Choosing Rhythm

Discussion about guitar playing from a diverse group of people with different tastes and levels of experience.
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Redbeard
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Choosing Rhythm

Post by Redbeard » May 5th, 2012, 4:26 am

Good mornin,

So I have been working the last week or so on learning how to play Iron Man by Black Sabbath... I can play the non-solo parts fairly well and at the right speed, so yay for that.

The solos are killing me though.

This is my first song, so I am not too discouraged that I didnt immediately pick it up, but thinking about it got me wondering.

Why do you think some people choose to play only what you'd classify as rhythm guitar? This might pertain more to the hard rock / metal world where typically there are two guitarists and solos are more prevalent, but the question remains in my mind.

Take a guitarist like James Hetfield who is recognized as one of the best rhythm guitarists in the business... could he play these iron man solos? I honestly dont know. I do know in 40 years he hasnt played a... what i will call... less than simple solo on any of Metallica's albums.

Did he just not want to learn those skills? Or does he have them, but doesnt choose to use them?

Its really eating at my brain, I am just curious.

Any thoughts?
"I just curse the sun so I can howl at the moon" ~QOTSA

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Liontable
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Re: Choosing Rhythm

Post by Liontable » May 5th, 2012, 5:58 am

I simply suppose everyone has his own specialties and preferences. The reason I like solo's is for the howling sound from my guitar and I love the constant change in notes. I do it a lot more, which automatically makes it my better skill (of the two). Rhythm on the other hand really "makes" the song though, you set the groove for the audience and that's what people will most often remember properly (It's way easier to remember solo's and music if you play it yourself, because you understand it, a non-musician has more issues reconstructing a solo in his mind). The other guy plays around you, but you set the tone, it's the meat of a song. I can see why that might appeal to people. Especially in metal/hard rock I find rhythm to have so much energy, "The Trooper" gallopping, "Angry Again/Symphony of Destruction" by Megadeth, it's really really awesome.

As for Hetfield: he can play insane solo's too. I'm not sure I understand your question, do you mean to say he can't play simple solo's or isn't he able to play difficult ones? I know he came up and played the solo on Nothing Else Matters (Hammett isn't in the recording) which is a very simple but beautiful one, and there's some recordings on youtube where he does some heavy soloing.

I suppose skill's very often not the issue. Preferences, experience or image are probably most important. A lot of people expect a certain guitar player to be playing the solo's simply due to image, and when you're trying to fill stadiums you give the audience what they want. Iron Maiden generally has all guitarists soloing for example, to get around a typical rhythm/solo role.

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Re: Choosing Rhythm

Post by Crow » May 5th, 2012, 10:20 am

Maybe blazing fast solos bore Hetfield. They bore me.

For some of us, rhythm -- specifically being part of a rhythm section -- is like a calling. It's why bass is my primary instrument. When you lock with a drummer who's on your wavelength... it's hard to explain. Rhythm guitar, same thing.

Lead guitar is a refuge for people who can't play rhythm. :-D
Last edited by Crow on May 8th, 2012, 9:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Choosing Rhythm

Post by Redbeard » May 5th, 2012, 11:10 am

Haha thanks for the answers. I had to quickly throw up the question when on the way out the door this morning, and I knew as I did so that I was leaving myself open to some interpretation issues etc.

I just threw Hetfield out there as an example so lets not get too stuck on it. In general, he only plays rhythm parts. In general, Hammett plays similar if not identical rhythm parts and then also solos.

So part of my mind naturally says "Does that make Hammett a better guitarist?" If he can do what James does, and also has these other skills / abilities.

I am not trying to start any rhythm guitarist vs lead guitarist and who is better debates, I was just curious what people thought about, as in the scenario above, choosing mainly to play rhythm parts.

I guess thinking about it more its more of a heavy metal themed question since many many many rock groups only have 1 guitarist anyways, and take the song I am trying to learn for example, Iommi obviously is doing it all.

I know the answer for me is, as difficult as it is, and as awesome as the rhythm parts generally are, I need to figure out how to do both. In hard rock, if the rhythm is the heart of a song then the solo is often the soul (Shall we call them soul-os? =P)
"I just curse the sun so I can howl at the moon" ~QOTSA

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Re: Choosing Rhythm

Post by Cat » May 5th, 2012, 1:23 pm

Redbeard wrote: Why do you think some people choose to play only what you'd classify as rhythm guitar? This might pertain more to the hard rock / metal world where typically there are two guitarists and solos are more prevalent, but the question remains in my mind.

Its really eating at my brain, I am just curious.

Any thoughts?
I am exactly that, a rhythm guitarist. When I was a kid I was frustrated as all hell that I wasn't Mr Flash. I thought "why bother" many times. But I noticed that more and more good lead players...even virtuosos...wanted to play with me...needed my shoulders to stand on...or else they were utterly lost in that blusey "R-4-5 w/7ths hole" with nowhere else to go.

I know how I sound...at 61. I'm good and I know it. I get paid for it...lots. Sure, I can play leads on things...but there are precious few out there that can re-play my flat picking chordings and expression of emotion. I am a songwriter. I am THE songwriter.

Without ME, there's nothing but someone's cover tunes. Lead players get to parrott what they hear on cover tunes...but I present THEM an opportunity to SHINE...to really show their stuff...with what's inside of their own heart...as we gather in the studio! In fact, how we set up to record is another point of pride I take in being "JUST" a rhythm guitarist. Everyone sets up so they can watch my pick hand. That's right...that's where the rhythm of the whole composition is...in my right hand. The drummer watches, the bassist...and, importantly, so does the lead guitarist.

