Manic GuitarRhythm Guitar is All About the Right Hand | Manic Guitar

Rhythm Guitar is All About the Right Hand

So you’re getting fluent with your chords. You have your open chords down pat, a good range of bar chords, and power chords are pretty simple now days. The way to really make your rhythm guitar come to life is to start focusing on your right hand (or you’re left if you’re a lefty).

Rhythm is about rhythm. That is your rhythm guitar parts will really have character if you’ve got a wide range of rhythms you can pull of with your strumming. The key to opening this up is to really loosen up your right hand strumming. It should be relaxed and able to move without any inhibition.

Try this, with your left hand cover the strings without pushing them down to the frets. Then start strumming these dead strings with your right hand. Look at the different tonalities you can get out of this strumming, vary the strings you hit with each strum, sometimes hitting the bass strings, sometimes the treble strings and other times, all the strings. Also vary the velocity that you strum the strings with as well, keeping a regular down-up strumming pattern.

With this strumming, we now want to become a drummer, your still deadening the strings with your left hand. A solid strum on the bass strings is your bass drum. A solid strum on the treble strings is your snare, and some lighter strums are your high hat. Start pulling off some very basic rock drumming patterns: bass – snare – bass – snare with 3 high hats between them.

Now let’s integrate this with an actual chord. Pick a bar chord so you can go between pushing the strings against the frets and lifting the chord so you have dead strings again. This technique of integrating dead chord strumming with actual voiced chords can create a great range of quite funky rhythms. Apply your strumming with different rhythms using some strokes voicing the chord and others deadening the chords. Experiment with this sort of thing for a while to really loosen the process up and find some rhythms that work for you.

Keep developing your rhythms as you learn, and be sure to start to integrate syncopation into the process. That is rhythms that focus on the off beat rather than the on beat. With a combination of syncopation, dead strings, voiced chords and different tonalities in your strumming, in time you will be able to wack out some pretty impressive rhythm parts that sound full and catching to listeners.

So just remember, rhythm is all about the right hand and become a drummer on your guitar.