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Mastering Easy Guitar Solos: A Beginner’s Guide to Iconic Riffs

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Picture this: You’ve been learning chords for weeks, and your fingertips have finally stopped feeling like they’ve been dancing on hot coals. But let’s face it, what’s a guitarist without a solo that can make the crowd swoon or get heads nodding in approval? You’re in luck because we’re diving into the world of easy guitar solos for beginners, the kind that will set you up on a path from strumming to stardom!

The First Riff Is the Deepest

A young man and woman sitting outside while the man plays a guitar.

Starting with easy guitar solos is like finding that first friend in kindergarten — it’s comforting, encouraging, and sticks with you for life. Now, you may not be ready to unleash your inner Jimi Hendrix or Slash just yet, but there are plenty of guitar solos for beginners that will let you practice guitar solos without feeling overwhelmed.

1. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – by The Beatles

Imagine gently weeping your way through “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by The Beatles. The guitar solo, while simple, captures a melody that’s as timeless as the song itself. This is a prime example of a lead guitar part that’s approachable, yet teaches you the beauty of emotion in your playing.

The Basic Riff:

The riff we are referring to is played in the intro and between the verses. It’s a melodic pattern that follows the chord progression of the song.

Step 1: Understanding the Chords

The riff is based around the Am, Am/G, Am/F#, and Am/F chords. If you’re not familiar with these, here’s how you finger them:

  • Am: Place your index finger on the 1st fret of the B string, your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the D string, and your ring finger on the 2nd fret of the G string. Strum from the A string down.
  • Am/G: Play the Am chord and add your pinky to the 3rd fret of the low E string.
  • Am/F#: For this chord, keep your fingers in the Am shape and move your thumb over the top of the neck to press down the 2nd fret of the low E string.
  • Am/F: Now, simply move that thumb down to press the 1st fret of the low E string.

Step 2: The Picking Pattern

The riff involves a picking pattern that you’ll play on these chords. For simplicity, let’s start with the Am chord. Use your pick to play the following strings in order: A, D, G, B, then reverse B, G, D. So, it’s like a down and up pattern across the strings.

Here’s the pattern:

A (5th) string ➔ D (4th) string ➔ G (3rd) string ➔ B (2nd) string ➔ G (3rd) string ➔ D (4th) string

This pattern remains essentially the same as you change chords.

Step 3: Adding the Bass Notes

Now, let’s add the bass notes that change with each chord. You’ll pick these before starting the pattern on each new chord:

  • For Am, start on the open A string.
  • For Am/G, start on the 3rd fret of the low E string (your pinky finger).
  • For Am/F#, start on the 2nd fret of the low E string (your thumb).
  • For Am/F, start on the 1st fret of the low E string (your thumb).

Step 4: Practice the Transition

Transitioning between these chords while maintaining the picking pattern is the tricky part. Practice moving between the chords slowly, making sure to get the bass note of each chord before starting the picking pattern.

Step 5: Putting it Together

Once you’re comfortable switching between the chords and maintaining the picking pattern, play each chord in the sequence like this:

Am ➔ Am/G ➔ Am/F# ➔ Am/F

2. Sweet Child o’ Mine- Guns ‘n Roses

Let’s not forget about “Sweet Child o’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses. That iconic opening is a simple solo that still makes the list of awesome solos, yet it’s accessible enough for beginner guitar players to get their fingers around it.

The Opening Riff:

The riff we’re looking at is the instantly recognizable melody played by Slash at the beginning of the song.

Step 1: Get Comfortable with String Skipping

This riff requires you to skip strings frequently, which can be tricky. Practice playing on one string, then skipping to another non-adjacent string to get the feel for it.

Step 2: Learn the Notes and Fingering

The riff uses a combination of notes that are mostly on the D, G, and B strings. Here’s how you play the first part:

  • Start by placing your ring finger on the 12th fret of the D (4th) string. Play that note twice.
  • Then, with your index finger, hit the 10th fret on the B (2nd) string.
  • After that, play the 11th fret on the G (3rd) string with your middle finger.
  • Next, go back to the 10th fret on the B (2nd) string with your index finger.

This makes up the first sequence of the riff. The rhythm is just as important as the notes, so listen to the song to get the timing right.

Step 3: Practice the Sequence Slowly

Repeat the sequence slowly, ensuring clean notes and that you’re comfortable with the string skipping. Speed will come with time and muscle memory.

