When you read this you probably have a lot of riffs you play daily, riffs from any of your favourite bands and maybe some of your own riffs.
No doubt you can play those riffs as how they should sound like but what about using those riffs in another setting? Make them come alive with other solos and other riffs so those orginal riffs become actually a piece on their own.
For this article I will give you a handful of ideas what you can do to improve your riffing power and how it will make you sound a more professional guitar player.
When it comes to playing music it does help if you can break down what you are doing: Get to know the key of the riff (or song) you are playing. Once you know the key you may be able to play the same riff in another position, or you may even be able to change the key of the riff. Why would you want that? By changing the key you may be able to play your riff with open strings. The sound of open strings may make the riff sound more jangly or heavier or whatever. Being able to give your riff the sound you like is a good idea, it means you are on top of your game instead of just using any old tablabture which shows you were to play the riff.
Now that you know the key of your riff what about your technique? Are you using down pick or alternate picking or…………..?
Is this important? It is good to play the riff with the sound you want, and the kind of technique you use for your picking will make a difference to the sound of the riff. Down picks do sound heavier compared to upstrokes. Try to break down your technique, find out what you are using and get your sound as smooth as you can. The opposite is guessing, and not using an consistent technique. The downfall of this is that your playing will not always sound as good as it can be.
If you notice any shortcoming in your playing work on it, break it down and iron out any weaknesses.
Now that you can play the riff with the right technique, and all sounds how you want it to sound like, let us move on to changing the riff. Changing the riff you may wonder? Yes, we want to use that riff, but we also want it to open you up to something more: Once you know the key of the riff, it may be possible for you to add lib. at some point in between parts of the riff.
How will I do that you may wonder? Without giving you any tab. or examples, just find a riff which does contain several parts. You may be able to play first part, then get to improvise a bit with some of the notes of the riff (and scale) before you plunge into the second part of the riff. In this manner you will be able to keep on playing your riff without it getting to sound all the same each time.
The next step is to change the style of the riff: This idea will make it possible to use parts of the riff for something which you have made yourself. Once you start working with this idea do not feel too precious about the original riff, just change whatever you need to get the new riff to sound how you like it, including style and rhythm. You may end up with the original riff being played in a completely different style. That is fine, but try also to get some of your own notes in there as it will help you to see how to create new ideas out of exhisting material.
Keep on playing and hope to catch you soon again,