We show you 11 easy & essential riffs for jam sessions that make great icebreakers for jamming with a band or just jamming on your own at home to keep your skills sharp.

Leigh Fuge has rounded up 11 of his easiest essential riffs for jam sessions that'll help you break the ice when you start jamming with a new band, help you keep your skills sharp and that are totally fun to play! 

If you’ve been playing guitar for a little while now and you’re getting ready to start jamming with other musicians, it can be pretty tough knowing where to start.

It’s really useful to go into a jam session prepared with some ideas. A great place to start is to speak with your jam buddies and pick some classic riffs that you can all jam as you get used to playing together.

In this lesson we’re going to look at 11 classic, and easy to play essential riffs, that are guaranteed to get your jam sessions off to a great start.

Play along with the video below:

1. Muddy Waters – Hoochie Coochie Man

This blues classic from Muddy Waters is a great jam track because it just repeats this idea over and over, making it one of the best essential riffs on guitar to get warmed up and start jamming parts. You can use this to have some fun with. Jam this with your band mates and practise your blues solos over the top while maybe adding some of your own ideas.

This riff is in 12/8 time, which feels similar to 4/4 with triplets on each beat.

muddy waters hoochie coochie man tabs

2. Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water

Not only is this one of the most iconic rock guitar riffs of all time, but it’s also pretty easy to play and a lot of fun to jam with other musicians. It’s a simple double stop riff focused on the D and G strings and one of the most essential riffs that very guitarist should know.

It's also one of the best songs to jam to with a band because everyone will have heard it!

Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water intro tab

3. Cream – Sunshine of Your Love

This 60s classic Eric Clapton riff is always a fun one to kick off a jam. It’s based around the D Minor pentatonic scale with a b5 blues note thrown in. Any Eric Clapton Riff could be considered essential riffs to jam on. We've actually written a full Eric Clapton guitar habits and playing techniques blog and accompanying video which we highly recommend. 

Cream – Sunshine of Your Love intro tab

4. The Kinks – All Day and All of the Night

When you want to get louder and crank up the grain, this power chord rocker from The Kinks is a great rif to jam with. It’s one f the simplest, yest most essential riffs a guitarist should learn, based around the 1st and 3rd fret. It's entirely power chord based too, so easy to learn and easy to play regardless of your ability.

The Kinks – All Day and All of the Night intro tab

5. The Beatles – Come Together

This Beatles riff is pretty easy to play and it's a really great riff to jam with a band and other guitarists. There are some interesting drum fills going on with this riff so it’s a great one to work on your musical interplay between band members and can lead to some really interesting jam sessions.

The Beatles – Come Together intro tab

6. Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl

If you want something simple and fun, look no further than Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison. This strum along uses the chords G, C and D and is a great one to start playing for anyone of any ability level. Technically it's not a 'riff' but it's an essential piece of music that you can mould to how you want it and even use power chords to make it into your own jam with your band.

Van morrison brown eyed girl intro chords

7. The Kingsmen – Louie Louie

Louie Louie is a crowd pleaser and is always found in pub band setlists, and it’s so easy and fast to learn.

You’ll be using A, D and E as your chords here and using lots of space in the rhythm. This is is one of those essential riffs that are great for working on keeping your guitar stops tight between chord changes.

The Kingsmen – Louie Louie intro

8. Ray Charles – Hit the Road Jack

Ray Charles’ mega hit Hit the Road Jack is a fantastic jam song for bands because it’s just one repeated pattern from start to finish. This means you can take it wherever you want to go and add some of your own style to this song. It’s an essential riff for jams with bands and taking some solo breaks over.

The studio version of the track is in the key G# minor and is based around this simple descending line.

Ray Charles – Hit the Road Jack intro tabs

A quick hack:

G#min is a key that might be tricky for a newer player to jam in, but if you transpose it to the key of A, you put it in a much more jam-friendly key. Most players who start learning lead guitar start in the key of A Minor so doing this makes it a little easier to start with.

ray charles hit the road jack in A minor
Ray Charles - Hit the Road Jack in A minor

9. The Doors – Roadhouse Blues

All The Doors riffs are essential riffs to play on guitar and to jam with a band. It's actually the law of music to learn a Doors riff at some point in your life.

The Roadhouse Blues riff is a powerhouse. It’s a great triplet feel groove from the Doors and it a lot of fun to hear through a loud amp!

The triplet feel adds a nice driving motion to the riff.

The Doors Roadhouse Blues intro riff tab

10. Bob Dylan - Knockin' On Heavens Door

Here is another simple strum along that is easy to do your own arrangements of and potentially turn it into a riff to jam with your band. 'Knockin On Heavens Door' based around a simple 3 chord pattern. If you want to solo over this, call on your Emin/Gmaj pentatonic scales.

You may also see this where the C has been replaced with an Am, this works because Am is the relative minor chord for a C. Many players will change between these freely either on alternate loops, or alternate sections of the song.

knockin on heavens door intro chords

11. Rolling Stones – Satisfaction

Grab your fuzz pedal, this is a fun and essential guitar riff for players of all levels. This simple, horn section inspired line from Keith Richards is guaranteed to get the jam session off to a good start. It’s only 3 notes and brings in some descending slides in the second bar for good measure. We've actually covered a Keith Richards guitar habits and guitar lesson too! 

rolling stones satisfaction intro tabs

We hope you enjoyed our essential riffs for jam sessions and hjamming with your band mates! Let us know if we've missed any in teh comments. 

About The Author:

This lesson was brought to you by MusicTeacher.com, written by professional guitar teacher Leigh Fuge. Leigh is a guitar tutor who is part of a community of tutors based across the country offering lessons. Professional guidance can make all the difference to your development. We have a great network of teachers around your local PMT stores including a thriving Guitar Lessons Birmingham hub.

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