Rhythm vs. Lead Playing (Guitar Lesson)

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Dan Sugarman

Rhythm vs. Lead Playing

Subtle hand positioning can go a long way in determining the proper position for lead playing or rhythm playing. Here, Dan analyzes this concept in great detail, getting you on the right path and putting you in the best position to play either!

Taught by Dan Sugarman in Sugarman's Shredding Revolution seriesLength: 4:30Difficulty: 2.0 of 5

Rhythm vs. Lead Position

Right off the bat, I want to discuss something that will clear a lot up for most players. It’s the idea of “Rhythm vs. Lead Position” with your picking hand.

To support all of the different actions and mechanics going into the two hands so far for our 2 hand sync, I want to dive into some other awesome muting techniques in both the fretting and picking hands - but first, I want to break down a really easy and effective way to view the way we attack our strings.

In a previous lesson we covered my concept of home position, and some of its applications to help us perfect the way our picking hand interfaces with the strings… I want to take that a step further with another dimension we can add to the mechanics in our picking hand to alter the tone, and ultimately its purpose. Again, giving us a standard position for particular usage so we can set it and forget it, using it on call and in the moment… And that is rhythm playing position vs lead playing position.

In all honesty, it’s as simple as angling and changing the way your hand-butt interfaces with the strings. Right, hand-butt - lemme crack that old chestnut open for you. Your picking hand has two butt-cheeks, the thumb-butt, and the front-butt. When the front-butt, or front part of your palm is leading the pick, that’s rhythm position… With varying degrees of closeness, this is the general idea. The front-butt’s point of contact is either in front of or on the same place as the string that’s being played. But when the thumb-butt is following the pick, that is lead playing position, because it leaves the string being played unaffected by the palm as the point of contact is BEHIND the string behind played usually on the side of the thumb and the thumb-butt itself.

Think of the way a zamboni takes a torn up ice hockey rink and spits out fresh ice behind it… That’s lead playing - with your thumb-butt acting as the blade (muting technique) behind your engine (the pick).

Think of the way a snow plow pushes snow to the side of the road… a giant shovel on the front of a machine… that leading edge (your palm’s front-butt) of the snow plow is like your front-butt cutting into fresh ice, with the engine (the pick) behind the edge this time, unlike the zamboni. This is essentially the difference between palm muting (rhythm playing) and muting with the palm (lead playing).

At this point, the idea of rhythm playing position and lead playing position should make perfect sense so long as you’re following the previous habits we’ve developed so far. Review this lesson and the lessons before it if something isn’t clicking! Experiment with different uses of this on your own with riffs and leads!



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Sugarman's Shredding Revolution

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Sugarman's Shredding Revolution is all about discovering and creating ways to develop a new and unique level of understanding of two-hand synchronization, which is one of the core foundations of clean playing.



Series IntroductionLesson 1

Series Introduction

Dan Sugarman gives us an introduction and preview to his series - Sugarman's Shredding Revolution.

Length: 5:13 Difficulty: 0.0 FREE
The Speed of LightLesson 2

The Speed of Light

Dan begins his series by revolutionizing the way we approach our instrument. In this lesson, Dan shares a concept he calls The Speed of "Light".

Length: 10:27 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The PulseLesson 3

The Pulse

Finding the "Goldilocks" zone is key to getting your hands in the best position possible to shred, by finding the right amount of pressure to apply to the strings. Dan helps us find the touch that's "just...

Length: 12:21 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Speed of Light Application ExerciseLesson 4

Speed of Light Application Exercise

In this lesson, we put into practice what we've talked about so far in this series. This exercise is designed to help you find your Goldilocks Zone, and practice it enough to put it on auto pilot!

Length: 7:49 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Perfect Practice PostureLesson 5

Perfect Practice Posture

Contrary to what some say, good posture feeds into good technique, which feeds into great guitar playing. In this lesson Dan gives us examples of good posture for two different ways of holding the guitar.

Length: 5:21 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
50/50 Finger FrenzyLesson 6

50/50 Finger Frenzy

Distributing the right amount of pressure throughout your hand is a key foundation to achieving two hand sync. In this lesson, Dan analyzes this concept and helps to get us on the right track.

Length: 12:11 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Chromatic Finger CrawlLesson 7

Chromatic Finger Crawl

This lesson is designed to work on the hand to brain connection during the string change, and to help you "fall" into position as opposed to "flail" into position.

Length: 2:56 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Finger IQ: Hammer-OnsLesson 8

Finger IQ: Hammer-Ons

Now it's time to sprinkle some legato playing into the proceedings. Starting with hammer ons, Dan shows us how to use "weight" not "strength" to achieve this technique.

Length: 6:56 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Finger IQ: Pull OffsLesson 9

Finger IQ: Pull Offs

Now Dan shows us the next element of legato playing: Pull Offs.

Length: 3:30 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
True Legato: Three Notes Per StringLesson 10

True Legato: Three Notes Per String

Using hammer-ons and pull-offs that we learned in the previous lessons, Dan now gives us an introduction to true legato - using three note per string patterns.

Length: 5:08 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Home PositionLesson 11

Home Position

Now that we've spent a good deal of time on the fretting hand, it's time to turn our attention to the picking hand. Dan starts with examining how to get the best tone from our instrument, using what he...

