Rock and Riffs

Rock and Riffs

The “riff’ is a totally mega important part of rock guitar playing. These repeated hooky phrases express bucket loads of attitude quite often a nod back towards the blues and usually a heap of dirty distortion on top.

The great news is its easy to learn as they often involve simple finger movements. The groove and attitude is all important when playing riffs, if you’re not locked into the drum beat it aint happening.

Smoke On The Water

One of the earlier primal guitar riffs played by Ritchie Blackmore in the band Deep Purple, this riff became so popular it was banned from music shops. Deep Purple were all gifted players and the way the band pulled behind this gave it great momentum.

check out the original here:

must at this point give a shout out to my very talented big brother, who has just recorded a super acoustic fingerstyle guitar version of the song. you can check this out here.

Smoke On The Water – Acoustic Fingerstyle

Will come back to riffs at some point, but for now you might want to search for best guitar riffs and see what you can do.

cheers, Bob



Happy New Year – Auld Lang Syne

2016 text overlaying picture of acoustic guitar soundhole and stringsA very happy new year when it comes to everyone for 2016.

This hugely popular tune is sung the world over on New Years Eve. Words attributed to Scotlands National Poet Robert Burns. Burns completed the lyrics and then a few melodies were tried out before the most common version was settled. The meaning of the song is “for old times sake”.

With some straightforward guitar chords, the first verse and chorus can be played like this:

G                                        D7
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
G                                C
And never brought to mind
G                                           D7
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
Em   Am7      D7          G
And days of auld lang syne

G                   D7
For auld lang syne, my dear,
G                      C
For auld lang syne,
G                             D7
We’ll take a cup o’kindness yet
Em   Am7    D7              G
And days of auld lang syne

Here’s a few versions of this song below including a fingerstyle guitar version from my brother Ian, go bro….! all the best for 2016, Bob Melrose.

Jimi Hendrix – rocking guitar (wait for about a minute)

Aretha Franklin & Billy Preston (video quality not great but performance is)

Ian Melrose – fingerstyle guitar with tab

Beach Boys 
- vocal harmonies

A Christmas Selection: Festive Tunes for Guitar

electric guitar wrapped in tinsel on green leaves

Thought it would be nice to have some Xmas tunes that can be played on guitar and not necessarily the obvious ones. 

A varied selection of holiday hits that should suit all tastes and, with a bit of practice, you can master just in time for a Christmas sing-along.

So not a top ten list or anything but some interesting choices.

So here we go…

‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ by Big Time Rush

With a little help from Snoop Dogg, the boys in Big Time Rush deliver a jaunty take on a time-tested classic. The simple arrangement is perfect for the novice player who wants to get a fun song under his or her belt. A simple progression using D, A and G (all major positions) lets anyone play along to this holiday favorite. Instead of partridges in pear trees, however, this urban-inspired version features corn dogs, sweater vests, hockey helmets and a host of other goofy gift ideas for guys.

‘Underneath the Tree’ by Kelly Clarkson

Winner of the very first season of American Idol and subsequent winner of hearts worldwide, Kelly Clarkson brings it home for the holidays with this spirited performance of a cherished Christmas classic. Clarkson’s critically acclaimed 2013 Christmas Album features this finely crafted holiday jaunt that is fit for intermediate guitar skills. A capo on the third fret will allow you to use a progression of C, Em, Bb, Dm, G and C to play along with this fine holiday song.

‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ by Mariah Carey

This pop music mainstay who has been a prominent figure in mainstream music was once nicknamed “Mirage” for never showing up to class. Well, regardless, she sure showed up for Christmas with a festive take on holiday romance. The song starts out rather cool and quiet, then the intro leads into finely arranged progression in the key of G. The verses start with G, C and Cm and move to B7 and Em then get into some mid-level interplay between E7, Am7 and D while the chorus is a straightforward movement through G, Em, C and D.

‘Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays’ by NSYNC

During such a nostalgic time of year sometimes it is nice to indulge in a throwback to the lush pop music world of the 1990s. This wildly successful pop band offers up a catchy take on holiday cheer in the key of C with a capo set on the 5th fret. This upbeat tune moves along simply and happily — going back and forth between C and G with the occasional F placed in the arrangement for an effective dynamic.

‘Have Yourself a Merry Christmas’ by Katy Perry

This holiday classic was an early Christmas favorite of Frank Sinatra’s as early as the 1950s, and Katy Perry does it plenty of modern day justice. The arrangement starts with fairly simple first verse/chorus arranged with G, Em, Am and D7, B7, E7, A7. The Second verse/chorus deviates from this format into B7, Em and B3. The bridge consists of four lines utilizing c, Bm, Am, G maj7, Em, Bm and the somewhat difficult F sharp 7.

