How To Play A Reggae Rhythm On Guitar

Posted by Mike Schumacher

A rhythm is an element that plays a significant part in music composition, synthesis, and execution. In reggae, the rhythm typically consists of short notes or beats separated by silence. This type of rhythm can be played using any number of instruments!

The guitar is a very popular choice for playing rhythms as it has a range of naturally occurring sounds that can easily be modified or supplemented. The picking pattern of the instrument makes it easy to use quick drops (strokes) or trills (quick repeated touches) to create the necessary rhythmic effects.

Practice playing the rhythm slowly

how to play a reggae rhythm on guitar

A reggae rhythm is typically played at a moderate tempo, which makes it easy to play quickly without thinking about how fast you are going! This can be tricky at first because most people think music comes naturally to them.

It takes practice learning your timing and how to keep time! The hardest part is actually starting to slow down and pay attention to the beats of the song.

By practicing playing the reggae pattern at a steady pace, eventually your natural speed will pick up along with it.

Practice playing the rhythm quickly

how to play a reggae rhythm on guitar

It is very important to practice your rhythm guitar technique on some simple songs first. There are many great resources available online with beginner lesson plans that can help you get started.

Many people start learning how to play reggae music on guitar by practicing pattern repetition. This method works well for understanding the basics of timing in reggae music, but it isn’t much more than that!

You will learn how to play some basic patterns, and maybe even apply them to some chords or melodies, but it won’t do anything else. What about syncopation? You probably learned something about counting rhythms, but nothing about how to combine different rhythmic structures together.

This kind of music requires you to pay attention to both the time signature and what part of the song each note belongs to. More advanced musicians use tools like metrical analysis to understand this aspect of the music.

Use a metronome to keep a consistent beat

how to play a reggae rhythm on guitar

A rhythm pattern is called a reggae rhythm, or just a reggae if you want to get really fancy! It can be tricky to play without knowing the basics of how to play a rhythm track.

A reggae rhythm should have enough notes in it so that even when you are not playing any chords, your music still sounds okay!

To help people learn this song, I will go over some basic fundamentals of how to play a reggae rhythm on guitar. Then, we will apply them to practice difficult parts of this song to make it easier to navigate.

Use your ear to find the correct beat

how to play a reggae rhythm on guitar

The first thing you need to do is learn how to listen to reggae music! There are many ways to play rhythm guitar in a reggae song, but most start with learning the drum pattern. This is what people usually refer to as a “beat” or “rhythm track.”

The easiest way to get this hang of is by listening to lots of reggae songs and experimenting with the patterns they use. Once you have learned the main parts of the song, you can then focus on filling in the gaps and developing your skills more.

And don’t worry if you cannot immediately pick out all of the different beats in a rhythm; that will come with time! Many musicians struggle with this at first, but practice makes perfect.

Play along with recording of the rhythm

how to play a reggae rhythm on guitar

The first way to play a reggae rhythm is by using a timing pattern or groove as your guide. A common way to do this is to find a song that has some simple drum beats and guitar licks, and then use those as guides for how many notes you should be playing in each bar!

For example, let’s look at the second chord of the first verse of Bob Marley‘s classic song “I Shot My Love.” This chord contains two notes, an open tone (no third) and a sharpened fifth. To play these notes, go down one fret (a half step lower), press the sixth string (A) button, and strum twice.

This will create a nice steady bass line, which can easily be matched by any good reggae guitarist! If needed, add slight accentuations or accents to make it sound more authentic.

Learn the lyrics to the rhythm

how to play a reggae rhythm on guitar

The next part of this lesson will be a little bit tricky, so make sure you are listening well and can hear the rhythm!
You learned how to play an easy reggae rhythm pattern on guitar back in Chapter 5, now it’s time to move onto more difficult rhythms.

The first thing you need to do is learn the song’s lyrics. You can either use a good music theory book or you can look up the lyrics online or through your device’s music app.

Once you have that down, you can then start playing the rhythm I mentioned before while singing those lyrics.

Relate the rhythm to another musical style

how to play a reggae rhythm on guitar

The second way to play reggae rhythms is by matching the timing of the bass line with the foot pattern of the rhythm you want to use. An example of this would be using the first beat as your base, then adding the next two beats into a regular meter pattern, and then three more beats for an alternating or half-meter pattern.

This method can also be applied to any other music genre that uses a basic rhythm structure. For instance, if the song has a steady drum beat, you could add some Jamaican flavor by putting the same amount of notes in each box as the main rhythm, but with an opposite number sequence.

Another way to do it is to pick one part of the rhythm very slowly and then speed up towards the rest of the note sequence. This will create a smoother transition than just starting all at once!

Healing songs are always good to learn new things from. “You Got Me Started” is a great example of how effectively these theories can be applied. Check out the chords and rhythm patterns used for the main rythm section below.

The chord progression goes like this: G–Bm–D–F/A–C#–E–G–Am–And then back to the start.

That whole bar is based off of the eight eighth notes in the reggae rhythm pattern we mentioned earlier.

Combine the rhythm with another instrument

how to play a reggae rhythm on guitar

When playing reggae music, there are two main instruments that play a significant part in helping you nail some tricky licks or even full songs. These are the bass guitar and the drum kit!

The bass plays an integral role by adding low-frequency content to your sound while the drums add rhythmic texture. Both of these can be used to help you learn how to play a reggae rhythm on guitar!

You can combine the rhythm pattern with the bass, or you could use the bass as a second instrument to aid in the learning process. For example, if you already know how to play the bass line like a pro then you could slowly add in the Jamaican rhythms onto it to create a seamless transition.

And for those who don’t have a bass yet? No worries! There are many resources available online where you can learn how to play the bass piece-by-piece! All of this helps you grow your skills as a guitarist and musician.

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