Rhythm Guitar Lesson with Backing Tracks

Intermediate players should be familiar with basic major and minor chords, as well as some typical chord extensions like sevenths and minor sevenths. In this intermediate lesson, we’ll explore many different techniques, styles and genres of music.

This lesson contains some standard rhythm progressions to get you started. Each rhythm includes an accompanying mp3 backing track that you can download, play along with or practice improvising solos over. If you aren’t familiar with reading rhythm slashes yet, listen to the backing tracks and follow along to hear how the rhythm should be played. Throughout many of my articles and lessons on Rock House, we’ll use similar rhythms to show you how to improvise, create your own solos, transpose and recognize standard chord progressions.

For our first rhythm, let’s take a normal I-IV-V chord change in the key of G major. By playing only on the upbeats using all upstrums, you can create a reggae feel. This demonstrates how the guitar can dictate the feel of a song by just using a different strumming pattern. The rhythm is shown here in rhythm slashes with chord names. You can play the chords using any voicing you want. Start out with simple open chords and once you’re comfortable with the rhythm, switch it up and try using barre chords or some different voicings.

Example 1

This next example is also a reggae rhythm, this time a very fast reggae in the key of Am. Use all upstrums like in the previous rhythm for the first three measures. Upstrummed reggae riffs sound great using smaller form chords played on the highest three or four strings. Try some different chord shapes and see which ones sound best for you.

Example 2

Now that we’ve had a few examples using a reggae feel, let’s try another simple I-IV-V progression in the key of C major using a country feel. The rhythm is shown in tablature and alternates between picking the bass notes and upstrumming the higher notes of the chords to create that country sound. This riff also incorporates single note melodic passing phrases to help move the rhythm from chord to chord. The actual chords that make up the progression are simple open position C, F and G chords. This example demonstrates how you can break up the strumming pattern of a simple chord change and add some melody in the bass notes to give it a country feel. Listen and play along with the backing track. Once you’ve got the country picking style down, try applying it to other chord progressions too.

Example 3

This next example is a moderate blues rhythm in B minor using minor seventh chords. This is a good progression to solo over using minor pentatonic or natural minor scales. Listen to the backing track and follow along with the rhythm slashes to get the syncopated feel in your head, then try to jam along.

Example 4

The last example in this section is a popular chord change in D minor. This progression is used in many classical style rock and metal songs. You can solo over this using either natural minor or harmonic minor scales; you’ll learn more about using these scales in other lessons at Rock House. The rhythm here is a 6/8 feel, which is usually counted in threes (One-two-three, one-two-three). The rhythm is written below, stripped down to its most basic form. You may hear slight variations in the strumming on the backing track and you can use those rhythmic variations as a guide to help you try some of your own rhythms. This progression is also a great one to play in 4/4 or other times signatures.

Example 5

Now that you’ve got a few rhythm progressions to get you started, get creative and come up with some new ideas. Try to play solos over the backing tracks, vary the strumming patterns or transpose the progressions to other keys.

©2010 Fred Russell Publishing, All Rights Reserved. This article can not be used without permission from the Author. To Contact the Author email curt@RockHouseMethod.com

1 comment:

Scotty Smith said...

Awesome lesson Sarge, easy to understand progressions for beginners and the audios make it even more enjoyable. Cheers!