‘Mistletoe’ by Justin Bieber

The fact that “The Beeb” seems to hold a permanent spot in the pop music limelight means he better not forget about Christmas time. He makes good on this notion while maybe even making up for a few social slip-ups. The song moves along nicely at a mid-tempo pace, moving easily along the A, E, F#m and D chord progression. The video features a wintertime teen romance that compliments the narrative of the song as the lyrics oscillate between verse and chorus several times, climaxing on the final chorus and then ending on a smooth fade out.

‘My Only Wish This Year’ by Britney Spears

This former Mouseketeer and pop music icon summons the magic of Santa to deliver companionship to the lonely amid a straightforward chord progression that is perfect for beginners. The song intro, and first two verses follow a C, Am, F and G pattern that leads to a pre-chorus using Em, Am, F and G and then a big chorus running through a nice chord exercise of C, F, Dm, G, Em, Am, F, G and C.

‘I Don’t Wanna Spend One More Christmas Without You’ by Justin Timberlake

The breakout star who began his meteoric rise to pop stardom as a Mouseketeer alongside Britney Spears sings a brooding, romantic lament for a Christmas sweetheart. This mid-tempo tune plays in the key of C, moving around between Gmaj, Am, C and Em. is gorgeous holiday classic is performed alongside his NSYNC band mates and is a perfect choice for a six string serenade.

‘It Came Upon a Midnight Clear’ by Frank Sinatra

The unmistakable voice of “Old Blue Eyes” floats with ease through this languid, breezy rendition of a holiday classic . Following along on the guitar is fairly straightforward for the intermediate player, and may present a skill-building challenge for the beginner. The better part of the song plays easily between G, C and D with a couple dips in and out of A7 and D7. The crux of the song happens on the third line of each verse with a key fluctuation running through B7, Em, A, A7, D and D7.

‘I’ll be Home for Christmas’ by Elvis Presley

It’s no secret that the King of Rock and Roll had a soft spot for Christmas. His affinity for the holidays is abundantly rich in this sentimental classic sung and played with an easy, laid-back swagger. The song starts with C major and moves through a few straightforward changes that will be a mild challenge for a beginner and be a breeze for the intermediate player. Just be sure to brush up on your Em, Dm, C7, D7 and Am chord positions and then let it snow.

The holiday season is here, and it is time to break out your six-string and treat your family and friends to a few fun renditions of some top tunes and a few holiday classics.

Why Learn Guitar Scales?

man placing finger on guitar neck to play guitar scale

Anyone who has ever tried to learn – or thought about trying to learn – to play the guitar will be familiar with guitar scales. Those repetitive journeys up and down the strings on your fretboard may seem boring, or even pointless, but there are a number of reasons why you should persevere.

Put the work in on guitar scales and you will find them incredibly rewarding. As you become more proficient, these scale exercises become gateways to more advanced guitar techniques, moving you towards a higher level of competency and a deep love of the guitar.

Guitar scales are your friends! Read on for our reasons why scales are vital for anyone wanting to learn the instrument.

Guitar Scales Teach You Valuable Fingering Techniques

To go beyond the basics, guitar players need to improve their fingering. Practising scales gives you the tools to do this, enabling you to make the movements on the fretboard that are necessary to play increasingly complex pieces.

As you develop your guitar playing you will need to learn how to employ all four fingers in order to make the shapes you desire. This requires a degree of strength from your ring finger and your little finger, something that can only be built through repeated practice of guitar scales. Put the necessary time into practising your scales and feel your strength grow!

Guitar Scales Teach You the Language of Music

Learning to play an instrument is like learning a language. You begin with the basic greetings and phrases and you slowly build your vocabulary. Guitar scales help you to gain an understanding of different musical notes and chords and appreciate the relationship and interplay between them.

This is what is required if you are to progress with the guitar, this is what will help you to get inside the music written by your favourite bands and artists, and this is what will enable you to create your own compositions. Guitar scales really are powerful things.

Guitar Scales Can Help You with Tuning

You can play the greatest song, with the best possible technique, on the world’s most expensive guitar, but it will still sound all wrong if your tuning is out of whack. Do not fall into the trap of always relying on electric tuners to tune your guitar, as there will come a time when you don’t have one to hand. Instead, you need to develop an ear for tone and an understanding of how the different strings sound in different tunings.

