Why is rhythm important?
If you want to play lead guitar, your rhythm MUST be tight. And Vice Versa.
If it isn’t tight then your leads will suffer and will sound mediocre at best. They will never sound truly great.
Imagine hearing a solo in which the rhythm was a little off. You’d be totally disappointed.
Its crucial for when we hear solos from the bands we like we are hearing those climactic notes right on the money and on time.
If they were off a bit we wouldn’t be listening to them or really wouldn’t know about them in the first place.
Professional Guitar Players
Every great lead guitar player AND rhythm player understand the importance of playing on time, in the pocket.
If the strings that need to be muted are not muted your playing suffers.
Don’t be a player who just plays lead guitar. Nothing is worse that being able to think you can play guitar and then come across some chords or a rhythm part and not know how to play them.
It is hard to play tightly, cleanly and especially at a high speed.
You need to have control of all the strings and make sure the high 3 strings are not ringing out.
Take this seriously or your playing will suffer for it later on down the line and you will feel worse that you didn’t do it when you were supposed to.
Playing on the Beat
Playing on the beat, not counting in your head and sloppy palm muting are the most common reasons for not being able to play rhythm well.
When you don’t count you are taking a risk.
Playing on the beat.
If you can’t play on the beat you are not as good as you think you are.
This is a highly common problem and its due to laziness on our part.
Put the metronome on and stop whining about how you don’t like it.
You don’t like to get up and go to school in the morning every day but when it comes to playing guitar you can’t put a metronome on?
This makes no sense and is a bullshit excuse. Just do it. You will SOLVE your rhythm problems with a simple metronome.
When I took class in college on music theory they had us clap.
This seemed like the stupidest thing ever.
But you know what? My rhythm guitar skills improved.
Ive been complimented on my rhythm skills since I started playing guitar. I don’t say this to impress but to IMPRESS it on your mind that being able to play in time is crucial.
Without your guitar, put the metronome on at a slow speed and see if you can clap on each beat without missing a beat. (Let the metronome click for 4 beats before you start…and count along with it out loud)
Hint: If the metronome is not audible when you clap you are in time. If you can hear it you’re not. Very simple.
Now that you can clap along do it with a single open string.
Dont Want To Count?
If you don’t count you’re lost. Thats it.
You may be able to get away with it for an easy part but come the hard part and you are completely lost.
Start counting immediately from this moment on.
The sooner you do it the sooner you won’t need to count and you can just use your ear.
But if you don’t understand how the rhythm is moving and where the accents are you will inevitably get lost.
Accents. You can play 16 (16th notes) in one measure of 4/4 time. (Common time)
How do you count sixteenth notes?
1 e & a 2 e & a 3 e & a 4 e & a.
Notice how beats 1-4 are accented.
Do this out loud emphasizing the numbers to get a feel for it.
Now do it with a single note or string. Now do it with a chord…you get the point.
In this example there are 4 notes to each beat.
Start out at 60 bpm to get this rhythm down.
First chord is not palm muted. This is because accented notes or chords are usually not palm muted so that you are emphasizing that beat.
It doesn’t always have to be but it generally sounds better this way.
So don’t palm mute chords or notes on the accented beats for now.
The other 3 notes that follow each accented beat are palm muted and here is where most problems occur.
You must go slow and get everything nice and tight. Don’t slack on this aspect of your playing…you’ll be glad you didn’t.
What Really Matters when Playing Rhythm
It doesn’t matter whether you can play this or that, it only matters how tight and clean and on the beat you are.
Thats the reason for exercises since they get harder down the line. Put the work in now so you won’t have to later on.
Then play along with your recording.
After you have done this, record 2 takes one on top of each other and listen back.
Are you in time? If not go back and do it until you are.
Its worth it to do all this work.
You will be all the better for it.
Dont be the sloppy guy.
You may hear that some of the famous players were a bit sloppy and that it added to the human feel of the music.
This is total bullshit.
Dont play into this.
The only thing you need to worry about is playing in time and when you’re famous one day and playing on stage in front of thousands of fans and you play a little sloppy and they forgive you for it then okay but until then do not play sloppy.
Do everything in your power to play tight. It will come back to HAUNT you.
8th Note example with accents in different places.
Heres how to count this.
1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2.
Do it clapping out loud first with no guitar then with an open string or chord.
Put the work in now so you won’t have to later on.