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Rhythm Guitar:
16th-Note Funk and Soca Grooves



Q: I have just started playing in my first band and I feel that my rhythm guitar skills are weak. Can you offer me any suggestions for what I can practice on to help my rhythm guitar get better. I have a pretty good idea of the general rhythms in music, like; eighths, sixteenths and triplets, but I find I have trouble maintaining the groove in a really smooth way through an entire song during a band rehearsal?
~ Anthony

A: Guitarists can quickly improve their rhythm guitar skills by applying sixteenth-note exercises, such as those used in Funk & the Caribbean Soca music.

One thing to keep in mind is that rhythm guitar is the main aspect of playing in a band much more important than licks and soloing. Think of the most famous players in the world; Clapton, Hendrix, Page, Van Halen, Gilmore... not only are they amazing soloists, but they are equally amazing at rhythm guitar.

To rapidly increase your level of skill with rhythm guitar I have noticed that a serious study of sixteenth-note grooves along side of Caribbean music like; reggae, soca and calypso, tend to be the best method.

These styels are so important because not only do you have the chord shots to develop, but you also have a good deal of



scratch rhythms to attend to as well. These scratch ideas require you to mute out string groups and produce a muffled rake effect which comes across more as a percussive effect.

By training yourself on performing very synchopated sixteenth-note rhythms found in these styles, you can gain a solid control of your left and more importantly your right-hand strumming technique.

By working slowly with a metronome and counting the beat as you perform these studies, you will develop the chops necessary to perform these styles perfectly in time.

A by-product achieved through this practice is the added ability to easily duplicate lines heard on albums, at rehearsals or lines you hear in your head while writing music.

To begin your day, work on performing steady sixteenth-notes in time with a metronome. Select a chord, turn on your metronome at a slower pace and begin playing the chord in perfect time.

Work on developing both scratch technique as well as performing without. Next, move on to performing a series of rhythm guitar exercises. One measure studies tend to work the best.