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Until I heard Steve play a turnaround and call it a lick I thought turnarounds were something different. I guess some licks just make better turnarounds.  Then he caused me more confusion by saying licks and riffs were the same.

I guess it’s like trying to figure out, at high tide, where the North Sea ends and the Wadden sea begins.i guess when I get my “Yellow Submarine” I’ll find out.

Edited by Triple-o
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there is no confusion in my mind. riff = lick.. 

unless you're thinking a riff is a rhythm type of chording , which would be rhythm part not a riff

a lick is a series of notes that make a phrase, and so is a riff .

a turn around lick , is a lick that has typically a series of notes that leads from the last chord (I would think the 5th) back to the 1 chord. 

it leads your ear back to the start hence a turn around.. still a lick or not usually called a turn around riff but could be called that

Lick is generally used more than riff.. but you can easily say " hey man what's that riff you just played?" or "dude can you teach me that lick?"

Chops.. that's getting your hands going ,, "man you have great chops" ... means you play well


have you heard of a machine head? how about a tuner? and not a tuner that you clip on.

both machine head and tuner mean the tuning pegs at typically the top of the guitar head stock to tune the guitar string.. both mean the same (Deep Purple had a album called Metal Machine Head.. )

musicians are a funny lot at describing things and which generation made the "hip" phrase

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My understanding has always been a riff is a rhythm figure; a series of chords/notes that repeats throughout the song. A lick is a short series of notes that generally doesn't repeat. Riffs can be strumming patterns and/or arpeggios, and can also include non-chord tone fills, which can make them sound like licks.


A turnaround could be either a riff or a lick, and generally returns you to the beginning of a song for the next verse after the chorus. Most (not all) songs end on the I chord, so most choruses also end on the I chord. That being the case, a turnaround would take you from the I chord at the end of a chorus, through a series of other chords and/or notes, and back to the I chord again at the beginning of the song. 

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Thanks, like  in the song  “Oh Pretty Women“ ( Original version)  after the first 4 bars  the following 4 bars are a riff and that riff is repeated again in the song.

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Thanks, you know for being one of the most popular songs ever written I really should learn it.The 144 bpm Is pretty fast, maybe that’s why it’s on a space capsule.🤣. You know if Chuck Berry wouldn’t have changed one word in the song we may never had hear the song.

In your other post you mentioned tuning pegs. I hear tell they are better on classical guitars, than machine heads, because the strings actually touch the wood headstock which Improves the sound.

Edited by Triple-o
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so I ended up doing a "Google" on Rif vs Lick

here's it's answer:


The Difference Between a Riff and a Lick:



A riff is thematic (a what??).  It serves as the main section for a song.

Think of Satisfaction for example or Smoke On The Water. A riff is often repeated and developed, sometimes with variations, sometimes in different keys, but a riff is always recognisable as the main idea or main part of the song.

A riff is what makes the song 'recognisable' and distinctive. p.s. thematic just means a theme!    ; )



A lick or solo is a portion of a riff, so it is not the main distinction in the song, just part of the song. A lick is often incomplete in musical terms (but don't worry too much about that).

On it's own the lick doesn't usually become the main part of a song like a riff does. But if a lick forms a theme (like a continuous main section in a song), essentially the lick becomes a riff.

Because a lick isn't the main theme, it doesn't have that same association with the song, and so it becomes transferable: a lick can be used in other songs without necessarily having to allude to the original lick. Clever!

More info:

Take a pentatonic scale as this example.  If you focus on just one Pentatonic Scale, you can easily create lots of difference licks from just one scale. Or you could create a distinctive riff that runs through the song from just one scale.

Riffs are the main 'sound' or theme of a song, and licks are just parts of a song - like a verse, or chorus.

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