Manuel G. Fernandes

How to Write Prog Riffs

Deepen your compositional approaches.

WHo it's for


For prog-curious guitarists and advanced players looking to deepen their compositional approaches.


10 days

Manuel will guide you through ten days of step-by-step instruction with interactive TAB and daily assignments.


New tools, fresh insight.

You'll leave this class with a new set of compositional techniques that'll seriously level up your prog playing.

Make it musical

Take the next step

Once you've mastered this course, keep learning with advanced Master Classes and guided practice plans.

What you'll learn

Over the next 10 days, Manuel will guide you through advanced prog techniques that fuel his playing.

  • Learn transcending prog techniques – fuel your writing.
  • Master complex rhythmic subdivisions.
  • Work on hybrid picking, harmonics, percussive techniques, tapping, and more.
How it works

Your guided learning pathway

This advanced course is designed to help you break new ground in your instrumental songwriting. Whether you're a seasoned prog guitarist, or an advanced guitarist who's looking for fresh inspiration, the dynamic techniques you'll tackle in this class will take your playing to the next level.

Simple Hybrid Picking Riff

We'll kick off the class with a riff that'll get you warmed up for what's to come.

Here, you'll use your picking hand to expand the guitar’s compositional possibilities via hybrid picking.

Rhythmic Harmonic Riff

Complex rhythmic subdivision is a hallmark of Manuel's mind-melting playing style.

Today, you'll add rhythmic complexity to the picking-hand patterns you’ll have developed in Day 1.

Percussive Riff

Manuel is a fierce guitarist with the heart of a percussionist.

On Day 3, you'll add muted notes into the mix to enhance your rhythmic propulsion. Then, on Day 4, you'll go even further by adding licks into the mix.

Day 5. Repeated fingerpicking riff

Explore a chicken pickin’ approach to prog composition.

Day 6. Repeated fingerpicking riff with tapping

Add melodic virtuosity with picking-hand tapping techniques.

Day 7. Thumping riff

Use your thumb like a pick for unique rhythmic creativity. Triplets will play a crucial role here.

Day 8. Roze Skin (Part 1)

Tackle sweep picking and more on the first half of Manuel’s original composition.

Day 9. Roze Skin (Part 2)

Employ harmonics amongst moving chord progressions to wrap up the technical lessons of the Master Class.

Day 10. Recap and Final Challenge

Your turn! Take a few techniques from this Master Class and conjure up your own original progressive riff.


Stay focused with this step-by-step learning program designed by our expert team of music educators.

10-Day Plan

Day 1. Simple hybrid picking riff

Brush up on your hybrid picking skills.

Today, you'll learn a simple hybrid picking riff that involves a repeated top note or melody note (hybrid picked) with moving power chords underneath. Manuel will start with a simple pattern and guide you through exercises to take things further by adding pentatonic slides into the mix.

Days 2-4

It's time to up the ante.

Days 2. Rhythmic harmonic riff

Today, you’ll build on Day 1’s harmonic mood with a more advanced rhythmic harmonic riff

We’re taking everything to the next level of complexity today with multi-string hybrid picking, wider chord shapes, hammer-on and pull-off licks between shapes, and more natural harmonics.

Days 3 & 4. Percussive riff

Day 3 has us exploring our plucking-hand technique with a short percussive riff. You can get a unique perspective on Day 3’s riff by thinking of your right hand as a percussion ensemble. Your thumb takes care of the bass drum and your fingers can act as cymbals and snare.

The work you put in on Day 3 will pay off in Day 4, as you fill in sonic gaps to achieve a non-stop flowing loop of rhythm and melody, almost like an arpeggiator.

Days 5 - 7

Put the focus on percussive elements in your playing.

Day 5. Repeated fingerpicking riff

Today we’ll keep the compositional fuel flowing with a repeated fingerpicking riff.

Originating from West Africa, Day 5’s style of constantly-rolling picking-hand plucking is something you might be familiar with from country-style guitar playing. It goes to show that any technique can be used and infused into a new sound in the hands of a riff-writer.

Day 6. Repeated fingerpicking riff with tapping

Here on Day 6, we’re going to augment the previous riff with some picking-hand tapping.

Fret tapping can seem really advanced at first glance, but by slowing things down, taking them apart, and meditating on the movements, the technique will unlock itself before your eyes.

Day 7. Thumping riff

Time to go deeper into the prog-zone. Day 7 will have us exploring the power of our thumb via the thumping technique. The guitar thumb-thumping technique was first popularized by Animals as Leaders guitarist Tobin Abassi well over a decade ago. There’s a unique paradox between the aggressive sound and the finesse required to achieve it.

Days 8-10

Cap off the class with one of Manuel's original tunes and an original prog riff of your own.

Days 8 & 9. Rose Skin (Parts 1 & 2)

Over the next two lesson days, we’ll go under the hood of Manuel’s song Roze Skin. Get ready to add even more maneuvers to your overflowing fountain of riffage when learning this tune.

