How To Learn Rhythm On A Guitar

Posted by Mike Schuck

Learning how to play rhythm guitar is one of the most fundamental skills you can develop as a guitarist. You will learn many songs this way, and it’s totally possible to get by without ever playing more than half-steps or whole steps in a bar or meter pattern!

That said, there are several easy ways to pick up rhythmic concepts that anyone can implement into their music-making repertoire. In this article, we will go over some basic strategies for learning rhythms.

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Practice often

how to learn rhythm guitar

Learning how to play guitar rhythmically doesn’t happen overnight, but you can pick up some of the basics here for free!

There are many ways to learn how to play guitar rhythmically. Some say it's more important than knowing the notes, while others emphasize mastering the timing and patterning of music.

Whatever approach works best for you is great – as long as you know what kind of player you want to be!

This article will focus mostly on practicing with music. Many people start this way when learning about rhythm.

Reading chord charts and playing random patterns isn't going to help you very much. You'll have to connect the chords to something real at some point.

The easiest way to do that is by matching songs!

In this article I'll go into detail about one method that has worked well for me. It's called tabla drumming or stick tapping.

I've included links to resources where you can get started right now.

Record and listen to yourself

how to learn rhythm guitar

The first thing you need to do is learn how to recognize rhythm! This is an extremely important part of playing guitar, and there are many ways to achieve this.

You can either learn it by practicing exercises that focus exclusively on rhythm or you can learn it through music. Either way works!

By learning how to identify rhythms in songs, you will start to pick up some basic rhythmic patterns. These patterns can be applied to any style of song, not just rock.

Practice doing these workouts every day for at least ten minutes per session and eventually you’ll find your rhythm guitar skills improving rapidly.

Record yourself singing a few notes and then play a simple chord pattern while keeping time with the note drops. You can use computer software such as GarageBand, Audacity, or ProTools to easily record and edit your voice and music.

Once you have recorded your performance, you can simply listen to it back to make sure everything sounds good and natural.

Watch YouTube videos

how to learn rhythm guitar

One of the most fundamental things you can do to learn how to play rhythm guitar is to watch music! There are so many great resources available for you to soak in all the nuances of playing rhythms.

You can find free lessons via sites like udemy or lynda.com, paid courses on websites like pluck-guitar.com and tonebrick.net, and apps such as Spotify where you can access private lesson content.

There’s no wrong way to approach this. Find what works best for you and your style and go from there!

And don’t forget about making yourself some new musical friends! A lot of people struggle with learning how to read music, but very few hesitate when it comes to picking up an instrument and trying to teach themselves how to play.

Start by just listening — why not try practicing along as you listen? Then once you feel comfortable, start looking into ways to make your practice more structured.

Read guitar tablatures

When you learn how to play rhythm guitar, your first port of call should be learning how to read music. This is definitely one of the most fundamental skills for anyone wanting to pick up the instrument!

There are many ways to approach this. Some people start by reading notes and the names of those notes, while others begin with the chords and what finger each chord goes onto.

Either way works, but if you’re looking to truly master the art of reading music then we recommend starting with the second option. That is, understanding the shape of the licks or phrases in a song and translating that into the right hand patterns on the guitar.

Rhythm is all about creating solid patterning in the hands that match the meter (the timing) of the song. For example, a very common pattern is called a triplet – it has three points within one bar. If you were to create a triplet pattern every other note, it would go like this:

As you can see, there are two short notes and one long note in each triplet. To play these songs using this technique, you would need to know where these triplets fit in the lyrics and how to translate them into a pattern for the guitar.

That’s why the next step is important: reading guitar tablature. These are diagrams of the guitar playing the same rhythm pattern as the body will naturally move when the musician plays the song.

Try playing along with songs

how to learn rhythm guitar

One of the best ways to learn rhythm guitar is by learning how to play along with music! There are many sites that have vast song libraries where you can listen and practice your skills in this area.

You can also make use of apps that have interactive features, such as tempo sync or metronome settings. By setting up both of these, you will be able to not only focus on picking out the notes correctly, but also on keeping a steady beat!

And don’t forget about recording yourself either! You can use software like GarageBand or Audacity for that.

Focus on rhythm

how to learn rhythm guitar

There is an assumption that if you can play a few chords, you are already learning how to play guitar. This couldn’t be more wrong! Luckily, it's easy to learn how to play some simple rhythms, which don't require any chords!

There are many ways to achieve this. Some people start by picking notes out of patterns or sequences, which may sound nice, but doesn’t use your hands effectively. More advanced techniques like tapping or striking strings in time with the music will also teach you how to keep up with what part of the song needs doing next.

Once you have these basics down, you can move onto playing chord-based songs.

Practice using a metronome

how to learn rhythm guitar

A great way to learn rhythm guitar is by practicing with a device that helps you keep time! Technically, this tool is called a metronome, but it can be tricky to use effectively.

A basic metronome has one simple button or switch that clicks at a specific tempo (the speed at which you should play the notes). The problem is, how do you know what the correct tempo is?

That depends on the song you are learning and your goal in music. There are experts who have made creating their own rhythms easy for themselves by recording their songs and playing them at different tempos. You could try listening to those songs and copying the timing of each note.

Alternatively, there are apps designed specifically to help you pick up rhythmic skills. Many offer features like auto-play modes, adjustable tempos, and graphical representations of the rhythm pattern.

Learn to read chord charts

how to learn rhythm guitar

Chords are one of the most fundamental concepts in music, so it is important that you understand how to identify them! Most guitarists start by learning how to play some sort of chord (or group of chords) but they may not know what to do with it.

After mastering the basics of playing chords, you will learn about something called a rhythm chart or meter. A rhythm chart uses small timing patterns to indicate which notes should be played at each point in time within a piece. This applies particularly well to songs where there is a regular pattern to the song including the introduction, verse, chorus, etc.

With this information, you can now create your own rhythms for songs and add additional accents and flavor.

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