Rhythm Guitar Help!

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  • ewalewal Frets: 688
    I've never been in a band where there was a designated rhythm and lead guitarist. And it wouldn't work if there was. I can only play the guitar my way which combines a mixture of riffs, alternative tunings, effects and the occasional motif. Good luck.
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  • TheBigDipperTheBigDipper Frets: 859
    There's the question you asked and the question you didn't.

    The question you didn't ask: If you feel you can, have a conversation with the band about the way you feel about the split of guitar duties. It doesn't matter if he's a much better lead player than you - most covers bands (you're in a covers band, yes?) play songs with solos that anyone can learn to play well. Those songs don't need a great player, just a decent one. 

    The question you did ask: I'm going with the minority answer here. Rhythm playing is about playing rhythmically, not note choice, chords and harmonies. Depending on the material you're playing, there should be lots of opportunities for rhythmic variation and use of interesting techniques. Listen to what the drummer and bass player are doing and complement them. For rhythm guitar, less is often more. Muting, chordal stabs, harmonising with the bass part, loud/soft passages for dynamics. Even if you're not playing funk, copying funk rhythm player techniques can really expand your rhythmic palette. Free your inner Nile Rogers! 

    Of course, if you're only playing Oasis numbers then you're stuffed....  sorry! 

    TBH, I think you should have the discussion and be prepared to leave if they don't want to help you be happier. I live in Dorset, and so many of the covers bands I watch view their semi-professional hobby as a job and seem to have no fun or musical adventure in their playing (although they certainly have fun in other aspects of the job). Their idea of success is being booked 2-3 nights per week and filling the venue. No discussions about what they play other than how an audience reacts to a number. If you're the entertainment and being paid for it, that's a fine, appropriate attitude to take - but it means it's a job.

    Maybe in your band, the job of the rhythm guitarist is to play simple stuff and look happy whilst you're doing it. If so, it doesn't sound like you want to do that any more. 


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  • tralfamadantralfamadan Frets: 13
    edited May 21
    Shame there's no room for you to play some lead. The strictly Rhythm & Lead guitar roles is tired and old. Its only pertinent when the singer is playing rhythm. The best rock/blues sound to me is always when both guitarists are playing together, either playing counterpoint melodies or creating interesting harmonies & rhythm variations.
    Personally, I would leave. I wouldn't want to play with another guitarist who can't leave space for other musicians. 
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 8779
    I liked @TheBigDipper's approach. I hate it when people say do you play rhythm or lead, I just say I'm a guitarist and I play what the music requires at the time. That could mean comping for a singer or it could mean screaming a blistering solo. Both are equally enjoyable but with respect to different criteria.

    If there's 2 guitarists (and I must admit there are bands that do all right with 2, even if I largely sympathise with Ritchie Blackmore "1 guitarist is enough for any band"), then @tralfamadan has got it right "The best rock/blues sound to me is always when both guitarists are playing together, either playing counterpoint melodies or creating interesting harmonies & rhythm variations." Think Wishbone Ash :)
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  • FreebirdFreebird Frets: 772
    edited May 22
    Two guitarists is the optimal solution, as long as they know how to stay out of each others way, and don't just play for the sake of it. A lot will also depend on the skill of the songwriter who composes the various parts.


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  • meltedbuzzboxmeltedbuzzbox Frets: 7263
    Having played in bands that I found dull and boring for whatever reason I genuinely think there is only one solution and that is leave. There are loads of bands out there, you can find another one. 
    The Bigsby was the first successful design of what is now called a whammy bar or tremolo arm, although vibrato is the technically correct term for the musical effect it produces. In standard usage, tremolo is a rapid fluctuation of the volume of a note, while vibrato is a fluctuation in pitch. The origin of this nonstandard usage of the term by electric guitarists is attributed to Leo Fender, who also used the term “vibrato” to refer to what is really a tremolo effect.
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  • GrangousierGrangousier Frets: 138
    What I've found a lot more useful than looking at charts of chords - which I find impossible to memorize - is starting with a shape - say a D shape, top three strings around the second fret - then looking for all the ways I can play those notes - move the A up to a D, the D up to an F# and the F# up to an A, and so forth, then practise switching between them. Of course, what you'll find is you're reproducing what you can find in books, but the process of doing it is different from finding the chords on a list. It can be slow work (depending on how complicated the chords are), but I find it rewarding. I do use an app to record what I've found (Neck Diagrams on the Mac, but other apps are available, I'm sure, as are pen and paper.) Another advantage is finding useful and cool chords that you might not stumble across in a book - for example, a D triad where the notes are spread quite widely in pitch, which might have a horn-section feel to it. Or just an octave - one note on the top string, another on the third string, either muting the second string or maybe adding the fifth. 

