The Importance Of Rhythm Guitar

The Importance Of Rhythm Guitar

Why Is Rhythm Guitar So Important?

The function of rhythm guitar is to set a solid rhythmic base. Locked in with the bass and drums, which in turn has the ability to lift a guitar solo. People can dance to a solid rhythm, they can’t dance to a guitar solo by itself. 

Learn From The Masters

The masters of rhythm guitar – to really understand rhythm guitar take a look at some of the masters at it; 

  • Nile Rogers – Chic
  • John Frusciante – RHCP
  • Bruce Welsh – The Shadows
  • Malcolm Young – AC/DC
  • Keith Richards – Rolling Stones
  • Rick Parfitt – Status Quo

Listen To The Masters

Take a minute to listen to any of the guitarist’s above to really understand what makes them so good at it.

Things To Consider – Effective Rhythm Guitar


Things To Try 


This is so important. Stick within the pocket and play within a groove.

Push and pull the rhythm to create interest. Don’t go out of time though.

Consistency Is Key

Use a consistent strumming pattern or picking pattern.

As soon as your rhythm falters people will stop dancing.

Chord Register

Use multiple shapes of the same chord to create interest and harmony.

If you’re playing with two guitarist don’t play the same chord shapes. Experiment with different shapes.

Slash Chords

Not talking about the top hatted fella here. Use chord inversions to create a sense of movement within the chord.

An inversion is simply the same chord D for example with one of its notes flipped to the bass.

The notes of a D Major chord are D – F# – A in an open D chord they are stacked D – A – D – F#.

By switching the stacking order you can change the intention of the chord. 

Power Chords

Great for adding ‘chunk’ to a chord progression.

These are neither Major or minor so can be used over either. These are really important chords to master.

Mute Or No Mute

Muting chords, especially power chords can really beef them up. Creating a chunky sound great for Rock and Metal.

BARRE Chords

If you can master these initially awkward chord shapes then you will be free to play in more adventurous keys. Freedom across the fretboard  

Copy & Paste Your Open Chord Shapes 

Simply take your open chords you play on the lower frets up past the 12 frets. You can create a 12 string like effect with two guitars.

Hendrix & Mayerism’s

Use hammer ons and pull offs within chords to move from one shape to the next.

Hard one to master but very much worthwhile.

Finger Picking

Bored of strumming through your chords? Why not try finger picking them.

Start with a simple pattern, then as your technique develops you can be more adventurous.

Remember rhythm consistency is super important here. The pattern must be consistent. 

As you can see from the table above, competent rhythm guitar is a lot more than just strumming through a few chords.

If you’ve ever thought playing rhythm guitar is boring then you’ve not tried some of the methods above. 90% of your playing will be Rhythm guitar so it’s not an area to overlook in your playing.

Being great at a flashy guitar solo has its place but if you can’t keep a good groove and rhythm you won’t be the guitarist they choose for the gig.

If you play at a Motown or Funk gig you could spend the whole gig just playing rhythm guitar. I’ve done exactly this and sometimes it’s a great way to test your chord knowledge.

Until next month keep up the good practice and I’ll catch you soon. If you’d like more information on this subject or other guitar subjects why not book in a lesson with one of our tutors.

Also we will be covering this subject in more depth at the next guitar club on Thursday 3rd October 2019. Drop us a message to book in. 

Thanks for reading,

Rich 🎸

Rhythm Guitar Playing

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