In these exercises, we go through different aspects of guitar practice so that you can improve your overall level of playing. In today’s rhythm guitar exercises, we’re going to focus on your right-hand technique, an often neglected aspect of guitar playing.
Before you start working on these exercises, you may want to go through this lesson on guitar strumming patterns, in order to better understand how different note durations create the rhythm in music.
In today’s rhythm guitar exercises, there will be very few chord changes. Your left hand is given very little to do so that you can focus on your right. What really matters in these exercises is that you play everything exactly on time.
Aside from developing your right-hand technique, playing on time is a crucial factor in rhythm guitar playing.
Once you figure out what you have to play, switch on your metronome to check that you got the timing right.
The first exercise is a simple strumming pattern to get your right hand warmed up.
In the next exercise, your right hand needs to make faster movements since we’re using chords of a shorter duration.
In the first two exercises, all the notes of the chords were being hit at the same time.
In this exercise, the root note is first struck on its own, followed by a strum on the whole chord. This will help you practice playing guitar notes in isolation, followed by chords.
The next exercise is similar to the previous one but has two changes to help you train your right hand in different ways.
One difference is that you’re not always playing the root note before the chord, but different notes on the lower strings.
The other is that the chord is not entirely struck since you don’t hit the high open E string. This helps you develop control over which strings you want to hit.
When playing or creating rhythms on the guitar, silence (where it’s placed and its duration) is as important a factor as the notes and chords being played.
In the next exercise, mute the entire chord with your right hand for the duration of the rest. When playing barre chords, you can also mute the sound by releasing the pressure on your left hand, but with open chords, this is not possible because at least one string is unfretted.
In the next exercise, we’ll keep playing around with silence, this time using rests of a shorter duration.
Rhythm guitar playing doesn’t necessarily mean strumming all the time.
Broken chords mean that you’re playing the notes of the chord one by one. These are often called arpeggios, however, this is not entirely accurate.
Though you are actually playing notes from the arpeggio when you’re playing a broken chord, in an arpeggio you play the chord tones in succession (ex: A – C – E – A – C – E etc.) not according to where they happen to be placed in a particular chord position.
In the next exercise, we’ll be using broken chords, but this time we will also be skipping strings.
In some exercises above, we explored playing around with silence and muting.
What we’re going to use here, palm muting, is a different thing. When you use palm muting on a note or a chord, you don’t silence it completely as you would when you have a rest, but lay down the palm of your hand on the notes near the bridge and get that “chug-chug-chug” sound from them.
Palm muting can be used in different genres of music on both an electric and an acoustic guitar. However, it’s most commonly found in electric guitar riffs played with distortion in Rock and Heavy Metal music.
For this exercise, instead of minor chords, we’re going to use the power chord, one of the most frequently used chords in the genres of music mentioned above.
In this last rhythm guitar exercise, we’ll also be using palm muting, this time on a single note that is repeated all over the riff like a drone. Go through this lesson on how to become a guitar riff generator to learn how to create as many riffs as you want using the drone technique.
Learning the guitar, rather than one skill, is a set of skills, and training your right hand is one of them.
Another important skill is the synchronization between your left hand and your right hand.
Since the right hand tends to be practiced less often than the left, the above exercises should help this hand “catch up” with the other.
When practicing things that require significant effort from both hands, you need to always make sure that both hands are on the same line, and if you’re struggling with one more than the other, you need to spend time practicing those hand movements on their own until both hands can play the music at the same speed with the same level of accuracy.
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Each of these rhythm guitar exercises is meant to be repeated as many times as feels necessary until you lock in with the rhythm.