Inspiration can come from anywhere. It’s not always a linear or clear-cut process. For Roze Skin, Manuel’s unique combination of inspirations stemmed from his time playing Call of Duty: Warzone and the rosy color of his Stratocaster's body

Day 10. Write your own prog riff

Time for your prog guitar graduation! Manuel provides a backing track for you to mold a melody over top of, then it's over to you to compose.

You can pen a strong single-note line, a hybrid-picking lead, a thumb-thumping rhythmic accompaniment, or even a fully orchestrated guitar part There’s no wrong way to create. Once you have your idea down, film the whole thing and upload it.

Student stories

Learn how How to Write Prog Riffs has helped real guitarists break through their playing plateau and realize their potential.

“My favorite part about pickup music is probably nerding out in the forum with everyone. Just knowing you have a creative community to reach out to if you have any questions or you're stuck in a rut.”

Vicki Huang

United States

"I would highly recommend Pickup Music to pretty much anyone who has been playing for a few years and doesn't feel like they are getting better any more."

James Harrod

United Kingdom

“One of the things that's been the most fun for me has been the SongSquad challenges... connecting with other people in the Pickup Music community on Instagram and just encouraging each other as we're learning songs and practicing.”

Vin Thomas

United States

"Pickup Music really helped me push my musical boundaries."

Wytse Hokwerda


Hear from REAL students

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Included in your membership:

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Included in your membership:

Unlimited guitar lessons

Personalized feedback from pro instructors

Weekly live lessons

Monthly practice groups

800+ songs in modern styles

New releases every week

Frequently Asked Questions

If your questions aren’t answered below, please chat with us.

Is Pickup Music right for me?

Do you feel like your guitar playing has hit a plateau? 

Are you stuck in a guitar rut where you're just playing the same old chords and licks?

Are you looking for fretboard freedom?

At Pickup Music, we specialize in:

  • taking beginner guitar players and turning them into intermediate players
  • taking intermediate guitar players and turning them into advanced players

How do we do it? 

  • First, we ask you a few questions to figure out exactly what skill level you’re at. 
  • Second, we ask you to commit to a series of Master Classes and Learning Pathways that focus on specific techniques. These comprehensive week-by-week courses are the best way to get your playing to the next level. 
  • Third, we get you to track your progress on your personalized learning dashboard.

Finally, we give you support and feedback through an exclusive members community and live practice group sessions with other members. This focused approach to learning guitar will help you bust through the beginner basics, break out of the intermediate plateau, and level up your playing.

This guided learning approach is the fastest way to make real progress on the guitar.

What makes Pickup Music better than other guitar lesson sites?

We're glad you asked! So many things:

  • Pickup Music gives you week-by-week guided learning. This is so important for making progress and getting out of the beginner plateau. Instead of just making you watch a video of an instructor talking about how they play guitar, we break things down for you on a daily and weekly basis.
  • Each daily lesson is accompanied by practice exercises where the instructors play along with you - almost like they're sitting right beside you. This eliminates the guess work so you know exactly what you need to focus on to make real and lasting progress with guitar.
  • Our lessons take you beyond the basics. Most online guitar lessons are good at teaching new guitarists the easy stuff. Pickup Music goes beyond that to help advanced-beginners and intermediate guitarists break through to the next level.
  • Our teachers are the best new and modern guitarists in the world. You'll find touring musicians, professors of music, and virtuosos from every genre to guide you through your guitar journey.
  • We have an extensive library with over 1,000 lessons across most genres for every type of guitarist. This means we have the right learning pathway for your unique starting point and preferred style of playing.
  • Pickup Music lessons are jam-packed with features to enhance your learning experience. This includes interactive TAB, multiple HD camera angles, backing tracks, and extensive course notes. All of this is designed to speed up your learning so you can achieve real results in your playing.  
  • We keep it fresh - we drop new lessons every. single. week. Plus, we're always striving to make each new lesson better than the last.
  • Pickup Music is a supportive and welcoming community. This is the place to connect with fellow guitarists, get feedback, and grow together.

What's included in my Pickup Music membership?

Everything! You’ll have unlimited access to every lesson on Pickup Music from every instructor. That means every Learning Pathway, Master Class, SongSquad, Licks Package, 5-Minute Lesson... we could go on, but you get the idea. It's an all-inclusive membership for one affordable price.

How long are the lessons? How long will it take me to complete them?

Pickup Music's lesson plans are designed to suit the amount of time you have available to practice.

Only got a few minutes? Try our 5-Minute Lessons to quickly add a new skill to your toolbox.

Got half an hour? Try one of our Essential Lick Packages or SongSquads to expand your vocabulary in different genres.

Got a couple of days? Try a Master Class with one of our world-renowned artists. Each class is broken up into short, digestible modules focused on one topic. We encourage you to complete the exercises for each lesson video before moving on to the next one because the lessons typically build on each other.

Ready to really commit to a multi-week program? Try one of our Learning Pathways. Over 6 weeks, these detailed courses will take you on a day-by-day journey to master each level in the genre. Learning Pathways include daily practice exercises so you know exactly what to focus on. These courses are the best way to make lasting progress.

