All types of music begin with some rhythm. Rhythm is the foundation on which the whole song is built - and rhythm gives the support to every other member of the band to help them play the song in a way it was meant to be played. So, being a rhythm guitarist is an important job - a rhythm guitarist practically makes the difference between a band that sounds in-tune and a band that just can not get a clean sound.
There are a few tips you - as a guitar player - should pay attention to. Always remember that the rhythm you are playing is the base of the song - play it right and everything will come out fine. So, let's see what you can do to improve your guitar skills as a rhythm player.
Tips For Rhythm Guitarists
1. Get yourself a metronome. Yes, this is the definite number one on our list. Get yourself a metronome and practice with it as much as you can. You don't need to set it on some insanely high frequencies, as the matter of fact you really shouldn't do that. You set it to an appropriate value of beats per minute, depending on the type of music your band is playing.
Once you get familiar with it, listen to original versions of the songs you like, find guitar chords for them somewhere on the internet, set the metronome accordingly and just play along. This is the part when you need to become a master - keeping a steady beat, not losing the rhythm and sounding clean on the way.
2. Play a lot of songs with different types of rhythms and try to understand each of them. Every song has its rhythm, and you really should get it exactly right. You would be surprised if you knew how many guitar players tend to play every song too fast! Once they feel that they have no problems with playing it, they just subconsciously speed the song up. And that is BAD. The song was meant to be played in a specific way, and you really should not speed it up, most likely you will just ruin it. Remember: Playing slower does not mean that you are a lesser guitarist - it means that you know what the song is trying to say!
3. Learn a few tricks to impress the audience. My personal favorite has always been the following: Your band is playing through the verse and is approaching the chorus, which starts with a very specific riff. Once you get to the end of the verse, don't advance to the chorus right away. Just stop playing for a little while. Every member of the band must stop at the same time, so there is a perfect silence. You can feel the energy of the crowd build up as they wait for that great riff - and they are not getting it. Just have them wait for it. And then, after some exact number of beats of the silence, start with the chorus. The crowd will go out of their minds.
4. Well, the final one is pretty expected: practice, practice, practice. Unfortunately, this is and has always been the only road to perfection.
While the lead guitarist usually gets most of the attention, the rhythm section has an arguably much more important role as they set the foundation that everything else is built upon. As a rhythm guitarist, it is up to you, the drummer and bassist to hold down the beat and keep things running smooth. By following the tips above, you can improve your skills and eventually hold down the rhythm section like a pro!
Your Turn to Sound Off!
What are some other good tips for rhythm guitarists?