Riff Disease

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by adouglas, Jul 20, 2005.

  1. adouglas


    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    If you're picking up a second instrument (in this case the guitar), I want to warn you about a health hazard. It's called Riff Disease.

    Riff Disease is insidious, hard to avoid, and among beginning guitarists it's pandemic. I'm thinking of hosting a benefit concert to fight it.

    Here's how it expresses itself:

    You learn the hook from a favorite song, and you can't stop playing it, even if you try not to.

    I remember this happening when I was starting to play bass way back in 1982 or so, and now it's happening to me with guitar. On bass, I kept on playing stuff like the Pink Panther theme and that riff from Star Trek that they play whenever Spock is getting all intense and stuff.

    The disease can strike any musician, even those who have been playing for years. It appears to be related to inexperience with a given instrument rather than overall musical experience. In my case, I've been playing bass for about 23 years, but this has not protected me from a flareup of the disease related to picking up the electric guitar.

    I've learned the first eight bars or so from Steely Dan's "Reeling in the Years" and even found a tone on the amp that sounds awfully close to the way it ought to. Sounds so good I can't stop playing it, even if I try not to.

    It's both very pleasurable (because it's fun to sound good) and frustrating (because I want to work more on basics but this keeps getting in the way).


  2. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    I went through this with two Joy Division songs for about a week... "Love will tear us apart" and "She's lost control"

    I don't even like the songs that much, but I love the basslines.
  3. ladros2


    Jun 2, 2005
    i got that with the basslinr to joy division's komakino. the part about 2 thirds of the way through.
  4. tracy chapman - two riffs. awesome. i love that guitar line!
  5. TheNerdBass


    Jun 30, 2005
    Detroit, MI
    Is there a bassist alive who doesn't know the PP theme? This was the first thing I learned and It impressed some dude who I thought was very talented.
  6. Little Green Bag by Harry Nillsen was the first thing i learned and its still addictive.
  7. Ozzy--Crazy Train....and yes, the Pink Panther too, but I learned Crazy Train first time I picked up a bass (just the beginning of course).
  8. I'm a bassist that doesn't know the PP theme *checks pulse*... oh crap :meh:... I suddenly have a hankering for brains :eek:
  9. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    I also had this disease when years ago my brother gave me his electric guitar (a really bad one). I got a Boss overdrive and (obsessively) played the intro riff of "Whole Lotta Love", the tapping part of "Eruption" and also AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" intro (it is not that difficult, but I really suck with a pick, specially upstrokes). The disease reached its most severe point when, being in posession of that guitar and having an overdrive pedal, I wanted to play an entire song, but couldn't play a lead. The only ones I tried with not so bad results IMO were the Carlos Santana version of "Oye Como Va", the guitar solo of "Gonna Fly Now" (Rocky's theme) and Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "Four Wheel Drive", but the terminal state came when I got a copy of Green Day's "Dookie". No leads! So I spent a good amount of time playing "Basket Case", "When I Come Around" and "Burnout" along with the recording. A fun way of wasting your time. Fortunately, the time cured me from the disease.
  10. bassman314

    bassman314 I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2005
    Bay Area, CA
    TMBG - Sad
    The Beatles - Come Together
    Steve Miller Band - Joker (works well with about 75% of worship songs written before 1985)

    I also find myself slapping out several Chilli Pepper basslines :bag: and Timmy C...

    On Guitar, I keep doing a G-C2-Em riff...

    it's waaaaay tooo easy... keep the B and E strings (third fret on each) held, and switch beween C, G and Em with the other 2 fingers... soesn't matter what the strum or finger pattern is... *L* I can do it for hours...
  11. HunsBassist


    Oct 3, 2004
    Orlando, FL
    I get this all the time. I finally get over it then another strain comes along. Right now it's the chorus to Rancid's Roots Radical. But I've had some of the worst. Longview, Roundabout, Hysteria, Carousel, even some Primus, like Shake Hands With Beef, Jerry Was A Race Car Driver, My Name Is Mud, just to name a few. I also can't stop playing that Slap/Pop riff to Aeroplane by RCHP. I might not have long. There's so much that I've never experienced. Do you know that I've never even learned one Geddy Lee riff? It's a tragedy.
  12. McHaven


    Mar 1, 2005
    If I'm just sitting around watching tv with my bass in my hands, I'll be playing something by Cream or Sabbath. If I'm sitting at my PC and nothin is going on, I'll play the Tom Sawyer riffs
  13. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I've been known to suffer from Riff Disease...many times. It's a horrible affliction.
  14. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    YYZ. On bass, and guitar, with lead. And Jacob's Ladder, too. Oh yeah, Natural Science, La Villa Strangiato, and Broon's Bane, if someone is dumb enough to hand me a nylon-string guitar.

    Plus, anything by the Blue Oyster Cult might emerge if my brain isn't engaged and I have an instrument in my hands.

    Every time I pick up my upright I check its tuning by playing the melody to So What, and I'm not even trying to stop that.
  15. Ethon


    Jan 25, 2003
    Akron, Ohio

    I do that ALL THE TIME when I play guitar...I don't know why, lol
  16. fraublugher


    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    garaj mahal set 1 track 1 from smashes thread on garaj mahal
  17. I had it when I first started bass... and occasionally still find my self playing it, Pink Floyd's "Money"
  18. Phe


    May 30, 2005
    Oulu, Finland
    I had to learn "Paranoid" today. Just so I can play it if somebody yells someday "Play Paranoid" :D
    Hmmm...does that happen anywhere else than in Finland?

    Joy Division's "She's Lost Control", Pink Floyd's "Money", CCR's "Good Golly miss Molly" and "Before you accuse me", RAtM's "Bullet in the head"

    those are pretty much the only songs I know :rollno:
  19. Come Together - Aerosmith version
    Money - Pink Floyd
    Led Boots - Jeff Beck

    First three songs I learned, and use them to warm-up every day, before I hit some scales ... I can't shake'em.

    Got some STP parts oozing out of me lately ... ooohhh, it's a scary desease. Does anyone survive? :rolleyes:
  20. Theme intro from "Barney Miller"
    Intro to the Beatles' "I dig a Pony"
    ...and of course!, "Day Tripper"

    It's a desease that can get you into trouble on stage! If you throw out a "quote" between songs while waiting for the next one, all of a sudden the crowd wants to hear it! :eek:

    It's a desease that isn't even cured by MORE COWBELL!