Rhythm affects every aspect of playing guitar, but it often doesn’t get enough love. In this lesson were going to work on triplet rhythms. Syncopating triplet rhythms requires a lot of control and precision. If you’re not great at it, don’t fret (get it, insert gong). These exercises will help get you on your way.
Remember that we count triplets: 1 and Ah, 2 and Ah. 3 and Ah, 4 and Ah. You’ll notice that our strumming pattern is going to alternate every beat.
Beat 1 is a downstroke, Beat 2 is an upstroke. This is because of the uneven 3 note pattern.
Point of Focus
For the sake of working through these exercises I recommend playing a simple chord that you don’t have to think about much. Let’s say a G chord. The focus here is not on your fretting hand, but on your strumming hand.
Cut to the Chase
Ex. 1: Playing every note of the triplet for 4 beats.
Ex. 2: Only playing the first note of the the triplet for every beat. Make sure to keep your hand moving as if you were playing the other notes in the triplet. Just don’t let your pick hit the strings.
Ex. 3: Hit’s on the “and” of the beat which happens to be the second of the three notes. Keep your hand moving when note striking the strings. This is the rule for all of these exercises.
Ex. 4: Play on the “ah” of each triplet.
Ex. 5 and 6 start to hit on more then one note per triplet. You can start to see how you can mess with the combinations.
Breaking it Down
Sometimes in lessons I make students put their guitars down and clap the rhythms. There are several stages to learning a song. It is my opinion the rhythm is the first element that needs to be locked. It’s not going to matter if you’re playing the right notes if the feel is not locked.
Start working out with these exercises for 5 minutes a day. Don’t forget to use a metronome . Make sure not to start the tempo off to fast. It’s better to start below your comfort level and gradually build up.
Learn more about Counting Rhythm