The Average Guitarist NEVER Gets This Right

Would you like to be able to play any type of rhythm by simply narrowing your focus and applying a pin-point beat selection process across every groove? Of course you would! ...Once you start using the method I'm about to show you, you'll broaden the way your selective awareness sees you through a groove and you'll broaden your understanding for every new rhythm (no matter how complex)... 

Using this system will allow you to gain a much higher level of ability, and you'll start analyzing rhythms with a much higher degree of focus.

Then, when you finally start performing each new groove you'll have the skill to learn parts much easier with better feel.

In this video, I'll show you how a simple idea of "rhythmic association" that can work wonders for being able to create a much higher level of awareness for your sense of rhythm.

All you'll need to do is be willing to perform a few extra stages of preparation and association prior to playing any new groove that you encounter.


Today we’re going to talk about rhythm playing with a focus on why so many guitar students can never seem to get some of the most popular rhythms correct. 

In this post we’ll focus on a couple of rhythms that always seem to cause some of the greatest difficulty. The first of these will the Blues, “Shuffle.”

A lot of guitar players tend to have trouble when it comes to developing a good understanding for playing one of the most common and important rhythms found in Blues, the “Shuffle Rhythm.”

The "Shuffle" rhythm takes a standard 8th-note triplet and changes it to where the three eighth-notes that are under the triplet symbol get modified to create a quarter-note with an eighth-note under the triplet sub-division.

Standard Triplet:

Modified "Shuffle" Rhythm:

When this modification to the standard triplet occurs, we establish what is known as the "Shuffle." The attacks for the shuffle feel are struck upon the first and final notes of the triplet figure.

For a lot of guitar students – developing the feel of the “Shuffle Rhythm,” can be a really difficult one to nail down and if you’re one of those people, then I have a fantastic solution for you that will get you performing the Shuffle Feel in no time flat.

This method is based around assigning a “count within the beat” across the full measure. This way, you’ll know (with pin-point accuracy) exactly where to assign each attack for perfectly playing the shuffle rhythm every time.

The method that we’re going to use (to help you develop the shuffle feel), involves applying the time signature of 12/8 as a way to help better more accurately understand exactly where you’ll need to attack each beat in order to create the shuffle.

12/8 time applies 12 eighth-notes across each measure. They’re generally notated on the staff as four groups of three.

One Measure of 12/8 Time:

By placing our attack on the first note of the group of three, along with the last note, we end up with the feel of the shuffle.

12/8 Shuffle Practice:

Practice doing the 12/8 Shuffle practice routine by focusing on your attacks on the first and third beats, along with the seventh and ninth. Study the groove shown below...

If you practice using this approach, you will have some space in between each shuffle idea and it will generate a shuffle that (if it were in common 4/4 time) would place the groove on the beats of one and three in common time.

Another common rhythm that can be difficult to develop is the syncopated 16th. With this groove we’ll find the pulse of the beat placed slightly off time. This gives us a groove that can be rather difficult to comprehend.

The best way to deal with these rhythms is to move through a four step process:

STEP 1):
Begin by writing out the count, and determine where each attack falls across the rhythm.

STEP 2).
Practice singing (or scatting) the spots across the beat where the attacks fall.

STEP 3).
Focus on clapping the attacks while counting the time.

STEP 4).
Grab your guitar and play the idea.

By doing this 4-step approach, you’ll develop a lot more clarity for any groove that you need to play.

Your sense of timing and your understanding for where the attacks take place will be more focused.

Also, from doing this, you’ll find it a lot easier to perform any type of complex rhythm.

Syncopated 16th grooves are mostly found in; funk, soul, hip-hop, smooth-jazz and RandB grooves. So, let’s study a syncopated example that fits with those styles.

We’ll organize the beat, apply some scat singing to the idea, and when everything makes sense, we’ll go ahead and play the example on guitar.

First, let’s do some analysis of this rhythm that I have composed for you. The groove that we have here is based upon scattered 16th-notes in common time.

Syncopated 16th Example:

At first glance the groove might seem a little overwhelming with how broken the rhythm appears across the measure. But, remember, the trick is to first organize the structure of the grooves time and feel.

STEP 1).
Organize the Time and the Count:

STEP 2).
Scat Sing the Groove 

Next, you'll want to focus on exactly where the attacks need to fall across the measure by scat singing the attacks along with counting them in your head.Be sure to use a metronome while practicing this.

STEP 3).
Clap and Count the Beat of the Groove

Next we’ll get focused on clapping the attacks while counting the time. Each attack will fall upon the exact same places as where we were scat-singing.

STEP 4).
Play the Part on Guitar
Now that we’ve organized the beats, and we’ve nailed down all the attacks through both scat-singing and counting with clapping, we’re ready to take this groove onto the guitar.

When you do this, make sure that you are singing the part to yourself at the same time as you’re playing it.

This technique (of hearing it in your head), will give you the best internal idea for the part and in the end make it a lot easier to perform.

Sometimes the first attempts that we make when trying to play through a new rhythm idea on guitar can seem as if it’s nearly impossible to fully comprehend exactly how to play the rhythm.

Often times, we can come pretty close to jamming on the rhythm in the correct way, but the odds are we’ll have a few problems until reaching perfection with the groove.

The first step with learning any new rhythm is to properly associate it. You probably noticed that right away when we worked on the Shuffle Rhythm.

Once the "Shuffle," was associated to 12/8 time, the idea of where to hit the beat became a lot easier, and the Shuffle became easier to understand too.

Syncopated sixteenth’s are more complex, but since they show up in a lot of styles, you’ll definitely need to practice applying that 4-step plan I gave you. That way you'll know how to become more capable with those more complex rhythms.

Over time, with exposure and with practice, you’ll find that learning complex rhythms will only get easier and easier to do.



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