    An important thing is to make sure you're not playing the same chord shape as the other player (when they're playing chords) - something I've found is on songs where there are two of us strumming, to play a shape quite high up, which gives more of a 12-string shimmer. Also (and I don't know if this is scientifically true), it often feels like if more than one guitarist is playing the same inversion at the same time you get phase cancellation, and the sound gets smaller and mushier rather than bigger and more rocking. 

    Another odd thing is doing boring work (that pays off) on being steady on the down stroke and the upstroke - if you know the hand's going down on the on-beats and up on the off-beats, you can make really groovy strumming patterns - accentuating the up-strokes puts the accent onto the off-beats, the -ands ("one-and, two-and etc). Like a ska guitarist, but mixed up with down-strokes. Early Gang of Four is good for that. 

    Secretly form a really cool trio with the bass player and the drummer - not actually, but think in those terms.

    Also, thinking in terms of instruments that aren't guitars is another way to go about it - thinking about what an organ player or horn or string part might do. Or the old Nelson Riddle trick of playing the same notes as the bass, but an octave up - which you can only use quite rarely, maybe once or twice in a set, because it's a definite gimmick, but it sounds awesome when you do. 

    I remember reading an interview with Andy Partridge a long time ago (around Drums and Wires/Black Sea sort of time), where he described what made them different from most bands - he took a piece of paper and tour it down the middle twice so he had four pieces of paper, and he said "Now, this is what most bands are like", and lined up the bits of paper square, one on top of another. "But this is what XTC are like..." and he turned the different pieces so the corners stuck out at odd angles. Looking for those odd corners can be a lot of fun, and it's often that that makes a band interesting.

    Sorry if I've rambled on a bit, and I hope some of it's useful - it's a place I've been a couple of times, and mostly I made it a game to find small things to do that make a difference without provoking anyone into asking what the hell I think I'm doing. I don't always get away with it, but it's a more enjoyable way of fucking up than just being a bit shit, and to be honest as long as you're in the groove with the rest of the rhythm section, in tune and in time it's not even really fucking up.
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  • 57Deluxe57Deluxe Frets: 5626
    edited July 31
    without seeing your 2 styles with either band is difficult to comment really, BUT some things that jazz up rhythm

    * Funk-up your chords and yes those shortened bottom half of the Barre chord shapes work well as does plenty of Thwacker Thawacking

    * If you adopt the above then you can also Slide-into your chords and why not slide back out of them?? This can be done outside of the funky chops style to to add that country feel

    * Arpeggiate within the chord strum

    * AC/DC are the Kings of the shortened chords - why play 4 or 5 notes when 2 with some gain will do?

    * Articulate just the bass contingent of your chord

    * Vibrato - in whichever way but non-excessive use of any whammy arm is best - so shake that body (guitar's not yours!) for an nice organic result.

    * Be clever with your ambience. Reverb with short sharp dynamic attack and then a move into longer tails really adds something

    *Doublestops between shapes where possible - everyone acknowledges doublestops as clever bastard moves!

    * Move your feet with the music - any movement - even wacky face-pulling - has a direct result on the sound!

    And think yourself luck that you not gonner have that click on pedal to solo only to get hiss or the wrong sound moment!
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  • EricTheWearyEricTheWeary Frets: 6979
    57Deluxe said:
    without seeing your 2 styles with either band is difficult to comment really, BUT some things that jazz up rhythm

    * Funk-up your chords and yes those shortened bottom half of the Barre chord shapes work well as does plenty of Thwacker Thawacking

    * If you adopt the above then you can also Slide-into your chords and why not slide back out of them?? This can be done outside of the funky chops style to to add that country feel

    * Arpeggiate within the chord strum

    * AC/DC are the Kings of the shortened chords - why play 4 or 5 notes when 2 with some gain will do?

    * Articulate just the bass contingent of your chord

    * Vibrato - in whichever way but non-excessive use of any whammy arm is best - so shake that body (guitar's not yours!) for an nice organic result.

    * Be clever with your ambience. Reverb with short sharp dynamic attack and then a move into longer tails really adds something

    *Doublestops between shapes where possible - everyone acknowledges doublestops as clever bastard moves!

    * Move your feet with the music - any movement - even wacky face-pulling - has a direct result on the sound!

    And think yourself luck that you not gonner have that click on pedal to solo only to get hiss or the wrong sound moment!

    There's a Paul Gilbert video where he says something like the first thing he has to teach students is to move when playing - if you aren't feeling the beat you aren't playing the beat. 

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