This is known as the first song a guitar player should play. We’re playing a single note, 1-string version of the classic Smoke On The Water by Deep Purple. It’s a super easy electric guitar song for beginners.

Yours truly! Will Ripley (Campfire Guitar Star)

Reading tab

We have a guitar that is set up, in tune, we know the names of the strings – It’s time to rock & roll!  I’m going to show you a riff and we’re also going to learn how to read tab.

*Tablature (or “tab” for short) – is a form of musical notation for stringed instruments. It’s far from perfect because most tab doesn’t show you which fingers to use or what rhythms to play – but it does tell you what notes to play and in what order!

Things to Know



  1. Tab shows you exactly what notes/frets to play and in what order to play them – it’s a very powerful tool to have as a guitarist.
  2. Each line represents each string (6 lines on tab – and there are 6 strings!)
  3. ( E – A – D – G – B – e) – The capital letters and lowercase letters will help you know which is the “big” string and which is the “little” string.
  4. “0” represents playing an open string. You can think of the letter “o” for “open”
  5. Tab tells us the sequence of the song/riff and we read it left to right (just like reading a book!)
  6. The low E string (biggest string) is the bottom line of a tab diagram. It may seem like you’re reading tab like your guitar is “upside down and backwards”
  7. The numbers on the lines represent the frets  (The frets are the raised metal strips on the fingerboard). The numbers don’t have anything to do with your fingers. The numbers tell you exactly where to put your fingers!
  8. Tab does not show you which fingers to use – You have to use common sense and your best judgement when placing your fingers on the guitar. Try to find the most “economical” way to place your fingers when reading tab so you utilize ALL your necessary fingers. (Many beginners are inclined to only use 1 finger for riffs)

Caption: Tab may be written as if you’re holding your guitar “upside down and backwards”!

Tab Combined With Musical Notation:

In professional music publications, and in the back of guitar magazines, you will often see notes or rhythmic notation in conjunction with tab. This takes tab a step closer to being “perfect” because a person that has the ability to read music can be hugely assisted with the rhythmic placement of the notes.

Here’s an example of the C Major scale written out in tab with accompanying musical notation.  The time signature, found on the left, is 4/4, so each black note gets one beat.  The last note, pictured with the open center, means it gets 2 beats, completing the bar.

Smoke On The Water – A Great “First Riff” For A Beginner Guitar Player

“Smoke on the Water” was written and released by Deep Purple in 1972.  The famous riff was played on a Fender Stratocaster by guitar legend, Ritchie Blackmore.

It’s also known as “the first song you learn on guitar”. We’re going to stay true to that tradition and get you having some fun right off the bat!

To start off, we’re going to learn this song as a “bass line” or a “single-note riff” on the guitar. The actual song is played in a different key and utilizes 2 strings at the same time so this is a beginner version.

Tips On Playing This Riff:

  1. Look up “Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple” and have a listen so you can become familiar with the riff. This will help you play it so it doesn’t sound like random notes.
  2. Read the notes, one at a time, left to right.
  3. When placing the tips of your fingers on the frets, play very close to the frets (play right “above” the fret). This will help eliminate unwanted fret buzz.
  4. Bonus Tip – Once you master the riff on the low E string, try out the same riff on each one of the 6 strings. This will “transpose” the riff into a different key and give you some practice playing on different strings.



Congrats on your very first guitar riff!

Thanks for checking out the video and article of Super Easy Electric Guitar Songs For Beginners | Smoke On The Water . 

If you like what you see, get access to our full length, free beginner guitar course “5 Minute Guitar” at 

And check out our other guitar products like our 1-on-1 webcam lessons, books, courses and more at 

Thanks and keep on rippin it! – Will Ripley & Mike B