Step 4: Add the Next Sequence

The next part of the riff follows a similar pattern but moves down the fretboard:

  • Play the 12th fret on the D string twice again.
  • Now, hit the 9th fret on the B string with your index finger.
  • Then, play the 11th fret on the G string with your middle finger.
  • And back to the 9th fret on the B string with your index finger.

Step 5: Combine the Sequences

You now have two parts of the riff. Practice transitioning between them smoothly:

12th (D) ➔ 10th (B) ➔ 11th (G) ➔ 10th (B) ➔ 12th (D) ➔ 9th (B) ➔ 11th (G) ➔ 9th (B)

Step 6: Continue the Pattern

The riff continues by moving the notes on the B string while keeping the initial 12th fret notes on the D string as your anchor points. The full pattern moves like this:

  • 12th (D) ➔ 10th (B) ➔ 11th (G) ➔ 10th (B)
  • 12th (D) ➔ 9th (B) ➔ 11th (G) ➔ 9th (B)
  • 12th (D) ➔ 8th (B) ➔ 11th (G) ➔ 8th (B)
  • 12th (D) ➔ 7th (B) ➔ 11th (G) ➔ 7th (B)

After playing through this pattern, the riff goes into a short sequence of the following:

  • Play the 12th fret on the D string twice, and then the 15th fret on the B string with your pinky, and the 14th fret on the G string with your ring finger, back to the 15th on the B string.

Step 7: Perfecting the Riff

Once you have all these parts down, it’s all about putting them together and practicing to get the timing and the feel right. Start slowly and gradually increase your speed as you become more comfortable.

Step 8: Practice to a Metronome

Timing is crucial for this riff. Practice slowly with a metronome and only increase the speed when you can play it cleanly. The original song tempo is quite fast, so take your time.

Remember, this is a riff that even experienced players work to perfect, so be patient with yourself and enjoy the process!

3. “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton

Not every guitar hero is plugged in; some of the best songs with easy guitar solos are played on an acoustic guitar. “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton showcases a slow solo that’s melodic and a great solo to learn control and expression. And the gentle strumming paired with the guitar slide in “Something” by The Beatles? Pure acoustic bliss that’s perfect for beginner guitarists.

The Intro Riff:

This is the part that sets the mood for the entire song, and it’s played at the beginning and throughout as a fill between the vocals.

Step 1: Mastering Chord Shapes

Firstly, familiarize yourself with the G, D, C, and E minor chords. Make sure you can form these shapes easily and that each string rings clearly when you strum them.

Step 2: Arpeggiating the G Major Chord

Start with the G major chord:

  • Pick the 6th string (3rd fret) with your pick or thumb.
  • Then pick the open 3rd string.
  • Follow with the open 2nd string.
  • Finally, pick the open 1st string.

Step 3: Transitioning to D Major

  • Without rushing, switch to the D major chord shape.
  • Strum from the 4th string down to the 1st string.

Step 4: Moving to C Major and Adding a Twist

  • Change to the C major chord and pick from the 5th string down to the 1st string.
  • After striking the open 1st string, immediately place your pinky on the 3rd fret of the 1st string, pick it, and then lift your pinky to pluck the open 1st string again.

Step 5: Going Back to D Major

  • Return to the D major chord and repeat the strum from the 4th string down to the 1st string.

Step 6: Finishing with G Major

  • Lastly, go back to the G major chord and strum from the 6th string down to the 1st string.

Step 7: Practice the Sequence Slowly

  • Repeat this sequence, making sure each note is clean and the transitions are smooth. Don’t rush; the tempo of this song is quite relaxed.

Step 8: Add Nuance

  • As you get more comfortable, try to add a bit of feeling to your playing by emphasizing certain notes and playing dynamically.

Step 9: Play Along with the Song

  • Once you feel confident, try playing along with Eric Clapton’s recording, paying attention to the timing and the feel of the riff.

Step 10: Keep Practicing

  • This riff is all about finesse. The more you play it, the more natural it will feel. Keep practicing until you can play it without thinking about the finger placements.

Remember to take it slow, focus on the clarity of each chord, and enjoy the process of learning one of the most iconic riffs in classic rock history. Enjoy your practice!

4. “Black Magic Woman” by Santana

Some solos are like a good book; they need to be taken in slowly. “Black Magic Woman” by Santana is a smoky, Latin-infused journey that’s a feast for the senses. It’s a fantastic piece for understanding how emotion can be conveyed through a lead guitar.

