Play Like The Rolling Stones: Guitar Tips from Keith Richards

Do you listen to The Rolling Stones for hours on end, but you can't understand what was so special about their sound? Or do you want to learn how to play the guitar on your own just like Keith Richards? Then this article is for you: we analyze the guitar chips of the legendary musician - Keith Richards!

Signature guitar chips by guitarist Keith Richards

Keith Richards with Mick Jagger was at the helm of The Rolling Stones for almost six decades, thus falling into the category of guitarists, longer everyone playing in the same group.

He is author some of the greatest guitar riffs: because of this, the musician became one of the pioneers of alternative guitar tunings in rock music along with Jimmy Page from LZ and other popular musicians.

In addition, he introduced the world to the pedal distortion. Yes, yes, the same Maestro Fuzz-Tone, whose endozer is Keith and which, thanks to him, received acknowledgement among guitarists around the world.

Keith Richards. Photo: Don Emmert
Keith Richards. Photo: Don Emmert

Many young musicians, especially guitarists, inspired the work of The Rolling Stones and musician Keith Richards in particular and strive to play the same driving music as he does. Moreover, some people are learning to play the electronic guitar only to perform the immortal compositions of the Stones.

If you consider yourself one of these musicians, then this article perfect right for you, because here we tried to make out how Keith Richards managed to achieve that unusual guitar sound that we heard on the band's hits.

Rip out all excess

Keith Richards demonstrates his signature idea on how to mute the sixth string
Keith Richards demonstrates his signature idea on how to mute the sixth string

Keith made a move that put him in the category of "guitar freaks" - he stripped off from his guitar the sixth string and received an open G-tuning. A brilliant idea that saved him from having to drown out his rarely used sixth string. So that the sixth string does not climb into the sound where it is not necessary, it should simply snatch from the guitar, which the video below perfectly demonstrates.

By the way, Keith Richards was not the only musician who thought of pulling the strings out of the guitar, but usually rockers pulled out other strings. The open G-tuning was new and allowed The Rolling Stones to achieve a distinct, recognizable sound.

The Open G tuning has revolutionized the sound of The Stones: without it not would not Honky Tonk Women, not Brown Sugar, not Start Me Up.

The 1960s will end and this signature Keith tuning will lead band to what Richards called "the old art of swing" - two independent but interconnected rhythm parts he played with Mick Taylor and, from 1974, with Ronnie Wood.

Next is Keith's riff style, both in open G and standard tuning, and then example of how Keith and Ronnie create the Stones signature rhythm from two guitars.

Keith Riff Style: Play Like The Rolling Stones

Riff 1 uses an open G tuning (DGDGBD), so you will need to tune your guitar. This is very easy to do: release the first, fifth and sixth strings one tone (two frets).

Keith plays a lot of riffs using two main chord shapes: a major shape (for example, D major in the third measure), which you pinch with your first finger on the barre; and another major form that looks like a minor seventh chord in standard tuning (for example, G/D in bar 3 looks like Em7 in standard tuning).

Riff 1 (open G - system)

Riff 1
Riff 1

To play notes on the first and third strings at the same time, use Chicken picking (a combination of pick and finger picking). Hit the third string with a pick and simultaneously pluck the first string with one of your free fingers.

Riff 2 (standard tuning)

Riff 2
Riff 2

This example demonstrates the alternation of chords and arpeggios that is typical of the Stones' rock ballad. 16th notes in the first measure are best played with an alternating stroke, like shown on the image. During the arpeggio in bar 3, the notes of the Fsus2 chord should overlap.

Style of two Stones rhythm guitars

The Rolling Stones record the hit "Sympathy for the Devil"
The Rolling Stones record the hit "Sympathy for the Devil"

These two examples show how Keith creates interconnected rhythm parts with Ronnie Wood.

Riff 3 is the main riff and is played in an open G tuning in the style of Keith Richards. Here No new chord shapes, using the same major chords as in riff 1, just in a different position on the fretboard.

Riff 4 is the second rhythm part played in standard Ronnie Wood style tuning. Note that the rests of the two guitars occur in different places - this gives space for the sound of each guitar and forms branded cool style of the Stones.

Riff 3
Riff 3

To play a C chord, simply place your index finger on the fifth fret. Hold the first finger in place and then add the second and third fingers to form an F/C chord (in bars 1 and 2). In bars 3 and 4 add with the third finger, an additional note to the B-flat chord.

Riff 4
Riff 4

When you play an F chord, keep your first finger on the barre at the 5th fret, then you can simply lift your second and third fingers to play a C chord. Fast alternate two chords, pull-off and hammer-on.

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