Rhythm Guitar Help!

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TravisthedogTravisthedog Frets: 1579

I play mostly rhythm in my band of the last 2 years. I came to this 5 piece band from a four piece where I was the only guitarist and I developed my own "unique" style over that 15 or so years that meant I could cover whatever was needed of me because of the lack of rhythm guitar or keys or whatever. I have a very choppy, slightly messy style that I have (unbelievably) been complemented on....... but this style doesn't seem to fit in with the band I am in now - where im strictly rhythm even if I did want to make it cry or sing.....

Truth of the matter is i'm bored to tears and just seem to revert to playing basic open or barre chords because I don't know the alternatives, I'm on the brink of leaving the band - I used to just "invent" chords in my old band - they were probably the right actual named chords - I just didn't know it!!

I've watched few videos on "being a better rhythm guitarist" and the general consensus  "learn all the different chord shapes for each chord"

But where do I find this info? I need a big poster with all the shapes for each chord on it. I don't just mean D Dm D7 D# etc etc. I mean a poster that says you can play D major here, here, here, here and here, so I can mix it up a bit

otherwise im going to go mad with boredom. I have either got to start crafting the rhythm guitar role or just give up. Its killing my love of playing and seeing as there seems to be no chance of playing any lead at all because of our Mr Ego McShowoffpants lead player

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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 295
    edited May 3
    You can use inversions where the lowest note of the chord isn't a root. Hendrix and Keith Richards kinda do this where either the 3rd or 5th is the lowest part of the chord and makes for some interesting sounding chords.

    Also you don't necessarily have to play the big chunky barre chord for everything, if you play funk for example the thinnest three strings is best to get that clippy muted sound.

    Drop and alternate tunings can be a way to freshen up the intervals in chords to make it sound different, if you check out Coldplay's "Yellow" the guitar is actually tuned to EABGBD# and those chords ring so lush! The Foo Fighters have 3 guitarists now and I'm pretty sure all 3 don't play the same stuff!

    I mostly play rhythm too in bands across many rock styles and I know what you mean about either open or barre but I've slowly learn to compliment the song/band by altering a few shapes. I'm also a tutor now so I've learnt about the CAGED system and stuff like that.

    I was lucky enough to attend ACM about 10 years ago and one of the units on the course was Live Performance Workshop. Here we studied guitar parts usually split across 2 guitarists in bands so you know exactly how each guitar worked in context with one another. Also I do composition and arrangement for a band so I help with chord voicings and melodies in conjunction with the harmony.
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  • sev112sev112 Frets: 319
    Listen to one of the worlds best RHYTHM guitarists 
    - Eddie Van Halen

    rhythm guitar isn’t just strumming backing chords, it is playing rhythm like what the bass and the drums do.  It has nothing to do with chords (well, ish)

    for what my meagre views are worth, ignore different ways of playing the same chords, and instead concentrate on developing and practising a range of different rhythmic picking and strumming patterns
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  • HattigolHattigol Frets: 251
    Try different things.
    Experiment.
    Try more things.
    Alternate between open/barre/hybrid chords.
    If you have a style on which you have been complimented, stick with it and build on it. 
    Don't diss your own style. Even SRV thought he was only an average player.
    Failing all this, leave the band and start afresh!
    "Anybody can play. The note is only 20%. The attitude of the motherf*cker who plays it is  80%" - Miles Davis
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  • robinbowesrobinbowes Frets: 1643
    The CAGED system has helped me.

    For example, you can play D major as:

    'C'-shape, 2nd fret
    'A'-shape, 5th fret
    'G'-shape, 7th fret
    'E'-shape, 10th fret
    'D'-shape, open position

    You don't need to play all notes in the chord - often just three or even two.

    HTH,

    R.
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  • markblagdonmarkblagdon Frets: 477
    The CAGED system has helped me.

    For example, you can play D major as:

    'C'-shape, 2nd fret
    'A'-shape, 5th fret
    'G'-shape, 7th fret
    'E'-shape, 10th fret
    'D'-shape, open position

    You don't need to play all notes in the chord - often just three or even two.

    HTH,

    R.
    Yep learn the caged chords and the other chord tones that are available in each of the 5 positions and you can make chord inversions and small chord based riffs all over the neck.

    Another way to look at them are 6th string root chords G and E shapes, 5th string root chords C and A shapes and 4th string root chord shapes F and D. That way you can think of alternative ways to play chords in different registers fairly easily.
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  • sev112sev112 Frets: 319
    And you don’t need a big chart to learn loads of chords
    if you play 2 string chords (double stops) you can pretty much play slo g to anything anywhere on the neck

    which allows you to concentrate on groovy rhythms :)
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  • vizviz Frets: 4620
    edited May 3
    Definitely inversions. It will give your playing a whole new lease of life.
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1600
    Is this about your rhythm playing or about the band making space in the song arrangements? Does Mr Ego McShowoffpants play all the time, without leaving space for the vocals? If so suggest that he leaves the singer some space. 

