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.


See my other guitar playing videos, available to my YouTube subscribers - follow my channel by clicking the button below:

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:


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.

© 2002-2023 Tom Hess Music Corporation