Practicing rhyhtm guitar more than soloing techniques-discussion

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by CarlosJesena, Jul 19, 2008.

  1. CarlosJesena

    CarlosJesena Member

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    The guitar is mainly a rhythm instrument. There is no question about that. Besides, it has already been discussed ad naseum. Yet many people (myself included a while back) seem to devote almost all of their time trying to get better at soloing and almost none at all to playing rhythm. I know a lot of players who can sweep circles around me and pick/legato WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY faster than I can (I even know some GIRLS who can do that! :worried) and I really admire them for that. When I ask to jam with them and ask what they want to jam over, they just give me a sort of deer in the headlights look most of the time. Turns out, majority of these amazing soloists can't play rhythm guitar at all for [gooey brown stuff]. I'm not trying to debauch them in any way but apparently, they spent almost no time learning how to play ANY KIND OF RHYTHM AT ALL. Suddenly, I realize why they're usually not in bands at all.

    From when I started in November 2006 up till late (a month or two ago?), I was making a sisyphean effort to chase the speed carrot in my playing. I probably spent 80% of my time doing nothing but technical exercises for lead playing. Yet, I still spent that extra 20% playing classical guitar and rhythm guitar because all through out my teacher reminded me of its importance (I'm thankful I have a session musician as a teacher haha) and how playing rhythm makes you a better musician overall. I didn't really take what he said too seriously until lately. Due to time constraints and my current needs (I'm playing in an orchestra/jazz ensemble, my band just recently just got a vocalist and I recently really got drawin into playing rhythm for some reason) I have been practicing my rhythm playing probably 80 percent of the time now. I thought it would be detrimental to my lead playing, but to my surprise, it's actually HELPED! :AOK After about a month of playing lots of funk, bossa nova, jazz, blues, reggae, cuban etc rhythm and practicing them everyday with a metronome, I found that I now have more endurance in both hands, I'm more acurate and clean, my muting improved, my left hand technique has gotten "stronger" and I have more picking hand power on tap. Strangely enough, these improvements came from practicing lead playing LESS. I'm still not that tight a rhythm player but everyone else is way happier with the direction I'm going in and I discovered a whole new world in rhythm guitar.

    How do you guys practice playing rhythm? Personally I take a simple groove for example and play it for as long as I can with the metronome. Or I'll take a song from a certain genre and do likewise with a metronome. Are there other ways and how do you get your head around the rhythmic stylings of a new genre? (Like how do you learn african rhythm guitar, montuno guitar etc)
     
  2. re-animator

    re-animator Senior Member

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    Cool story.


    I was the other way around. I spent most of my time developing phrasing for lead playing and maybe some legato techniques. It was focused practice, not just running through licks, but the end result was that my lead playing was light years ahead of my rhythm.


    Recently I began to really take rhythm seriously. There is a simple way for me to practice rhythm that's fun and effective. I always practice to drums (or machine) or to music. My timing and riffage has definitely improved a ton.
     
  3. elgalad

    elgalad Senior Member

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    I've taken up drums precisely for this reason. It's really opened my eyes to the importance of rhythm in all styles of music.
     
  4. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    I've never been a strong lead player, and I probably never will. So, I'm much more a rhythm guy and only having tha tto play with has made me stronger there.
    I read rhythm and learn rhythm licks as assiduously as others learn lead licks. One problem with always playing by ear is that often the rhythm will be acceptable but inaccurate to a given song. Learning stroke for stroke is as useful as learning note for note, whether it's a scale, exercise or song.
    Playing drums, as Sir Elgalad notes, is excellent rhythm training, and really develops your reading and forces accuracy as well.
    Melody and rhythm are the meat and potatoes of a song. Lead is the fancy sauce.
     
  5. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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    Carlos is already a great guitarist ... and a smart one too ...
    to read that he's practicing rhythm more will only make him even better as a soloist...

    As it will for any of us ...

    Way to go Carlos ... you've got a wonderful attitude my friend ...
     
  6. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Supporting Member

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    Seriously- how good a lead player can you be if you don't hear/understand what's going on beneath you?


    How do I practice rhythm? Playing with other people. You have to realize music is a living, breathing thing and no amount of backing tracks or metronomes will teach you how to be a part of a rhythm section. It's all about the push and pull, the give and take, and you can't learn that playing alone...
     
  7. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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    Excellent Brad .... :AOK
    Drumming will make your pocket so much deeper & precise ..

    Wish I'd of done that a long time ago ...
     
  8. Shooter Bob

    Shooter Bob Member

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    man, this is a subject near and dear to my heart! Playing guitar is 98% about rhythm and 2% about solos, yet 98% of the players focus about 2% of their efforts on rhythm. It's sad.

