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Iconic Rock Riffs… at your fingertips!

Iconic Rock Riffs… at your fingertips!

Iconic Rock Riffs… at your fingertips!

I am excited to welcome Rob Smith, an amazing bassist, as a guest teacher on our Practice Group platform! If you are not familiar with Rob’s work, do yourself a favor and get to know him.

Rob Smith cover of Steve Vai’s “Freak Show Excess”

Here’s a little bit about Rob… in his own words:

Before I ever even picked up a bass, I was drawn to songs with amazing riffs. My uncle was a singer and he would always play me songs by bands like Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, and Rush. So, when I bought my first bass (for $75!), all I wanted to do was learn all of those classic riffs. 25 years later… I still love learning riffs! Every time I hear a song with a great riff, I have to go grab my bass and figure it out. You too?

Learning 100s of incredible riffs has shaped everything I do when playing with Rock Bands. Having a foundation of many of the greatest bass lines ever has prepared me not only for cover gigs but also for originals projects where I’m often required to create my own bass lines.

In this short video, we’ll check out one of the first riffs I ever learned: Cream’s Sunshine of your Love written by the phenomenal bassist Jack Bruce. It is an instantly recognizable and singable bass line that uses the notes of the D Blues Scale. (D F G Ab A C) It has a great syncopated rhythm featuring a ton of upbeat 8th notes.

One thing I love doing after learning a riff is creating riffs of my own using some element of the original. For example, try taking the notes from Sunshine of your Love and rearrange them to create something new. Or, try taking the exact rhythm but completely change the notes. You could spend hours and hours creating original bass lines inspired by the building blocks of classic riffs.

In the video, I play an original riff using the D blues scale and the rhythm of Sunshine of your Love. I then change the tempo and key and demonstrate how that changes the feel of the riff. As a last step for advanced players, I created a riff using a more exotic scale. Try learning the original riff and then experiment with creating your own bass lines.

PDF included for your learning pleasure!



Some browsers seem to struggle with the PDF embed above, so if you cannot see it, here is a link to download.

Hope to see you in class on Feb. 26th!

Rob’s Class on Iconic Rock Riffs


  • Rob will be teaching a practice group focused on iconic Rock Riffs50 of the greatest – where you will not only learn the riffs, but also use what you learn from the riffs to create your own (similar) bass lines.


  • This practice group will meet on Saturdays for 10 weeks at 11AM (Pacific time) beginning February 26th.


Sign up:




Just what are Practice Groups?

  • An extremely motivating and fun learning experience
  • 10 weekly 1-hr sessions live on zoom with a small group of peers, led by Ari or a special guest teacher
  • Reruns available if you miss a live session
  • All you need is your bass and a decent internet connection.

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