How To Play Rhythm And Blues GuitarPosted by Mike Schuck
A blues guitar solo is any extended piece that features use of harmonic, rhythmic, or meter-based structure. It can be an easy song pattern with catchy licks, or one that requires more elaborate techniques for effect.
A rhythm section typically includes drums, bass, and lead guitars (sometimes called first, second, or third position). The drummer sets the tempo and makes sure the other instruments are keeping up!
Interludes occur when one instrument stops playing while the others keep going. For example, in a blues verse, the guitarist might take a break at the end of each line before rehashing the same chord progression as the rest of the band.
Interspersed between these longer pieces are shorter passages where only one element is used – usually either the bass, drum, or both together. These are often referred to as pick lines, brush strokes, accents, or trills if they contain percussive sounds like finger tapping or rolling your picks across the strings.
Blues songs often have short crescendos and decrescendos, which refer to rising and falling intensity within a passage or sequence. There may also be silence, something musicians call static music. This is when nothing happens for a few seconds but you are still listening so well done!
The final type of transition is a repeat. An instrumental segment will come to a close and then start over again without changing anything else.
A lot of people get distracted by speed or flashy techniques while practicing rhythm guitar. These are great exercises, but they can easily drown out real learning unless you make time to practice them.
Tracy Macomber, lead guitarist for All Time Low, says it best in her article The Best Ways To Learn Guitar: “I would say limiting yourself to one hour per day is very, very important.”
She goes onto say that this an hour should be spread across several sessions so you do not have to stop what you are doing prematurely. You can simply pick up where you left off later.
This way, your music training does not suffer due to lack of investment. It is equally valuable whether you are just starting out or already have some experience under your belt.
A good amount of time can be spent practicing technique alone, playing along with songs, or both.
Listen to music
One of the most important things you can do as a rhythm guitar player is listen to music! There are so many types of musicians that there’s always something new to learn from them.
You don’t need any formal training to pick up some cool licks and rhythmic patterns, but listening to other guitarist’s songs and figuring out how they use riffs, chords, and rhythms can help you push your own playing forward.
Reading music is also an excellent way to get familiar with the basics of music theory, like intervals and modes.
There are many great resources available online and for free that can teach you all about music in general and rhythm guitar specifically. You don’t have to be a professional musician to soak in lots of helpful information.
And once you find a style or genre of music that really grabs your attention, trying to figure out the notes, the timing, and the melodies can give you more inspiration for your own playing.
Create a listening group
A lot of people start playing guitar by simply picking up the instrument and trying to play what they hear in music or what someone else has done before. Unfortunately, this is not a good way to learn how to play rhythm guitar!
It’s easy to get discouraged when you can’t seem to make much sense out of what your ears are hearing, so you give up. This isn’t very helpful since you’ve already spent money on the tool that helps you understand music!
The best way to learn how to play rhythm guitar is by creating a listening group with friends or family members who know some chords and/or songs. Then have them take a few minutes every day to teach you the basics of their song (the chord structure, the rhythm pattern, etc.).
Once you feel comfortable with those parts, then you can move onto more advanced concepts like bass lines and lead vocals.
Read more books
One of the best ways to learn how to play rhythm and blues guitar is by reading music theory and learning about chords and bass lines. Chords are always made out of at least two different notes, and most songs use some sort of chord as their main structure or theme.
Reading music theory teaches you how to recognize those chords and what they mean. For example, an A major chord contains one note that is in the perfect fifth position (A). The other notes are both natural second (B) and dominant third (C) positions. By changing the order of these three notes, you get different chords with the same name!
The bass line is another important part of playing rhythm and blues guitar. It usually has a steady, walking pattern that changes tone and volume. Some musicians only use bass when there’s a lead guitarist, but anyone can be a lead guitarist! If you want to take your skills further, try writing your own melodies and licks using familiar patterns and shapes like quarter-notes, half-steps, whole steps, etc.
Another way to develop your rhythm and blues guitar skill set is practicing and working on song structures. Take a look at any popular rhythm and blues songs and pick out the basic elements: verse, chorus, solo, etc.
Learn the chords
Chords are one of the most important things to learn as a guitarist! There is no way to play rhythm and blues guitar without knowing at least the major, minor, and seventh chord structures.
The term “chord” may sound confusing to beginners because there are different definitions depending on what music genre you are learning. For example, some define a chord as a tone-melody plus another note, while others include the third scale degree or even none!
However, we will use the former definition here — a chord is three notes (or more) that sound good together. Technically speaking, any number of notes can be used to make up a chord, but chances are your first few chords will have all three.
Many people begin playing by learning songs with only interior diagonals – those where each note is either an open string (no frets) or a half close (one fret). These songs often contain lots of triples–three notes in a row–which are very easy to play if you know how.
By adding extra strings and/or fingers, these internal tris become easier to play. But never fear! That does not mean you should stop trying to practice them! They remain a key part of developing your rhythm and blues guitar technique.
Practice using chords
Chords are one of the most important things to learn as a rhythm guitar player! There are two main reasons why they are important. First, almost every song you want to play has at least one chord splayed across several strings.
Second, many songs use only one or two chords, but we always turn these tunes into our own personal stories. For example, if the chorus contains the same chord twice in a row, then what?
A lot of times it is based off of a verse-chorus structure, so what do we do with the rest of the music? We add more chords to make a transition or create another mood!
That’s how chords help develop your musical storytelling skills. Plus, knowing some chords will give you an edge over musicians who may not know them!
Practice using major, minor, and/or harmonic chording to establish new patterns, identify difficult chords, and improve your tone quality.
Learn to sing
In order to play rhythm and blues guitar, you will first need to learn how to sing. There are many ways to do this! You can take voice lessons from a trained teacher or music school, purchase a song that teaches you how to sing along with it, or search online for tutorials that show you step by step.
Once you have learned how to sing, then you can start practicing your vocals alone. When playing rhythm and blues songs, musicians often use their singing as accompaniment to the rest of the instruments.
You can also practice your vocal skills in the car while driving around or in the kitchen where no one is listening. Since the lyrics of rhythm and blues songs tend to be short, you do not have to spend too much time training your pitch and tone.
Tone your guitar
After you get all of your equipment settings done, it is time to tone or shape your guitar’s voice. This is typically done through use of effects such as amplifiers and guitars with built-in preamp units.
Amplifier presets are usually very close in tone to what people mean when they say “the studio sound.” These types of presets are great because they have already run into similar issues and solved them, making the tone slightly different but still sounding good!
A few examples of effect types that can be used for toning include: compressor, parametric equalizer, graphic EQ, low pass filter, high pass filter, etc.
Some brands make pedals specifically designed to increase volume, reduce noise, or both. Looking into the features of these products is an excellent way to find out how to use them.
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