    Otherwise just stop playing block chords. Let the bass and drums provide the rhythm, and add chords when needed for power or emphasis. There are a lot of songs where the rhythm guitar plays single note parts: BeeGees’ Staying Alive, and anything with Nile Rodgers as examples.
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  • TravisthedogTravisthedog Frets: 1579
    So is there an online resource for these inversion thingys anywhere - bear in mind I play by ear, don't read a note and and useless with theory!
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  • mr-macmr-mac Frets: 123
    25yr ago i had a chord book (well two) chords and advanced chords.  They were the tall thin shape ones that would fit in neck area of case.  They had a selection of chord positions for each and every chord.  The advanced book covered the less everyday chords.  Not sure if they still do them but they were very good.
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  • EricTheWearyEricTheWeary Frets: 6678
    Thoughts:

    - learn some basic theory. It’s not hard, certainly not as hard as trying to remember huge lists of chord shapes. If you can find notes on the fingerboard ( know, find or look up) and apply some basic formula you can find chord shapes. If you are learning stuff for a band you can do this in your own time, you don’t need to be able to do it on the fly ( unless you’ve joined an improvising jazz quintet).

    - work on your muting and damping. Being able to control your timing and have sharp rythmn ties Freddie Green in the Count Basie Band to Metallica and everything else between and beyond. 

    - it’s not all about the notes. Learning when not to play or just percussive strumming are  all part of the rythmn guitar toolbox. 

    - if all else fails mess around with pedals. 



    I feel the warm, healing, liquid presence of God’s genuine cold-filtered grace. 
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  • smigeonsmigeon Frets: 68
    Thoughts:

    - if all else fails mess around with pedals. 



    Life wisdom in a nutshell!
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 8267
    The CAGED system has helped me.

    For example, you can play D major as:

    'C'-shape, 2nd fret
    'A'-shape, 5th fret
    'G'-shape, 7th fret
    'E'-shape, 10th fret
    'D'-shape, open position

    You don't need to play all notes in the chord - often just three or even two.

    HTH,

    R.
    Plus you can pick your way through the chords in a rhythm that suits what the er, "rhythm section" is doing. Or you can play arpeggios in similar manner. And if the bass player joins one chord root to another chord root using a scale fragment you can follow him or join 3rd to 3rd with a harmony scale fragment.
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • What style of music is it? Rhythm playing for jazz is going to be different to indie, which is different to metal, which is different to funk...etc.

    Different styles lend themselves more to more 'creative' rhythm playing. If you're playing funk or jazz the options are endless. If you're playing Oasis type britpop stuff you're gonna be more limited. 

    I always remember seeing Oasis gigs on the telly back in the day and looking at the rhythm guitarist (I forget his name). There he was playing rock music to tens of thousands of adoring fans, probably earning millions in the process, living out everyone's childhood dreams, and the poor bloke looked so bored that he was contemplating suicide... 
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  • TravisthedogTravisthedog Frets: 1579
    Yes that's me - that's the kind of shit we play too
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  • KeefyKeefy Frets: 56
    Thoughts:

    - learn some basic theory. It’s not hard, certainly not as hard as trying to remember huge lists of chord shapes. If you can find notes on the fingerboard ( know, find or look up) and apply some basic formula you can find chord shapes. If you are learning stuff for a band you can do this in your own time, you don’t need to be able to do it on the fly ( unless you’ve joined an improvising jazz quintet).

    - work on your muting and damping. Being able to control your timing and have sharp rythmn ties Freddie Green in the Count Basie Band to Metallica and everything else between and beyond. 

    - it’s not all about the notes. Learning when not to play or just percussive strumming are  all part of the rythmn guitar toolbox. 

    - if all else fails mess around with pedals. 



