Don’t Forget The Rhythm
Posted: September 30th, 2013 by Ashley Saunders
We all want to shred, play long meaningful solos with lots of fast runs. So, we learn every scale in the book; spend time practicing ever scale run known to man – getting it up to lighting fast speed. Every single mode of all the main scales in every key is memorised, this takes hour, even weeks yet we boast about how we know all of them and how easy it was to master them (hey! Bending the truth now and again is ok – isn’t it?). Hours are spent on learning to hear and feel every type of bend: half step, whole step, minor third. Time is spent learning bending over three or four strings. We work on hammer-ons and pull-offs until our fingers are almost blue! Many strings break, much blood flows and the guitar is thrown down in frustration – often.
We do all of this for an 8 bar solo in the middle of a three and half minute song. Do the maths, it’s –
We spend on average over 95% of every song playing rhythm guitar and under 5% of the time playing solo or lead lines. Yet we spend 95% of practice time on soloing and rhythm gets skipped over and we only spend at the very most, a tiny 5% of our practice time on it. It’s crazy! So why aren’t you spending more time working on rhythm playing? Surely it deserves just as much time as solos?
Work On What You’ll Use
We should concentrate more time on rhythm guitar playing. Not only because we spend the lion share of our time playing it but because rhythm is the basis for all music and underpins everything we do. If you worked on your rhythm playing, you’re soloing skill will take a leap too.
By working on your rhythm skills, you are building a better foundation for yourself – if you work on this fundamental you’ll see your playing level go up a step or two. So if you want to see your whole playing jump – stop with the scales and work on your rhythm.
Quickly Improve Your Timing
Firstly slow down. That is the most repeated phrase I use in teaching. Your timing probably could be better but because you rush, add in beats or are trying to rattle through practice time you are harming yourself. So start by slowly right now, grab your metronome and put it on its slowest setting and then try to play quarter notes over the top. Trust me this will separate the men from the boys. It’s sounds easy enough but it’s actually really tough to get right and keep the accuracy up. Try it for 5 minutes and try to not make a mistake. Keep trying it, you’ll get there in the end but it will take some hard work to get you there.
Drummers Are Helpful
Listen to the drums on a CD. No, I mean really listen, hear the groove, does it feel nice? If you don’t want the song to stop, it’s probably got a really strong groove to it. Listen out for which part of the beat they are sitting on, how they are building the song and their use in the arrangement.
Really feel how fast or slow the song is going, is the tempo maintained throughout the song? Do they speed up for the chorus? What happens in the bridge – is there no drums at that point? Are they dropping back in the second verse? Ask yourself all this and more and really analyse what’s happening.
This is another simple way to improve your timing and your rhythm skills.
If you really want to get good at timing and playing rhythm, hit record. You don’t need a fancy Pro Tools setup, your phone or a cheap voice recorder will do. Listen back to it, sure you’ll hear every mistake but it will make you actually HEAR where you’re messing up, dragging the beat – pushing it or cutting it off short when you should be letting it ring! Recording yourself is the number one way to fast improvement.
For Crazy Guitarist
If you have an audio software program like Cubase, you could record yourself in to that and then zoom in and see how far you are from the beat. Scared? Yes, it will be scary! Will it help in the long term? You bet it will. This tip is not for the work shy or the faint hearted!
Again, But Slowly
Again, it worth going back and slowing it down and trying simple things just super slow. It’s worth it. Got that yet? S L O W L Y! Good!
Practice With A Clock
Go back and read my post about how to practice without a guitar using a clock. Lots of great advice you can use to better your guitar playing today. Read it and then grab a clock and put it into practice. Once, you have worked through it a few times, you’ll be able to use it on the fly! Trust me your timing will improve and you’ll get better because you’ve put in the work. Every minute is worth it if you get the results you’ve after.
Anyone Have The Time?
It does take time; anyone who said it can be done overnight is flat out lying to you. If you put in the time, practice and dedication, then you will see the results.