Freeway Music — Columbia, SC’s Premier Music School

Rhythm Guitar – Part 4

We talked about basic subdivision, passing, and mixing things up in Rhythm Guitar – Part 1. Then, in Rhythm Guitar – Part 2, we discussed techniques, resting, and adding/removing notes. Most recently, in Rhythm Guitar Part 3, we took the chord block and broke into pieces. Today, we are going to delve further into rhythm with accenting and swinging.

Random Accenting

Yet another level of creativity is picking random parts of the beat and accenting them. Accenting simply means you play one beat louder than the rest. I generally recommend for my guitar students to over emphasize the accented beat, and play the others very soft. That way they can hear the distinction between them very easily. Start by accenting the first beat of any rhythm pattern. Then, shift the accented beat over one beat at a time. It completely changes the rhythm each time. Now, try mixing them up. The creativity is endless!

Accenting Two and Four

Often times, you will have the luxury of playing with a drummer. You may notice the snare drum often falls in two and four, as well as crowds clapping their hands. When playing rhythm guitar by yourself, it really makes your playing groovy by you accenting two and four, and simulating that “snare effect”. Play any rhythm pattern, and then accent two in four within the pattern. At first, it may feel strange, but over time you’ll feel the groove in your rhythm come alive.


It’s very important to distinguish a straight rhythm from a swinging rhythm. When you swing a rhythm, you are literally “swinging” the 2nd half of the smallest subdivision over closer to the next beat. For example, if you played eighth notes as your smallest subdivision, you would push the +‘s closer to the numbers. You can swing a little or a lot. Try taking a rhythm you normally play straight, and swing it. It will sound totally different, even though the tempo is the same.

Hopefully by now, it has been drilled into your brain the amount of possibilities you have with rhythm guitar. You are certainly empowered with a slew of tools to make you a better, and more creative, rhythm guitar player. Happy Strumming! Make sure you check out:
Rhythm Guitar – Part 1
Rhythm Guitar – Part 2
Rhythm Guitar – Part 3

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