The Main Riff:

The riff we’re focusing on captures the cool, bluesy essence of Santana’s style and recurs throughout the song.

Step 1: Understand the Blues Scale

Santana often uses the minor pentatonic and blues scales. Spend a little time getting to know the D minor pentatonic scale, which will serve as the foundation for this riff.

Step 2: Start with the Basic Notes

Here’s how you’ll play the opening sequence:

  • Place your ring finger on the 7th fret of the G (3rd) string to play the root note, D.
  • Next, with your middle finger, play the 6th fret on the B (2nd) string.
  • Return to the 7th fret on the G string with your ring finger.
  • Then, move to the 5th fret on the B string with your index finger.

This forms the core sequence of the riff. Feel the groove of the song to nail the timing.

Step 3: Add Expression with Bends

  • Perform a slight bend on the 5th fret of the B string after playing the note. Push the string upwards and let it return to its original position to mimic Santana’s expressive sound.
  • Practice this bend until you can do it smoothly and with control.

Step 4: Complete the Phrase

  • After bending the 5th fret of the B string, play the 7th fret on the same string using your ring finger.
  • Finally, end the riff by returning to the 7th fret on the G string.

Step 5: Practice the Full Sequence

Now, combine these notes to play the complete riff:

7th (G) ➔ 6th (B) ➔ 7th (G) ➔ 5th (B) with bend ➔ 7th (B) ➔ 7th (G)

Step 6: Develop Fluidity

  • Repeat the riff, working to make the transitions between notes smooth and the bends expressive.

Step 7: Use a Metronome for Timing

  • To really get the rhythm down, practice with a metronome. Start slow and gradually increase the speed as you become more comfortable.

Step 8: Add Santana’s Signature Vibrato

  • Once you’re confident with the note placement and bends, add a slow, controlled vibrato to the notes by slightly and rapidly bending the string back and forth.

Remember, Santana’s playing is as much about the emotion and feel as it is about the actual notes. Don’t rush the process. Instead, focus on the soulful expression of each note, and let the groove guide you. Enjoy learning this timeless riff!

5. “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix

Who says beginner guitar solos have to be the main event? Many famous guitar solos occur later in the song, like the second solo in “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix. It’s a fiery burst of psychedelic energy that’s more approachable than you might think.

The second riff of “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix is a fantastic example of Hendrix’s innovative guitar style. It’s a mixture of blues and rock with a psychedelic twist. This tutorial will help you capture the essence of this riff. Ensure your guitar is in standard tuning (E A D G B e) before we start.

The Second Riff:

The part we’re learning comes in after the initial iconic tritone riff and is characterized by its bluesy, driving rhythm.

Step 1: Familiarize Yourself with the Blues Scale

Hendrix was known for his use of the minor pentatonic and blues scales. This riff heavily relies on these scales in the key of E.

Step 2: Begin with the Opening Bend

The riff starts with a bend that’s quite expressive:

  • Place your index finger on the 3rd fret of the low E (6th) string. This note is a G, which you’ll bend up a whole step to sound like an A.
  • Strike the string and bend the note by pushing the string towards the ceiling. Aim to hear the pitch rise from G to A.

Step 3: Play the Descent

After the bend, you’ll move down the E minor pentatonic scale:

  • Play the open E (6th) string.
  • Then, on the A (5th) string, play the 2nd fret with your middle finger and pull off to the open string.

Step 4: Add the Hammer-On

  • On the low E (6th) string, play an open note followed by a hammer-on to the 1st fret with your index finger and then another hammer-on to the 2nd fret with your middle finger.

Step 5: Move to the Open A String

  • After the hammer-ons on the low E string, play the open A (5th) string.

Step 6: The Full Sequence

You should now have a sequence that looks like this:

Bend 3rd (E) ➔ Open (E) ➔ 2nd (A) pull-off to Open (A) ➔ Open (E) ➔ Hammer-on 1st (E) ➔ Hammer-on 2nd (E) ➔ Open (A)

Step 7: Practice Slowly

  • Play through the sequence slowly, focusing on clean transitions and the expressive bend at the beginning.

Step 8: Incorporate the Rhythm

  • This riff has a specific rhythmic feel. Listen to the track and try to match the timing of your playing to Hendrix’s.

Step 9: Use a Metronome

  • Start slow with a metronome and gradually increase your speed, ensuring you maintain clarity and accuracy in your playing.

Step 10: Repeat and Refine

  • Loop the riff, repeating it several times to build muscle memory. Focus on the feel and the groove of the riff, not just the notes.

