Top 5 Single String Riffs: One String? No Problem!


Single String Riffs 128x71 1Top 5 Single String Riffs: One String? No Problem!

Single String Riffs

Mastering the guitar can be the stuff of dreams. But with these single string riffs, you’ll be rocking out in no time! From sixties surf to modern rock, we’ve got you covered. 

Top 5 Single String Riffs: One String? No Problem!

We all love a cool guitar riff, right? Be that with power chords, bends, or hammer-ons. But what about single string riffs? Some of the best and most recognizable musical hooks can be played on just one string.

This breakdown of the best single string riffs will start easy, and work through the complexities of playing on just one string. Grab your pick, and let’s get playing.

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – The Rolling Stones

Our first look at playing on just one string comes straight from the 1960s. Arguably, this riff put The Rolling Stones on the map!

The opening bars from this classic feature the iconic fuzz sound played by Keith Richards. This riff captures the sound of a bygone era and is powerful enough to take anyone back to the swinging sixties.

This single string riff stays on the A string and covers just a few frets. If you’re a beginner, this one is a perfect addition to your first set of riffs!

Single String Riffs

Single String Riffs – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Keith Richards pioneered the Maestro FZ-1 fuzz pedal in 1965. Although not currently available, the appropriately named EXH Satisfaction Fuzz is a bargain way of copping Keef’s tones

Electro Harmonix Satisfaction
Electro Harmonix Satisfaction

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Available for 66.00 € at thomann

R U Mine? – Arctic Monkeys

Secondly, we’ve got this rockabilly revival tune from The Arctic Monkeys. R U Mine became one of the most defining riffs of the 2010s. Also, do you believe how old this song is now? Because I don’t.

Along with Alex Turner‘s slicked-back hair from the period, this riff contains plenty of British swagger and attitude. Bust most importantly, just one string.

We’re in the key of F# minor, therefore we mostly revolve around the 2nd fret of the low E string. With some cheeky slides up and down the neck, a bit of whammy bar action and some distortion, this has to be up there with some of the coolest riffs ever recorded.

Single String Riffs

Single String Riffs – R U Mine?

Alex Turner favoured the Fender Stratocaster in the early days. But when recording the AM album he went more towards the Fender Jazzmaster. Check out our buyer’s guide on The Best Value Offset Guitars.

Fender AM Pro II Jazzmaster 3TSB
Fender AM Pro II Jazzmaster 3TSB

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Available for 2,049.00 € at thomann

Psycho – Muse

Thirdly, we’ve got a slightly heavier entry from Muse. We have covered this riff before on Gearnews, for more information why not check out our pick of the Top 5 Drop D Riffs?

Regardless of its genre, the opening section from this hit makes for a great single string riff. More of a beginner thing to practise, but you can’t deny how fun it is to play.

Moreover, we’re in the alternate tuning of Drop D, whereby we tune our low E string to a D note. This single string riff forms the foundation for the rest of this song.


Single String Riffs – Psycho

Figure It Out – Royal Blood: Single String Riffs

Again, a single string riff that wasn’t recorded on an electric guitar. Although this is primarily a bass guitar riff, we can still give it a go.

Another British contemporary rock song packed with attitude here! Royal Blood are a great place to look if you want to start a band as there’s just a bass guitarist and a drummer.

Unlike the other songs on this list, we’re not going to look at the intro. My favourite part of this song is the breakdown towards the end. It’s fast, dirty, and brings so much energy to the climax of this record. Even better, it’s played all on the low E string.

Figure It Out

Single String Riffs – Figure It Out

Bass player, Mike Kerr‘s live axe of choice is a Gretsch G2220 Electromatic Junior Jet II. However, you may want to get your hands on a decent octave pedal. Oh look, a decent octave pedal, but much more too.

Digitech The Drop
Digitech The Drop

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Available for 149.00 € at thomann

Finally, we’re looking at another on-screen favourite. Of course, most of us know this tune to be associated with Pulp Fiction. However, it’s also one of the best surf soundtracks.

This single string riff is the fastest in this list, and potentially one of the fastest from the 1960s. Dick Dale really knew his way around a Strat and his custom Dual Showman 100-watt amp.

Realistically, all we need for this riff is one string, determination and a healthy understanding of alternate picking. Take a look, and don’t be afraid to slow it down when practising.

Single String Riffs

Single String Riffs – Misirlou

Dick Dale had a pretty unique set-up. Today, I’d probably go for this Super Reverb, quad 10-inch speaker amplifier. Oh, and if you’ve got a guitar with single-coil pickups lying around, that’ll help too.

Fender Tone Master Super Reverb
Fender Tone Master Super Reverb

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Available for 1,329.00 € at thomann

Top 5 Single String Riffs- Are Six Strings Overated?

There we have it, five examples of where you only need one string! When you can play so many cool riffs on just one string, it makes you question whether you actually need the other five! What do you think?


Further Information: 

  • Top 5 Guitar Techniques 
  • Open Guitar Riffs 
  • How to Set Up Your Guitar

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