Fill out your rhythm guitar parts like Eddie Van Halen with this quick lesson

Eddie Van Halen
(Image credit: Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

Listen to the incredible legacy of music Eddie Van Halen leaves and you'll hear a complete player; and his rhythm prowess often gets overlooked in the focus on his other gifts. But it was the core strength of his playing and songwriting.

A huge part of Eddie's signature rhythm approach was working with the fact he was the only guitarist onstage in the David Lee Roth era of Van Halen. And that means filling the sound.

"I'm a very rhythmic player, just out of necessity," Eddie explained. “Because, believe it or not, we used to play without a bass player. It was just Alex and I. I also had a tendency to fill every f*cking hole possible, but I had to because there was no other instrument.”

That necessity created an approach all players can learn from, and our exercise below offers a few different approaches for you to consider with your own playing. 

Eddie Van Halen

(Image credit: Ross Marino/Getty)

Click on the top right of the tab to enlarge

(Image credit: Future)

Our EVH-style example fills out the sound in a few different ways – make sure to try them in your own rhythm playing. The palm-muted open sixth string is doubled an octave higher to sound bigger than just one note on its own. T

he chord stabs combined with a spacious reverb create a larger sound. The single-note phrase at the end provides contrast and the wide vibrato is the icing on Eddie’s rock cake.

6 guitar tricks you can learn from Eddie Van Halen

Total Guitar

Total Guitar is Europe's best-selling guitar magazine.

Every month we feature interviews with the biggest names and hottest new acts in guitar land, plus Guest Lessons from the stars.

Finally, our Rocked & Rated section is the place to go for reviews, round-ups and help setting up your guitars and gear.