No “Stairway To Heaven”
It’s the grand faux pas for a guitarist, and at some point you’ve committed it yourself, or at the very least you’ve caught someone else in the act. The faux pas is, of course, playing Stairway to Heaven in a guitar shop. You would think by now it’s universal knowledge that playing “Stairway is a big no-no-employees cringe, customers snicker-in some stores performing “Stairway is explicitly forbidden (the “No Stairway sign a la Wayne’s World).
This begs the question, “What should you play in a guitar store? After all, trying out a guitar in a guitar shop is typically stressful for guitarists, especially beginners. To begin with, it can be difficult to think of something cool to play when you’re “under the gun so to speak. Second, there’s always the fear of embarrassing yourself by stumbling through your licks of choice and guitarists do have a tendency to attempt parts that are beyond their ability because they try too hard to impress.
To help alleviate your anxiety, here are a few impressive-sounding, yet easy-to-play riffs that you can foist on your fellow guitar shoppers. Notice that the riffs that follow generally emphasize groove and attitude over speed and technical difficulty, because how you sound is primarily dictated by your feel and execution. Also, notice that no solo licks are included, because when playing unaccompanied, rhythm parts are more listenable than, say, blazing fast blues solos. Now, I can’t guarantee that you will look and sound cool, but at least you won’t be playing socially unacceptable material like “Stairway or “Free Bird. Rock on.
“Enter Sandman Metallica
What better place to start than Metallica, a band that consistently delivers in-your-face heavy riffs. Not all of them are easy to play the combination of blazing fast tempos, time signature changes, and James Hetfield’s downstroke-dominated rhythm style makes for a tiring and wrist-wrenching combination. This part is pretty simple and straightforward, though, and establishes the monster groove of the song. The “riff to end all riffs.
PS. I’m not sure how good this is to play in stores anymore, but I leave it up.
“Oh, Pretty Woman Van Halen
One of the most powerful guitar bits in rock history. Eddie played this Roy Orbison riff virtually verbatim, adding just a few personal touches in the form of palm muting, vibrato, and tremolo. Not particularly fast or flashy, but very memorable. Go ahead, give your local shop a party atmosphere.
“Should I Stay or Should I Go The Clash
Another attitude check for this one you will need to adopt a punk gestalt. I’ve written the intro here, just simple D and G chords, played in the groove with plenty of conviction. Although you probably can’t fake being a punk, this song has enough rock elements to get away with performing it. Guitar Tabs For Breaking The Law-.
“Breaking The Law Judas Priest
This song, taken form the British Steel album, was a big factor in breaking Priest worldwide. No surprise really; the part shown here is surely one of the heaviest riffs ever recorded. As this is the only 80s metal song on the list I urge you not to dress the part for this one. Regardless of what they say, image counts.
“Frankenstein Edgar Winter Group
This old rock riff should turn everyone’s head even those too young to have heard it before. It rocks what else can you say? Amd with a title like “Frankenstein, how can you go wrong?
“Highway To Hell AC/DC
I could have selected any one of a hundred riffs from AC/DC, the masters of hard-rock rhythm. The intro to “Highway To Hell is included because it’s such a powerful opening statement. If you’re lucky it will not only get listeners to tap their feet, but also inspire older patrons to reminisce about their teenage years.