Whichever approach you choose, we recommend building the exercises you learn into your daily practice schedule. The best way to improve as a guitarist is through a consistent practice routine rather than sporadic, longer  sessions. Learning guitar is a day-by-day, life-long journey!

I'm brand new to guitar. Is Pickup Music the right choice for me?

Absolutely! We make learning the guitar made fun & simple – the way it should be.

Too many people get frustrated with guitar because they develop bad habits and poor technique. Avoid these costly and time-consuming mistakes by taking Pickup Music's structured and step-by-step approach to learning guitar.

You'll start with Pickup Music's introductory program Beginner Learning Pathway. Over three weeks, we break down everything from simple chords and melodies to rhythm and lead playing. By the end of the program, you'll be able to play any simple pop or rock song (and even write your own).

Most importantly, we make sure you don't get stuck in the beginner's plateau - a common pitfall for guitarists who are just starting out. You'll keep making progress through Pickup Music's guided Learning Pahtways. These programs are designed to quickly take you from a beginner player to an intermediate one who feels comfortable across the whole fretboard.

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The only difference is that the annual plan saves you $30 a year.

Both options come with a free 14-day trial. That means, we won't charge your card for the first 14 days - you can cancel anytime before then.

With an annual membership, we bill you once a year up-front, and you save 17% as a result. We'll send you reminders before we bill you each year so that you don't accidentally forget about it.

With the monthly membership, you pay month to month. It's a subscription, so we bill you each month until you cancel.

Cancelling your plan at any point is very easy to do online - no tricks, emails, or phone calls required. Just click a button on your account page.

Is a Pickup Music membership worth the money?

When you first start learning guitar, it's okay to bounce around with random free lessons on YouTube and searching for TABs online. 

That approach is going to make you an OKAY guitar player, but it's not going to help you take that leap to becoming a serious guitarist - a player who can:

  • Play naturally, without thinking about every move
  • Jam with friends and learn their favorite songs quickly.
  • Blast through that beginner level, break out of the intermediate plateau, and start playing like a pro!

To become a serious guitarist, you need a clear learning pathway to get to the next level. You need to free your mind and unlock your fret board - you can do this with Pickup Music's expert step-by-step instruction. Having this clear learning pathway is  key to making real progress on the guitar.

What about the price? Is it worth it?

Private lessons will cost you about $50 per lesson or $2,600 a year. Going to a music academy will cost you about $40,000 a year.

A Pickup Music membership costs just $150 for the whole year. That works out to 41 cents a day!

Signing up for a Pickup Music membership also means that you can stop wasting your time and effort trying to guess what you should practice next. Our guided programs eliminate the guess work so you know exactly what you need to focus on each day and week to make lasting progress with guitar. This will increase your efficiency and speed up your progress.

Is it easy to cancel?

Absolutely! You can cancel at any time (although we'd be sad to see you go). Cancelling is easy, no tricks. Just go to your account page and click a button.

You won't be charged anything if you cancel during your 14-day free trial.

If you cancel after your 14-day trial, you won't be billed again at your next billing cycle. Your membership will remain active until it expires on the day it was originally set to renew.

Once your membership expires, you will no longer have access to the classes you were enrolled in during your time as a member, but you can easily restart your membership at any time. Just log in to your account and renew a monthly or annual membership to pick up where you left off.

Can I buy lessons individually?

We don’t sell lessons individually. But the good news is you get access to every single lesson on Pickup Music through the one membership. If you’re only interested in one lesson, you could purchase a monthly membership and cancel when you’ve finished it – we have a hunch you’ll want to stick around though :)

Can I cancel my membership at any time?

Yes! All you have to do is click a button on your account page. No tricks, no emails, no calls. It's a straightforward process.

You won't be billed again at your next billing cycle. Your membership will remain active and you'll continue to have access to the site until your membership expires on the day it was originally set to renew.

You can easily restart your membership at any time. Just log in to your account and renew a monthly or annual membership to pick up where you left off.

Note: Once your membership expires, we'll save your progress on your Dashboard if you decide to rejoin at a later date.

How does the 14-day free trial work? What is your refund policy?

Your credit card won't be charged for the first 14 days
When you first sign up to a Pickup Music membership, your credit card will not be charged for 14 days. That means that if you decide to cancel within 14 days of signing up, you won't pay anything.

If you decide to cancel after that, you won't be charged at your next billing cycle
That means: if you’re a monthly member, you won’t be charged for the next month. If you’re an annual member, you won’t be charged for the next year.

We don’t offer refunds for payments that have already gone through. But if you choose to cancel, you will retain full access to the membership until it expires on the day it was originally set to renew.

Will I be automatically charged each month / year?

The membership is a subscription. After the 14-day free trial, you'll be automatically charged monthly or annually (depending on which plan you choose). We send you reminders before your annual subscription renews so you don't accidentally forget about it. You can easily cancel by turning off auto-renew at any time in your account page.

How do I restart my membership?

It’s easy to rejoin Pickup Music and we’d be thrilled to have you back! We even saved all of your lessons for you while you were gone on your Dashboard.

To restart your membership, simply head to this page, select the plan of your choice, and sign up with the email address you used to sign up the first time around.

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