What is it with guitarists who can't play rhythm?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Daniel B., Mar 11, 2008.

  1. Daniel B.

    Daniel B. Member

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    So you arrive at practice or whatever, and a new guitarist is there for whatever reason. He starts playing some pretty cool riffs and he seems very capable. Then you ask him to play a simple three chord progression and he is lost beyond all belief. You're like, "OK, he's still confused about the chords", so you go through the chords again and play the progression for him while he just watches. The band starts up again, and it's like he doesn't know what a chord is or how to strum a guitar. Yeah, this was a specific instance, but I've seen it so many times.

    I can understand a newbie with poor strumming technique, but a guitarist with some degree of skill should be able to strum a dang guitar with a consistent rhythm. It's very bizarre to me...:messedup
     
  2. Daniel B.

    Daniel B. Member

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    I can understand a rhythm guitarist who can't play lead, but it's hard for me to understand a lead guitarist who can't play rhythm. Generally speaking, I think it's easier to learn rhythm than lead. I guess it's not as fun for some guitarists to play rhythm, so they just don't bother to learn that skill. I picked up on strumming pretty quickly so it's hard for me to understand why others don't. I dunno
     
  3. JohnM

    JohnM Member

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    I think you have discovered 'Notenuftimeplayinginbands' Syndrome.
     
  4. Caretaker

    Caretaker Silver Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    I can NO LONGER play due to damage to nerves and tendons. For some reason it has had less effect on my lead playing. I just have little strength left in my left hand.
     
  5. decay-o-caster

    decay-o-caster Member

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    I played in a band several years ago in which the other guitarist knew the chords and could play them, but his right hand was more like he was stirring soup. I kept after him to realize the rhythm guitar is a rhythm instrument - crisp hits with the right hand to drive the beat, but that never happened. It's something I try to do in a rock situation unless I'm singing, in which case we're lucky if I'm playing the same song as everyone else. Blues or jams I'm just looking for space, but for serious rhythm you gotta play with serious rhythm. It's more than just the chord shapes.
     
  6. Daniel B.

    Daniel B. Member

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    Yeah, I think that's problem, though I don't understand it. Rhythm is rhythm whether you're playing with a CD or playing live with a band. For too many years I've helped the band in our youth group with their overall sound. Getting teens who just want to play the blues scale they learned last week to play a mellow praise and worship song.....man, talk about the most frustrating thing you could ever do :bkw

    Alot of more advanced guitarists can be just as frustrating...
     
  7. creamedcorn

    creamedcorn Member

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    When I used to play with Reeves Gabrals (90's) he'd say there should be a law that you can't take a solo until you can play rhythm. Of coarse Reeves was just OK at rhythm himself - but what a soloist!
     
  8. GBStratman

    GBStratman Member

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    Playing rhythm is harder than most people realize (at least it is for me). It's not just about playing chords. Look at Hendrix -- one of the great rhythm players but rarely used full chords.
     
  9. Redhouse-Blues

    Redhouse-Blues Member

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    I've learned from years of playing with other people you play rhythm 90% of the time and lead a whole lot less. Learning to be a great rhythm player carry's over and makes you a better lead player. I know that learning rhythm is harder, you can learn a few licks and play some lead, but having good ryhthm and timing takes a lot more work. What fixed my boat was playing with a band and being told my timing sucked, that changed my life.
     
  10. bubbaheat

    bubbaheat Member

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    It's almost always lack of experience. Some of the greatest bedroom players are lost in a band situation.
     