Scales can help with this. As you explore scales you will learn about the harmonics and the relationship between notes, which will enable you to tinker with your guitar’s tuning until you get it exactly right. Tuning in this way gives you more independence and is a key step towards mastering this wonderful instrument.

Guitar Scales Unlock the Potential of the Guitar

As mentioned above, guitar scales act as gateways or stepping stones towards playing with proficiency and passion. But scales are about more than this; by using scales correctly and by practising them repeatedly, you are unlocking your potential as a guitar player.

Whichever musical avenue you want to explore – whether that be blues rock, heavy metal or flamenco style – scales are going to come in handy as you develop your skills and pursue your ambitions. They are your company on your musical journey, giving you the tools to progress, learn and grow to become the player you want to be.

Checkout our guitar-scales page to discover some of the most popular scales to learn

Different Approaches to Learning Guitar Chords

learning guitar chords

Everyone learns in different ways. Some people are visual learners, some are kinaesthetic learners and others are auditory learners. This means that different approaches will work for different people when they are learning a new skill. There are several different approaches that you can use when you are learning guitar chords, and which works best for you is individual to your learning style. Continue reading “Different Approaches to Learning Guitar Chords”

How to Read Guitar Chord Diagrams

Guitar Chords

When you learn to play the guitar, one of the first things you must master is guitar chords. To do this you will not only need to know the strings, you must also be able to read how to play the chords too. There are several different ways that chords can be presented, but one of the most common is in a diagram.

Guitar chord diagrams
This is a schematic way of writing chords. This form is often used online or in software, so it is likely that you will come across chord diagrams if you learn guitar chords online or use an online guitar tuner. Continue reading “How to Read Guitar Chord Diagrams”

Guitar Chords: Am I too Old to Learn?

Whilst many people are lucky enough to have the opportunity to learn an instrument at school, others do not get the same chances early in life. As a result, they hold a lifelong burning desire to play their favourite instrument but fear they are too old to take up lessons and learn. If you have always wanted to play the guitar, you might worry that it will now be too difficult to learn the various skills required, such as playing guitar chords. But, are you ever really too old to learn guitar chords?


Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why it may even be advantageous to start a little later in life!

More skills

As you get older, you learn skills from other activities which you have participated in. In fact, the older you are, the more skills you are likely to have. Many of these skills will be useful when you begin to learn how to play guitar chords, reading chords and other guitar playing skills. Continue reading “Guitar Chords: Am I too Old to Learn?”

How to Practice Fingering Guitar Chords

learn guitar chords fingering

Learning to play the guitar requires learning many new skills. One of these is learning how to play guitar chords. This in itself requires a number of strengths, including learning how to finger the chords correctly. There are several problems that people often come across when learning how to do this. Here are some tips.

Use a wider neck
One of the simplest solutions is to use a guitar with a wider neck as the strings are further apart. This reduces the likelihood of you touching the wrong strings when playing guitar chords. Alternatively, get a twelve string guitar but have only string six strings fitted as this will give you more space between the strings. Continue reading “How to Practice Fingering Guitar Chords”

Top Tips for Speedier Changes of Your Guitar Chords

guitar chord change

When you first start out playing the guitar, there are many different skills you will need to master. You will need to learn guitar chords, how to tune your guitar using a guitar tuner online and how to play guitar scales. You will also need to learn how to change from one chord to the next too and this can prove to be one of the trickier skills to get to grips with. However, with practise and effort, it is something that you will master. Here are the top tips for how to perform speedier chord changes:

Learning the chords
To make smooth chord changes, you must first be confident of the chords. You will need to learn the strings you use and the finger positioning for all the guitar chords necessary. Until you are confident with each of the guitar chords, it is unlikely you will be able to make a smooth transition between them. Learn each one individually and practise until you are confident at playing that particular chord before moving on to the next. Continue reading “Top Tips for Speedier Changes of Your Guitar Chords”

Where to Start – A Beginners Guide to Guitar Chords


If you are planning to master the art of playing the guitar, the first thing you will need to learn is the most commonly used chords. Once you have learned these, you will be able to play many different tunes on your instrument. You can learn how to play these chords online so, before you begin, why not try practising virtual guitar chords on your keyboard to learn the different sounds each chord makes. Once you’ve got your ear tuned into the sound of each you can begin to learn how to play them.

Here is a beginner’s guide to guitar chords:

E Minor (Em)

When you learn guitar chords, the first one to learn is Em. The small ‘m’ stands for minor. This is the most commonly used chord and it will play a big role in many of the songs that you will learn along your journey. Continue reading “Where to Start – A Beginners Guide to Guitar Chords”