Length: 11:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Home Position ApplicationLesson 12

Home Position Application

In this lesson, Dan helps us apply some exercises to the home application that will help it become second nature in no time!

Length: 8:59 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Rhythm and KonokolLesson 13

Rhythm and Konokol

A solid rhythmic foundation is a must when addressing the basics of good technique. In this lesson, Dan shows a very fresh and cool way to approach rhythm, with the ancient Indian method: Konokol.

Length: 7:47 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Time and Rhythm TableLesson 14

Time and Rhythm Table

Now, Dan moves the Konokol rhythm system that we looked at in the last lesson to the guitar, exploring different rhythm configurations along the way.

Length: 3:04 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Polymeter and PolyrhythmLesson 15

Polymeter and Polyrhythm

When it comes to complex rhythm, understanding the difference between polyrhythm and polymeter are very important. In this lesson, Dan gives us a crash course on how to tell the difference.

Length: 3:08 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Sync or Swim Part 1Lesson 16

Sync or Swim Part 1

Now it's time to put our hands together (so to speak). We're bringing what we've worked on for the left hand, and what we've worked on for the right hand together to get a firm grasp of our two hand sync....

Length: 8:40 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Sync or Swim Part 2Lesson 17

Sync or Swim Part 2

In this lesson, Dan continues to emphasize two hand sync, adding the new ideas of inside picking and outside picking.

Length: 10:08 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Sync or Swim Part 3Lesson 18

Sync or Swim Part 3

Now Dan introduces some 2 string patterns into our two hand sync exercises. In each lesson, he's ratcheting up the difficulty level!

Length: 3:08 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Sync or Swim Part 4Lesson 19

Sync or Swim Part 4

In this lesson, Dan explores more two string patterns, this time emphasizing odd two string patterns. Finger twisters and brain teasers for sure!

Length: 8:03 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Sync or Swim Part 5Lesson 20

Sync or Swim Part 5

Endurance is the name of the game in this lesson. Dan shows us one of his favorite techniques he calls "Phalange Laps".

Length: 4:04 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Rhythm vs. Lead PlayingLesson 21

Rhythm vs. Lead Playing

Subtle hand positioning can go a long way in determining the proper position for lead playing or rhythm playing. Here, Dan analyzes this concept in great detail, getting you on the right path and putting...

Length: 4:30 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Picking Hand Muting TechniquesLesson 22

Picking Hand Muting Techniques

Now we get to muting techniques. Starting off, Dan gives us all the details on muting techniques for the picking hand. These are a must if you want to truly reign in that beast of an instrument!

Length: 12:49 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Fretting Hand Muting TechniquesLesson 23

Fretting Hand Muting Techniques

Switching our muting attention to the fretting hand, Dan gives us the essential techniques we need to get the cleanest result.

Length: 14:52 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Learning to Fish for OurselvesLesson 24

Learning to Fish for Ourselves

In this lesson, Dan teaches a great way to analyze our own playing, focusing in on our mistakes and how to correct them. It starts with quarantining our playing.

Length: 9:19 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
NuancesLesson 25

Nuances

What gives you your unique voice on the guitar? Well, there are a number of things that go into that equation. In this lesson, Dan takes a look at some of the key techniques that will go a long way in...

Length: 18:01 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Substrate 1 - Rhythm vs. Lead PlayingLesson 26

Substrate 1 - Rhythm vs. Lead Playing

Now Dan will help us focus on growing our weaknesses. First up is Rhythm vs. Lead Playing.

Length: 5:28 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Substrate 2 - LegatoLesson 27

Substrate 2 - Legato

Up next in working on strengths and weaknesses? Legato.

Length: 3:49 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Substrate 3 - Alternate PickingLesson 28

Substrate 3 - Alternate Picking

Up next in the world of substrates - Alternate Picking.

Length: 4:50 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Substrate 4 - Directional PickingLesson 29

Substrate 4 - Directional Picking

The last substrate Dan takes us through is Directional Picking.

Length: 7:06 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Creative Application of All TechniquesLesson 30

Creative Application of All Techniques

In the last lesson of the series, Dan gives us a musical, full band exercise that ties in all of the techniques that we've learned throughout the series.

Length: 6:25 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
JamPlay Interview with Dan SugarmanLesson 31

JamPlay Interview with Dan Sugarman

Who is Dan Sugarman? Get to know a little about Dan - his background, his music, and what drives him to excel at guitar in this JamPlay interview.

Length: 8:44 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
Dan Sugarman

About Dan Sugarman View Full Biography

Dan Sugarman is a 26 year old guitarist, producer, teacher and songwriter hailing from the South Bay of Los Angeles, CA. His tenacity and dedication to the art of music and guitar led him to the lead guitar position in the internationally touring band, As Blood Runs Black. Now as a solo artist, Dan continues to work on his original music being released through Patreon, and is currently producing and engineering other bands & artists at Sugartone Studios, and composing for film & television. He also maintains an ever-growing student body as a private guitar teacher, mentor, and educator in the crafts of songwriting, creativity, and modern day recording techniques.



Dan is currently working on his "living album", Inside Out - Part I, available on patreon.com and completing an album for his new group A Mind Made Me, featuring singer//actor Sarah J Bartholomew.

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