Start Me Up Guitar Lesson – The Rolling Stones – Famous Riffs

Regarded as one of Keith Richards' most signature riffs, the intro to "Start Me Up" by the Rolling Stones is a classic example of how a relatively simple riff can have a HUGE impact!

First things first, you will need to follow the tuning notes I give at the beginning of this Start Me Up guitar lesson video. Keith Richards is employing open G tuning in this riff (which he does quite often).

For our part at least, we will only be using the four middle strings to play this riff which only requires you to tune your A string down a whole step to G.

The riff itself is comprised of just two basic chord shapes. The most important thing to focus on here is the rhythm. The rhythm rotates between a syncopated feel and straight 8th note feel ala Chuck Berry.

Dynamics of course are very important here as well. You can hear how he slowly opens the sound up a bit towards the end of the 8th note rhythms. Pay close attention to that because that is really what gives the riff it's cool vibe.

Have fun with this Stones classic! Carl..

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Start Me Up Guitar Lesson


  1. tweedguitar on May 29, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Hey Carl,
    Great to see you doing some Stones !!
    I think most people connect to the Rolling Stones music.
    I know you have done ” Angie ” …an open G Keefy song would be good down the track.

  2. Tommy Radcliffe on March 21, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    Hi Carl:
    I use play this song in my L.A. band and we used standard tuning on both guitars. It was different in that we used pure bar cords popping back and forth to produce the proper rythum rather than the B & G string add ons. Your way sounds close, but something is missing. Perhaps it is the Guitar you mention that is in standard tuning together with the “open G” tuning and your riff that produce the proper sound? In any case, I am trying both to see what sounds best and closest to the Stones’ recording. You are usually 100% correct when teaching songs the exact way they are performed by the artists. I shall compare and contrast and perhaps learn that we were playing it incorrectly all those years ago when the song came out. Anyway, thanks for the help again, and for the bit of homework regarding the differences in the way a song can be played and sound correct, but can actually be wrong.
    It is a very easy song, but I always like to play ’em as written, correctly.
    Take it easy, bro,

  3. Bill degroot on December 14, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    Great lesson not to difficult tks

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