How To Play Tight Metal Rhythm Guitar Riffs
Tight rhythm guitar playing requires careful attention to detail and a very developed musical ear. Your ears help you notice imperfections in your rhythm guitar playing, so you can fix them faster and make your guitar riffs sound better. There are specific rhythm guitar playing elements you must listen for and refine as you practice guitar.
Watch the video below and I'll show you exactly how to do this, so you can start playing rock-solid rhythm guitar riffs faster.
Click on the video to begin watching it.
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How To Improve Your Rhythm Guitar Playing Fast:
Rhythm guitar practice tip #1: Check your picking hand position.
This can easily throw everything off.
What is the correct posture?
Your wrist needs to be aligned with the forearm in a straight line to give you more control for playing and muting.
Make sure your wrist is not bent up and forward.
This creates several problems:
1. Your strumming doesn't have any real power because the hand is in an unstable position.
2. You overextend your wrist (it moves much more than it needs to) and this can lead to injury.
3. You can’t get consistent palm muting this way.
Extend your hand out in front of you as if you were going to shake someone’s hand.
This is how straight your wrist needs to be in relation to the forearm.
Imagine that your cellphone was stuck to your forearm so that it extended towards the wrist. The wrist and forearm must always both be touching the phone.
Now put your hand in this position on the strings and pick from the wrist (while palm muting). Your motions will become smaller immediately and the muting will be more controlled.
You need to spend some time practicing while looking at your picking hand to train it to stay in the new position until this becomes a subconscious habit. So be patient when making this adjustment and watch your picking hand relentlessly for a few weeks to not let it slip back into bad habits.
Rhythm guitar practice tip #2: Make sure you are locking in with the click (particularly on scales you were playing faster than the click a lot of the time).
For example, while working on a guitar exercise to a metronome, pay attention to the first note of each beat that you play. Then make that note perfectly in time (land it right on top of the click). If you can do that, the other notes will generally be in time also. This advice applies to both general rhythm playing and other things like scales, arpeggios or anything else on guitar.
Rhythm guitar practice tip #3: When adding pinch harmonics to your rhythm guitar riffs, move the pick a bit closer to the neck pick up.
This will be easier to sound the harmonics than if you sit around the bridge. Additionally, pay attention to the specific notes that are created when you play harmonics.
This way, if you record harmonies together, you do not accidentally harmonize notes that sound very dissonant and unpleasant together. Plus, you create a better map of where all the available notes are on guitar.
Rhythm guitar practice tip #4: Keep your fretting hand fingers closer to the strings.
Common mistake to look out for: Lifting your index finger too high into the air during difficult parts of a guitar riff.
Fix this by playing as slowly as it takes to control your fingers. This means you need to find a tempo that is slow enough where you can play while keeping the fingers close the strings.
If it seems that you can’t find a tempo slow enough - you need to slow down more and more until you DO find it :)
Then practice for about 5 minutes at that slow tempo, focusing on building perfect muscle memory of your fingers staying close to the strings.
After this, gradually try to push the speed a little bit to make sure the technique holds up. You need to repeat this process many times to fix the problem and retrain your hands.
Rhythm guitar practice tip #5: Play with better timing by picking the strings with heavy articulation.
Sometimes when you play rhythm guitar you can just hear that your timing is off and it is very frustrating.
It’s time to take out that frustration!
Fix this by:
Practice playing a short guitar riff along to a metronome (or a drum track) and listen carefully to make sure your rhythm is in time. Use just a handful of notes at first to make it easier to pay attention to your timing.
As you attack the strings with the pick, make the notes louder by picking with tons of power.
This locks your hands together and makes it impossible to play cleanly without being in sync. Eventually, training this way forces you to always play in sync.
Result: Your rhythmic timing becomes tighter than a snare drum and the notes sound perfectly clear.
Your playing will sound much better when your articulation is improved.
The solution here is simple:
Take out your frustration on your strings a little bit (but don’t overdo it, of course)!
For the best and fastest results, take lessons with guitar teacher to improve your rhythm guitar skills.
This truly has the potential to change your musical life as a guitarist.
For example, just look at the difference working with a teacher made for my students:
“Before I took lessons with Tom Hess, I wanted to learn how to do some sweep picking and I also wanted to fill in a few gaps that I thought I might’ve had in my playing. And also I was feeling a little bit frustrated with not knowing where to take my playing. I didn’t really know how to get better. I felt like I reached a plateau, so that’s why I sought out Tom.”
I’ve had a few other guitar teachers before I took lessons with Tom, and most of them weren’t very good. And after reading a few articles online that Tom had written, I could tell that this guy was going to be the teacher for me.
