Make Complex Rhythms EASY!

Learning to play more complex rhythm patterns on guitar might (at first) seem complex. But, after you learn a few of the helpful tips I’ve got for you, you’re going to find out that the rhythm you 'thought' was  complicated is actually a lot easier to play than you may have initially assumed... 


I'd like to get started with a rhythm pattern for you to check out and then we’ll break it down and help you comprehend its structure and its timing so that you’ll be able to play it easier.


If a rhythm pattern seems really complex there might be good reason. It may be syncopated and promote an "off time" feeling. That alone can usually make any musician somewhat apprehensive about understanding how to strum through these kinds of ideas.

However, the first thing to take into consideration is the structure. In other words where are the stresses and the accents of the beat? And, what is the underlying lowest common denominator duration?

In our 2-bar rhythm example, we have a blend of mixed note values. We also see the use of dotted notes, combined with the ties and rests. It all comes together to make for a fairly complex groove. Especially for a guitar player who isn’t maybe all that experienced with such a varied rhythm.

Here’s the first thing that you can do...

Since our rhythm is primarily a blend of eighth-notes along with the next larger rhythm of a quarter-note, we’re going to do some groove analysis by comparing how a 2-bar section (of nothing other than straight 8th notes), can help us relate to exactly where the count will fall.

With the beat understood (by way of the structure related entirely as an underlying rhythm, in this case 8th-notes), we can gain a better perspective of the count that exists within the back-ground of the groove.

Once analyzed to its underlying feel, we can start locating where the attacks fall across our rhythm structure.

After understanding where our groove exists along-side of the underlying beat structure, we can select exactly where we need to have our rhythm attacks occur across the rhythm pattern.

With an understanding of where to strike into the specific points across the underlying rhythm, we can correlate where the notes in our rhythm will line up to the underlying pulse.

Those areas of the count are "exactly" where we will need to strum to get the correct feel.

Once you do your groove analysis with your rhythm pattern, you’ll gain a much better understanding of exactly where to attack the meter of your complex rhythm.

However, there’s still two areas of development that will need to be addressed.

The first area is singing the accents of the meter. Every rhythmic meter has an ebb and flow to it. In other words, even though it is a rhythm we can still hum it in much the same way we would tap it out.

Once we can develop an understanding for the feel, and we commit that to memory, start by tapping out the feel. After that, you should have no problem with singing /humming it.

Once you can sing /hum a rhythmic part using "Rhythmic Solfege" or by simply picking a single vocal tone of your choice, (use a single syllable if you'd like), the part will be "in" you.

And, as the old saying goes, "If you can sing it - you can play it."

The second area is strum approach. When strumming any rhythm part on guitar we have two primary options.

We can strum rhythm attacks using our guitar pick (with either down or up stroke strumming). Or, we can pluck the rhythm attacks using a more finger-picked approach.

If we use a guitar pick and go with down and up strum attacks, we need to make a decision about when we’ll strum up and when we will strum down.

In a lot of cases, we will follow the beat. So, if we’re on an up-beat, we tend to strum up. And, if the strum occurs on a down-beat - we’ll more often than not strum down.

Finger-plucking will apply a folk or classical style finger-pluck method into the palm of the hand. Be sure to attack the beats properly and address any rests using right-hand muting.

Now, if you’d like to learn more about topics like this one and many others, join my web-site as a free member and start by taking a look at my “Rhythm Guitar” Course.

That course is the most comprehensive rhythm guitar program available online. It uses 20 lesson plans with progressive exercises and drills to help you understand rhythm guitar at a level where you can expertly use any style of rhythm across all of the most popular styles of music out there.

Each lesson plan comes with instructional videos, PDF hand-outs and MP3 example tracks that are not only detailed but also easy to follow - so that in the end you’ll have what it takes to use your new skills to play rhythm guitar within any kind of musical situation at a very high level of expertise, no matter how complex the rhythms may be.

Head over to review all of the guitar courses that are found on my website at

I’ve got step-by-step; Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced courses that work alongside of in-depth elective programs to form the best guitar course available.

The courses have been designed so as to help you learn to identify where you're at, and what's required to get you up to that next level of guitar playing, in a very organized step-by-step way, that simply makes sense.

I look forward to helping you further at



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