How to play tight rhythm guitar like a badass

How do you go from not being good at rhythm guitar to becoming a teacher? Do you need to build a large vocabulary of riffs? How about improvising with a tight band? Do you need to use a metronome more often? The answer to all of these is NO.

Playing a rock solid rhythm guitar is the result of:

-Training on how to listen to the right things during practice.

-Be able to detect mistakes when playing sloppy rhythm guitar and correct them.

Please watch the video to the end so you can understand the information in the rest of this article!

Question: “Tom Hess, how does the work to improve my hearing help my rhythm guitar playing? Isn’t listening training primarily used to identify intervals, harmonies, and scale notes?”

Answer: Auditory training is a large area of ​​music that is made up of many different things. It’s not just about being able to identify scales, chords, or intervals, but also things like rhythm patterns. In addition, the auditory training covers the knowledge of how to identify mistakes when playing the rhythm guitar (as well as aspects of the lead guitar such as poor vibrato, consonance / dissonance, etc.)

Stay away from these common mistakes when playing rhythm guitar:

Rhythm Guitar Error Category No. # 1: palm mute bugs

Mistake # 1: Palm silencing everything

When you mute everything with the palm of your hand, each note feels the same and it becomes difficult to add emphasis to a particular note. This makes your rhythm guitar sound too similar and it eventually gets boring.

Palm muting is a great way to create variety between different notes by playing some with silence and some without. When done this way, it makes unmuted notes feel accented. Muting is also a great way to give you tighter control over the notes and the opportunity to create percussive sounds on the strings.

Watch the video that starts in 9 seconds to understand the difference between good and poor palm squelch.

Error n. # 2: don’t use constant palm squelch

Palm muting comes in two forms when inconsistent:

-1: Shift between muted and unmuted notes randomly. In some cases, the first riff is played with constant palm squelch and the next is not.

-2: Randomly switch between strong / aggressive squelch and light squelch. In other cases, the first power chord is played with constant palm squelch and the next is not. Sometimes the squelch is perfect, other times it is too aggressive or too light.

Both types of inconsistent palm squelch frequently occur at the same time.

Note: Inconsistent palm muting is NOT the same as intentional play. The first is just a mistake. The latter is done with the purpose of creating variation in the rhythm of the notes.

Question: “Tom Hess, can you really understand the difference between arbitrarily inconsistent palm squelch and purposely varied palm squelch? Isn’t that just your opinion?”

Answer: Inconsistent palm squelch is fairly easy to identify. Here are some ways to detect it:

-Inconsistent palm squelch usually occurs in strange places within a riff. Example: mute on a downbeat and don’t mute the rest.

-Inconsistent palm squelch usually also includes unwanted string noise and weak articulation (plus other bugs mentioned below).

-Inconsistent palm squelch does not have a strict pattern. This seems like an involuntary sound.

A great guitar teacher can easily identify flaws in your rhythm guitar playing and give you honest feedback on how to improve it.

Rhythm Guitar Bug Category No. # 2: poor timing

Common rhythm guitar timing defects include:

1. Play Before Beat: The notes you play are out of sync and land before (before) the drum / metronome.

2. Play behind the beat: the notes you play are out of sync and land behind (late) the drum / metronome.

Your main goal is to play exactly in time (just above the metronome / drum beat).

When taking rhythm guitar lessons, you’ll quickly master perfect timing.

Rhythm Guitar Bug Category No. # 3: lack of solid barbed joint

The excellent tine articulation will make it a breeze to hear individual notes within guitar riffs. Poor articulation causes the notes to play together.

Bad rhythm guitar articulation is caused by:

Weak Pick Attack: You don’t use enough force every time you pick a note.

Inconsistent pick attack: hit some notes very hard, others with little force. This inconsistency makes it difficult to articulate the notes clearly.

Careless Two-Hand Synchronization – Your caring and touching hands are not in perfect sync with each other. The faster you play, the more obvious the two-handed lack of sync becomes. This makes it easier to play without clear articulation.

2-hand timing problems are caused by poor guitar technique and bad practice routines.

How to improve your rhythm guitar right now:

1. Record yourself practicing rhythm guitar constantly and pay close attention to your recordings. This trains you to see weaknesses within your game.

2. Make a list of particular problems in your game that you want to eliminate. This helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed so you can know exactly what to work on next.

3. Focus on the problems you want to solve. You can do this in two ways:

Focus on a single problem in complete isolation until it is solved. This tactic is best used for smaller problems that can be fixed quickly.


Address the problem by rotating your focus between various problems within the same practice session. For example: play a guitar riff over and over for 1 minute concentrating only on muting the palm. Then play it for 1 minute while you focus on playing at the perfect time. Next, focus on the joint for 1 minute. Repeat this circuit for a total of 15 minutes. This will help you develop your skills in the long term.

4. Work with a guitar teacher to get consistent feedback on your playing so you can improve in the shortest time possible.