The biggest thing that I really like is the actual guitar lessons themselves. I’m finding that I’m learning new things that I never even considered every single time I get a lesson. Something new to apply to my playing each time. But of course, I really enjoy the forum as well, because thanks to the lessons with Tom, I’ve been able to meet people from all over the world who have similar experiences and similar goals, so that’s been really motivating as well.
Before I took lessons with Tom I really didn’t like improvisation. I knew scales, and I knew kind of how they applied over chord progressions, but I just didn’t like it. Since taking lessons with Tom, some of the lessons are focused on that specific issue, and now I feel really comfortable about getting up in front of people and playing over any type of… in any key any backing track, I feel pretty comfortable doing that.
Tom actually knows what my goals are and gives me specific lessons that will help me achieve those goals. Other teachers that I’ve had before just do it their way… it’s either their way or the highway. And they don’t really care about what I wanted to do, and they didn’t really listen, and they didn’t really look into what I was doing or what my interests were and didn’t really play into that.
It’s really motivating to get to know people who are also students of Tom. It’s really good to have positive-minded musicians around even if I’m just talking to them online, or if I meet them in person, either way it’s still really motivating.
The forum has helped me because I am able to ask any music theory related questions or technique questions and I get those answered very very quickly. And I also like to participate in discussions and help share my knowledge as well with other people, which when I do that I feel that it’s reinforcing the things that I know as well, so it helps with my music theory knowledge when I share as well.
Greg Trotter, Melbourne, Australia
"When I came to Tom for online guitar lessons, I already had a decent overall level of technique and understood the basics of music theory pretty well. I had taken lessons with other teachers before, and went through several guitar method books that promised to teach me how to become a great lead guitar player. I learned all the materials in these books and courses and picked up some useful tips and knowledge along the way. Yet for some reason I still wasn't feeling like a musician. I struggled very much with writing my own songs, creating my own solos and pushing my guitar technique and speed to a higher level (especially sweep picking, alternate picking, and playing clean at high speeds).
When I started learning from Tom, the main thing that made him different from other teachers was that he was showing me how to excel in all aspects of my guitar playing by applying the skills that I already knew together with the new material that I was learning from him.
He made me aware of both strengths and weaknesses in my playing that I did not even know I had. From there he gave me the knowledge, tools and guidance to literally transform my guitar playing by enabling me to overcome things that were preventing me from becoming a truly creative and self-expressive guitar player. These were the kinds of things that none of my previous guitar teachers and books I studied were able to do for me.
After Tom made me aware of all the things I was missing in my guitar playing and provided me with the strategy and tools for solving them, I began to make very fast progress in all areas of my guitar playing.
I can now write my own music and can create lead guitar solos that I am happy and fulfilled with. I also have the technical skills to confidently and easily play anything that I want to express. I have overcome all of the lead guitar challenges that I struggled with before, and increased my guitar speed to virtuoso levels. More importantly, I have the knowledge and understanding of how to continually improve my guitar playing and musical skills to higher and higher levels to continue expressing myself with my music. Overall, I have definitely transformed in a huge way as a musician and as a person through my lessons with Tom Hess. I am grateful to him for guiding me towards becoming the guitarist I always wanted to be!"
Mike Philippov, Indiana, USA
“When I first heard about Tom Hess, I saw that he was a teacher that was very dedicated and serious about it, and that drew me in immediately. That this is a guy that has a plan, has a goal and really if you’re serious about learning guitar, this guy is equally as serious in a way. So it resonated with me straight away.”
I started out just learning by myself and as many others I got stuck. I had a few issues I wanted to get by, but when I met Tom and talked with him and started lessons with him, he opened up a whole new world of possibilities of what guitar playing can be.
I feel very grateful that I found lessons from Tom since I then did what worked from the very beginning. Many guitarists I see that played way longer than I did, they have build up many bad habits. That from the very start, there was clear instruction of how to practice correctly. You build the ability for high speed and whatever you want from the very beginning and you don’t waste time doing inefficient things. So I’m very grateful that I did that, and now I really feel I am able to reach whatever level I want.
The reasons why I think I feel so motivated all the time is because I know that the thing I’m working on is relevant for me and it’s exactly the direct thing I need to get.
The forum just kicks ass. The people in the forum - it’s just like unconditional help all the time. They love to help out, and you also get very inspired by seeing someone just really getting speed really quick and then you say if he can do it, I can do it. It works on the mental side of being a guitarist and that of course that’s the most important thing. Just being around other musicians like that, is just you learn so much faster, is so much less frustration when you can see that all the people are having the same issues that you do, not anything special or anything. It’s just part of learning process, so it kicks ass.
Magnus Gautestad, Norway
I am proud of all my students and the progress they have made! Want to learn how to combine tight rhythm guitar riffs with creative leads while becoming the ebst guitarist around? Join me and all my students to become a better player today by taking online electric guitar lessons.