Joe Perry Style Riff & Licks


Joe Perry may not be have much technical ability compared to some of today’s top players, but his ballsy, energetic style has led to far more success. He’s been churning out great solos and classic riffs for many years. If you want to write riffs as good as Joe, here’s a word of advice from the man himself: “The simplest riffs are often the ones that people can remember most”.

Joe was greatly inspired by British Blues artists, such as Eric Clapton and Fleetwood Mac, whose interpretation of the Blues turned him onto players like BB King and Robert Johnson. He once stated: “The English bands really put a great twist on it; they made it more accessible for me and millions of other kids.”

So let’s take a brief overview of each part:

Slide Riff

Use the little finger for the bottleneck slides. Sliding adds an aggressive Joe Perry Rock sound to the ordinary double-stopped chords.

Lead Break With Double-Stops

Although some of the ideas here are a little cliché, Joe creates great energy when playing similar ideas by using an aggressive pciking action.

Twangy Solo

This is reminiscent of the solo from Dude (Looks Like A Lady). Joe plays open string licks around the bottom of the neck to create a smooth, punchy sound.

Country-Style Rock Lick

After the typical Perry lick in bar 1, the use of descending Minor 6th chords adds a classic country twist to an otherwise standard Rock solo.

Regarding this lick, I’d like to share with you what Schluyler Shuck from YouTube asked me:

In the third lick, when you’re doing the descending notes in the last 2 measures, what is the significance of those notes? How do they fit into the scales Joe Perry uses? Great video thanks a ton for these!

Here’s my response:

Thanks for the encouragement! That’s a good question, but quite tricky to answer! Here’s my perspective from a Pentatonic point of view, which is what most guitarists are familiar with: that part (i.e. the first two beats of the last bar of ‘Country-Style Rock Lick’) uses Chromaticism and Minor 6th Intervals. Two of the notes on the G string (frets 7 and 9) are in the Major Pentatonic, with the note in the middle (fret 8) being the odd one out (doesn’t even belong to the Minor Pentatonic); so I would say that the notes are descending Chromatically using the Major Pentatonic as their basis. The notes on the high E string (frets 8, 7, and 6) are Minor 6th Intervals of each of those G string notes.

In theory, this part shouldn’t sound great as it doesn’t fit nicely into typical Rock scales, but some tension (dissonance) in notes sounds cool with Rock, especially when ‘resolved’ – as it is when all the notes of the last 2 beats are from the Major Pentatonic.

Chromaticism and 6th Intervals are a main feature of Country guitar solos, so that’s why this is classed as a Country-style lick.

I’m going to add your question to the website as I think it’s great!

As always, below the YouTube video you’ll find the backing track to play along with, and below that, the tablature. Aren’t I nice?!

Feel free to ask questions or just share your thoughts in the comments!

Watch the video:

Play along with the backing track:

Read the tab:

Joe Perry Style Riff & Licks

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