Yep, I dig the "eating my brain" bit...I was there at your age. So take my advice, kid and "run yer own race".

Cat
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Crow
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Re: Choosing Rhythm

Post by Crow » May 5th, 2012, 1:43 pm

Redbeard wrote:...part of my mind naturally says "Does that make Hammett a better guitarist?" If he can do what James does, and also has these other skills / abilities.
Not to remain "stuck" on Metallica, of course....

"Better" is a good way to start an argument, but that's about all the word is good for. Putting Metallica aside: Is Joe Satriani a better guitarist than Keith Richards? I don't think either one would say so (Keith might simply punch you in the mouth for asking). They do different things with the guitar.
"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream." - Frank Zappa

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Redbeard
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Re: Choosing Rhythm

Post by Redbeard » May 5th, 2012, 1:50 pm

Im with you Crow and I certainly dont want to get punched in the mouth by anybody =P
"I just curse the sun so I can howl at the moon" ~QOTSA

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Crow
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Re: Choosing Rhythm

Post by Crow » May 5th, 2012, 2:11 pm

Well, Chuck Berry punched Keith out first. Keith punched out Ron Wood multiple times. Maybe it should be part of our training? :-)
"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream." - Frank Zappa

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Re: Choosing Rhythm

Post by Gotdablues » May 7th, 2012, 6:28 am

Well I think if you haven't got a grasp on Rhythm you'll never have a grasp on lead. Someone who can play lead in a rhythmic manner makes a better player then someone who is just shredding away IMO. Except for maybe someone like Yngwie who I believe knows how to shred rhytmically.




Pat

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Re: Choosing Rhythm

Post by cnev » May 7th, 2012, 12:23 pm

I kind of always thought that to be good a soloing you had to be a good rhythm player and somehow a rhythm guitarist was just a soloist who hadn't developed all the skills yet but I have backed off on that assumption to some degree.

I personally play mostly rhythm for two reasons one is liek I mentioned and haven't gotten good enough to solo on every song and two since I got serious a few years ago and started playing with others we always had a much more experienced player doing the solos so I concentrated on rhythm mostly.

But I have played with guys since then that can solo well but after that seem to struggle a bit and I know some people that can solo all day to a I-IV-V blues progression but play a rock song and they got nuttin.

Some people just seem to be better at one or the other and maybe they take that and go with it.

Personally I dont feel like I am a complete player since my soloing skills are deficient or at least where I want them to be.
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Re: Choosing Rhythm

Post by Blueline » May 7th, 2012, 3:11 pm

cnev wrote: ...Personally I dont feel like I am a complete player since my soloing skills are deficient or at least where I want them to be.
I feel the same way cnev. But tend to think of guys like Brad Whitford of Aerosmith. What a great guitarist and rarely plays lead. I'm very happy playing rhythm and singing. I know I'll never be a blazing solo guitarist but that's ok!
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Re: Choosing Rhythm

Post by cnev » May 8th, 2012, 4:41 am

Blue, for some reason I just feel like I'm half a player whether or not I really want to solo not having a good grasp ont he skill makes me feel inferior.

I want to be able to do it just to know I can...kind of a personal goal. I can solo to some simple I-IV-V stuff OK but hat's about it. I don't necessarily want to shred but (wouldn't be bad if I could) as long as I can solo in different genres at any time that's where I want to be.
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Re: Choosing Rhythm

Post by almann1979 » May 8th, 2012, 9:01 am

I would argue that a lot of really good rhythm guitar is actually harder and more demanding that lead. Skank guitar, great funk rhythms, Hendrix style rhythm, metal style rhythm etc, all have their own technically challenging areas, much more so, in my opinion than your average guitar solo.

I know often that beginners, or people who do not play, have the image of the better guitarist being the lead player, and the less able guitarist as the rhythm. Tis simply is not true, and a lot of rhythm that I like to play blurs the line between the two anyway.

Cnev, I know what you mean about wanting to feel a complete player. I am the same, but in the opposite direction to you. I spent far far too much of my practice time over the last few years on lead, and my rhythm has suffered a lot because of it. I am trying now to really get my rhythm upto speed by copycatting Hendrix chordal tricks and learning a bit of funk etc' there just aren't enough hours in the day though :-(
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Re: Choosing Rhythm

Post by cnev » May 8th, 2012, 9:07 am

Al exactly that's why I dont' necessarily want to just play lead if at all but I want to know I could. But I have people who I play with that always when they introduce me to someone it's yea he plays rhythm as if it's like a second class citizen.

There is definitely a misconception out there and I have a complex about not being able to do something well and this isn't something that is that far out of me reach so maybe that's why it frustrates me more.
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Re: Choosing Rhythm

Post by Crow » May 8th, 2012, 9:16 am

cnev wrote:I have people who I play with that always when they introduce me to someone it's yea he plays rhythm as if it's like a second class citizen.
You need to play with different people...
There is definitely a misconception out there and I have a complex about not being able to do something well and this isn't something that is that far out of me reach so maybe that's why it frustrates me more.
...and you maybe need just a little Keith Richards in your attitude. It's available to you. Take no shtuff, from anybody.

Just my humble two cents.
"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream." - Frank Zappa

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