  11. beesdeluxe

    beesdeluxe Member

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    I hope we can all agree that lead versus rhythm playing are usually two different functions of a guitar player in any ensemble (sometimes the two functions are blurred e.g. Keith Richards) sometimes the responsibilities are assigned to to two different players. Players who can can master both are the most valuable in any group. What absolutely challenged my juvenile preconceptions of what I perceived to be the "lesser" function of the two (i.e. rhythm playing) was repeated listening to a bootleg recording of Jimi Hendrix accompanying Johnny Winter who's playing frenetic lead. The recording was very badly made and very badly mixed as a finished piece of music, but as a guitar tutorial listening to Hendrix comp chords beneath Winters is absolutely astonishing. Hendrix plays right inside the groove, following and pushing the progressions, constantly changing his accents and chord shapes. His track is pushed to the front out of all proportion to where it should have been in the mix, but that's what makes it all the easier to follow.

    I recommend anyone teaching rhythm guitar playing check out this otherwise horrible bootleg Hendrix album:
    "Woke Up This Morning And Found Myself Dead (1981?)
    Terrible, poorly recorded live jams with a very drunk Jim Morrison spewing obscenities. Worst legit Hendrix release of them all. (DBW)
    Recorded late one night at the Scene Club in New York with a hand-held tape recorder, and it shows. Released under an innumerable number of titles by a horde of fly-by-night minor labels, this is the most widely-available should-have-stayed-in-the-vaults release in the Hendrix canon"
     
  12. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    Not true for me. Heard too many great African guitarists, as well as the funk guys, Jimi, etc.
     
  13. robelinda2

    robelinda2 Member

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    boy do i hate that. i encounter it all the time when teaching, we get a lot of guys 30+ who have been playing for 15 years or so and wonder why they cant play with other people, all they know are dodgy lead breaks and cant play a song ALL the way through, they have very limited chord and rhythm knowledge, and generally dismiss rhythm altogether. I tell some of them to listen to some Van Halen, it aint all tapping and dive bombing, songs like Panama, 5150, Summer Nights, Light Up the sky etc, have pretty cool rhythm parts!
     
  14. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    It's often not taught as a basic skill.
    I have said many times, that the music is in teh right hand, yet nearly all the focus of teaching is on the left hand. CHord shapes, scale patterns , learning all the pentatonics in all 5 shapes etc etc etc, but no basic strummming exercises to get that groove happeniong and to develop that instinct of finishing a bar in the right spot and nailing the change.
    I can't hear pitch for crap, but I can nail a rhythm change.
     
  15. frankthomson

    frankthomson Member

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    in 30+ yrs, i played w/ only 1 guy who could do both well.

    not good odds.

    imo, i consider lead guitarists *masterbaters*
    ...sorry, jmo.
     
  16. Jahn

    Jahn Listens to Johnny Marr, plays like John Denver Supporting Member

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    i'm so glad folks are appreciating rhythm. because i couldn't solo worth a crap if my life depended on it. i have a hard enough time just accompanying myself when i sing for goodness' sakes!
     
  17. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    NO, I don't accept that lead and rhythm can be or should be catogorised like this, thought they so often are.
    To quote Keef, "I don't play lead or rhythm, I play guitar".

    The great riff writers don't just strum chords, they play rhythmic melodies and chord fragments that are interesting to play and hear. Gossard, Richards, Hetfield, Hendrix are all great exponents of this, Gibbons too. Good lead parts are in rhythmic sync too, so you can't really have one without the other.
    My Weekend Warriors experience ended quickly with me bailing because rhythm to them was strumming chords, and that is boring as batshit to me.
    Which is probably why the OP is finding his "rhythm" player isn't getting there, nothing to interest him.
     
  18. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    I used to tell my students that these lead whanker are only playing 1/2 a guitar. Now that I'm older, I realize they are only playing a 1/4 of a gtr.
     
  19. robelinda2

    robelinda2 Member

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    Some of Django Reinhardt's stuff in very tough too, the poor rhythm player would have had a sore hand by the end of the gig, chords flying everywhere!
     
  20. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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    Usually find that cat's who can't play rhythm also have very little,
    if any, sense of time with they are soloing regardless if they have a truckload of tricky licks ...

    So the omission of one usually goes hand in hand with the other ...
     

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