Riffhard Review

Riffhard Review

I’ve looked at many different online guitar tutorial sites over the years. Most of them offer general tuition for beginners or advanced lead guitar tuition. Riffhard is different. Riffhard was created by Monuments guitarist John Browne and is dedicated to modern metal rhythm guitar. Browne is widely regarded as one of the best modern metal rhythm guitarists in the world at the moment so having the opportunity to learn from him seems too good not to try.

For $29 per month, you get access to an ever-growing library of tuition videos accompanied by Guitar Pro tabs to download, along with access to the Riffhard community Facebook group. It might seem like a slightly high price initially but when you consider how much guitar lessons cost it’s actually a very good deal. The site isn’t really aimed at beginners, but if you’re at a moderate level and are looking to improve, or if you are already pretty advanced and want to take your playing to another level then the site has a lot to offer.

Edit – Riffhard 2.0 has launched since this review was written. The old content remains but new content and features have been added. I’ve added a section about these changes at the end.

What’s Included In Riffhard?

The website dashboard is split into 11 main sections.

Riffhard Review

The Downpicking Gym is a great place to start if you want to see quick improvements in your picking speed, stamina and accuracy. Exercises range from pretty simple beginner level through to advanced. One thing to keep in mind, just because it looks simple and is labelled beginner it doesn’t mean you should skip it if you consider yourself to be at a high level already. The simplest exercises are some very basic open string endurance exercises. On paper, you wouldn’t expect them to be very challenging but if you play to a metronome and really concentrate on your timing you quickly discover how important they are. For the first week as a Riffhard member, I spent most of my time working on a handful of the beginner exercises and noticed a dramatic difference in my playing. You’re never done with them either because you can keep raising the speed of your metronome to keep them challenging. When you have the basics down you can then move on to the more advanced lessons and start to incorporate thing like tapping, slides, accent placement etc. This section alone is a pretty comprehensive guide to playing modern metal rhythm guitar. It would take you a long time to work through it and even longer to actually master it all. At the time of writing, I’ve been a member for two and a half months and have barely scratched the surface.

Pre-workout covers all of the warmup exercises you could ever need. There are a wide range of different exercises so I found the best way to use this section was to try one or two different exercises each day. That way I could mix them up and get my hands used to doing different movements. If you know you’re going to be playing something specific you can pick a warmup exercise to match.

In Riff Dissection, Browne breaks down riffs from Monuments and Flux Conduct. If you’ve heard him in action you’ll know how complicated some of his riffing is. This section is a great way to learn about the rhythms, note choices and techniques he uses to create his signature parts. Work through this section of the site and you’ll develop a greater understanding of his songwriting techniques which you can then use in your own writing.

Tech Vault is pretty bare at the moment but this is where Browne talks about his techniques and his philosophy about playing. It’s a good introduction to the site and helps you to understand how his mind works and why he plays the way he does. He also covers how he approaches things like how to use picking dynamics, muting and how to get different timbres from your guitar. It’s a very useful section of the site and will make you rethink the way you approach your playing.

Riffhard Review

I, The Creator is all about writing techniques and shows you how try different rhythms, octaves, timbres, accents and more to improve your riff writing and develop your songwriting. This is the ideal section to explore if you’re looking to make your writing more interesting and really breaks down how Browne writes his music. He’s a big fan of taking a riff and using it in different ways throughout a song. You’ll learn exactly how he does it here.

Riff Rescue is one of my favourite sections. Members can submit their riffs or songs and Browne takes them and shows you how he would develop them. The videos are long so you’ll need to set aside the time to watch any of them but it’s well worth it. You can watch him take an idea and develop it in his own unique style. These kind of videos aren’t something I’ve seen before but they offer a valuable window into the creative process of a hugely talented guitarist and songwriter. If you don’t learn something from this section I’d be amazed.

QnA is exactly what you’d expect. Members submit their questions and as many as possible get answered in live QnA sessions on Facebook.

Each month, there is a challenge set for members in the King Of The Riff section. There will be a simple brief set for the challenge and it’s up to members to decide how to approach it. They can then submit their entry, Browne picks the best ones and they are put to a public vote. The King Of The Riff winner receives a prize for their achievement. Some of the prizes on offer have been pretty incredible and include everything from pickups through to guitars and amps. You don’t have to take part but it’s a good way to use what you’ve been learning on the website and having a challenge set by someone else is a great way to take you out of your comfort zone and explore things you wouldn’t usually try.

Riff.TV is an archive of any videos Browne would be useful to members such as his own practice sessions, writing sessions and any extra info that doesn’t really fit into any other section. It’s only small at the moment but will continue to grow with lots of useful information.

Riffhard Review

Subject to his schedule, John Browne opens up the One on One section where you can book a private video call with him to discuss anything you like. Slots are limited so you have to get in quick to take advantage of this, but if you are one of the lucky ones you can spend 20-25 minutes with him getting help with anything you’re struggling with. He’s happy to have a general chat too but if you have the opportunity it really makes more sense to think of something he could help you with to improve your playing.

And then we reach the Community Access section. It takes you through to the private members’ group on Facebook. Once you’ve been approved you become part of the growing Riffhard community. Any problems you have, if you’re struggling with a certain technique or exercise, anything you need help with at all really, post here and you’ll quickly start to get the answers you need. It’s without doubt one of the friendliest Facebook groups I’ve seen and the amount of knowledge the members have is incredible. There are some monster players in here but nobody is ever made to feel inadequate at all. John Browne also takes an active role within the group so you can talk to him directly and get his advice on things. Post a video of yourself practising one of the exercises and he’s likely to chip in with his thoughts at some point. It’s a very good-natured and relaxed group. You genuinely feel like you’re amongst friends and it definitely brings extra value to the membership.

