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Lyle Ronglien >> Rock Legends >>

Rock Legends I - Chuck Berry

Lesson Sample

Lyle: Rock 'n Roll and Chuck Berry, same thing. Berry helped invent it by creating some of the world's first rock guitar riffs. When NASA sent the spacecraft Voyager I to the outer reaches of the universe, they sent a clip of Berry's most recognizable classic song "Johnny B. Goode"  to represent rock music. Chuck, born in St. Louis, October 18th 1926, was heavily influenced by blues legends Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. He has been a major influence and inspiration to such artists as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and many more. He was inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame in 1986. Suggested listening: Johnny B. Goode, Roll Over Beethoven!, Maybellene.

Lyle: Here's the jam track for this lesson:

Looping Sound Clip 1

Lyle: In this lesson you'll be learning a few riffs in the style of Chuck Berry. First is his familiar rock rhythm riffs he used in many of his songs. This lesson is in the key of A. Learn this rhythm riff first:

rhythm riff - A

Lyle: In most rock songs, just 3 chords are used, the 1 - 4 - 5 chord progression. In the lesson tonight, A, D and E are used as the 1 - 4 - 5 chords in the key of A. You just learned the rhythm riff in A, now move it over 1 string and play the same riff in D like this:

Lyle: Simple enough! Now try descending from the E, moving to D then to A like this:

Lyle: The jam track uses these 3 rhythm riffs to a 12 bar chord progression. Here's a chord chart of the whole progression:

12 chord progression

12 bar rhythm riff

Lyle: Learn to play this basic rock rhythm riff to the jam track. Stay right on the beat.

Lyle: When Chuck played lead guitar, many times he played two notes at the same time to create a fatter sound. This next section will teach you some of his signature sounding riffs. The jam track is in the key of A, so the A minor pentatonic scale will be a great place to start as you begin to learn his riffs.

Lyle: Within this scale pattern Chuck has a few locations where he would often play two notes at a time. Here's a look at a few of these positions:

Lyle: Now listen to this first riff, it should remind you of the Chuck Berry sound:

Lyle: You can play several rhythmic variations of it. Play this riff along to the jam track, you'll hear how easily it fits.

riff 1

Lyle: This next riff starts off the same, then descends using a couple of the two note riffs positions shown earlier:

riff 2

Lyle: The next riff is one of my favorite "Berry style" riffs:

Lyle: Use your 3rd finger to slide on the G string.

riff 3

Lyle: For the next riff I like to use my 3rd and 4th fingers to slide.

riff 4

Lyle: Hear how these simple 2 note riffs have the power to cut through as you play along to the jam track? The next riff is a good one to use at the end of the 12 bar progression:

riff 5

Lyle: Next is a few examples of how you can put these simple riffs together as if you were to make a solo. Here's a solo using just riffs 1 and 2:

Lyle: Be sure to click on the TAB, then play media so you can hear how it works with the jam track. The next example uses riff 4, then riff 2 and alternating between them:

Lyle: Here's a solo example using all 5 riffs from above:

Lyle: Here's the TAB for the solo from the Lesson Sample at the beginning of this lesson. It also uses just all 5 riffs:

Lyle: Try memorizing these classic riffs and use them in your own solos when you have an upbeat rockin' rhythm to play along with like in the jam track.

Lyle: Any questions before I go?

Ralph: Other than double-stops did he favor any other intervals?

Lyle: He would play single note riffs too, mostly using the minor pentatonic scales to make a little melodic run.

Lyle: Thanks for being here and I look forward to seeing you again in the next lesson! If you would like to study more of this style, email me at for more info. You can get your own customized lesson like this one emailed to you and download it to burn on your own CD. Thanks - Lyle

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