How To Spice Up Your Rhythm Guitar PlayingPosted by Mike Schumacher
A rhythm guitar player is someone who knows how to play chords, notes, or rhythms in time with a song. They use these skills to create music by playing against other sounds and patterns set forth by the composer of the piece.
A lot of people think that all guitarists just hit strings fast as hell but there are very few (if any) songs where the only rhythm instrument is speed!
Most musicians learn how to play bass, drum kit, keyboard, or violin first before moving onto the more complex instruments like guitar. This is okay, it’s totally normal!
Many beginner guitar students get so focused on learning how to strum really quickly that they forget about another very important element of the instrument — rhythm!
Rhythm can be anything from using different types of footwork to keeping a steady beat with your feet, counting out loud or silently, or simply tapping the barre or fingerboard surface constantly. It comes down to what feels most natural for you!
This article will go into detail about some easy ways to improve your rhythmic skill-set on the guitar. We will also discuss some interesting applications of this knowledge.
Practice playing along with music
When it comes down to it, being able to play rhythms is one of the most important things you can learn as a guitar player. But how do you get there? Simply practicing isolated notes or chords by themselves is not going to help you that much!
You have to practice using rhythm patterns in order to really improve your rhythm playing. And no, this does not mean just slapping some drum beats onto a pre-existing song!
Practice making music! There are many ways to achieve this. Some people start by singing a word and then play a note after each syllable. You could try starting by picking out a simple pattern and then adding more components to it. Or you could simply pick up a song and see where the rhythm parts come from.
Whatever method you choose, keep learning about the rhythm part and what exercises are needed for success.
Learn to sing along with music
Now, this is not necessarily easy to do unless you are naturally good at singing. Luckily for you, there are many ways to learn how to play guitar by ear!
You can take lessons from an expert teacher or string instructor, or you can find songs that sound similar to what you want to play and just focus on copying those parts of the song.
Use different techniques to spice up your rhythm playing
There are many ways to add some spunk to your rhythm guitar playing! Here are several tips that you can try out or combine together to achieve this.
Under-string hammering is one of the easier ones to do. By pressing down on either the high string or low string as you strum, a harmonic sound will be produced.
Pressure changes when using an under-string hammer technique makes it more interesting to listen to. Try experimenting with different intensities and see what sounds best for you!
Another way to add some spark to your music is by adding vibrato to your chords. Chords that use white notes (no black note) like major, minor, dominant seventh, etc., can have slight intonation drops or rises depending on how much vibration you give them.
Change your playing location
When you are learning how to play rhythm guitar, one of the first things that people usually ask is how to pick up speed. It’s easy to pick up some tricks like tapping or using finger snaps, but what most beginners don’t know is how to use different areas of the guitar as practice spaces.
The best way to learn this is by looking at the types of songs that get popular and learning why those songs work. Then, apply those concepts to create your own music!
You can start by practicing with headphones so only you can hear yourself – no distractions!
After that, have a short song (like a verse or a chorus) and move around the instrument while singing it. If there’s an empty space in the chord pattern, try jumping into that area and exploring what notes go well together there.
If something sounds weird, experiment with it until it does, then figure out how to make it sound better.
Play in different types of settings
When it comes down to it, anyone can pick up the guitar and learn how to play some songs! It is not limited to music schools nor do you need to be trained as a guitarist before you can start playing really well.
That being said, however, there are two things that make or break your rhythm guitar skill. First, what level you are at now — beginner, intermediate, or advanced. And second, how you want to develop your skills.
If you would like to improve your speed, dexterity, and tone quality, then learning how to use exercises is necessary. That is why this article will talk about the three most common exercise styles for developing your rhythm guitar skills.
Play using different instruments
Choosing your rhythm instrument is an important part of developing your rhythmic playing skills. There are many types of instruments that can be used as a basis for creating rhythms.
You do not have to stick with the guitar per se, there are so many other options! For example, you could choose to use any type of bass instrument (double bass, cello, violin, etc.). Or you could add some percussion instruments like a djembe or shaker.
By incorporating these into your music, others can make their own choices about what parts should be perceived as “rhythm” in your piece. This allows for more variation and expression than just sticking with the guitar alone.
There are also various types of electronic equipment such as synthesizers where people create new patterns and sounds via software.
Use different guitar picks
Pick styles are an integral part of rhythm playing. There are many types of pick you can use in your music- be it flamenco, acoustics, acoustic blues, or any other style!
There are two main picking techniques that most musicians learn at a young age- one is using a standard first finger pick (or index) along with either a second or third finger press down onto the string. The second way to play with picks is by using three fingers- a index, middle, and ring finger pick pattern.
Both ways are great starting points for more advanced rhythmic patterns. What makes picking interesting is how each musician uses their picks to create new sounds and add variety to their songs. Different artists apply their picks differently depending on what song they are trying to do!
For example, some will only ever use their thumb as a pick while others have very elaborate pick schemes that include all five digits.
Become familiar with the different chords
The next thing you will need to do is become more familiar with the different types of chord structures that are used in music. These include major, minor, harmonic, power, and sus chords.
Some songs only use one type of chord structure, but most have several! It is good to be familiar with all of them because they each give your song some special touches.
For example, if your favorite song uses an Em chord then you can learn how to play that exact same chord by learning its notes first. After doing this, it’s easy to create another Em chord by just changing the root note.
This way you won’t have to look up the formula for the chord or figure out which notes go into it! By knowing the roots of every chord, you already half-way win the battle.
The hard part comes after where you must add the middle (or tone) notes and the third (or highest) notes.
The Jam Addict team is a revolving door of writers who care about music, its effects on culture, and giving aspiring artists tools and knowledge to be inspired and keep on creating.
If you have any questions or concerns or just want to drop us a line, don’t hesitate to contact us! We always appreciate the feedback.