Remember, Jimi Hendrix had a very fluid and relaxed style, so it’s important to stay loose and not too tense while playing. Try to incorporate his feel into your playing as much as possible. Enjoy mastering one of the most memorable riffs in rock history!

6. “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes

You know a solo is good when it becomes an anthem. “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes features one of the most instantly recognizable guitar lines ever. It’s not just an easy guitar solo; it’s an anthem that has echoed through stadiums around the world.

The Riff:

This is the opening riff that Jack White plays, which has become one of the most famous guitar riffs in rock music.

Step 1: Start with the E String

The riff is primarily played on the low E string, which means you won’t have to worry about string skipping for this one.

Step 2: Learn the Notes and Fingering

You’ll play a series of single notes on the low E string to form the riff. Here’s the sequence:

  • Start by playing the 7th fret on the E string with your ring finger.
  • Drop down to the 5th fret with your index finger.
  • Move up to the 3rd fret with your index finger.
  • Back to the 5th fret with your index finger.
  • Up to the 10th fret with your pinky (or ring finger if that’s more comfortable).
  • Down to the 7th fret with your ring finger.
  • And finally back to the 5th fret with your index finger.

Step 3: Practice the Sequence Slowly

Play the sequence slowly to begin with. The notes are:

7 (E) ➔ 5 (E) ➔ 3 (E) ➔ 5 (E) ➔ 10 (E) ➔ 7 (E) ➔ 5 (E)

Focus on getting clean, clear notes and work on moving your fingers efficiently from one note to the next.

Step 4: Get the Rhythm Right

The rhythm of the riff is as iconic as the notes themselves. Listen to the song to get a feel for the timing. It has a steady and somewhat hypnotic rhythm.

Step 5: Use Alternate Picking

Practice playing the riff with alternate picking (alternating between downstrokes and upstrokes). This will help you play more efficiently and increase your speed as you get more comfortable.

Step 6: Add in the Power Chords (Optional)

If you want to play the riff in the same octave as the original recording, you’ll need to use power chords and play them on the A string, since the original song is played in an open A tuning. But for standard tuning, we can stick to single notes on the E string, as the White Stripes often do live when only one guitar is available.

Step 7: Practice to a Metronome

Keeping time is key, so practice slowly with a metronome and increase the speed only when you can play it cleanly.

Step 8: Build Up Speed

As you get more comfortable, start to build up your speed until you can play along with the song.

Step 9: Perfecting the Riff

Keep practicing the riff until you can play it from memory. Make sure each note rings out and that your timing stays consistent.

Step 10: Add Attitude

Once you have the notes and rhythm down, try to add some of the attitude that’s central to the White Stripes’ sound. Play with confidence and a bit of grit.

Remember, consistency is key. Keep practicing the riff until you can play it with ease. And most importantly, have fun with it! “Seven Nation Army” is a riff that’s guaranteed to get people’s attention as soon as you start playing it.

7. “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen

Queen’s music is legendary, and “Don’t Stop Me Now” is a testament to that. The solo in this song is like a joyful sprint; it’s fast but not too fast for a beginner guitarist. It’s a great song to learn if you want a challenge that’s still within reach, and the energetic solo will make you feel like a rock star once you nail it.

The Riff:

The guitar solo in Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” is found in the middle section of the song. It occurs after the second chorus, serving as a bridge between the repeated chorus sections and the final verses.

In the overall structure of the song, this solo acts as a dynamic highlight, showcasing Brian May’s guitar skills and adding an energetic burst to the track’s already vibrant and upbeat rhythm. This placement is typical of many rock songs, where the solo often serves to elevate the song’s energy at a pivotal moment before leading into the final sections.

Equipment:

  • Electric Guitar (preferably with a clean to slightly overdriven tone)
  • Guitar pick (medium gauge recommended for flexibility and control)

Tuning:

Standard E A D G B E tuning.

Technique Tips:

  1. Finger Positioning: Ensure your fingers are close to the frets for cleaner notes.
  2. Alternate Picking: This solo benefits from alternate picking for speed and efficiency.
  3. Bending and Vibrato: Pay attention to the bends and vibrato, which add emotion to the solo.

Solo Breakdown:

Step 1: Learning the Fretboard Positions

  • The solo mainly revolves around the B and E minor pentatonic scales.
  • Familiarize yourself with these scales around the 7th to 15th frets.

