All types of music begin with some kind of a rhythm.
Rhythm is the foundation on which the whole song is built – and rhythm gives the support to every other member of the band to help them play the song in a way it was meant to be played. So, being a rhythm guitarist is an important job – a rhythm guitarist practically makes the difference between a band that sounds in-tune and a band that just can't get a clean sound. So, let's see what you can do to improve your guitar skills as a rhythm player:
1. Get yourself a metronome. Yes, this is the definite number one on our list. Get yourself a metronome and practice with it as much as you can. You don't need to set it on some insanely high frequencies, as the matter of fact you really shouldn't do that. Set it to an appropriate value of beats per minute, depending on the type of music your band is playing. Your freebie: Look at the bottom of the page. :)
2. Play a lot of songs with different types of rhythms and really try to understand each of them. Every song has its own rhythm and you really should get it exactly right. You would be surprised if you knew how many guitar players tend to play every song too fast! Once they feel that they have no problems with playing it, they just subconsciously speed the song up. And that is BAD. The song was meant to be played in a specific way and you really should not speed it up, most likely you will just ruin it. Remember: Playing slower does not mean that you are a lesser guitarist – it means that you know what the song is trying to say!
3. Learn a few tricks to impress the audience. My personal favourite has always been the following: Your band is playing through the verse and is approaching the chorus, which starts with a very specific riff. Once you get to the end of the verse, don't advance to the chorus right away. Just stop playing for a little while. Every member of the band must stop at exactly the same time, so there is a perfect silence. You can feel the energy of the crowd build up as they wait for that great riff – and they are not getting it. Just have them wait for it. And then, after some exact number of beats of the silence, start with the chorus. The crowd will go out of their minds.
4. Well, the final one is pretty expected: practice, practice, practice. Unfortunately, this is and has always been the only road to perfection.