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Secret Sauce: Rhythm
from Jeff Scheetz's Blues Rock: Secret Sauce
When it comes to rock music, a lot of players will jump straight to the solos. But rhythm guitar is an important component to every rock track, whether it’s down home Southern rock or hotrodded metal. This month’s lesson, powered by Jeff Scheetz’s Blues Rock: Secret Sauce
TrueFire course, will help you create tasty original comps.
So work on it no matter how rhythmically challenged you think you are – it will get better, and when it does it will unlock tons of songs and grooves that you were only hacking at before. Remember, groove is everything.
Getting the Groove
Our rhythm section this month is based around a funky groove. Of course, any established rhythm player will champion the merits of keeping your right hand going – down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, and so on. This is the most critical technique when trying to master rhythm chops.
You might think, “if we’re playing rhythm, we should be playing chords,” and you can certainly look at it that way, but rhythm doesn’t have to stay “just rhythm” as you’ll hopefully see; some of the greatest rhythm players knew how to mix in cool licks while they lay back in the groove. Give a listen to Keith Richards if you’re still not sure. Mixing things up as you play rhythm not only makes it more interesting to play, but also more interesting for your listeners.
A great example of this comes from funk playing, and we can learn a lot about rock rhythm from this genre. If you think about being in your scale shape and playing a lot of double stops or triple stops, a lot of little hammer-ons and pull offs, that’s where you’re really going to get more of a funky sound – kind of like what is going on in our first example.
This first part of the rhythm is actually based around a C# minor pentatonic scale. Make a bar at the 9th fret with your first finger over the top three strings and do a down stroke with your right hand. Hammer on with your third finger onto the 11th fret and then off. Then the next part of the lick is quite simple – on the 4th string pull off, from 11 to 9, play at the 11th fret on the fifth string, then right back up.
What makes it rhythmic and funky is the right hand. It is essential to keep the right hand going in the down-up motion. Your right hand should never stops doing that motion, even when you have a pause or break – it may mean leaving your right hand just swinging in the breeze, but that’s what keeps your groove going.
Even if we were to stay in the C# minor pentatonic thinking, you can imagine that there are a million different variations and ways to play it. What we want to think about is how can we stay within our pentatonic shape but keep the rhythm going to make it interesting?
Try experimenting by playing different licks out of the minor pentatonic scale, like doing a pulloff from your 12th fret to your 9th fret. You’ll notice we’re playing off of our C# minor pentatonic, spending a few bars building some mini chords with hammerons and pulloffs. And although it may sound like a broken record, you’ll really want to try and keep your right hand going, just staying funky.
What we can really do with this is extend it, jam around with the minor pentatonic and eventually transition into a solo. With practice, you’ll find the groove and stick to it. We’ll see you next month.
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