Play along with our Keith Richards guitar lesson and learn how to play the classic open G chords, his playing habits and techniques.
In this Keith Richards guitar lesson you’re going to learn a few tips, tricks and techniques in the style of Rolling Stones riff machine Keith Richards.
Leigh Fuge over at MGR Music has put together these 5 quick tips that highlight Keith's iconic guitar playing habits, his classic open G tuning and his signature riff styling.
Keith Richards, or Keef as he’s known, is not a guitar player known for his technical prowess or flashy licks. He’s a player who focuses on killer riffs, bluesy licks and making the songs work. So everyone can learn from this incredibly creative player!
Grab your Telecaster and Tweed amp and crank them up loud for this one!
Watch the video and play along below.
Keith Richards Open G Tuning
An absolutely essential part of any Keith Richards guitar lesson is the open G tuning. Keith Richards tunes his guitar to D G D G B D. So start there first.
Most of the classic 'Keef' riffs tend to be in Open G tuning. An open tuning is when the open strings of the guitar are tuned to match a specific major chord, in this case, G.
Keith often played without his Low E string, so all the examples in this lesson are based around 5 strings.
To tune to open G you need to tune your guitar, low to high, D G D G B D.
This means you’re tuning your Low E down a full tone to a D, your A down a full tone to a G and your high E down a full tone to a D.
The D, G and B strings remain unchanged. use our tuning video below to tune your guitar to open G.
Keith richards style One Finger Major Chords
In open G tuning, if you play all the open strings together, it makes a G Major chord. Due to this, you can now play major chords with 1 finger anywhere on the guitar. This is a key Keith Richards guitar habit and technique you really need to add to your playing.
keith richards style 6sus4 Chords – The Rolling Stones Rhythm Trick
The humble 6sus4 chords are a signature guitar habit of Keith richards and combining this technique with major chords is a huge part of that Stones sound.
Imagine your major chord anywhere you want with your first finger. To make it a 6sus4 chord you’re using your third finger to play a note 2 frets higher on the D string, (This is the 6 note) and your middle finger to play a note 1 fret higher on the B (This is the sus4).
This shape you’re playing also resembles what you would know in standard tuning as a min7 chord. This is an often overlooked feature in a Keith Richards guitar lesson, but it's an essential part of his technique and a key playing habit.
Follow along with the tablature below:
You can also play this with hammer ons for a slinkier Keith Richards feel:
Or, if you’re playing a 12 bar blues, you can use these same idea to spice up the progression. Here is a shortened version of a 12 bar that plays all 3 chords of the 12 bar in a 4 bar pattern. You can apply the theory of this to your 12 bar as a whole:
Keith richards style Open String Pedal Notes
Keith Richards took a lot of his inspiration from blues and country, this lick in the style of Keith uses an open string pedal note that plays alongside some descending runs for an interesting delta blues feel:
Chuck Berry Style Blues Licks Used By Keith richards
One of Keiths idols was the man who pioneered rock and roll guitar, Chuck Berry. Any keith Richards guitar lesson would be incomplete without a Chuck berry reference!
While Chuck would have probably played these licks in standard tuning, Keith applies the principle to his favoured Open G and they are a key playing habit.
This is full of double stops, bluesy bends and slides. When learning this Keith Richards inspired lick, don’t focus on it being precise. The sloppier you can play it, the more of that Keith Richards vibe you’ll capture.
We hope you enjoyed our Keith Richards guitar lesson, and we hope this gave you a little more insight into teh playing styles and habits of Keith! Let us know in the comments if you think we've missed anything.
About the Author
Leigh Fuge is a professional guitar player and tutor from Swansea in South Wales and a guitar writer having written and produced content for Guitar Magazine and many other high profile guitar publications and websites.
If you enjoyed this article and video about John Mayer's guitar habits and playing techniques, don’t forget to check out PMTVUK on Youtube for more guitar lesson videos.
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