    This, especially the theory. If the song calls for Eb7b9, theory will help you work out how to play it. It will also open up an understanding of rhythms, and how to play stuff that works with the rest of the rhythm section.
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  • GrunfeldGrunfeld Frets: 2496

     ...It's killing my love of playing and seeing as there seems to be no chance of playing any lead at all because of our Mr Ego McShowoffpants lead player

    My Mystic Meg ball says your days in the band are numbered cos you're clearly unhappy.
    However, I'm assuming you've got a fair bit of work with this lot so go out in style and use every remaining gig as an opportunity to up your game for your next band.
    From what you've said you would absolutely, definitely, no maybe, benefit big time from:
    1)  learning all the notes of the fretboard so they are totally familiar, as known as the alphabet, as known as your name, so you can "see" the notes all over the fretboard.  It doesn't take long.  Took me 5 minutes a day for 6 weeks.  Best thing ever.  Because...
    2)  chords are made up of notes; solos are made up of notes; and now I think of it, music is made up of notes <<-- #Cptn Obvious.  But once you see all the notes you're winning because even a small bit of theory makes sense because you know all the notes. 
    So while I totally agree with @EricTheWeary that it's not all about the notes, I gotta say that learning them, (like 3 decades after first picking up a guitar), was the biggest bang for the buck ever.  Literally, Bminor, B, D, F#... stick it anywhere, any how, "see" it shares the D and the B with Gmaj and see interesting ways of connecting them, sort of thing.

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  • Matt_McGMatt_McG Frets: 42
    Also, it'd be worth thinking about what you'd want to _hear_ from the rhythm player on the tunes you do.

    The advice about CAGED shapes, triads, knowing some simple inversions, and knowing the fretboard (as notes) is all great.

    But with that knowledge, you still need to decide what you want to hear.

    For example, I really like the way that RnB and country-soul players play rhythm -- using inversions, triads, double stops, etc. -- and also rock playing that derives from that. Also, the way that funk and gospel influenced players like Mark Lettieri play. So, if I was playing in a band with relatively 'straight' chord progressions, and quite tight constraints, that's the sort of sound I'd be trying to cop in my head. You might have other people in mind, and want to cop that instead.

    So, here's Eric Haugen (great channel, btw) demoing an RnB style part on 'A Change is Gonna Come':




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  • sm55onlsm55onl Frets: 23
    edited May 5
    Keeping to one side what ‘sev112’ notes regards rythm/ picking/ strumming techniques then surely what you need to do is:

    - draw a guitar fretboard out and mark the fret positions of the root, third, fifth and seventh notes of, say, the A major scale [with one of the roots noted at the fifth fret of the sixth (bass) string obviously, in this case]
    (All other scales can then be translated by envisaging the specified notes moved either up or down the fretboard)

    - (separately) note to memory the scale degrees when one plays a ‘barre’. From the bass to treble strings one would get:
    root (bass string) - fourth - flat seventh - flat third - fifth - root (treble string)

    - from both the above then it’s easier to get to a point of knowing where the important tone centres are and where fingerings are required for the particular chord one wants to construct.

    - and, yes, learn inversions and open (like jazz players play - ‘four on six’) and closed three-note [R,3,5 or R,3,7 or some-other, as is one’s want] and four-note [R,3,5,7]) chords.
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  • FreebirdFreebird Frets: 671
    edited May 5
    So is there an online resource for these inversion thingys anywhere - bear in mind I play by ear, don't read a note and and useless with theory!
    I use this great little Android/iPhone app for all of my fretboard management requirements ... http://getchord.com


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  • Matt_McGMatt_McG Frets: 42
    If it was me, I'd:

    Make sure I know all of the notes on the fretboard, but, particularly, that I know all of the notes on the 6, 5, and 4 strings, as that's where the root notes of the various shapes are going to appear.

    Learn the CAGED shapes, which basically correspond to 2 shapes with the root on the 6th string (the E, and the G shape), 2 shapes with the root on the 5th string (the C and the A shapes) and one with the root on the 4th (the D shape).

    Practice playing the chord progressions of the tunes you do, but instead of just using E position barre chords (and the odd A position barre chord) mess around with using some of the other shapes.

    Mess around with just using fragments of the chords, and in particular not bothering to play anything on the 6 and 5 strings. e.g. for a chord progression that went C, G, Am F, you could play:

    (C) x x 5 5 5 x (G) x x 5 4 3 x (Aminor) x x 7 5 5 x  (F) x x 3 5 x x

    Or something like that. Maybe slide into one of those chords, or replace with a couple of single note.

    Then I'd start getting into playing inversions. i.e. chords where the lowest note isn't the root note, and where the order of the notes isn't just R 3 5 (or R 3 5 7).

    e.g. 

    (C) x 7 5 5 x x (G) 7 5 5 x x x (A minor) x 12 11 9 x x (F) x 8 10 10 10 x

    Variations on all of the above. Add in some chromatic movement (just simple slides into a chord). Maybe some bass lines, e.g. 