Step 2: The Opening Lick

  • The solo starts with a quick succession of notes on the B and E strings around the 10th fret.
  • Practice this part slowly, focusing on clean transitions.

Step 3: The Scale Run

  • After the opening lick, there’s a scale run that goes down the E minor pentatonic scale.
  • Start slow, ensuring clarity of each note, and then gradually increase speed.

Step 4: Bends and Vibrato

  • The solo features a few bends, particularly on the B string around the 12th and 15th frets.
  • Work on bending the string to the correct pitch and adding vibrato at the end of the bend for expression.

Step 5: The Closing Riff

  • The solo concludes with a memorable riff that combines bending and fast picking.
  • This part is crucial for capturing the energetic essence of the solo.

Practice Tips:

  • Start Slow: Begin at a slow pace and gradually increase speed as you get more comfortable.
  • Use a Metronome: This helps in keeping time and improving your rhythmic accuracy.
  • Isolate Difficult Sections: Work on challenging parts separately before playing the entire solo.
  • Listen to the Original Recording: Pay close attention to Brian May’s tone and phrasing.

“Don’t Stop Me Now” offers a fantastic opportunity to delve into the world of rock solos. The key is patience and consistent practice. As you progress, not only will your technical skills improve, but you’ll also gain a deeper appreciation for the artistry of Queen’s music. Keep practicing, and soon you’ll be playing this joyful sprint like a true rock star!

8. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana

Learning to play guitar solos from iconic songs like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana is a thrilling experience for any guitarist. This solo is especially great for beginners who are looking to add a classic piece to their repertoire.

The Riff:

The solo in “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is known for its raw energy and simplicity, making it an ideal choice for those starting their journey to learn guitar solos.

Equipment:

  • Electric Guitar (a grungy, overdriven tone is ideal)
  • Guitar pick (medium gauge recommended)

Tuning:

Standard E A D G B E tuning.

Technique Tips:

  1. Replication of Melody: The solo closely mirrors the melody of the song, making it easier to learn.
  2. Power Chords and Single Notes: The solo combines power chords with single-note lines.
  3. Distortion: Use a good amount of distortion to replicate the grunge sound of Nirvana.

Solo Breakdown:

Step 1: Familiarity with the Melody

  • Start by listening to the song and familiarizing yourself with the melody. The solo essentially replicates the vocal melody.

Step 2: Power Chords

  • Begin with the power chords that form the backbone of the solo. These are played on the lower strings and should be strummed with energy.

Step 3: Single Note Repetitions

  • The solo has sections where the same note is played repeatedly. Pay attention to the rhythm and timing of these repetitions.

Step 4: Bends and Vibrato

  • There are a few simple bends and vibrato in the solo. These are not overly complex but add to the character of the solo.

Step 5: Practice the Timing

  • As the solo follows the same melody line as the chorus, the timing is crucial. Play along with the original track to get a sense of the rhythm.

Practice Tips:

  • Start Slow: Learn each part of the solo slowly and then gradually build up speed.
  • Use a Metronome: A metronome can help in maintaining the rhythm and timing.
  • Break Down the Solo: If there are challenging parts, break them down and practice them separately.
  • Play Along with the Song: This will help you get the feel of the solo in the context of the entire song.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” is a great song for those who want to play guitar solos on their own guitar. The solo’s repetitive nature and use of the same note in several parts make it accessible for beginners. With practice, you can capture the essence of Nirvana’s grunge sound and add a powerful piece to your guitar-playing arsenal.

Conclusion

As you’ve discovered through this journey, mastering easy guitar solos is a stepping stone towards enhancing your lead guitar skills. Whether it’s the raw energy of the Red Hot Chili Peppers or the soulful touch of Eric Clapton, these easiest guitar solos from famous songs provide a fun and accessible way to start your path as a lead guitarist. Remember, it’s not just about the notes you play, but the guitar tone you create that brings these solos to life.

And if you’re looking for more inspiration, websites like All Axess have compiled lists of easy guitar riffs and love songs on guitar to keep your practice sessions fresh and exciting. From the funk-infused lines of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers to the bluesy licks of Eric Clapton, there’s a wealth of material to explore that will help refine your style and technique.

For more riffs that double as easy guitar solos, check out this list of easy guitar riffs for beginners. These selections are perfect for budding guitarists eager to learn and play some of the most iconic solos in music history. So, grab your guitar, tune up, and start strumming to stardom. Each solo you learn is not just a set of notes, but a step towards expressing your own musical voice.