Sabbath, everyone knew deep down inside that he would be back on the scene. In 1980 Ozzy released his debut solo album to the acclaim of the metal world. The first single on the album was none other than Crazy Train. The intro is a bit weird, but once the guitar riff kicks in, you can fully understand why Ozzy was the grandfather of metal.

The guitar riff was played by Randy Rhodes, and is one of the most iconic guitar riffs of all time. Going from the melodic and driving intro line to the heavy chords with the driving open strings made the riff incredibly heavy for the time.


BASS: Beat It – Michael Jackson

The album “Thriller” was released in 1982. Some of the songs from the album have gone onto become some of the most loved pop songs of all time. One of the songs that is most loved is Beat It. The bass line is full and pumping. From a technical perspective it is really easy to play. The intro riff can all be played in the same position.

This song perfectly demonstrates how easy an iconic riff can be. You don’t need to play fast, or all over the fret board. All you need is a good line with flawless groove. Easy right! While it might not be easy to write an easy to play iconic riff, it certainly is easy to learn one. If you download the bass tab you’ll be racking along in no time!


DRUMS: Come Together – The Beatles

An easy judge of the popularity of a song, is how many musicians have covered the song. Come Together has been covered by every pub band since the dawn of time. Ok, so maybe not since the dawn of time, but at the very least since the song came out.

While Ringo might not have the reputation of being the best drummer ever, he is a solid drummer who stays in the pocket. And if you can’t be technical, at least be tight! This song is easy for any drummer to start learning, and is a lot of fun to play. Just listen to it a few times and read the score as you listen to it. You’ll be rocking it in no time!


KEYS: Final Countdown – Europe

Musically speaking, when people now days think of Sweden they tend to think of some of the most brutal metal imaginable, or ABBA. Not many people think about the band Europe.

In 1986 Europe released a song which would go onto reach the number spot on music charts in 25 countries! That is a feat very few bands have ever achieved. The best thing about the song is that the band never even intended to release the song as a single. “The ironic thing, though, is that the song was actually written for the fans. It was over six minutes long and was never meant to be a hit or anything like that. It was meant to be an opening for the ‘live’ show.” – Joey Tempest, Europe’s Keyboard Player


Rocking Intros


In this session, we will take a look at three Indispensable Introductions.

GUITAR: Sweet Child o Mine – Guns N’ Roses

Sweet Child o Mine is arguably one of the most recognizable guitar riffs of all time. And believe it or not, this riff came to us by mistake. Slash was warming up before a band practice one day. He was playing a string skipping exercise with drummer Steve Adler.

The band fell in love with the riff and started writing the rest of the song around it. Slash said, “within an hour my guitar exercise had become something else”.


BASS: La Bamba – Various

You can’t help but tap your foot when La Bamba starts to play. It is a mixture of African and Spanish sty lings, and it instantly recognizable. The lyrics for the song often change, as musicians are known to improvise the lyrics.

The one thing that stays the same though, is that bass line. It continues throughout the song and is one of the reasons the song is so iconic.


KEYBOARDS/ORGAN: Light my Fire – The Doors

There are few organ players as famous as Ray Manzarek, the keys player from the Doors. Most of ‘Light My Fire’ was written by guitarist Robby Krieger, but it is Manzarek’s organ lick that really sets the tone. Once the organ starts playing, there is no doubt as to what song you are listening to.

This intro is apparently inspired by Bach’s Two- and Three-part Inventions.


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