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Rhythm Basics (Guitar Lesson)


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David MacKenzie

Rhythm Basics

David MacKenzie introduces some important rhythm basics in this lesson. He explains the difference between whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes and sixteenth notes. This lesson also includes a backing track exercise.

Taught by David MacKenzie in Basic Electric Guitar seriesLength: 14:55Difficulty: 1.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (01:44) Lesson Introduction In this lesson, Dave MacKenzie covers some basic right hand techniques. He relates this material to rhythm and timing.

All of the exercises presented in this lesson are played in 4/4 or "common" time. Keep this in mind when Dave is explaining how certain note values should be counted. You will practice playing and counting whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, and sixteenth notes in this time signature.
Chapter 2: (01:18) Whole Notes A whole note receives the value of four beats or four quarter notes. In 4/4 time, a whole note lasts the entire duration of a measure. When counting a whole note out loud, count "1, 2, 3, 4." Each of the numbers represent a beat within the measure. Listen as Dave strums an E major chord and holds it for a full measure.
Chapter 3: (00:59) Half Notes A half note receives half the value of a whole note or half of a measure. Remember from the previous scene that a whole note receives four beats. Half of four is two. Consequently, a half note receives two beats. In a measure of 4/4, a measure solely comprised of half notes will feature half notes on beats 1 and 3.
Chapter 4: (00:28) Quarter Notes A quarter note receives one beat in 4/4 time. As a result, there are four quarter notes to each measure in this time signature. Count "1, 2, 3, 4" aloud as you play quarter notes. Strum on each beat that you count.
Chapter 5: (02:07) Eighth Notes In 4/4 time, there are 8 eighth notes per measure. An eighth note represents 1/8 of a measure in this time signature.

For now, play consecutive eighth notes with all downstrokes. Later on, you might want to play eighth notes using alternate picking. Hold off on this technique until you can play eighth notes in time using all downstrokes. Keep things as simple as possible when first learning any new concept.

Count "1+2+3+4+" when playing through a measure of consecutive eighth notes.
Chapter 6: (02:49) Sixteenth Notes A sixteenth note receives 1/4 of a beat. A sixteenth note accounts for 1/16 of a measure of 4/4 time. Count "1 e + ah, 2 e + ah, 3 e + ah, 4 e + ah" for a measure comprised of consecutive sixteenth notes.

At most tempos, it is absolutely necessary to play sixteenth note rhythms with strict alternate picking. It is only possible to play sixteenth notes using nothing but downstrokes at very slow tempos.


Chapter 7: (04:17) Rhythm Exercise The exercise presented in this lesson is a common drum core warm-up that not only prepares your hands, but also prepares and adjusts your ears to playing properly in time.

Before you dive into practicing the exercise, watch carefully as Dave provides a demonstration of how it should be performed. The exercise features whole notes played for four measures. Then, half notes are played for four measures. Next, play quarters, eighths, and sixteenths for four measures each. After completing four measures of sixteenth notes, repeat back to the beginning of the form and continue playing through the exercise until the backing track ends. At first, play the exercise using any single note. Then, work through the exercise while strumming chords.

Playing this exercise requires a great deal of mental concentration. Not only do you have to count the rhythm within each measure, you also have to count how many measures of each rhythm have elapsed. You may want to count "1, 2, 3, 4, 2, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 3, 4, 4, 2, 3, 4" in order to keep your place within the form of the exercise.

Adding the Left Hand

As you master the basic right-hand component of this exercise, increase the difficulty of the left-hand. Begin to play this exercise with a basic chord progression that lasts for one measure.

