How To Play Guitar Rhythm With A Band

Posted by Mike Schuck

Learning how to play guitar rhythm is one of the most important skills you can develop as a guitarist. When playing songs, there are always events or markers where a pattern in the music comes down and hits you like a wave! These patterns are called meter.

Meter is when parts of a song get grouped together according to time. For example, in a song that goes dum da-da DA DA DA DA DUM DEE DEESTA KEET, it will have a set number of beats per row (or measure) followed by a short break before the next group starts. In this case, each part has four beats within it, making a total of eight beats for every two rows (measures). This is known as an eighth note–fourteenth beat ratio, which is very common in many types of music.

When musicians use meters they usually organize them into groups with a name attached to make it easier to identify what part of the song the pattern belongs to. A word that describes these groups of notes is metric term, which means “measured”. These terms tell you how many pulses of the metronome (a tool used to test timing) belong to each part of the song.

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This article will go over some basic examples of meter in beginner level songs and then move onto more complex ones.

Practice often

how to play guitar rhythm

When learning how to play guitar rhythm, your first instinct might be to pick up a book or watch a YouTube lesson, but that is not the best way to go about it!

Too many people start teaching lessons by telling you to read this section then do that one, and so on until you are able to play what they called a “Pattern”. This isn’t the best way to learn how to play guitar rhythm.

What most instructors fail to tell you is that there are only 20 major chords in all of music (excluding some special cases like half-chords), which makes using those as patterns wrong.

Also, too many beginners try to use every trick in the book to make their notes sound better, which is great for enhancing tone, speed, etc., but not for playing guitar rhythm.

Guitar rhythm does not care about quality of note, only whether it is steady or not! So while it is okay to strive to achieve strong tones and fast tempos, things can get out of control if you spend your time trying to master that instead of just practicing everyday.

Practice daily! Just because something feels natural to you does not mean it is easy for others. Do not worry about making perfect rhythms, rather focus on having a good understanding of the basics and practice them frequently.

Record and listen to yourself

how to play guitar rhythm

The next step in playing guitar rhythm is learning how to play along with a song. You can do this by recording your own music or by listening to other people’s songs!

Recording yourself is an excellent way to learn how to read music, because you get rid of the human element. A person will subconsciously add their style to what you are reading, which may not be good or bad, but could still confuse you as a reader.

Reading music is already complicated, so having someone else make it even more difficult can be confusing at times. Therefore, recording yourself is the best way to go about it.

You should use a device that has headphones or earbuds such as iPod, smartphone, or computer voice input. This allows you to easily hear your music without needing any distractions.

Tip: Do not worry too much about exact fingering numbers.

Use a metronome

how to play guitar rhythm

A great way to learn how to play guitar rhythm is by using a metronome! A metronome works like a clock that counts down at a steady rate, or it can be set to count up quickly. There are many types of metronomes out there, but most have you press start and then hit one button for each time signature (rhythm pattern) you want to work with.

The hardest part about learning how to use a metronome effectively is knowing what tempo you should use. The easiest way to do this is to pick a slow song that anyone can sing along to and find the average speed of the notes. Then, reduce the speed of the metronome by that same amount to get your desired effect.

You can also create your own timing by thinking about when the next note will fall in relation to the last one. For example, if the first note ends and the second starts right away, then the third would take longer than the second due to the lag before it comes into place. This creates an easy way to figure out how long a note needs to last, which makes creating rhythms much more efficient.

Use a drum machine

how to play guitar rhythm

A great way to start playing guitar rhythm is by using a drum machine! There are many types of software that can be used as a tool for learning how to play guitar rhythm. Most have you pick your style, set up some chords, and then teach you the basics of timing and bass drops, licks, and patterns.

Some even let you choose from a variety of music styles or genres to learn about. Some are designed specifically for beginner musicians while others offer more advanced features. It all depends on what you want to learn!

There are several good options out there so do some research and find one that works best for you.

Use a software instrument

how to play guitar rhythm

A great way to learn guitar rhythm is by using an internal or external tool for music making! There are many ways to do this, but one of my favorite methods is using a software instrument app that has built-in guitar chords and rhythms.

Many apps offer these features, however some are better than others. Some have very easy modes to use and understand, while other may have more advanced settings that help you get even higher levels of proficiency.

There are also different types of software instruments. Sampler apps allow you to create your own sounds, and ones with presets usually sound good so you can use those as starting points.

The best apps will let you manipulate the timing, tempo, and number of notes per minute (BPM) in detail, which allows you to get really creative when experimenting.

Combination tones

how to play guitar rhythm

Another important element of guitar rhythm is combination tones. These are when strings produce additional notes that combine with the main note. For example, the second string (the A string) produces a bassy tone in addition to its own fundamental note.

The trick here is to know what chord or sequence of chords you want to play, and then use the appropriate bass notes for those chords. To play an Am chord, for instance, you would press the first string (the E string) down while also pressing the A string at the same time. Pressing both simultaneously creates a very low-pitched sound known as a bass note.

You can apply this concept to any number of combinations.

Tuning your guitar

how to play guitar rhythm

Once you have learned how to play some chords, it is time to move onto rhythm! You will learn how to play a pattern or riff that goes along with most songs. This technique can be applied to any string instrument- even if you do not own an electric guitar yet!

When learning how to play guitar rhythm, many people start by trying to pick out notes rapidly without linking them together. This type of playing is very isolated and does not tell a story like music does.

To add depth to your music making, we must link notes together to form phrases and patterns. These are called melodies and rhythms.

Melodies speak about things, while rhythms describe actions or behaviors. Both are important parts of songwriting!

Here are some basic tips for playing guitar rhythm.

Taking breaks

how to play guitar rhythm

A lot of people start playing guitar by picking any string and then trying to play what they think a note is, before changing strings or going back to another string for more tricks. This method will not work!

Most musicians learn how to read music first, which means learning the notes and their value and placement. Then, they can move onto rhythm.

Playing a simple one-two-three rhythm like “And then I hit two steps” uses three different notes of the scale, but you do not have to know which notes are which until later. You only need to be able to identify each pair of notes as a step (or foot).

Steps form a pattern that repeats throughout the song. The easiest way to remember this is thinking about walking - every time you take a step, you cover a distance in space and time. That applies here!

By taking short breaks between each step, your brain has time to process the next bit of information.

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