Armed with our encyclopaedic cornucopia of rock picking patterns, these 20 essential riffs (and three challenges) are designed to take your rhythmic precision and speed to the next level
We’re kicking off our Rock Rhythm Workout with a look at how your picking technique influences how you ultimately sound.
If you’re struggling with your rhythmic chops then these riffs are for you. We’ve grouped them into three categories: down-picking, down- and up-picking, and a mixture of the two with extra chords and trickier rhythms.
You can dive straight in at the start or delve into some of the harder riffs. There’s no right or wrong. There’s a challenge at the end of each section that you can measure your progress by.
Remember, your progress is best measured by playing to a metronome, mixing up comfortable tempo playing and also pushing your limits.
CHALLENGE! Riff name: Justice For One
This down-picked riff ramps up the speed to a whopping 180bpm and also includes some fast fret-hand chord slides.
It will not only challenge your pick-hand speed, stamina and ability to switch from palm muting to standard picking, but also fret-hand accuracy too.
120-140bpm: Novice Noodler
Nothing else matters, bar nailing it at this speed
150-170bpm: Speed Demon
...And picking for all! You’ve got a hand like a jackhammer
180-190bpm: Thrash Legend
Move over Hetfield, it’s my turn to ride the lightning!
CHALLENGE! Riff name: Going Crazy In Panama
Combining alternate-picked drone notes with a variety of three-string chords can be a challenge for any aspiring hard-rock legend.
Developing 16th-note accuracy and consistency on the fifth string is key, so build up the tempo gradually.
By Jovi! You’ve got the basics down
By now, you're on the crazy train
Audition for new über-band Ozzy Halen
Riff name: Attack Of The Killer Threes
This is the ultimate sextuplet challenge that will really help hone your picking skills. Your pick hand will ‘memorise’ the tricky rhythmic pattern over time.
CHALLENGE! Riff name: Dream Seater
This tricky John Petrucci-style riff contains lots of funky offbeats and combines many of the difficult single-string rhythms we've looked at, including bursts, triplets, arpeggios and syncopated up-picks.
Don your cape and start picking
150-175bpm: The Great Progression
You’re a riffing wizard
175-190bpm: Professor Prog
Arise, the prog-rock picking master!