- Double stops
- Power chords
- Strumming patterns
The intro riff to Smoke on the Water is most likely one of the first riffs 90% of guitarists learn to play. If you are into the electric guitar and are a beginner, you’ll love this riff: it’s easy, quick, sounds great, and everyone will know it. It’s one of those riffs you can show off to people after playing guitar for about 1 week 🙂
Oh, sorry acoustic guitarists, but this song isn’t really suitable for the acoustic. You can play it on the acoustic as well, but you won’t get that distorted rock feel unfortunately
Besides the intro riff, our guitar lesson on Smoke on the Water will also teach you how to play the verse, and the chorus, both of which are simple. You’ll also hear a long solo in the original recording, but we won’t be learning that in this lesson, since this is meant to be a beginner’s tutorial. If you are at the level where you can already play that solo, then you probably won’t even need to be watching this lesson anyhow.
So we’ll start out with the ever-popular intro riff, which consists of 4 double stops. If you’re not familiar with double stops, the technique refers to playing 2 strings at the same time. You’ll need to get used to it at first, but it’ll become easy with practice.
The most important part of learning this intro is getting the rhythm and timing right. Watch me play it, and also watch the original, to really get a feel for it.
It’s also interesting to note that Ritchie Blackmore played this lick without using a pick, so he played it with his fingers. We’ll learn how to do that as well.
You’ll find that everything is really simple, which really goes to show you that you don’t need lightning fingers and 20 scales to create something historic in music. You just need 4 notes, as Ritchie Blackmore demonstrates in the intro Riff.
Next, we’ll learn to play the verse to Smoke on the Water, which is an arpeggio of 2 power chords.
A lot of people stop at the intro riff, but I would really urge you to learn the chorus to Smoke on the Water as well. It’s a great riff, and again, very easy to play even if you are brand new to the electric guitar.
And finally, we’ll learn the chorus, which is another very cool riff that you’ll be able to learn quickly and play to your friends and family. It’s just a bit more difficult than the intro, but you’ll get it perfect with just a bit of practice.
It’s loads of fun to play along with the backing track to Smoke on the Water you’ll find above, or even the original recording, so make sure you give it a shot once you are comfortable with the individual parts of the song.
Smoke on the Water song details
Smoke on the Water was released by Deep Purple on their 1972 album Machine Head. The intro riff is ranked the #4 Greatest Riff of All Time by Total Guitar magazine. The intro riff was originally played on a Fender Stratocaster, not a Gibson as many believe.
The lyrics of the song talk about how the band went to a recording session in Montreux.
Smoke on the Water chart rankings
- Canadian RPM Top Singles: #2
- U.S. Billboard Hot 100: #4
- Austrian Top 40: #11
- Dutch Top 40: #11
- German Media Control Chart: #20
- UK Singles Chart: #21
- Rolling Stone magazine's The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time: #434
- VH1's 40 Greatest Metal Songs: #37
- Q magazine's 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks: #12
- VH1's "100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs": #11
- Total Guitar magazine's "Top 20 Greatest Guitar Riffs Ever": #4
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