What is Rhythm Guitar Playing?

Playing the guitar isn’t an easy thing to do. It takes hours and hours of practice to start playing simple melodies and even longer to become proficient at playing it.

Today we’ll talk about the rhythm guitar playing, how it’s done, and most popular techniques that guitarists use.

Alright, let’s start already!

What’s Rhythm Guitar Playing?

what's rhythm guitar playing

Rhythm guitar playing is when the guitar is used to provide rhythm and harmony as an accompaniment to a singer or others in an ensemble or band.

Often you’ll see a guitarist play rhythm to a lead guitar in a band.

This really refers to the style of playing rather than the instrument used, as the two guitars are virtually interchangeable. While the lead guitar provides the melody, the rhythm guitar adds harmony and support to it and perhaps the singer, if there is one.

The drummer and bass guitarist both support the rhythm guitar; however, the rhythm guitar can add melodic touches to the whole, while the lead guitar will sometimes be playing harmony and chords.

What About Playing Chords?


Playing chords in patterns characterizes rhythm, and there is so much to be learned about chords and chord progressions that anyone with a liking for rhythm will be kept creatively busy for a long time.

In jazz or swing, the rhythm guitar has a harder task; that of adding a counter melody or moving bass, while in rock music, riffs of various kinds and degrees of difficulties are favored.

Electric or acoustic guitars can both be used to play rhythm. Once this skill is mastered, you’ll find it a great way to meet other musicians, as you’ll be able to accompany them and jam together.

Popular Techniques For Rhythm Guitar Playing


You will need picking and strumming skills, while power chords, open chords, and many others are also necessary. Some of the other techniques used by a rhythm guitarist are:

  • Drones — this is the repetition of one note while others are played. Bagpipe music is an example of droning.
  • Arpeggios — this is where the notes of a chord are played one at a time instead of all together. You hear it a lot in blues ballads, where it gives spare but melodic support and if some shimmering chorus or tremolo is added sounds fantastic.
  • Fingerpicking — if you thought that was only for lead guitar, think again. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want (or can manage).
  • Strumming — never think it’s boring. It can add an exotic touch to an otherwise ordinary melody adding extra bounce with hip-hop, a bounce or swing. You can punctuate a stop or sustain a chord and give each part of the song its own identity.
  •  Riffs — to hear some good ones, listen to “Foxy Lady” and “Day Tripper.” Rhythm guitar certainly adds depth and color to any tune, which is why bands use them.


This short introduction to rhythm guitar playing should clarify a few basics and most commonly asked questions beginners who want to start playing the guitar ask.

Check out more posts about guitars and other musical instruments on Blue Buzz Music – I try posting as much material as possible to help beginners all over the world to learn the art of music.

Here is a video to start – this should make rhythm guitar playing a little easier for you!

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