Buffalo Soldier by Bob Marley

Riff Rundown

Difficulty: Intermediate

In this lesson you’ll learn how to play a little Reggae music in the Bob Marley classic “Buffalo Soldier”.

Reggae is a popular music of Jamaican origin having elements of calypso and rhythm and blues, characterized by a strongly accentuated offbeat. The offbeat is the 2nd and 4th beats of a measure. Most songs in other genres emphasis the 1st and 3rd beats. This accent on the offbeat is what gives Reggae it’s unique sound.

Hear This Lesson:

In Reggae the offbeat is usually accentuated with a rhythm guitar,
as in the case with “Buffalo Soldier”. There is a single guitar
playing the chords on the offbeats:


The second guitar part is very particular about the rhythm, so here
are some things you want to keep in mind when playing it:

A note with a little dot underneath as in the example below is called
a staccato note. Staccato means “cut short crisply, detached”.

In the first two measures use a slight palm mute. To
do this you’ll rest the heel of your picking hand lightly on the strings
just before the bridge and apply a little pressure as you pick the string.
This will create a slightly muffled tone for the notes.

An 8th rest means you must “rest” for half a beat. In other
words 1/8th of the measure, hence the name 8th rest. That means
during the duration of the rest no sound should come from your

A quarter rest means you must “rest” for a full beat. In
other words, 1/4 of the measure.

All the notes in the riff are called 8th notes. An 8th notes gets half
a beat. An 8th note by itself looks like the 4th note in the 3rd measure.
With 8th notes in a row, the flags are stemmed together as the 1st 3
notes in the 1st measure.



Riff Resources

Complete Transcription To
“Buffalo Soldier ” (PDF)

Complete Transcription To
“Buffalo Soldier ” (Power Tab)