Syncopated Melody & Rhythm Guitar

Learn how rhythms and melodies can have alterations to their meter/feel through syncopated rhythmic durations.

Ultimate Guitar
Andrew Wasson of Creative Guitar Studio answers questions from off of his Guitar Blog website.

Q). I was recently reading about how rhythm guitar and melody parts can get a smoother/hipper feel if they are syncopated. I really like Lee Ritenour and the smooth jazz sound. I was wondering if you could do a video where you demonstrate some simple syncopation ideas. Something pretty basic that might show up in a smooth jazz song's rhythm or melody. Thanks!
Will – Swindon, England

A). The study of syncopated melodies and rhythm guitar parts is not only an interesting guitar idea to work on, but it's an idea that really helps players get introduced to all kinds of new rhythmic meters. Above all else, learning different feels/grooves, like the kinds that we end up finding when syncopated (off-beat) rhythms are used, will help immensely with counting the beat while playing. And, since rhythm is such an important part of being a musician, we can never really get enough work applied to this subject.

Video lesson (with on-screen TAB):

YouTube preview picture

Playing off-beat rhythms has a few common traits in standard time signatures. The primary idea is that we lose a strong-beat within the measure. For example the dotted quarter-note is extremely common in syncopated feels. And, so is the appearance of a quarter-note on the up-beat. Another important area of syncopation are ties, especially applied over the bar-line. Once these common syncopated ideas are learned, it won't take long until they can be applied to both composing and improvising.

About the Author:
Andrew Wasson is a 1992 Graduate of Hollywood California's Guitar Institute of Technology (G.I.T.). He has operated his Canadian Music School; Creative Guitar Studio, for the last 20+ years... teaching thousands of guitarists both in studio sessions, and through his popular YouTube Channels and websites. Hundreds of FREE lessons are available at

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    You need feel. This is nice to know if you want to write the rhythm out in sheet music, but to play it' you've got to feel it. Sounds dead otherwise...
    What?! Write out in sheet music only? Are you a complete moron? Do you not recognize ANYTHING about the point of this video? If you cannot read & write this, as well as, play it YOU ARE NOT A MUSICIAN. Feel comes from properly understanding time. I'll tell ya what, go say your thoughts here to a world-class drummer like Deen Castronovo or Atma Anur. They will LAUGH in your face because your comment here is so totally IDIOTIC.