How To Play Gallop Rhythm On Guitar

Posted by Mike Schuck

Playing gallops is one of the most unique rhythm styles you can learn on guitar. They’re tricky to nail, but when done right, they’re totally infectious!

A galloping rhythm sounds like someone or something is running really fast. It goes up in short intervals and then drops down slowly. A common way to play this style on guitar is by using alternating bass notes as the “runner” and treble strings as the “walker."

The bass note will be picked quickly (upstroked) and then held for the length of the trot before being pressed down again. The walker string (the highest pitched string) will take longer to go down than the runner string, creating the effect of speed.

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There are two types of gallops that can be learned on guitar: regular and asymmetrical. In both cases, it’s important to know how to position your hands and fingers on the fretboard to make the pattern work. This article will show you how to do just that! Read on to find out more about playing gallops on the guitar.

Practice playing in the gallop rhythm

how to play gallop rhythm on guitar

The next part of this lesson is going to be fun! Let’s get into it by practicing the bass line from our first example, which was an easy song to learn how to play in the galloping groove pattern.

Practice singing along as you read through the steps. When you are done, you will know how to play your own bass lines in the galloping rhythm style!

Step 1 – Tempo

Start off by deciding what tempo you would like to use for your bass line. Use any common sense here (no slow pieces) and choose something that is relatively fast.

A normal speed choice is 120 beats per minute (bpm), which is about 160 breaths per minute. A faster option is 150 bpm, or just under 180 breaths per minute.

Tempo is determined by how many times a note is hit per one second of music. For instance, if there is a note one second long, then a beat has been added because notes can come together at a specific time- they sync up.

The number of beats in a given amount of time is called the timing ratio or metric ratio. This ratio is important when learning how to play in the galloping rhythm style, as it determines the length of each bar.

In this case, the longer the bar, the more beats exist within that bar. So, a ratio of 2:1 means that every other measure contains two full bars.

Find the right tempo

how to play gallop rhythm on guitar

The first thing you will need to do is find the correct timing for your galloping rhythm! When playing this song, I found that there was an ideal timing for each note in the chord.

The notes per minute ratio is 2:2:3 which means that every two beats needs three notes (one rest). This gives us our timing!

For example, if the chord contains A, then the next two notes should be A-D-A which would take up one whole beat and a half a beat respectively.

Use an amp

how to play gallop rhythm on guitar

A very common way to learn how to play gallops is by using an amplifier as your source of music. Most guitarists start off with this, even if they later switch up their equipment!

The important thing about playing rhythm guitars is that you must be able to access all of the notes at a consistent speed.

A beginner might think that when they press down on the string it moves away from the fretboard, but no! That note is still there!

It just takes longer for your finger to reach it due to the effect of gravity. This is why it’s referred to as “losing time” because you have to wait before you can hit the next note.

Use proper volume

how to play gallop rhythm on guitar

After you learn how to play your first galloping chord, your next step is to slowly increase the speed of the chords. The easiest way to do this is by using appropriate guitar volumes.

The volume can be adjusted while playing along with the song. If possible, use an external speaker or device to help achieve this. By raising the volume as you add faster chords, it will sound more natural!

General tips: try increasing the volume in one area of the instrument only (for example, the hands instead of the whole body). This helps focus only on enhancing the rhythm part of the music without getting distracted by other parts like voice or bass.

Use compression

Another way to play this rhythm is by using compression. Rather than playing every note as an open string, add some re-pressuring of the notes. For example, the first half of the chord could be pressed down, making it sound like a shorter version of itself.

This technique can also be used to create syncopation. When not all of the notes in a chord are played at the same time, you can insert a short break between each one! This creates a faster feeling rhythm. Try applying this theory to your own songs!

Using compression with the galloping groove idea above will make the music feel slightly faster. You can do this quickly by pressing the strings just before they meet the next one. Press them only for a few hundredths of a second, though! Too much compression can ruin the effect.

Learn the song

how to play gallop rhythm on guitar

Let’s look at an example of how to play the galloping rhythm of one of The Beatles’ most famous songs, their classic track Hey Jude.

The first note in this pattern is the bass pedal tone, which is also called a syncopation tone or half-note. This means that it has a short rest before the next note. In this case, there is a 1/4 note rest between the B and the A natural.

Next, we have our main chord, which in this case is a G major chord with the index finger, middle finger, ring finger, and pinky all ringing the third string (G).

After the second chord, let your left hand glide down the neck as you place your right foot on the floor. As you do so, slide your index finger along the low E string until you reach the position shown below.

Continue playing the galloping rhythm by rolling your hands up and down the guitar neck while stepping onto the feet. When your hands are fully extended, add some weight to the balls of your feet and step forward slightly with each beat, like walking.

Practice these steps slowly until you get them perfectly, then speed up the tempo! This will take some time to achieve, but be persistent and you will eventually succeed.

Figure out the lyrics

how to play gallop rhythm on guitar

The first thing you will need to do is figure out the lyrics! This can be done in a few different ways, either by looking it up or using an app that has the song as well as the words.

Sing along

how to play gallop rhythm on guitar

This rhythm pattern is called galloping because it feels like you are running but your feet are staying still! The hardest part about this technique is knowing when to start singing and how long to keep going with each note.
As seen in the diagram, the first three notes of every line will have no lyrics. It is up to you to determine what note to sing next depending on the chord being played.

For example, if the chord contains the root (the main tone) then you would normally go down by one string. If the chord has the fifth then go up a whole step- an octave higher. If the third then go back a half step or a major second lower.
You can also choose not to add any lyrics to these chords, just use your intuition as to which notes match the chord.

Once all three lines have been completed, the final note should be repeated twice as quickly as the first two together! This double pulsation creates the effect that the notes fade out before coming back in again.

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