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All guitarists should try this rhythm exercise

Johnny Marr
(Image credit: Robin Pope/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Guitar lessons: You’re probably used to counting or tapping your foot in time with music. Well, in a similar way, sheet music represents the timing of the notes based on the main musical pulse, in turn making it easier for us guitarists to work out the exact rhythm. 

Still, you don’t have to be heavily into reading music – we’ve played six one-bar rhythm examples four times each before leaving a gap on the backing track for you to join in and practise what you’ve just heard.

Simply listen and repeat, and trust your ear to pick up the timing.

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(Image credit: Future)

1. Simply play four downstrokes in a row, counting to four to keep time. 

2. Eight downstrokes this time, but at twice the speed; try a down-up approach too. 

3. Double speed again, so there are 16 strums in this bar; you’ll have to play down-up style here! 

4. This is a mixture of the quarter, eighth and 16th notes you’ve seen so far. 

5. Another mixture, this time with rests; simply avoid contact with the strings on the rests. 

6. This last example is a triplet – that means playing three strums in the space usually reserved for two.

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