Freeway Music — Columbia, SC’s Premier Music School

Rhythm Guitar Part 5

I’ve been teaching my rhythm series lately, and as I go through my system, I realize that I have MORE to say. So, I’ve decided to add a 5th installment to my rhythm series. Here are a few more things you can do to keep advancing your rhythm:


If you are unfamiliar with swinging a rhythm it’s a very simple concept. Simply, swing the 2nd note over. For example, in 1/8 note rhythm, you would move the 2nd 1/8 or 1/16 over a bit. Here is a good visual for you:

1    +    2    +    3    +    +    a      vs.      1       + 2      + 3      + 4      etc.

Once, you’ve mastered how this feels, you can begin to incorporate all of the other rhythm ideas such as: passing, muting, sliding, breaking up the chord, etc.


A triplet breaks one note into 3. If you take a 1/2 note, which is usually broken into two counts, and break it into three counts you get 1/8 note triplets, quarter notes break down to 1/8 note triplets, and 1/8 notes break down to 1/16 note triplets. It’s really fun to insert triplets into one or several of the beats. For example, you might use 16th note rhythm on 1, 2, and 4, but triplet subdivision on 3. Experiment putting triplets in various places. Then, you can treat each part of the triplet the same way you would in the 16th note exercises we did in the earlier blog series. Try resting, muting, and accenting with each part of the triplet.

Time Signatures

Have you ever experimented with time signatures? The time signature can be found at the beginning of a song. The top number tells you how many beats per measure, the bottom number tells you what kind of note equals one count. For example, in 4/4 or common time, you would have 4 beats per measure and 1/4 notes would get one count.  It’s really fun to experiment with time signatures. I’ve had a song start in 4/4 and switch to 6/8. It’s also fun to add an extra beat and create a 5/4 measure, or add a 2/4 measure. It shakes things up a bit and can make a riff or tune sound very interesting.

Try experimenting with swinging, triplets, and signatures this week. Don’t forget to couple this with all of the other great ideas and tools from the previous blog posts in this series. Check the related posts to see those. Until then, happy strumming!

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