Preview Archives - Riff Ninja Academy

Category Archives for "Preview"

The Joker – Steve Miller 1/3

In this three-part series, we'll learn how to play and arrange The Joker by Steve Miller into a fun one-guitar performance. We're using simple chords, G, C, and D, however with an added twist in that we're tuned down a full step. 

The Joker – Steve Miller 2/3

In this three-part series, we'll learn how to play and arrange The Joker by Steve Miller into a fun one-guitar performance. We're using simple chords, G, C, and D, however with an added twist in that we're tuned down a full step. 

Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay 1/2

In this two-lesson series, we’re going to look at the arrangement for Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay, a famous Otis Redding song. In this lesson, we’ll also learn a little bass line that really adds some authenticity to the progression, sounds cool, and is fun to play as well.

Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay 2/2

This is the last lesson in our two-part series on Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay, by Otis Redding. In this lesson, we’ll look at the progression for the bridge, as well as how we can use bar chords at different places throughout the song to add some variation. If you’ve struggled playing bar chords before, you’ll find some helpful tips in here that might just make all the difference for you!

Adding A Better Strum

In this lesson, we’ll build on what you’ve learned already, and add a more interesting strum pattern so this progression begins to sound more like a song.

If you need a refresher on the chords, those diagrams are down below as well.

If you’ve got questions or comments, please leave them down below. If you’re ready to take your guitar playing to the next level, checkout the Definitive Beginner’s Guide To Acoustic Guitar.

A Cool Electric Blues Riff For Beginners

This is the first in a four part series where we'll learn a rhythm and riff inspired by Mannish Boy by Muddy Waters. This was designed for straight-up beginners, so we'll try to move slowly!

Take Your Blues Playing To The Next Level

If you've got the blues for playin' the blues... 

Checkout Easy Blues For Beginners Today!

Slow Blues Guitar Solo Challenge 1/5

Welcome to Day 1 of our 5 Day Challenge! Today we're going to look at two different scale patterns that will not only lay the foundation for the solo we learn this week, but also for all the solos you'll play afterwards on different songs. The scale is SO important! Don't forget to grab a copy of the jam track and tab below. 

Slow Blues Guitar Solo Challenge 2/5

It's day 2! I hope you've been practicing your scales, because today we're diving right into the riffs, and they really relate closely to those scale patterns. 

Slow Blues Guitar Solo Challenge 3/5

After today you're more than halfway through! We're learning more riffs, and taking this solo a few bars further. If you need to review any of the previous lessons, the links are here:

Day 1 | Day 2

Slow Blues Guitar Solo Challenge 4/5

Alright, you're nearly there! We're learning more riffs again today, and taking this solo a few bars further. If you need to review any of the previous lessons, the links are here:

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

Slow Blues Guitar Solo Challenge 5/5

This is it! The last lesson in our 5 day challenge! Congrats for making it this far, today we're going to wrap it all up and complete the solo. 

If you enjoyed learning this solo, I can help you take your soloing so much further, using this exact same process, in my Ultimate Blues Solos course. This challenge is actually the perfect primer course to lead into the larger one. 

Click here for Ultimate Blues Solos 

Vertical Riffs Tricks 1

Think of the riffs in this lesson as a mere skeletal outline – you can really modify them in a hundred ways to make them your own and to fit whatever song you’re playing – the most important thing to take from this lesson is the notes in the two scales we’re working with: diatonic and pentatonic, and how to apply them. Once you’ve got those notes in your head, you can mix’n match to your hearts’ content!

Here’s the jam track for the lesson:

Diatonic Tab:

Pentatonic Tab:

Vertical Riffs Tricks 3

In this lesson we’re going to be working in the key of E major, but soloing out of a C# minor scale. The jam track is just a “chug” on an E chord, which gives us lots of space to work with. Focus on learning the notes from the scale, because they are literally all you need to know to create sweet riffs with this style of soloing.

Here’s the jam track for the lesson:

Vertical Riffs Tricks 4

This is the second of two lessons (here’s part 1) working with the C# minor scale in the key of E major. In this one, we’re breaking from the one-string approach and extending elsewhere in the scale pattern, while still using the open B string as the drone. Keep in mind that B is the V of E, so it is a great choice for a drone in this key.

Here’s the jam track for the lesson:

Solo Tab:

Under The Boardwalk: Progression

In this lesson we're going to look at the chord progression and strum pattern for Under The Boardwalk, by the Drifters. If you're looking for a fun song to play for your friends and have them sing along, this is a great choice.

For more songs like this, checkout Easy Strum Classics.

Verse chords:

Chorus chords:

Strum pattern:

Under The Boardwalk: Bass Line Riff

In this lesson we're going to look at the bass line riff for Under The Boardwalk, by the Drifters. (In case you missed the first lesson, you might want to check that one out first). You can use this for a cool intro if you want, or extend it further and use it for a whole verse too. The riffs are below - note that they are not arranged how you would play them in the song, but rather, show the riff for each chord change. You can put them into the arrangement yourself, quite easily.

For classic songs like this, checkout Easy Strum Classics.

Looking Out My Backdoor: Part 1

In this lesson we're going to look at the chord progression and strum pattern for Looking Out My Backdoor, by CCR. This uses familiar chords, and a cool muted strum pattern that you'll be able to apply to other songs as well.

