It’s hard to name a more influential rock band than The Beatles. They released over 200 songs between 1962 and 1970 that continue to inspire guitarists and songwriters even a half-century later. Since it’s quite literally impossible to nail down their “best” riffs, Ayla Tesler-Mabe is here to share her six favorite guitar riffs by The Beatles.
I’ve Got A Feeling
The first riff we’ll be breaking down is off the 1970 album Let It Be. To play this part you’ll need to use an adapted A major chord shape. The key to making it sound like the original is staying loose with your picking. Even though you’ll be aiming to hit certain strings, you’ll want to hit the adjacent strings at the same time.
Time to turn up the distortion for this one. Paul McCartney was inspired to write this song because of The Who’s “I Can See For Miles” as well as some press accusations that he was only capable of writing sappy, sentimental ballads. This riff makes use of some classic blues techniques as well as some heavy rock moves that are still used in modern metal and other harder genres.
This one might be the most recognizable Beatles riff of all time. This song was the 7th highest-selling single of the 1960s. This riff takes a lot of influence from the American soul music of that time. This riff isn’t too challenging and is played mostly using open strings with the E and A chord shapes.
We’ll get a little heavy again with this riff from the Yellow Submarine album. This guitar part was played on a Gibson SG and has a quintessential 60s sound to it. The scale that this riff comes from is mostly the B minor blues scale which shows just how musical that scale can be.
Paul was challenged by his Aunt to write a song that wasn’t about love and this song was the result. The guitar riff from this song is played by placing a bar behind a G power chord so that you can let the notes ring out and blend together. If you can play a basic bar chord then you should be able to get this riff down pretty quick.
I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
There is a lot of exceptional guitar work on this track, but the riff played during the heavy breakdown at the end of the song is what we’re going to focus on. To play this riff, you’ll need to tune your low E string down to a D. If you’ve never done this before, don’t be intimidated, you can do this with any guitar and it’s not going to have any negative effects on your instrument.
And there you have Ayla’s favorite guitar riffs by The Beatles. But don’t stop here, there are many other great riffs out there for you to learn and play!
0:00 – Intro
0:36 – I’ve Got A Feeling
5:57 – Helter Skelter
10:38 – Day Tripper
13:27 – Hey Bulldog
16:43 – Paperback Writer
20:02 – I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
25:00 – Outro