    I play this cruel little game at Guitar Center on occasion where I'll plug into a clean amp and start playing a swingin rhythm. Well, no one can resist a swingin rhythm and all the little wanker wannabes start soloing along. So, once they're on board, I switch to C# major. Well, no one plays in C# major so the number of wankers drops by half. Of the ones remaining most are choppin' away on some pentatonic minor bastardization someone showed them to "help them out." So after about 40 seconds of that I quickly tune the guitar 1/4 tone flat and switch to Ab. Now everyone is flopping all over the place trying to find the key of wankerdom and the whole thing falls apart. Yeah, it's a little unfriendly but man, it just sounds like a beehive in there some days. What ever happened to good rhythm playing?
     
  9. ivers

    ivers Member

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  10. CarlosJesena

    CarlosJesena Member

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    Sadly here, people don't stop unlike at guitar center :D
     
  11. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    I dunno dude, tuning 1/4 tone flat and expecting anybody to still be playing along in key sounds like a wanker act in itself. I'm kinda wondering how you "quickly tune a guitar 1/4 tone flat" anyhow. I usually avoid the term wanker to describe people doing their best, but since you sprayed it around so freely, I figured you don't mind.:NUTS
     
  12. CarlosJesena

    CarlosJesena Member

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    Maybe with a tuner? Give him the benifit of the doubt :D
     
  13. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    That's fine and true, but you know just get in a band or performance thing, and that all takes care of itself. Because usually you have to do it all, rhythm, lead, arrangements, improv etc..leads to a well rounded player. One gig is worth many, many bedroom practices.
     
  14. 5E3

    5E3 Member

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    :agree

    I spent quite a few hours listening carefully to my former guitar instructor's band. While the singer was doing her thing the rest of the band just smoothly chugged along on the rhythm. When a solo would come, he always played a few tasteful licks, but stayed neatly in the context of the song and never over did it.

    I try to divide my practice time evenly. When I want to work on the rhythm I usually put a jam track CD in and try various chord phrasings, muting, etc., for at least 30 minutes non stop.

    Sadly, I've gone to jams and been judge solely on how well I can fire-off lead riffs. Nobody ever says "nice job holding that rhythm down..." :D

    Nice thread here. Thanks for starting it Carlos!
     
  15. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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    Right on .. and funny, insight statement at that ...?

    Funk never lost the art of good rhythm .. in fact, it's the essence of style

    Only too many cats are using so much grit on their tone
    they cover up the percussive element quite a bit ... and lose a lot of the nuance ...
     
  16. bc-cosmo

    bc-cosmo Member

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    In my local jam scene, strong rhythm chops and musical taste are well appreciated by the better players.
     
  17. Shooter Bob

    Shooter Bob Member

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    Man, that's beautiful. I love hearing good rhythm above everything else. The groove is smooth and happening and the solo just sounds so much better for it.
     
  18. Shooter Bob

    Shooter Bob Member

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    Aw don't be such a stick in the mud!:)

    I don't expect them to follow! It's not a test! It's just a fun little way to knock the noise down a little so I can actually try a piece of gear I might be interested in. There are kids who take up residency at GC and often make it very difficult for anyone to try and hear the gear they're playing. It's not like you can say, "hey, punk, stop that wanking over there and go home or back to school or wherever you belong so I can make a serious gear assessment while you're smudging up a $3000 Custom Shop Guitar that you have no intention of buying!" :rotflmao

    It's all in good fun. And just to set the record straight, I host a lot of jams attended by a lot of people. During the jam I dedicate a good chunk of time to help less experienced players get their groove on with a solid rhythm section. I'm really not a bad guy, I just enjoy playing a little prank every now and then!:D
     
  19. CarlosJesena

    CarlosJesena Member

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    A lot of people don't seem to grasp too that playing rhythm is about... RHYTHM. It's not about constantly varying the groove and making something extremely complex, but being the bottom layer of the sound and supporting that top layer of your group's overall sound. Lots people play chords but very few people seem to play "RHYTHM" and lay down a steady groove anymore, especially among amateurs. It's not about putting a billion fills and impressing but SUPPORTING and BEING CONSTANT.
     
  20. Shooter Bob

    Shooter Bob Member

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    Right on Carlos. To me, rhythm is about having an effective presence while leaving enough open space for the other instruments. It's not about hogging every downbeat and every accent.

    If I'm playing in a band with two guitars, I'll often play lighter chord voicings and leave out the bass notes. The other guitar and bass player have that covered. Why bonk everyone over the head with the root note?!

    I sometimes like to play smoothly through the progression and stay off the accents when others are plugging them. Have you ever heard a band play Crossroads where everyone in the band, (bass player too), is playing "the riff." It makes me want to scream! LOL! The sound is abusive.
     

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