Guitar Terms For Beginners

Ever wonder what the difference between a “Riff,” a “Lick,” or a “Chop,” is?

Guitar players, in general, tend to throw around a lot of terms and just assume everyone knows what they mean, so in this video I’ve taken some of the common ones that I see and explained them.

However, I’m sure I’ve missed some, so if you have any other terms you hear, but aren’t sure what they mean, leave them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them here or in another video.

18 Comments

  • Tom Ward

    Reply Reply November 27, 2018

    I think I know what they mean but I was wondering how you would define them, Griff.
    “intro”; “outro”; “solo”; “interlude”; “shred”; “arpeggio”.

  • Frank

    Reply Reply November 26, 2018

    What is a “run”?

    Perhaps a short series of single notes that makes the transition between chords interesting?

  • ben

    Reply Reply November 26, 2018

    Would like to know the real difference between a verse, a chorus, and a bridge.

    • Michael

      Reply Reply November 27, 2018

      Ben, a verse is the story, the chorus is a repeated part of the story, which comes in two maybe three times during the song. A bridge, is a section of the song that takes you away from the original story for a short moment to return back. This was the way it was explained to me. Hope it helps. Michael

  • Alan

    Reply Reply November 26, 2018

    Hey Griff

    love your blog, lessons and videos. Here is my issue it has taken me for ever but i know Boxes 1,2 and 3 like i know my name. it even surprises me how well in know them lol. But lol now that i do whats next i just dont seem to be able to use them to develope a melody that doesnt soud like i am just going up and down the particular box i am in. I need HELP !!!!

  • Rev. Doug Deegan

    Reply Reply November 26, 2018

    Hi Griff: I stopped playing guitar more than 50 years ago, but now at 82 years of age I’m starting all over, as a beginning, having to start from scratch. I appreciate your lessons and informative comments very much. I’ve always thought of a barre (as in barre chord) as being a moveable nut, with the barre finger serving the same function as the guitar neck nut. Thanks for all your help, and I’m looking forward to making some guitar progress. Blessings in all that you do!! Rev. Dee (ret’d.)

  • Dick Frederick,aka Fearless Freddy

    Reply Reply November 26, 2018

    Greetings & Salutations from the Emerald City.It seems from the responses that there is a need for a “Blues/Rock/Music Terms Glossary” (or addendum). I know that the title seems a bit much. I don’t think you want re-write “brand X school of music dictionary” but guitar players might want to know some of the basic terms used to relate to others in the band (keyboard,drums,horns,etc.).
    God bless you,your family, & the rest of you pickers and sliders reading this.

  • Dave D

    Reply Reply November 26, 2018

    I second to define verse and chorus and maybe give an example.

    Thanks Griff

  • Marv Murray

    Reply Reply November 26, 2018

    Hi Griff. I’ve got a request. Usually u just show a new lick or rhythm etc. I was wondering if you could put out a video showing basically a lot at once. Like a shuffle a turn around and a lick and what order u play them in. It preferably shouldn’t be too advanced for us relatively new guys. This would help me greatly I think. Thx Griff. Hope I’m not asking too much 👍

  • RollyS

    Reply Reply November 26, 2018

    Love your blog and the videos! One of the things that comes up on a regular basis are the terms “Verse”, “Chorus” and “Bridge”. As always, thanks so much for this!
    Rolly

  • CW

    Reply Reply November 26, 2018

    I bought a used guitar from a guy but he didn’t give me any keys, how am I going to get it started?

    LOL

    • Dave M

      Reply Reply November 26, 2018

      CW. I thing you’re going to have to plug it in and crank it up.

  • chris clemans

    Reply Reply November 26, 2018

    Hi Griff, we used these same terms as you have defined them back in 1964. The first one s I learned were riff, bridge, and bar chord. Thanks for the refresher.

  • Chris Roper

    Reply Reply November 26, 2018

    Modes? Boxes? Progression? I found out gradually but might be of use to people along the way and cut out the need for a search or the puzzlement that might otherwise exist until further on up that road?

  • John

    Reply Reply November 26, 2018

    I always had the impression that a riff was a distinctive group of notes which define a tune, and make it instantly recognisable. Often, they are repeated several times in the one song. Obvious example is the opening of Smoke on the Water. Another is Come As You Are’s opening notes.

  • Weldon Hart

    Reply Reply November 26, 2018

    Hi Griff I enjoyed the lesson. I was wondering about the boxes in a key I guess is how you would say it? What I mean is what are the keys and where are they found on the fretboard? I hope I have asked the right question?
    I enjoy all your lessons and look forward to your emails every morning. Thank you sooo much. Weldon

  • Jim P.

    Reply Reply November 26, 2018

    Thanks. How about the significance of triads and inverted chords.

    • CW

      Reply Reply November 26, 2018

      I bought a used guitar from a guy but he didn’t give me any keys, how am I going to get it started?

      LOL

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