Listen to the incredible legacy of music Eddie Van Halen (opens in new tab) 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.
"There are no rules" – Eddie Van Halen: the last guitar mag interview (opens in new tab)
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.
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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.