How To Improve Your Rhythm Playing

How To Improve Your Rhythm Playing

Knowing how to improve your rhythm playing and establish timing is one of the most important things to know if you’re going to be a good guitar player.  Especially if you want to play with others, or possibly play with your favorite song.  In fact, how to improve your rhythm playing is something you should learn regardless.

Strumming:playing electric guitar

This is the most common type of rhythm playing that you will encounter.  paying across all six strings in a down or up motion.  Usually both.  I would highly recommend you work on this daily.  It doesn’t matter if you play electric guitar or acoustic.  Strumming development is vitally important to your rhythm playing and should not be overlooked. Be sure to keep your wrist loose at all times

First, you start with some simple down strumming and count 1 2 3 4, etc.  Then you work on strumming upward and count 1 2 3 4 etc.  Once you have that developed pretty well you then mix up the timing to create more interesting rhythms.  1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &.  1 2 3 & 4.  1 & 2 3 4.  1 2 & 3 4 etc.  Be creative and think.  I’m sure you’ll come up with some ideas that’ll sound really good.  You’ll probably even come across a rhythm pattern you recognize in a song.  This is when it really starts being fun.

Picking Strings Individually:playing acoustic guitar

This should be your second step.  Picking the strings individually.  This is called arpeggiated picking.  A fancy word for playing the strings individually.  See you just learned a word that makes you sound musically smart ;-). Ok so many not too smart, but you did just learn a cool word that’s part of the musical language.

You develop your timing as stated above for strumming, but this time when you pick the strings individually you get a completely different sound out of the guitar.  This type of rhythm playing makes the guitar sound pretty, beautiful and bright.  Unless you are playing minor or diminished chords with it.  Then it can sound a bit dark, mysterious and moody.

Depending on the type of emotion that your trying to convey with your playing will make the difference and this is usually done through the types of chords you choose to play.  Major chords give you a happy sound and minor chords give you a sad sound.  Either way, work on picking the strings individually to help develop good rhythm playing.

Palm Muting:Playing electric guitar

This is very common in guitar playing.  In many different styles.  This technique is the opposite of the strumming where you keep your hand loose while you strum up and down.  This kind of technique calls for the picking hand to stay put in one place.

Place your hand close to the body and with the palm of your hand you pick the strings downward (sometimes upward too) and by doing this you get a percussive sound.  This requires that the hand stay close to the body and not move too much.

You must also find the “sweet spot” between the edge of the bridge and the edge of the bridge pick up.  If you are too far forward it’ll choke the sound, if you are too far back it won’t produce the sound. Each guitar is a bit different so it’s best to experiment.

Lesson conclusion:

When it comes to rhythm playing, developing your picking hand is most important and there are a ton more things to work on but this will get you started.  Knowing how to hold your pick is also very important, and if you have questions in this area, be sure to check out my lesson on that.

Pick a few easy chords to form with your fretboard hand and take some time to work on your picking, strumming and palm muting.  If you add this to your daily routine, I guarantee you that you will see some nice improvements in your rhythm playing.  But you must put in the string time.

All the best to your picking hand development and your improvement on guitar overall.  Remember, the guitar is a lifelong journey and you won’t be able to learn it all, but if you stay focused on your objective and put in daily practice, I guarantee you’ll eventually come out victorious.  And if you haven’t already, be sure to pick up my FREE Action-Guide **Rhythm Guitar Secrets**

More training tips to help your guitar playing:

How to switch between chords quickly

Improve your picking technique

Until next time, take care.

Dwayne Jenkins

Dwayne Jenkins
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