What Is A Rhythm Guitarist?Posted by Mike Schuck
A rhythm guitarist is someone who can play several styles of music using either open position chords or closed position ones. With these types of guitars, you use your left hand to strum the strings while your right hand uses either picks or fingers to pick out notes.
Some examples of songs that have a strong rhythm guitar part include anything with a steady drum beat like “Rock You” by Sweet Emma, “I Got You” by The Psychedelic Furs, or any song with a simple bass line such as “Thrift Shop” by Katy Perry.
There are many ways to be a great rhythm guitarist! Whether you're playing in an orchestra, for solo use, or even if you just want to learn how to play along with others, there's always something new to explore.
This article will go over some basics of how to play the rhythm instrument in both beginner and intermediate levels.
Examples of a rhythm guitarist
As we have discussed, being able to play guitar in a way that is intuitive and fluid is very important. But there is more to it than just knowing how to play some chords and licks!
It takes years to develop your rhythmic skills as a musician, and most musicians never truly learn how to do this. This can be quite frustrating for people who want to pursue music as a career but are not sure if they will ever be able to contribute due to this.
I hope I have changed that perception a little bit by sharing my tips here!
If you feel like you would like to become more of a rhythm guitarist then it is time to pick up the gauntlet and start practicing. The best place to begin is with one of our great beginner level lessons from our academy! Or maybe take some extra lessons and try experimenting with different styles or genres.
There are many ways to approach learning how to play the drums’s rhythm pattern, and it really does depend on what style of music you wish to explore. For example, playing an eight-beat eighth note quarter note triplet pattern in any genre could be done using either three notes per bar (triplets) or five notes per bar (quaver).
Plays the same rhythm all the time
A rhythm guitarist is someone who can consistently play one riff or pattern over and over again, while adding in some variations here and there. This person has a knack for music that they have trained themselves to perfect!
A good rhythm guitar player will pick up another instrument (for example, bass) and learn how to play along with their rhythm part. They may even pick up an additional instrument (such as piano) and use this new skill to help them develop their own personal style.
Some of the best musicians I’ve ever seen are really amazing at creating their own riffs and melodies too! It is said that rock bands begin when two friends get together and start playing chords and melodies back and forth.
Identifies and joins in a rhythm
Another important thing about being a guitarist that is considered as having rhythm is identifying and joining into the rhythm of a song. This is typically done with the bass line, but it can be done with any part of the music!
For example, if there are no drums in the music then you would need to make some sounds yourself to create the rhythm. The easiest way to do this is by hitting your guitar string just slightly higher or lower than normal depending on what note the song is.
This will produce a steady sound that acts as a good basis for creating a drum beat! If you are struggling to find the rhythm piece of the music alone then try experimenting with different notes and see which ones help create the desired effect.
Understands the basic chord structures
More than just knowing how to play some chords, what kind of chords you use in songs, or which fingers to use for each note, is understanding your rhythm guitar player’t really start playing music!
As we have seen before, once you learn the basics like scales and arpeggios, it’s easy to make things from there. By adding more structure to your practice, you can begin learning song concepts that contain music theory, as well as fluidly applying these theories to new songs.
But what makes someone call themselves a “rhythm guitarist?” That seems rather vague!
A rhythm guitarist doesn’t need to know any music theory beyond major and minor keys, and maybe some fractions. They don’t necessarily have to be able to read music either!
Instead, they must understand the basics of how chords work, and how to apply their rhythms to new songs. And most importantly, they must be able to recognize when a rhythmic pattern has an accent, and how to emphasize different parts of it.
A rhythm guitarist is someone who can consistently play rhythmic melodies, riffs, or patterns in sync with the rest of the band. This person knows how to keep time!
A musician that is able to keep time is very important. Music moves at a constant speed called tempo. Your drummer sets this tempo by hitting certain notes more quickly than others.
For instance, if the drum part being played has short beats followed by long beats, then the music will move slowly. If there are long beats coming soon after short ones, then the song will go faster.
By having a sense of what tempo something is written in, you can easily change the speed it is played at.
With guitar, the lead guitarist usually holds the most importance because they get to choose the chords and licks for their parts. Therefore, the lead guitarist makes sure their parts match the theme of the song, have appropriate lyrics, and hold their own individual style.
But as we learned before, good guitarists must be familiar with many different styles and genres of music. The bass player also needs to know about other instruments and how to contribute to the overall sound of the group.
That’s why the second member of the band is so crucial – the rhythm guitarist! They take care of the timing and keeping up with the rest of the team. And since they are not leading the charge like the lead guitarist, their style does not need to be as flashy.
Uses a metronome
A rhythm guitarist is someone who can play either fast or slow songs, and they use a device to help them achieve this. The device they use to aid in producing music is a metronome.
A metronome works by having one very steady tone beep that you must respond to with a similar beat. As you are responding to the beeps, you will contribute to the final result of the song being produced.
The person playing the guitar will press the strings down hard at a certain time during each measure to create the same amount of silence before the next note. This is what produces the steady pulse for the instrument.
For example, if the song has a main chord that goes for two measures, then the guitarist would push down on their string for the first measure, hold it there for one second, and release the pressure only after the second meter’s main chord has been played.
A skip is when an instrument drops out of the melody or rhythm completely for a short amount of time. This happens when the player does not have enough energy to continue playing, or the player can no longer play a note due to something like hand pain or fatigue.
When musicians use skips, it creates a rhythmic effect and changes the tone of the song. It also helps develop your ear-learning how to recognize what sound a given string, chord, or noise makes as it pauses.
There are three types of skips:
Melodic skips Occurring mostly at the beginning of a phrase or measure
Chordal skips Occuring within a pre-existing chord
Rhythmic skips At the end of a section or whole new idea
Examples of melodic skips ____________________________
The most common type of skip is when one of the strings in a guitar solo breaks off the main theme or motive.
For example, if the music has a repeated pattern of five notes, then sometimes only four will be played and then the fifth note comes back in later. This takes away from the intensity of the motif and slows down the tempo slightly, creating a break in the flow of the piece.
A similar thing happens when a musician uses a flatted third (a lower pitched tone) as a harmonic interval.
Identifies and joins in a groove
After you learn how to play some chords, your next step should be learning how to strum along with a rhythm pattern. This is called playing in the style of rock music or rhythm guitar!
Most people who play guitar use open strings to create an easy way to get into a song. By using open strings, your fingers can easily slide up and down the string without any resistance.
By using this technique, players often times lose focus on the note that chord they are trying to play. It may even become hard to remember which notes go together in a given chord because there are so many moving parts.
That’s why it is important to know what type of chord goes with what other chord. You will have to practice and memorize these patterns, but once you do, you will never forget them!
There are three main types of chords that apply to most songs: power chord, major chord, and natural harmony.
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.