Has Riffhard Helped Me?

Just a little background info for those who don’t know me. I started playing around 25 years ago and I was really into bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera and Sepultura. That was the kind of music I was learning to play when I started and although I’ve drifted into other styles over the years, those bands really shaped the way I play and write music. I got up to a pretty decent standard but then I pretty much stopped playing for a while. When I started to play again my rhythm chops weren’t up to the same level as before and it’s something I was struggling to get back. That’s one of the main reasons I wanted to give Riffhard a try. The other big reason was to learn about the techniques used in modern metal guitar. Although I listen to a lot of modern metal music, I never really understood what the newest players were doing or how their songs were put together. My playing was still stuck in the style of my earliest influences and I wanted to incorporate a new way of playing into my own riff writing.

Riffhard Review

In the two and a half months I’ve been a member, I’ve definitely noticed my right hand improving. My timing is more accurate, I have greater stamina and my picking speed has increased. Things I’d struggle with before are far less of a challenge. I’ve also noticed myself using more dynamics with my picking. These things alone have made my Riffhard membership worthwhile and are a big reason for me to stay signed up to the website. As far as learning how modern metal guitar actually works, there is plenty of content on the site which breaks this down into detail and shows you how one of the best modern metal guitarists approaches riff and song writing. If you’ve grown up playing this way then I’m sure you will still learn a lot from it, but for someone like me who was stuck in the past, it’s been an invaluable resource. Although it’s still not second-nature for me to play in this way, it’s something I am slowly starting to incorporate and it’s beginning to find its way into my writing naturally. Any time I get stuck for ideas I think to myself, “What would Browne do?”. It helps me to think about how he takes a riff and explores other things you could do with it. An octave change, mixing up the note order or simply altering the rhythm can take you down a whole different path and get those creative juices flowing again.

With some tuition sites I’ve used in the past, I’ve worked through the content pretty quickly then moved on to something else. So far, I still feel like I’m only at the beginning of my journey with Riffhard. There is so much on offer that I don’t think anyone could get through it all quickly. And if they did, they weren’t trying to get the most out of it. Some of the lessons are pretty basic but vitally important if you want to improve your playing. Others are for advanced players only but offer something to aspire to. Even with the advanced lessons though, you can work on them in small sections at a low speed and start to see improvements. It might take a long time to master them but it’s worth pushing yourself because they can only help you to improve.

Riffhard 2.0

If you’ve read this far you’ll have seen how impressed I was with Riffhard. Well, since I wrote the original review the guys behind the site have launched Riffhard 2.0. As well as a website redesign, they’ve been busy adding new features and improving what was already there.

First up, the new website design makes the whole experience slicker. The menu has been improved so navigating the site is much easier. I didn’t find it difficult before but the sensible changes definitely make it easier. The Shredule has also been added to the main website. This basically gives you a set routine to use. I know some people signed up to Riffhard and didn’t really know what they should be practicing and when so this takes care of it for you. The Shredule used to be available on the Facebook group but it’s better to have it on the main site. They are also updating it weekly and have set up a dedicated Fabebook group where you can upload your progress videos.

Riffhard 2.0 Review

One of the biggest improvements is the new video player. Again, there was nothing wrong with the old one, but the new one has some nifty new features. The tablature under the video follows the notes and has a variety of settings including looping sections, fretboard view and you can change the orientation if you play left-handed. Other very useful features include being able to change the playback speed, camera angle and even change the tuning. I really can’t think of anything else they could possibly add to improve the video player now. They seem to have thought of everything!

Riffhard 2.0 Review

Another new exciting addition to Riffhard is guest instructors. They started off with Dean Lamb from Archspire and this month the guest instructor is Wes Hauch. The guests have their own lessons, so now you won’t just be learning from John Browne, you can also get lessons from other amazing guitarists at no extra charge. I think this is something many people will be excited to see.

Riffhard 2.0 Review

With Riffhard 2.0 you still get all of the features that made Riffhard so good, but now you also get access to the new 2.0 additions and the benefit of an improved website to make the learning experience even better. I had already given Riffhard a 9.5/10 rating but now it’s even better. I don’t want to change the rating though because I know they’ll continue to improve the site and I won’t be able to go beyond 10/10. It’s great to see the people behind Riffhard are so committed to delivering the best learning experience possible and are pushing forward with new content and features. This will give new members a great starting point and keep providing extra value to existing members. Great work guys!

Riffhard 2.0 Review


As you’ve probably guessed, I’m a big fan of Riffhard. There is a huge amount of content on the website already and it is constantly growing. The videos are all high quality and have tablature on the screen to make it easy to follow what’s happening. The inclusion of Guitar Pro files for each exercise is a huge plus point. They allow you to take the tablature and work on one section at a time at whatever BPM you can manage. When you have the notes under your fingers you can slowly increase the speed and this helps you to progress far more quickly. The range of techniques covered is very wide so if you use all of the exercises it should help you to develop into a well-rounded player and open up new writing possibilities. Add to this the competitions where you have the chance of winning some awesome prizes and the incredibly friendly Facebook group, you have a tuition website which is perfect for anyone looking to improve their modern metal guitar playing. All you have to do is put in the effort!

Rating 9.5/10

Guitar Noodle Top Pick

For more information and to become a Riffhard member, visit https://riffhard.com/

Riffhard Guitar Tuition