    (C) x 7 5 5 x x ... single note on 6th string 8 \ (G) 7 5 5 x x x (A minor) x 12 11 9 x x (F) x 8 10 10 10 x


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  • Yes that's me - that's the kind of shit we play too

    Well if that's genuinely how you feel about the music you're playing, just quit and find/start a better band! 
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  • BarneyBarney Frets: 336
    Inversions is the way to go I think ...a good thing to to is find a note everywhere on the neck ..c for example and find a chord in that area with that note in then look at the notes and see what needs altered to make it into minor ..7th...maj7th...ECT 
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  • sev112sev112 Frets: 319
    I think calling them inversions, and introducing CAGEd, say I g learn all the notes all over the neck leads to unnecessary complications

    beleive it or not, most pairs of notes go together quite well, whether you know what they are or what chord or scale they go with,
    many groups of 3 notes go together.

    just explore playing groups of 2 and 3 notes together in various places and see which ones you like the sound of.  Then play some strumming rhythms that you like the feel / groove of.

    after 10 to 15 mins of doing that you’ve got some new chops, with no massive investment
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  • RoysterdoysterRoysterdoyster Frets: 49
    Mr Ego McShowoffpants lead player
    Leave.Be happy
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  • TravisthedogTravisthedog Frets: 1579
    Leave have much less money for gear
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  • Matt_McGMatt_McG Frets: 42
    @sev112 I'd probably (gently) disagree. What you suggest is a great way to come up with new sounds that you like, it's a worthwhile thing to do.

    But if the problem is, 'how do I play interesting things within a structure -- harmony, chord progression, song, etc. -- that is fixed' then it really really helps knowing some very basic theory, and the CAGED shapes. You'll come up with things you like that go with that specific chord progression a lot quicker if you know some rudimentary things about how music works and how it relates to the neck of the guitar.

    Lots of people have great ears, and just come up with this stuff spontaneously without ever having to learn it. For the rest of us, having a little bit of structure to hook into, is very helpful.

    I say this as someone who has been playing guitar for 40 years, and who only really learned a lot of this stuff embarrassingly recently. And it's completely transformed what I can do on the guitar. Echoing what @Grunfeld has already said above.
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  • sev112sev112 Frets: 319
    Matt_McG said:
    @sev112 I'd probably (gently) disagree. What you suggest is a great way to come up with new sounds that you like, it's a worthwhile thing to do.

    But if the problem is, 'how do I play interesting things within a structure -- harmony, chord progression, song, etc. -- that is fixed' then it really really helps knowing some very basic theory, and the CAGED shapes. You'll come up with things you like that go with that specific chord progression a lot quicker if you know some rudimentary things about how music works and how it relates to the neck of the guitar.

    Lots of people have great ears, and just come up with this stuff spontaneously without ever having to learn it. For the rest of us, having a little bit of structure to hook into, is very helpful.

    I say this as someone who has been playing guitar for 40 years, and who only really learned a lot of this stuff embarrassingly recently. And it's completely transformed what I can do on the guitar. Echoing what @Grunfeld has already said above.
    Don’t disagree :) just that it takes a load of time and mental effort, someone to help you through it, a load of books or self help vids most of which confuse until you find the one that clicks with yu, but when you work it all out, then you are very right, it is all useful stuff :) 

    i mean it, I came to CAGED and knowing the fretboard etc after 30 to 35 years too.  Just wished I’d moved away from 6 strings chords years/ decades ago.  It wasn’t until I got in a band as the only guitarist a couple of years back that I had to work it out and “find a sound”.  

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  • TravisthedogTravisthedog Frets: 1579
    sev112 said:
    Matt_McG said:
    @sev112 I'd probably (gently) disagree. What you suggest is a great way to come up with new sounds that you like, it's a worthwhile thing to do.

    But if the problem is, 'how do I play interesting things within a structure -- harmony, chord progression, song, etc. -- that is fixed' then it really really helps knowing some very basic theory, and the CAGED shapes. You'll come up with things you like that go with that specific chord progression a lot quicker if you know some rudimentary things about how music works and how it relates to the neck of the guitar.

    Lots of people have great ears, and just come up with this stuff spontaneously without ever having to learn it. For the rest of us, having a little bit of structure to hook into, is very helpful.

    I say this as someone who has been playing guitar for 40 years, and who only really learned a lot of this stuff embarrassingly recently. And it's completely transformed what I can do on the guitar. Echoing what @Grunfeld has already said above.
    Don’t disagree :) just that it takes a load of time and mental effort, someone to help you through it, a load of books or self help vids most of which confuse until you find the one that clicks with yu, but when you work it all out, then you are very right, it is all useful stuff :) 

    i mean it, I came to CAGED and knowing the fretboard etc after 30 to 35 years too.  Just wished I’d moved away from 6 strings chords years/ decades ago.  It wasn’t until I got in a band as the only guitarist a couple of years back that I had to work it out and “find a sound”.  

    This is definitely me
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