Rhythm Guitar Basics

Posted by Mike Schuck

This week, we are going to learn how to play some rhythm guitar!

Rhythm is arguably one of the most important things for guitarist to know. If you can’t read music or don’t know much about music theory, that doesn’t matter as long as you can get some sort of pattern happening!

We will be focusing mostly on bass rhythms here, but many of these techniques can be transferred over to other instruments such as piano, drums, or even lead playing.

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Find the right string to put on the right spot

rhythm guitar basics

Stringing your guitar can be a tricky process that may feel complicated at first, but don’t worry! There are simple rules for choosing strings and positioning them on your instrument.

First off, choose your gauge (diameter) of string properly! Too light of a gauge will not give you enough tone, while buying too heavy of a gauge uses up more space on your neck than most people need. A good rule of thumb is to pick one or two heavier than what you would normally use, as this way it will sit slightly higher in the position of the note being played.

Now, find the correct place to position each string by using our tips above. For example, if you wanted to play an open chord with no notes, then your third string should be fifth fret, second string should be fourth fret, and first string should be third fret. To make these changes, move the string down a notch (remove a few inches from its placement), or push it farther onto the fingerboard towards the player.

Learn the different shapes of your guitar

rhythm guitar basics

When talking about rhythm guitars, there is one key element that sets them apart from other types of guitars. Most lead or song guitarist use their right hand to strum the strings rapidly, creating music! This is how most people are trained to play the guitar however this technique does not work well on a bass guitar.

A bass player needs to be able to hold down a note longer than a guitarist would in order to produce the same effect. A beginner should start off learning how to play only bass lines as they will come in handy when you learn how to write songs.

Once you have mastered playing simple bass lines, then you can move onto more complicated ones.

Know your strings

Strings are one of the most important parts of an electric guitar. You will probably start off with a standard set of six, usually referred to as a “standard” or “regular” gauge string (e.g., E-String, A-string, D-string). These strings are typically made out of steel or nickel and have a diameter of about 0.75 inches.

By changing the strings you use for your rhythm chords, it is easy to modify the sound that the instrument produces. For example, using heavier strings for lower notes and lighter ones for higher notes can create some interesting effects.

There are many different types of strings available in all different gauges and lengths. It is not too difficult to find which strings fit how you play! Many musicians develop their sense of pitch and tone by experimenting with different sets.

Learn to use your pick correctly

rhythm guitar basics

When you play guitar, picking is one of the most important things you will learn! A beginner may start out using a index finger or middle finger to pick strings, but as you progress you should get rid of that hand completely.

Using your thumb is by far the best way to pick notes on the instrument. You can also use your pinky or even your forefinger, it just depends on what style of playing you want to achieve.

There are three main reasons to use your thumb to pick chords and melodies. The first is dexterity-ability to touch each string with different picks. The second is control- being able to make smooth transitions from one note to another. And the third is consistency- being able to repeat this pattern over and over again without getting nervous or having to look down at your pick too much.

The hardest part about learning how to use your thumbs for picking is probably going to be keeping up the practice time. Even though it seems like a lot, stick to your regular routine and you’ll see results in the future.

Find the right amp for your guitar

rhythm guitar basics

More than just a way to get some cool effects, an amplifier is what controls how loud you can play your guitar. Your tone depends on which model of amplifier you have as well as what settings you use it in!

Amplifiers come in many different shapes and sizes. They are typically categorized by their shape (cylinder or rectangle), whether they have built-in speakers (basses, treble) or not (semi-acoustic guitars), and what type of gain they offer (clean, crunchy, white noise).

Amp models with more powerful batteries usually have higher-end sounds that people like better. How much power your amp has comes down to what types of music you want to make and your personal preference.

How to use effects

rhythm guitar basics

Effect types include reverb, chorus, flange, phaser, octave down, echo, tremolo, and others. Almost every guitarist uses at least one effect in their music!

Effects are great tools for adding depth or texture to your guitar sound. Effects can also be used to enhance an element of the song such as doubling up on the bass line or creating space by low hanging notes.

Clarity is another important effect to add into your rhythm guitar repertoire. Certain effects are only accessible however you apply them- you have to purchase the pedal separately!

There are many free resources online that teach you how to use different effects effectively.

Record and share videos

rhythm guitar basics

Recent developments in guitar technology have allowed us to do some cool things, like making it possible for anyone to play music! With the availability of software such as YouTube (or even your phone) you are no longer limited to only being able to perform at small venues or using expensive equipment.

There are many ways to learn how to play rhythm guitar. Some people teach students by having them mimic what they hear while playing along with a song, which is great for beginners who can follow instructions. For others, they will use instruments that make music automatically and help students add their own touches to the songs. Either way, learning the basics to rhythm guitar is important so that anyone can pick up the instrument easily.

You should know that almost any style of music can be learned through music theory and concepts of harmony, melody, and rhythm. By knowing these basic elements, you can start developing yours!

This article will go over some easy ways to get started teaching yourself how to play the bass line pattern on the floor next to “The Star” in A major.

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