What’s A Rhythm Guitarist?

Posted by Mike Schumacher

A rhythm guitar player is someone who can play several songs mostly using only their instrument, time signature, and pattern. They also use bass chords to create the base for most of their licks and patterns.

A guitarist that knows how to write rhythms is very versatile. You can ask them to play anything from slow bluesy riffs to fast power chord stabs!

And while it may sound like a cliché, having a sense of timing is important to be able to play rhythm guitar. You will have to know when to add or subtract beats in a song, as well as what tempo you want to play at.

This article will go more into detail about some cool things you can do with your rhythm guitar.

Learn to play by ear

what's a rhythm guitarist

There is an old saying that musicians are people who can read music. To be a good musician, however, you do not have to know how to read music! This is called being a musically trained person or a tone-deaf musician.

Most advanced guitarists learn to read music as well but this is not necessary for most people to start playing. Most beginner guitar players are rhythm students first before they move onto reading notes and theory.

Being able to read music gives you lots of advantages but it is not essential to become a great guitarist.

You should strive to develop your ability to listen and recognize rhythms. You will probably already have some sense of what songs contain which rhythms so you would just need to hone your skills.

There are many ways to learn how to play by ear. Some people even say that listening is the main way to learn to play by ear.

Practice often

what's a rhythm guitarist

Now that we have an understanding of what a rhythm guitarist is, it’s time to put this theory into practice!
As you can probably tell, practicing guitar isn’t something that happens once a day for a few minutes and then forgotten about until next week.

It takes constant reinforcement every single day. Even if you only spend five minutes learning how to play your favorite song, you’ve just made one more step towards becoming a musician.
You may even find yourself quickly getting better than before because you’re constantly investing in your craft.

And don’t worry about being too hard on yourself, music is a skill that requires repeated practice.

Become familiar with classic songs

There is no way to be a good rhythm guitarist if you have never listened to a lot of music. You must listen to lots of music!

Many people start playing guitar as a kid and then stop learning how to play, usually because they get bored or feel that they are not advanced enough to learn more complicated chords and bass lines.

But what most people forget is that we can always learn new things about our instrument by listening to other musicians’ songs and studying their techniques.

By investing time in understanding how different artists use rhythm guitars, patterns, timing and syncopation, you will pick up some helpful tips for your own song writing and soloing.

There are many great resources available free online and through apps to help you begin exploring this area. Many even offer graded lessons so you can progress at your own speed.

Read constantly

what's a rhythm guitarist

Now that you have your foundation in lead guitar, it is time to move onto the next level! The next important thing to do as a rhythm guitarist is read music consistently.

Reading music comes first for many musicians because they feel that if they can’t read music then they will not be able to play instruments. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

Many professional musicians cannot read music easily, but this is only due to how well they learn how to apply music theory to making music.

Music theory teaches us about how music works, which notes make up each scale, what modes are, and so on. But none of this applies to when you’re making music you know already or composing music yourself.

For those people, reading music is more of an academic exercise than anything else. You would probably just look through the sheet music until something sounds good and go from there.

But this isn’t a practical way to approach music learning. By limiting yourself like this, you risk never developing your own musical style.

By reading music regularly, however, you’ll develop your ear and instincts for music. Your brain will pick up patterns and styles automatically and you’ll start creating your own music naturally.

You’d also start noticing things about music that other people put into songs, such as riffs and melodies. These ideas can be used in your own compositions or adapted into someone else’s song.

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