For more songs like this, checkout Easy Strum Classics.

Verse chords:

Chorus chords:

Looking Out My Backdoor: Part 2

This is the second part to our series on Looking Out My Backdoor, by CCR. This uses familiar chords, and a cool muted strum pattern that you'll be able to apply to other songs as well. In this one, we cover the key change, the change in tempo, and general arrangement.

For more songs like this, checkout Easy Strum Classics.

Key Change/Instrumental:

Verse 2:

2nd Half of Verse 2, Slowed Down:

The Shuffle Chug

This is the second in a five part series where we'll learn a rhythm and riff inspired by Mannish Boy by Muddy Waters. This was designed for straight-up beginners, so we'll try to move slowly! In this lesson, we're looking at using a power chord and a shuffle rhythm to produce that great chugging sound used so often in the blues.

In case you missed it, here's part 1.

Got the blues for playin' the blues? 

Check this out!​

Embellishing the Riff

Welcome to part 3 of our five part series where we're learning a rhythm and riff inspired by Mannish Boy by Muddy Waters. This was designed for straight-up beginners, so we'll try to move slowly! In this lesson, we're embellishing that original riff from Part 1 by adding an extra note or two, and also by adding a little string stretch.

In case you missed it, here's part 2.

Move Up The Fretboard!

Welcome to part 4 of our five part series where we're learning a rhythm and riff inspired by Mannish Boy by Muddy Waters. This was designed for straight-up beginners, so we'll try to move slowly! In this lesson, we're taking that original riff from Part 1 and moving it higher up the fretboard, to give a nice alternate riff that can be used as a substitute for the main one. This is a great way to give your song a bit more character.

Final Touches

Welcome to the last of our five part series where we're learning a rhythm and riff inspired by Mannish Boy by Muddy Waters. This was designed for straight-up beginners, so we'll try to move slowly! In this lesson, we're adding a few more bits 'n pieces so you can make it sound like a complete song, and at the end, Colin slipped a little bonus in too!

5 Keys Quick Reference Cheat Sheet

Here's the download link for the 5 Keys Quick Reference Chords Cheat Sheet.

>> Click Here To Download <<
(Right Click, Save As)

In the Quick Reference booklet, you'll find easy to use diagrams for the six primary chords in each of the five most common keys used on guitar: A, C, D, E, and G. 

Ready to take your guitar playing to the next level? Checkout The Definitive Beginner's Guide to Acoustic Guitar - it's the same course Lowell is talking about below!

I am fulfilling a 40 year desire to play guitar

Well I like the fact that you have taken time to think like a beginner... I was just that as of Jan 20, 2016.

I am now a beginner with knowledge about guitar playing... can I play the guitar? No. Do I know chords? Yes, with just a little visual prompting.

I drew out the chord charts on a large piece of cardboard, and kept them in the relative major and minor groups. I took your advice and became creative in my approach.

My problem in this creative journey is muscle memory for the chord shapes... practice practice practice...

I like the fact that you have gone into the exact chords as in Sweet Home Alabama.

Colin I am totally happy with this course... oh what does one do about the left hand calluses? I look forward to the day that I am ready to play blues music. I am also fulfilling a 40 year want - to play guitar, sooo wish I had done this earlier in my life.

Thank you for your time and keep ROCKIN!


Lowell Evan Smith


Blues Rhythms & Riffs – Inspired by Smokestack Lightning

Checkout this fun electric blues riff inspired by Howling Wolf (from Smokestack Lightning). It comes out of the E pentatonic minor scale, both the first and second positions. First we'll look at the scales the riff comes from, then we'll learn the riff, then we'll add it into a fun boogie woogie blues shuffle.

Here is the tab for the basic version of the riff, at 6:15 on the video. If you're not familiar with reading standard notation, don't worry about it, just use the TAB portion at the bottom to see where your fingers go, and use the video to learn the timing.

Do you like this lesson? Let us know what you learned in the comments below. 

Blues Rhythms & Riffs – Inspired by Back Door Man

Checkout this fun electric blues riff inspired by Howling Wolf (from Back Door Man). It comes out of the E pentatonic minor scale, both the first and second positions. First we'll look briefly at the scale the riff comes from, then we'll learn the riff along with some variations, then we'll start using it as a rhythm riff, and begin playing around with some call and answer!

Here is the tab for the basic version of the rhythm riff, at 4:20 on the video. If you're not familiar with reading standard notation, don't worry about it, just use the TAB portion at the bottom to see where your fingers go, and use the video to learn the timing.

Do you like this lesson? Let us know what you learned in the comments below.

Blues Rhythms & Riffs – Inspired by Killing Floor

Checkout this fun electric blues riff inspired by Howling Wolf (from Killing Floor). It comes out of the A pentatonic major scale. First we'll look briefly at the scale the riff comes from, then we'll learn the riff along with some variations, then we'll start using it as a rhythm riff, and begin playing around with some call and answer!

Here is the tab for the basic version of the rhythm riff, at 5:22 on the video. Keep in mind that this just shows the A position; you will have to move this around to the D position and the E position as well. However, once you connect with the pattern it is very easy to move.

Did you like this lesson? Let us know what you learned in the comments below. 

1 2 3

Login