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A Quick Fingerstyle Rhythm Guitar Lesson.

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange


Bluesy Fingerstyle Rhythm - The Lesson explained.


Here is a very quick look at some fingerstyle rhythm guitar. I recorded this as a backing track for my melodic improvisation lessons. I've now done 10 of those, including two slide versions. While I was recording this, though, I was smart enough to turn on the cameras so I'm able to turn this into a lesson too. This, by the way, is the chord progression for Key To The Highway, an old blues standard. It's in G and it's an 8 bar blues, not the usual 12.

We usually associate rhythm guitar with strumming, either with a flat pick or the finger tips, but you can also set up a rhythm part by plucking. That's what I've done here. You'll see that the part I came up with is more of a piano part than the usual guitar part. I alternate between the thumb on the bass strings and two or three finger grabs of the higher notes in the voicing to create a rhythm part.

There's not much to report for the left hand. I'm most gripping familiar chord shapes for G, C7, C9 and D7 but it's the right hand that needs attention. The feel for this is a sort of shuffle and it's the interplay between the bass notes and chord fragments that make that happen. You need to get that swinging lilt going. The thumb is playing most of the bass notes on the beat, 4 to the bar. That's the pulse. The chord fragments sit on top and are syncopated against the bass line to give it that shuffle feel.

You'll see that I often use just three notes out of the full chord shape I'm gripping. Don't let the video confuse you. There are some teachers I've seen online who say you should only ever hold notes you're actually playing. I'm from the other school. I think it's easier and safer to hold the full shape down where possible and use whatever notes you want from the shape. It's easier because you don't have to train your fingers to have multiple grips for the same chord and it's safer because if your picking hand does hit a wrong string by mistake, at least the note will be part of the chord and won't sound like a mistake.

As usual, it's the feel you should concentrate on mastering, not the exact version I played (which could easily have been tightened up anyway). I always put into the tab and virtual fretboard every single detail of my version so that you track it all but I don't think you should spend too much time trying to capture very last nuance of my version. Work on the essence of the feel; work on the lilt, the swing. Simplify the left hand if necessary so that you can concentrate on the flow, the actual music.

Give this a go and get familiar with so you can have a go at my melodic improvisation lessons that use this very track. I've included an Mp3 of this that repeats a dozen or so times so you can play along to it, both to practice this rhythm part and also to try some improvisations over it.



Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange

Kirk LorangeAs well as putting together these fingerstyle guitar lessons, I am also the author of PlaneTalk - The Truly Totally Different Guitar Instruction Package, which teaches a mindset, a way of thinking about music and a way of tracking it all on the guitar fretboard. Yes, there IS a constant down there in the maze of strings and fret wire, a landmark that points to everything at all times. I call it The Easiest Yet Most Powerful Guitar Lesson You Will Ever Learn and many testimonials at my site will back up that rather superlative description. If your goal as a guitar player is to be able to truly PLAY the guitar, not just learn by rote; to be able to invent on the fly, not memorize every note; to be able to see the WHOLE fretboard as friendly, familiar territory, not just the first 5 frets and to do it all without thinking about all those scales and modes, then you should read more here.