Q: What is a ‘Riffathon’?

Riffathon’ is a term we have coined to describe this guitar competition. It is a play on the words ‘Riff’ and ‘Marathon’, and is meant to encourage light-hearted thoughts of guitar competitions. Riffathon is intended to promote positive encouragement and a supportive environment within which to create and perform guitar-based music.

Q: What is a Riff?

A Riff is a repetitive musical motif made up of either single notes or chords. Riffs have become a central part of contemporary pop and rock music.

Q: Do you have any suitable examples of riffs?

Classic riffs include Smoke on the Water (Deep Purple), Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin), Daytripper (The Beatles) and You Really Got Me (The Kinks). Other examples could be Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana), Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love (Van Halen) and Substitute (The Who).

Q: How long should my guitar performance be?

Realistically your tune should be no more than 2-4 minutes long. It certainly should not be less than 1 minute in length.

Q: Should I do a really long guitar solo?

By all means include a solo as part of your performance if you would like, but don’t make the whole performance one big solo. The Riffathon is not really about the guitar as a solo instrument. In the world of Riffathon, music is a team sport. You will notice that in all of the examples given above of classic riffs, the guitarist is part of a band.

Q: Can I write my own riff?

Absolutely! In fact Jimmy Page has stipulated that extra points be given to those who create original riffs and tunes.

Q: I would rather do a cover of a classic, is that alright?

Yes that is absolutely fine. However if you enter the ‘Studio’ Riffathon and you win that month, we may be unable to place your performance on the website for others to listen to due to copyright reasons. You will be fine to enter the ‘Live’ Riffathon with a cover.

Q: If I do a cover of a classic tune, should I play it note for note?

It would be a good idea to try and give it your own style and technique. Approaching some classics from a different direction can sometimes yield excellent results. Just listen to Hendrix’s version of ‘All Along The Watchtower’!

Q: Should I use a backing track to play along to?

You can if you like, as it will give your performance a more rounded feel and put your riff in context. In fact we will be supplying some backing tracks on the website for people to download and use as musical guides for their own riffing.

Q: I play in a band and would like to put forward one of our original tunes for the ‘Studio’ Riffathon. Is that okay?

Yes, as long as it is a guitar based band. In fact Riffathon actively encourages unsigned bands to get involved with the Riffathon. The best tunes will be collected together and presented to A&R departments from record companies and management companies. There is even the possibility of a promo album release if the quality is really good!