How To Improve Your Rhythm Guitar Playing

Posted by Mike Schuck

A lot of guitarists start out playing bass lines and licks over and over again, which is great for beginners who are learning how to play by ear!

However, as you progress your skills more quickly than what tempo you're able to perform at, you have to work on your rhythm playing.

You will need to know how to count and be able to play simple rhythms and patterns in order to take your music career or hobby to the next level.

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There are many ways to improve your rhythm playing but none of them are necessarily better than the others unless you feel they’re needed for your style of songwriting and/or musical genre.

Practice consistently

how to improve your rhythm guitar playing

It takes practice to truly improve your rhythm guitar playing, so make sure you’re practicing regularly! If you are struggling to play some songs quickly, then try learning them slowly first to give yourself more time to work on it.

Practice as frequently as possible – every day is good training if you have enough time to do so. You can also combine music theory with technique when practising, for example by working on chord structures or note names while still playing pieces correctly.

Music theory can even be used in your daily practise to help you get faster at reading music and understanding how things relate to each other. This is particularly helpful for experienced musicians as they develop their skills beyond basic song writing!

In addition to this, use of technology such as apps and software can now aid musical skill development. There are many apps that focus on helping players learn different aspects of the instrument, from tuning to technical exercises.

These can all be installed and used remotely which makes it easy to apply these lessons anywhere and at any time. Many free apps exist too so there is never a reason not to try out something new.

Tone your guitar properly

After you get your tone right, the next thing to do is learn how to play with rhythm! Getting into a groove depends heavily on having a strong internal clock that keeps time. This clock can be influenced by many things, such as what music you are listening to, what style of music you love, and what type of mood you want to create.

Your internal clock will help coordinate muscle groups in your body to keep time. For instance, when playing an easy chord, your hands will move together at a steady pace. Then, your feet will sync up with the movement of the hand. When this happens, it creates a seamless transition from one part of the song to another.

You can also influence the speed of the clock through different muscles. Using our example above, if the hands are moving too quickly then people may feel distracted or tired dueing the constant motion. If the foot moves too fast then people may notice the bassist has a heavy leg day![1]

Good rhythm players have control over their tempo so they do not need to worry about anyone else’s timing. They are able to maintain a consistent flow without too much fluctuation.

Learn to read music

how to improve your rhythm guitar playing

The second key element in improving your rhythm guitar playing is learning how to read music. There are many ways to approach this, but one of the most efficient methods is using note numbers. You will learn what notes make up each part of a song or piece, and then you can organize those parts into rhythms that feel natural to you.

By doing this as slowly as possible, you will naturally pick up speed as you learn how music works. Start with simple songs first! Many beginner musicians start here as it is easy to follow.

Play using rhythms

how to improve your rhythm guitar playing

A lot of guitarists these days do not use rhythm as their main tool for playing. They may play some rhythmic patterns, but they are mostly used in licks or riffs that have little flow.

Using music theory, there is an easy way to learn how to play rhythm guitar! The easiest way to start is by learning how to count. You can either be counting down (one, two, one and a half, etc.) or up (half, whole, triplet, etc.).

Once you’re able to do this easily, then you can move onto other ways to learn rhythm. By practicing timing and keeping time, you will naturally pick up speed.

There are many resources available online and through books to help you get started.

Learn different chord progressions

how to improve your rhythm guitar playing

Chords are one of the most fundamental parts of music. If you cannot read or play any chords, it can be very difficult to truly understand how songs work!

Music is built upon a set structure called an “alphabet” or “script” that we learn as children. This alphabet teaches us the notes of the lisps, scales, melodies, rhythms, and even syllables in some languages. Once we have learned this script, we can combine them together into new compositions!

The first part of learning to play guitar rhythmically is by practicing using familiar patterns or structures. These structures make up our song lyrics and their order matches up with the beats in a song.

This article will go more in depth about how to improve your rhythm guitar playing by teaching you the basics of music theory and practice strategies. But before moving onto anything else, why not start off by trying out some easy exercises?

There are many ways to do this! You could try tapping along to a simple pattern twice per measure (one whole beat per rest) or three times per measure (two half-beats per rest). Either way, choose a slow tempo so it is easier to keep time.

Once these basic skills are mastered, you can move onto faster tracks such as triplets, sixteenths, or eighth notes. All of these timing patterns relate to each other, which makes them a good starting point for developing speed and accuracy.

Learn to sing along

how to improve your rhythm guitar playing

A lot of guitarists cannot play rhythm easily because they can’t read music well. They must have known how to count in elementary school, but most people lose that when they stop teaching themselves basic skills such as reading notes and numbers.

If you are one of these musicians, don’t feel too bad about it! It is possible to re-learn your rhythm basics, and there are many ways to do so.

One way is to learn how to sing along with some songs you know. You will quickly realize that not only does this work for learning how to read music, but it also helps you develop ear training and pitch perception.

You can even use software like Songify (which we mentioned in our article on how to test your guitarist voice) to create singing lessons from any song. This tool has built-in microphone features, making it perfect for practicing with no headphones needed.

Challenge yourself

how to improve your rhythm guitar playing

As we have discussed, rhythm is one of the most important things to learn as a guitarist. But how do you improve your rhythm playing if you feel that you are always struggling with it?

The first thing you need to do is make it your number one priority. You must devote time every day to practice rhythms. This can be for 30 minutes, an hour or even more than that!

It’s very common when people start practicing guitar to focus only on technical skills like string numbers and fretboard diagrams. While these are certainly helpful, they are not enough to truly master the instrument.

You also need to work on your understanding of music theory and modes, but once again this can become too focused. What most beginners don’t realize is that knowing theory and being able to play in different keys is totally fine, but not necessarily useful until later.

Until you understand what notes mean and how to read music, you will remain limited in how much you can achieve. It is like learning to drive a car without knowing how cars work.

Your musical potential will stay stagnant if you don’t take care of the basics first. Once you do though, you will see your talent grow exponentially.

Practice making music

how to improve your rhythm guitar playing

A great way to improve your rhythm guitar playing is to practice making music! This can be done at home, or even in a studio if you have one. You do not need special equipment to start practicing this.

There are many ways to approach practicing making music. Some people may suggest starting with a simple pattern that has a steady beat, like “And then I did these steps”. By adding other chords and notes onto this basic structure, new patterns can be created!

Practice making music by yourself first, then play along as we mentioned before.

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