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Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


demmery11demmery11 replied on October 26th, 2013

D.MAC!!!!!!!!! I just needed to write something to thank you so much for this lesson. I cant tell you how much this means to me and how much it has helped me. I have a severe learning condition and I have tried for years to try and play the guitar but because of my condition I struggled, mainly because I couldn't get the whole time signature/tempo/rhythm/beat bar/notes thing! So I got so frustrated and upset I stopped trying years ago. Then recently I decided to have one final crack and started learning on an acoustic, but even with the great teachers on jamplay I ran into the same problems, till i found this lesson video!!!!! I understood straight away what you were saying about whole, half, quarter, 8th, 16th notes. I got how to read the notes from your supplemental content, and get this..... I understood and played almost perfectly FIRST TIME!!!! ( apart form the 16th note :-) cos that is stupidly hard ) the backing track. I even got an understanding on why drummers are so important in a band. Thanks to you I can now go back to the beginners acoustic lessons and understand what the teachers are talking about and it is all is starting to fall in to place finally!!!! after years of trying to get it your lesson has changed everything for the better thank you!!!!!!

demmery11demmery11 replied on October 26th, 2013

D.MAC!!!!!!!!! I just needed to write something to thank you so much for this lesson. I cant tell you how much this means to me and how much it has helped me. I have a severe learning condition and I have tried for years to try and play the guitar but because of my condition I struggled, mainly because I couldn't get the whole time signature/tempo/rhythm/beat bar/notes thing! So I got so frustrated and upset I stopped trying years ago. Then recently I decided to have one final crack and started learning on an acoustic, but even with the great teachers on jamplay I ran into the same problems, till i found this lesson video!!!!! I understood straight away what you were saying about whole, half, quarter, 8th, 16th notes. I got how to read the notes from your supplemental content, and get this..... I understood and played almost perfectly FIRST TIME!!!! ( apart form the 16th note :-) cos that is stupidly hard ) the backing track. I even got an understanding on why drummers are so important in a band. Thanks to you I can now go back to the beginners acoustic lessons and understand what the teachers are talking about and it is all is starting to fall in to place finally!!!! after years of trying to get it your lesson has changed everything for the better thank you!!!!!!

demmery11demmery11 replied on October 26th, 2013

D.MAC!!!!!!!!! I just needed to write something to thank you so much for this lesson. I cant tell you how much this means to me and how much it has helped me. I have a severe learning condition and I have tried for years to try and play the guitar but because of my condition I struggled, mainly because I couldn't get the whole time signature/tempo/rhythm/beat bar/notes thing! So I got so frustrated and upset I stopped trying years ago. Then recently I decided to have one final crack and started learning on an acoustic, but even with the great teachers on jamplay I ran into the same problems, till i found this lesson video!!!!! I understood straight away what you were saying about whole, half, quarter, 8th, 16th notes. I got how to read the notes from your supplemental content, and get this..... I understood and played almost perfectly FIRST TIME!!!! ( apart form the 16th note :-) cos that is stupidly hard ) the backing track. I even got an understanding on why drummers are so important in a band. Thanks to you I can now go back to the beginners acoustic lessons and understand what the teachers are talking about and it is all is starting to fall in to place finally!!!! after years of trying to get it your lesson has changed everything for the better thank you!!!!!! video now i can go back and now understand what the teachers are talking about, with regards to rhythm and tempo and patterns and it is all is starting to fall in to place finally!!!! after years of trying to get it your lesson has changed everything for the better thank you!!!!!!

jerseyfrankjerseyfrank replied on November 28th, 2011

The use of the drum backing track is a terrific idea. I'm feeling the drum beats with the rhythm already. Thanks Dave.

kevin1955kevin1955 replied on February 11th, 2011

Dave , thank you so much....this has been an issue since I started playing guitar....after many, many years of frustration it's all now clear....you're #1.

raoelraoel replied on April 22nd, 2010

AWESOME DMAC,JUST AWESOMMMEE

little rock n rollerlittle rock n roller replied on November 18th, 2009

helps a lot another great lesson D.Mac

david.mackenziedavid.mackenzie replied on November 18th, 2009

your most welcome! glad i could help!

