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Thread: Good Lead or Good Rhythm guitar hardest to find

  1. #1

    Good Lead or Good Rhythm guitar hardest to find

    My first thought was a really good lead guitar player would be hardest to find but then I thought a lead guitarist is free to create, spontaneously (within the arrangement of that song), and the good rhythm guitarist makes the lead sound even better. The lead guitarist is hitting the Home Runs and the rhythm guitarist is giving himself up for the team by getting the runner over to third from second with no outs.
    Would be interested in your opinion and I am a beginning plunker.
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  2. #2
    The best lead players are great rythym players.

  3. #3
    Senior Member dreadnut's Avatar
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    Somebody's gotta lay down the rythym.
    "The air's as still as the throttle on a funeral train." John Prine

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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Stuball48 View Post
    The lead guitarist is hitting the Home Runs and the rhythm guitarist is giving himself up for the team by getting the runner over to third from second with no outs.
    Would be interested in your opinion and I am a beginning plunker.
    Here is something to make you look at this statement from both sides of the coin. Think about bands like AC/DC. When you think of the song "Shook Me All Night Long" as well as several others do you automatically hear the lead guitar solo part in your head or the Opening driving rhythm section that makes the song so recognizable? Then you could listen to Eddie Van Halen's Eruption and the exact opposite could be said. I think the two playing styles are forever intertwined. The way I learned was mostly rhythm first and then started learning leads. That way when I started learning how to play leads I understood how to stay in the pocket and still be creative from already knowing the rhythm parts. This then allowed me as an acoustic player to add lead runs and be creative while still playing rhythm and merging the two together somewhat seamlessly while finger picking.

    In my experience, learning to be a lead player without learning to be a rhythm player can limit your abilities as a lead player. Learning to be a lead player after learning to be a rhythm player opens up all kinds of creativity options and allows you to be a much more versatile lead player all around. Just an opinion as always.

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  5. #5
    Senior Member walrus's Avatar
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    Exactly - I'm not sure it's possible to be a good lead player without learning to play good rhythm first. If there's any examples, I would think they are "exceptions" to the norm. You need an excellent sense of time to play lead, which can only be gained by playing rhythm, IMHO. As TX said, you have to be "in the pocket" for both styles.

    Quick story - I was playing in this little faculty/student R&B band for several years. One semester, we had a student who played guitar join us - but this kid fancied himself as Carlos Santana (his favorite guitarist...). He only knew how to add little lead parts, which in the context of the whole band, sounded a lot like random "noodling". Knew very few chords, and struggled mightily to play rhythm and keep time. I'm not a big Santana fan, but Carlos knows how to play rhythm guitar!

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  6. #6
    Senior Member dreadnut's Avatar
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    My son wanted to play lead all the time, and he was doing pretty well at it, but like I said earlier, somebody's gotta lay down the rhythm in order for somebody else to play the lead. I'd play the rhythm for him while he played lead, but when I wanted to play lead he couldn't carry the rhythm. This was a "teachable moment."

    This situation has since been rectified; he plays great rhythm now, and lead as well. He's a drummer as well, so at least he knows how to hold down a beat.
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  7. #7
    I always concentrated more on practicing and playing lead guitar. Have been in several regularly gigging bands since the 80's with about a 12 year break when I barely played guitar at all - too busy with career and family, etc.. About 10 years ago I decided I sucked at rhythm guitar. I could play it well enough I suppose, but I wasn't really happy with what I was doing. I decided to spend the next year just working on my rhythm skills. It was a good decision and I became a much better all around player. It also, I think made my soloing both more rhythmic and more melodic - both good things in my opinion.

    Some rhythm guitarists I admire are:

    John Doyle who used to be in the Irish band Solas. He drove their whole sound and really opened my eyes and ears to the guitar as a percussion instrument.

    Ian Neville, one of the younger generation Neville's who plays strictly rhythm guitar in his band Dumstaphunk. Amazing sense of timing.

    Neil Young who also taught me a lot about guitar as percussion - very evident in his soloing as well.

    Bob Weir for a different approach to rhythm.

  8. #8
    i find playing rhythm is much more difficult than lead. with rhythm you have to play the entire song (or the part you are playing rhythm on) basically perfect. Lead you have to sound good (great), but much more margin for "improv" (which can mean a lot of things), just a lot less to lose playing lead.

  9. #9
    Senior Member dreadnut's Avatar
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    I played nothing but rhythm for years and years before I finally decided I should venture into doing leads from time to time. After I learned some scales and practiced a lot, leads are coming pretty naturally now.

    Interestingly, I took up the mandolin about 20 years ago. I think I still only know 4 or 5 chords, and I mostly use them to chop out Bluegrass rhythms. On most other music, I just tinkle along on the mando playing scales, melodies and harmonies. Not leads as such, but for instance I do have the violin part down for "As Tears Go By," and the mando sounds great on that song. But, somebody's gotta lay down the rhythym!
    "The air's as still as the throttle on a funeral train." John Prine

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