Just musing here. I always assumed that rhythm guitar just played the chords to the lead guitar’s fingerstyle lead melodies. However, as I want to nail down the rhythm guitar role before trying any leads, I have been listening to the tunes a like concentrating on the non-lead guitar. Boy was I wrong in my assumption. It seems to me that the rhythm guitarist plays as much fingerstyle as chords.
Is this right or am I overthinking the idea of the rhythm guitarists role?
@jjw you are right, I used the term ‘fingerstyle’ to mean playing individual notes rather than a chord. Yes, I do use a pick. I am going to have to back over the rift lessons as I tended to just have a quick go at them and then dropped them as a ‘that was interesting, one day I will come back to this’ lesson
I guess it’s down to the division of labour in a particular group. Think about the various ways Keith Richards played with Brian Jones, Mick Taylor and Ronnie Wood in the Stones. Interplay with the other musicians doesn’t hurt, either. If rhythm guitar playing was about “just chords”, I think most rhythm guitar players would have died of boredom already.
This is a fundamental truth. Rhythm underpins lead, just as bass and drums are the engine room.
If you can’t play rhythm in the pocket your lead will suck. Look at all the greats you think as good lead players, I’ll just give you three Jimi Jimmy and Eric, and watch them all the way through any song. They’ll be playing a shed load of rhythm and it’ll be tight as tight can be.
It’s really just playing guitar and laying down a groove. If you work on developing a broad set of skills, your entry points into the music will become seamless. That means not having to really think about your part as being rhythm, lead, unaccompanied, etc. Play in service to the song.
I recently started to play as part of a 5 person band (it’s very new so it’s still weird for me to say that ) and I am primarily rhythm guitar.
I would say that I view rhythm as the part of a song that can be played without any other instruments and still sound like the song. That may be chords, a riff or even a series of single notes repeated. While lead is great and I love a good lead line, lead by itself generally doesn’t sound the same without the rhythm.
While chords are definitely an important part of playing rhythm, there is a lot more to it. The best example I can think of is the song I’ve got a Feeling by the Beatles. John Lennon is rhythm guitar, but he is mostly playing the intro riff repeated throughout the majority of the song. That riff is tricky! I’ve been slowly trying to learn it over the course of a few months and I’ve only now really started to be able to play it consistently.
Hi Tony. One of the Grade 3 lessons gives you a start on playing individual notes while strumming. https://www.justinguitar.com/guitar-lessons/how-to-link-guitar-chords-using-scales-bg-1504
I’m trying to add these embellishments after memorizing the basic chords and structure of songs I’m learning, like Sweet Virginia by the Stones. JG also has a lesson on that song, which has some not too difficult chord-note interplay. I’m sure the only way to really do all this well is to have all of your chords and the commonly used scales ingrained in memory, such that you don’t have to think much about where to find the notes you want to overlay on the rhythm. Some day… let’s keep at it!