airbuswhizairbuswhiz replied on November 26th, 2008

Hey D Mac...I have to agree with pillowpantss. I have been having the roughest of luck trying to listen to a song that I want to play and just not get the rhythm right. Well finally somebody has explained how to listen to the drums and get that beat. Thanks very much. As you have said, there are a lot more patterns to get, and I can't wait to hear and see these as you put them out. Thanks again...Don

david.mackenziedavid.mackenzie replied on November 29th, 2008

you are most welcome! hope this really helps you get where you want to go!!!

rj surfsrj surfs replied on September 27th, 2008

Good idea for this lesson Dave... I look forward to the next in this series... Compounds! ;-)

pillowpantsspillowpantss replied on September 4th, 2008

David, I normally dont respond to lessons but I had to for this one. I am so glad something like this finally came along. It is nice and basic but yet it will let me start practicing a very very important part in the guitar. The backing tracks in your lessons make all the difference. Keep rocking man! and just wanted to remind you that your making the world of difference for atleast me! ROCK ON!

david.mackenziedavid.mackenzie replied on September 5th, 2008

you are most welcome man!!! i hope you can get alot of mileage out of this, and i am glad to hear the jamtracs are helping!! thank you for the nice compliments!!! rock on my friend!!

Basic Electric Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

In his Phase 1 series, David MacKenzie will walk you through the basics of rock guitar.



Lesson 1

About the Guitar

David discusses the parts of the guitar. He also gives you some basic techniques to get you started.

Length: 31:00 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Power Chords

In this lesson, David introduces basic power chords. Great fun for beginners!

Length: 10:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

Basic Chord Progressions

David introduces some basic chords and chord progressions.

Length: 14:15 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 4

Notes, Chords and Arpeggios

David provides a brief explanation of what notes, chords, power chords, and arpeggios are.

Length: 8:12 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

Speed and Coordination

This lesson is all about increasing your speed and coordination. David demonstrates basic picking exercises.

Length: 14:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Chord Exercises

David MacKenzie presents a mysterious sounding chord exercise. This exerices is designed to improve right hand technique.

Length: 9:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Practice and Discipline

In this short lesson David talks about practice, discipline, and how you should apply yourself when learning and mastering the guitar.

Length: 6:00 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 8

Double Stops

Double stops can bring new life to your rhythm and lead playing. David provides a short tutorial on what double stops are and how they can be used.

Length: 7:12 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 9

The Major Chords

David covers the basic major chord shapes. Every guitarist must learn these basic chords.

Length: 18:29 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

The Minor Chords

David MacKenzie walks you through the basic minor chords. Expand your knowledge of chords with this fun-filled lesson.

Length: 8:15 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

Major Scales

Major scales are an essential component of all styles of music. They can also be used as a great way to orient yourself with the fretboard.

Length: 32:12 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 12

Major Scale Jam

David MacKenzie explains how to practice the major scales along with a fun backing track.

Length: 11:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

The Minor Scales

David MacKenzie proceeds to an in-depth discussion of the minor scales.

Length: 15:36 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 14

Minor Scale Jam

David MacKenzie shows you how to play the natural minor scale over a rockin' JamTrack.

Length: 6:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

One String Exercise

David demonstrates an excellent one-string exercise in this lesson. This exercise will improve your dexterity and knowledge of the fretboard.

Length: 16:48 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 16

Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs

Hammer-ons and pull-offs are techniques that enable you to play with a smooth, legato feel.

Length: 8:27 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 17

Basic Bends

David MacKenzie gives a crash course on bending in this lesson. Bends can add a lot of soul to your playing.

Length: 16:12 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 18

Cool Rock Licks

David MacKenzie teaches two rock licks inspired by Yngwie Malmsteen and Kirk Hammett of Metallica.

Length: 12:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 19

Hammer-On Exercise

David returns to the world of hammer-ons with a fun new exercise. This lesson includes a JamTrack.

Length: 13:56 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 20

Return to Pull-Offs

David returns to the world of pull-offs with a new exercise. This lesson includes a backing track.

