Riffs with Circular Bass Notes

Lesson #314 • Jul 25, 2020

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Editor’s notes

Hey friends! Here’s a new lesson where I’ll teach a quick exercise in the key of E-major, 4 measures total, that uses a cyclical pattern of bass notes – E to C# to F# to B – all the while keeping the top 2-3 strings unchanged. I’ll break down this particular riff in detail, and also share a handful of other riffs that also use circular bass notes in the same manner.

As I’ve learned song after song over the years, this is something I’m finally realizing is a constant pattern in some of the riffs –– i.e., keeping the notes on the top 2-3 strings the same, while changing the bass notes in a circular manner. Check out the video & PDF, and I’ll show you what I mean!

The song that inspired this lesson

This riff comes from the first 30 seconds of The Night I Painted the Sky, by Jimmy Buffett. This has long been one of my favorite songs, and the riff has always eluded me. It was only this past month (July 2020) when I attempted to learn it again – and was able to connect the dots to some other riffs I’d learned in the past few years.

Here’s past lessons I’ve created that have this same technique re: circular bass notes.

4-string E, to free up your pinky and ring finger (Lesson #253)

Jack Johnson’s “Posters” riff (Lesson #193)

Yellowcard’s “How I Go” (Lesson #23)

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Hey there! My name is David Potsiadlo, and I'm the creator of the 400+ weekly lessons here at Song Notes, going back to 2013. Here’s my guitar story »

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