TMC-007 James Bond Riff

Lick 007 James Bond Theme

This is the seventh lick in our ‘Licks and Riffs’ series and when we realized the lick would be number ‘007’ we couldn’t resist – it had to be the James Bond theme. If you have only seen the most recent two James Bond movies you may not recognize this riff but if you’ve seen any of the older movies you’ll recognize it instantly. This is a fun and very easy riff that any beginner can learn.


TMC-007 James Bond Riff

Tip: Use alternate picking on the sixteenth notes to get the rhythm right

Understanding alternate endings

If you don’t recognize the long lines above the staff they are ‘alternate endings’. Alternate endings are a simple way to repeat sections of music but changing some of the measures. In this case when you play the riff you start out by playing measures 1 & 2. You then repeat measure 1 (because of the repeat sign), repeat measure 2, repeat measure 1 again then skip ahead and play measure 3.

To understand why you play in this order have a look at the numbers above the staff. The first alternate ending bracket shows the numbers ‘1.2.’ which means that measure 2 is played on the first and second repeats. In other words, you play measures one and two (the first instance), then repeat measures one and two (the second instance). From there you repeat measure one. But this time you don’t play measure two again because it doesn’t ask for a third repeat. That’s why the second alternate ending bracket is written ‘3.’ – to play on the third repeat. After continuing on and finishing measure five the entire piece is repeated.

Getting the tone right

This riff sounds best when played on an electric guitar as that is what was used in the James Bond movies. After you learn the basics of the riff try to focus on how the riff sounds. Think about which pickup you should use. Maybe a bridge pickup would be a better choice than a neck pickup to get that sharp edgy sound. Experiment with where you pick the strings – closer to the bridge will give a more hollow sound and closer to the neck will give a bassy sound.

A technique you can use to make this riff sound more interesting is palm muting. Experiment by using different amounts of palm muting. Start by lightly muting the strings then gradually increase the palm muting until you almost can’t recognize the notes. Then you can decide what amount of palm muting sounds best.

Something else you can experiment with is distortion/overdrive. If you have an amp or pedal that lets you use distortion, try playing the lick with it. Experiment with different settings from low gain to high gain. Although the riff originally doesn’t use any distortion (ie: it is played clean), there’s no reason why you can’t add some in to change the feel of it.

Possibly the most important thing to keep in mind is to get the groove right – a James Bond riff should be played with suave, controlled groove! Try practicing with a metronome to make sure you’re playing this in time.

Lick 003 Grace Notes

Lick 003 Grace Notes

Using Grace Notes to give your licks character

Adding grace notes to any lick you play can quickly transform the lick and give it a lot of character. If you have come up with a lick but it needs something extra to make it exciting, adding a few quick grace notes can change the feel completely. Grace notes are very quick slides, hammer-ons or pull-offs where the first note played is barely heard.

In the lick below, you can see three grace notes. They look like fast hammer-ons and pull-offs but it’s recommended you try to use slides as well to learn to use both. Try playing this lick using hammer-ons and pull-offs for the grace notes then play it again using slides. Decide for yourself which you prefer the sound of. When you look at the rhythm of this lick, notice that the grace notes don’t interfere with the notation. So a grace note really takes up part of the time the next note is played.

This is a very simple lick so the focus is on making it as interesting as possible using the slides, grace notes and vibrato. Play the lick without any of these techniques and you’ll see how boring it can sound. But start to add in all these extra techniques and the lick starts to become interesting. Once you learn this lick, try coming up with different phrasing and try to add more interesting sections to it. Play around with adding in staccatos and rests.

Lick 003 Grace Notes

Think about which fingers you use for this lick. The lick should flow easily from one finger to the next without any awkward changes. When learning a lick like this one, the goal is to make it as interesting as possible. What if you changed the grace notes around or played grace notes at different times? Spend some time thinking about how you would change this lick to suit your personal style of playing. Thinking along these lines will help you create your own unique ‘voice’ as a guitarist. Repeat this process with any lick you learn and pretty soon you’re going to have a very distinctive sound.

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Lick 002 Simple Funky Rhythm

Lick 002 Simple Funky Rhythm

Learn to create funky rhythms using muted strumming

This simple riff will help you learn to use muted strumming to create an interesting rhythmic sound. This style of strumming is often found in funk and similar styles. The chord used in this riff makes it very easy to mute the strings. Simply lift your fingers off slightly so they aren’t pushing down on the frets but still touching the strings.

When learning this riff, start very slow and count the beat out loud. It’s highly recommended you learn to play this riff with a metronome as it will make sure you learn to play the rhythm in proper time.

After you feel confident playing this riff, you should try to come up with slightly different rhythms and strumming patterns. Keep the chord the same but change your strumming. Change how often you play the chords and when they are played. As an example you could play each chord on every off-beat or you could play a chord every second and fourth beat. Try as many different options as you can think of.

If you have a wah pedal, use it while playing this riff. The wah effect works very well with this riff and can be used to create exciting changes in the sound. Experiment with the wah and how you play it during the riff.

Lick 002 Simple Funky Rhythm

Here are a few things you can try after you learn this simple funky rhythm based riff:

  • Try using different chords and come up with your own chords that fit the ‘funky’ sound
  • Try using different effects such as a wah pedal, phaser, flange, delay, reverb
  • Play the riff at different tempos and think about how the feel changes
  • Try changing the rhythm and adding in triplets to you strumming
  • Try adding some rests and use multiple chords

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TMC Lick 001 Octave Fun

Lick 001 Octaves Fun

Using Octaves in your riffs

This riff is a simple way you can practice octaves and create different melodies by sliding around to different positions. The notes on the sixth string are palm muted to improve the dynamics of the riff. Play the riff without palm muting then play it again using palm muting to understand how it changes the feel of the riff.

The basic idea behind this riff is to come up with an interesting melody by sliding around between different positions. There are four basic positions in this riff so it won’t take long to learn. The overall melody may sound a little strange, but that’s to teach you how certain intervals sound when played. The change from the 9th fret octave to the 4th fret octave has a dramatic sound. If you don’t like the sound of that change, try coming up with a different change. After you can play this riff try figuring out your own riff using the same basic idea.

TMC Lick 001 Octave Fun

TIP: You can click on the riff above to bring up a larger view.

Here are a few different things you can try after learning this riff:

  • Try sliding around using different positions
  • Try using octaves on different strings
  • Try using different intervals instead of octaves (eg: 5ths or 3rds)
  • After you come up with a good sounding riff, try to figure out the chords based on the notes used and play the chord progression.

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Licks and riffs – Improve your playing one lick at a time

Today we will start a new feature on the site to help you think outside of the box and grow as a guitarist. This new series of mini lessons is called ‘licks and riffs‘. As the name suggests, each post will contain a short lick or riff designed to get you thinking about a certain technique or concept.

Unlike other licks and riffs you would find on other sites, some of these licks won’t be usable in your playing. The whole point of all of these licks and riffs is to really get you thinking about music rather than just churning out licks in your playing. In other words these licks will force you to think about why certain notes work when jamming and why others don’t. As a result you will become a better player because you will really understand how to put together original licks that will work.

The best way to stay up to date with new licks and riffs is to like our Facebook page here or follow us on Twitter. Every time a new lick or riff is released we will let you know.