Length: 12:50 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 21

Practicing Bends

David MacKenzie returns to bending technique in this lesson. This lesson features a backing track that is designed for bending practice.

Length: 12:18 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 22

Basic Vibrato

Integrating vibrato into your guitar playing is a great way to add emotion and soul. David MacKenzie explains the basics of vibrato in this lesson.

Length: 9:12 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 23

Pentatonic Scale

David MacKenzie introduces the pentatonic scale.

Length: 5:48 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 24

Minor Pentatonic Scale

David MacKenzie introduces the minor pentatonic scale in this lesson.

Length: 4:38 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 25

Full Major Scale

David MacKenzie explains a two octave pattern of the major scale.

Length: 11:31 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 26

Full Minor Scale

David MacKenzie introduces a two octave natural minor scale pattern.

Length: 12:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 27

Full Major Pentatonic Scale

David teaches a two octave pattern of the major pentatonic scale.

Length: 6:30 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 28

Full Minor Pentatonic Scale

David MacKenzie teaches a two octave version of the minor pentatonic scale.

Length: 9:20 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 29

Cool Lick

David MacKenzie teaches several licks based on common arpeggio patterns. This lesson also includes a backing track to jam with.

Length: 20:40 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 30

Rhythm Basics

David MacKenzie introduces some important rhythm basics in this lesson. This lesson also includes a backing track exercise.

Length: 14:55 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 31

Power Chord Variations

David MacKenzie explains various power chord voicings. By simply moving a finger or two, new power chords can be formed.

Length: 18:43 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 32

Cool Lick Exercise

David MacKenzie introduces some new amazing licks.

Length: 29:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 33

Tapping Exercise

David MacKenzie introduces the tapping technique and teaches a fun exercise. This lesson includes a backing track.

Length: 22:44 Difficulty: 2.5 FREE
Lesson 34

Tapping Exercise #2

David MacKenzie teaches another amazing tapping exercise.

Length: 13:07 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 35

Tapping #3: Adding Open Strings

The third tapping lesson elaborates on the previous lesson by adding open strings.

Length: 12:59 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 36

Tapping #4: Diminished Lick

The fourth lesson in Dave's tapping series deals with a monster diminished lick.

Length: 11:02 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 37

Tapping #5

In lesson five of his tapping mini-series, DMac provides backing tracks that you can tap over.

Length: 8:04 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 38

Tremolo Technique

In lesson 38, DMac demonstrates some tremolo techniques to add to your repertoire.

Length: 13:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 39

Tapping #6

DMac returns to his tapping instruction with more advanced techniques.

Length: 19:54 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 40

Chord Structures

In lesson 40, DMac teaches you how to play various D chords all the way up the neck.

Length: 9:20 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 41

Octaves

In lesson 41, David discusses the octave and its uses while playing.

Length: 17:09 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only

About David MacKenzie View Full Biography Dave MacKenzie has been playing guitar for 30 of his 45 years on this earth. Starting back when he was 14 years old, Dave picked up the guitar and started to learn from his oldest brother, who had played some guitar as well. Dave was hooked, and couldn't learn fast enough! Everything from the Beatles, Chicago, Ted Nugent, The Eagles, you name it, Dave was trying to play it.

Then as with a lot of players out there, Eddie Van Halen came along and changed the way guitar was played! Dave has been influenced by anyone he has heard play guitar, literally! Always keeping an open mind and a humbleness about him has helped him to keep learning new things on, and about the guitar.

Dave has mostly played in top 40 rock, country, and pop bands. He is most recently playing guitar and keyboards in a 80's metal band called Open Fire. They have opened for Warrant, Firehouse, Winger, and LA Guns within the 3 and a half years they have been together, and are now jumping into original music.

Dave believes you should have internal motivation, and passion to play guitar, and most definitely, it should be fun!

As with his playing, Dave will find new ways to show you how to get the most out of your time learning guitar!

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