Worship Band - The Rhythm Electric's Job

Adapted from a clinic taught by Jerry Tyson.  jerrytyson@earthlink.net

  • The Rhythm Electric enhances rhythmic feel and strumming
    • The function of the Rhythm Electric is to play the basic chords and keep good rhythm
    • These two qualifications must be met to have groove. Groove means that the rhythm of the music makes the audience want to tap their foot or clap their hands
    • It is very important that you stick with the basic role of rhythm guitar so the band doesn't sound too busy.
  • The Rhythm Electric must have good time and good feel
    • A metronome or drum machine is a necessary tool to use to help internalize one's time feel
    • The rhythm electric and the snare drum are a unit. When the snare drum plays, accent your strumming pattern.
    • On ballads, arppegiate your chords, meaning play your strings individually.
    • A good way to achieve common time feels, and learn better strumming patterns is to practice with a drum machine.
  • A Rhythm Electric must be in tune and groove
    • Always, always use a tuner to correct intonation. Strings change during a performance.
    • Groove means that the rhythm of the music makes the audience want to tap their foot or clap their hands
    • Know what groove to play on certain styles.
  • A Rhythm Electric should definitely be using some effects.
    • Chorus or reverb - anything to sweeten up the sound, but not detract from the intonation
    • Rhythm Electric must have chorus and distortion. All other effects are optional (delay, phaser, tremelo, and wah etc.) Many times these should be left to the lead guitar. Too many simultaneous effects can muddy the waters.
  • Good technique is essential for good time and endurance
    • Bad technique can wear a rhythm electric out and when he begins to get tired the time will begin to slow down
    • Technique can make a difference in one's time and groove. Bad technique can make something that is relatively easy to play become difficult.
    • Taking a lesson now and again can fix these problems and steer one in the right direction.
  • Good visual communication is key to a Rhythm Electric player's success
    • If the Rhythm Electric is not aware of his surroundings, he may miss a cut off or a great musical moment. This can be disastrous.
    • Don't bury your head or stare off into space, watch the Worship Leader for instruction and cues 
  • Play simple
    • Full open string chords do not work well with distortion
    • Power chords work best for rhythm electric in most scenarios. Take the time to learn variations and octave jumps for power chords.
    • Understand where your instrument fits in the band. If there are keys, or an acoustic, they might be in the same harmonic range. Capo up, or use chord variations to be in a different harmonic range and therefore open up the overall band sound.
  • The Worship Leader has the final say
    • In some cases, the instrumentalists may have more musical experience than the person up front. Learn to be ok with that.
    • Musical perfection is secondary to giving God the Glory he deserves. Much of this comes from attitude and servitude.
    • While input is healthy, and constructive criticism is part of the band dynamic, keep egos in check and realize the weighty responsibility a Worship Leader carries in ushering a congregation into the throne-room of Grace.
  • Don't overplay - LESS IS MORE


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