How to Play Brown Sugar by The Rolling Stones
This is a quick lesson on one of my favourite riffs, Brown Sugar by The Rolling Stones. It is a pretty simple riff, but very effective. You’ll find a video linked below that I created all about this riff in partnership with my good friends musicteacher.com and Blackstar Amplification and I wanted to share it here for you!
Stones guitarist Keith Richards, or Keef as he’s otherwise known, was given the nickname The Human Riff, and if you’ve listened to any of the Stones back catalogue, it’s not hard to figure out why. Keith is a rock and roll riff machine. Usually seen wearing his Fender Telecaster and swaggering around the stage, Keith personifies what it means to be a rock star.
This riff is one of his finest moments and uses some very interesting chord movements.
Keith usually plays in Open G tuning, but to keep it simple this riff is transcribed in Standard Tuning and played entirely on the D, G and B strings.
Keith is a big fan of a chord type called a 6sus4. He uses this as an extension of a major chord. When you see three of the same fret stacked on top of each other in this riff, that is a major triad. The 6sus4 extension is when you use your middle finger to add one fret higher on the B string (The sus4) and your third finger to add two frets higher on the D string (The 6).
These chord types are explained fully in the video below.
The intro of the track moves between a G and C major chord with alternating 6sus4 extensions added. The choppy rhythm sets off the track perfectly before building into the very melodic main riff which showcases Keith’s ability to use chord extensions in a riff you can really sing along with.
Give this classic riff a go and have some fun with it. It’s got bucket loads of attitude to crank it loud and enjoy!
Check Out The Video
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