Blues riffs is usually repeating patterns, played on the lowest strings on the guitar. They are often based on power-chords, and some of them are more melodic, using the “blues-scale”, which we will take a look at later in the part about improvisation.

One thing that is nice about blues riffs, is that they usually can be played on all the chords, just by moving around on the guitar-neck. So if you learn a riff in one position, it is easy to use it on other chords of the song, or even in another song in a different key.

Riff example 1.

The first example is a very classic riff, that you can apply to slower blues songs (of course, you can also play it on the faster ones).
It is played by strumming down with the guitar-pick, hitting only one string at the time.

The rhythm is the same through the whole riff, and the riff repeats itself, so if you know how to play it over one chord, you can already play it on all the chords – simply move it up to the next string, or up 5. bars on the fretboard.

Riff Example 1

Riff example 2.

The second example, is a faster riff. It uses power-chords, and you play down strokes on 2 strings at once. The highest note in the powerchord (the 5.), is moved up 2 frets and then moved back.

Riff Example 2