Guide To Guitar. Part 2. Basic Rhythm Strengthening and Your First Song

In this lesson I am going to be teaching you about the basics of rhythm and showing you a basic rhythm pattern.

Ultimate Guitar
Hey there. It's me, JP, again. In this lesson I am going to be teaching you about the basics of rhythm and showing you a basic rhythm pattern. Rhythm is absolutely essential in music. Before you can be a good lead guitarist, you have to be a great rhythm guitarist. Without some sort of rhythm, music would just sound weird. In this lesson I am going to show you a basic rhythm pattern and I'm also going to teach you a song using this rhythm pattern. This is a very basic rhythm pattern and is very easy to learn:
|    ALL    TOP    ALL    TOP  /  ALL    TOP    ALL    TOP   |
     1       &      2      &       3      &      4      &    
N.B | is the symbol I am using to show the end of a bar and / is what I am using to show the half bar. So what does the above rhythm mean?. Quite simply the ALL means you play all the strings in the chord that you are playing i.e. with an E major chord you would play all 6 strings while an A major chord doesn't use the sixth string (the thickest one) so you would leave that string out and just play the other 5 strings. And now for the TOP part. This means that you play the top of the chord or the root string of the chord . For the E major chord this would be the sixth string while for the A major chord and other 5 string chords you would play the fifth string. Also for 4 string chords like D major and minor you would play the fourth string. Following me so far? Good!! So let's put this into practice.

Step 1: Single Chord

Using the rhythm pattern play the E min chord over and over again until you are comfortable with the rhythm. It should look like this:
E Minor

  1     &     2     &         
 ALL   TOP   ALL   TOP   
|-0-----------0---------|    This should be kept at a constant pace.

Step 2: Multiple Chords

Now that you're comfortable with playing a single chord to that rhythm, it's time you learnt how to play multiple chords together with the rhythm. Now I could be really boring and give you a set of keys and their chords that I want you to play through to help you get used to chord changes within a rhythm pattern, but lucky for you I have this weird idea that guitar playing should be, to put it simply, fun. So instead I am going to teach you a song to make it less boring (YIPPEE!!). The song is Green Day's Boulevard Of Broken Dreams and it uses the chords Emin, Gmaj, Dmaj, Amaj, Cmaj and B7. So just in case you are a complete beginner and don't know what these chords look like here they are in TAB
 Em   Gmaj  Dmaj  Amaj  Cmaj   B7
If you are unfamiliar with these chords play them a while to get used to them before attempting the song. And now for the song. All the chords are done in half bars except for the B7 in the chorus which is the only chord to get a whole bar. So here we go, first the verse: Verse
 Em                Gmaj             Dmaj               Amaj
|  1   &   2   &  /  3   &   4   &  |  5   &   6   &  /  7   &   8   &  |
This is played 7 times. Practise this a lot before trying the chorus. And now the chorus. Chorus
Cmaj               Gmaj              Dmaj              Em
|  1   &   2   &  /  3   &   4   &  |  5   &   6   &  /  7   &   8   &  |
This is played 3 times before the final part of the chorus which is written below. Chorus (Ending)
Cmaj               Gmaj              B7                
|  1   &   2   &  /  3   &   4   &  |  5   &   6   &  /  7   &   8   &  |
See how the B7 lasts for an entire bar. Also, quick note the fingerings for the Em chords in the verse and chorus are different. In the verse you use the regular fingering i.e. your 1st and 2nd fingers. In the chorus as it is difficult to go from Em to Cmaj using the regular fingerings, especially for beginners, I prefer to use my 2nd and 3rd fingers to play the Em in the chorus.


Alright, I thought this lesson seemed a bit short compared to the first one, so I'm just going to give you some tips on how to strengthen your fingers so that you can play for longer, which will prove useful when playing the song. They'll also help you to change chords faster and also build calluses on your fingers. Calluses dull the pain of chords on your fingers, you'll eventually get to the point where it doesn't even remotely hurt to play chords or riffs. Alright, take the first chord of the song, Em, and strum it continuously for a minute or two, if you're just beginning do it for a minute per chord. You don't have to use the rhythm pattern for this but it would be good if you did as then you're killing two birds with one stone. When the minute is up without stopping, I repeat, without stopping switch to Gmaj. Do this for a minute then switch to Dmaj. Work your way through the song, then if you're still going go through the rest of the chords that you know. Hold out for as long as you can. When you can't do it for any longer, stop, take a break (maybe get a glass of water, just don't hold it with your fretting hand you might drop it!!). Now let's work on speed in chord changing. Strum the Em a couple of times then switch straight to Gmaj as fast as you can, strum some more then onto Dmaj as fast as possible. Go through all your chords. These may seem boring but they are worth it in the long run. Keep practising and you should see a quick improvement.

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    ok find a clock with a second hand that ticks. each tick is a 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5. in the middle between each tick u put an and (&). n its 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & (i just used 5 in there because its 5 seconds between the #s so u can tell if u get off)
    This is really helpful. I think everyone has some subconscious understanding of rhythm but it's really hard to get your conscious brain round how it all works if, like me, you've never played anything musical until 5 months ago and are 35!! I found this online (free) metronome which is handy when you're practising rhythms: