Did you know that the guitar is the preferred musical instrument? There are many reasons why, but different musicians love the versatility of the guitar. The best rhythm guitar will work with what you’re trying to play. You’ll achieve a better tone and a well-constructed rhythm guitar is easier to play.
When thinking of different guitars for playing, we often separate them into two categories: acoustic and electric. But did you know you should play a certain guitar, depending on your playing style? That means a rhythm guitar player should play a different guitar than a lead guitarist.
But how do you identify a good rhythm guitar? In our guide, we will identify some core components of a high-quality rhythm guitar and we will list some of our favorites.
Why Is It Important to Buy a Good Rhythm Guitar?
We will go over what makes a good rhythm guitar, but what makes a bad rhythm guitar? Don’t choose a guitar that’s too noisy and doesn’t have solid construction. Your guitar should have a clean tone and should be heavier to achieve the perfect tone.
The Qualities of a High-Quality Rhythm Guitar
The features you should look for in a rhythm guitar include:
- Larger frets
- HH pickup configuration
- Fixed bridge
- Hollow-body design
As a rhythm guitar player, you’ll want to achieve a heavier sound in order to keep up the rhythm of the song. All of these qualities result in a heavier sound.
Keep in mind, these are just general recommendations. As a guitar player, you likely already know your preferences and what you need. But if you’re just starting out or don’t know much about guitars, pay attention to these guidelines and choose your next guitar based on this.
Here’s a more in-depth look at these qualities.
As stated previously, a rhythm guitar should have a heavier tone to keep up with the rhythm of the song. But the tone should be more than this. It should be a warm tone to represent the melodies of the song. The tone should also be softer to not take away from the lead.
The key is to avoid buying a guitar with a harsh tone. Focus on a clean tone with a little more of a bass feel.
Most of these guitars have a dual-humbucker pickup setup. Unlike most pickups, which have a single-coil, humbuckers have two coils. This unique design rejects interference and noise, resulting in a cleaner sound. Guitars with humbucker pickups typically sound louder, deeper, and smoother than guitars with a single coil.
But can you choose a single-coil pickup for a rhythm guitar? You can still get a great rhythm guitar with a single-coil pickup. Just make sure to find a guitar with active coils. You can also choose guitars with specific rhythm coils or use a selector switch if you play more than just rhythm.
Different Rhythm Guitars Based on Genre
Different musical genres will also require a different guitar. That’s because different playing styles require a specific number of strings, a certain configuration, and more. Here are specific genres where you’ll need a corresponding guitar:
What Else to Know Before Buying a Rhythm Guitar
There’s additional advice you should know before buying a rhythm guitar. Here are some helpful facts.
Did you know the guitar wood affects the sound? Let’s look at the most common wood types and what they offer a rhythm guitar:
- Twangy sound
- Strong construction
- Beautiful red hue if you’re opting for a natural guitar
- Clear sound
- Commonly used on the neck and fretboard for comfort
- Defined tones
- High-quality wood
- Supports a variety of styles
Out of all of the guitar body types, choose a hollow body type for rhythm guitar. A hollow body will produce cleaner sounds and it will sound silky smooth. Hollow bodies also have a large resonating chamber, making the heavier and bassy sounds more prominent.
Can you achieve a great rhythm guitar sound with another body type? A solid body has a hollow resonating chamber, so you can make the guitar louder. These are favored by lead players, but rhythm players can also benefit from playing these guitars. Semi-hollow bodies are also very versatile and can be applied to any type of playing.
We’ve been primarily talking about electric rhythm guitar. What about acoustic rhythm guitar? A lot of the same advice remains the same. Since acoustic guitars all have hollow bodies, you have many options to choose from. The best acoustic guitar should be one that you can play easily and sounds fantastic.
Our Favorite Rhythm Guitars
Now that you know the basics of choosing a rhythm guitar, here are guitars we love!
Fender HH Telecaster
The Telecaster still reigns as one of the best guitars, but it’s especially an effective rhythm guitar. And with the two humbuckers, this guitar has a heavier tone.
While this guitar is a perfect one for playing rhythm rock guitar, it’s versatile enough to play rhythm in more progressive styles. This is even a great pick for blues and country guitar. If you need to change your sound, this guitar also responds to pedals well.
- Great fretboard construction
- Aesthetically-pleasing guitar
- Dual-humbucker design for a heavier tone while reducing excess noise
- Not a good option for metal
PRS SE Custom 22
One of the main reasons why the PRS SE series is great for rhythm is because this guitar has excellent fretboard construction. While the frets are spaced a little wider, it’s still easy to play. PRS guitars in general are heavier and lower in tone, making them excellent choices for rhythm. But the semi-hollow body design will still ensure your sound is clean.
- Great features for the cost
- Fantastic tone
- Good price
- Excellent fret design
- There are nicer PRS models
- Construction is not of the best quality
Epiphone Les Paul Standard
Les Pauls are one of the most well-liked guitars. Not only are they budget-friendly but they accommodate a range of styles. This Les Paul can even make a good lead guitar. This Les Paul offers a pickguard, two humbuckers, and a three-way switch. This makes this Les Paul great for heavier music styles and even progressive playing.
The only piece of advice is to put different strings on them, ideally ones with a heavier gauge. This will give you a little more power, especially if you’re using this guitar to play metal.
- Easy to play
- Popular guitars
- Good price
- Dual humbucker
Ibanez Artcore Series
Ibanez Artcore guitars are by far some of the prettiest guitars I’ve ever seen. But there’s more than meets the eye here. Like many of the guitars on this list, the Ibanez Artcore has a dual humbucker setup and hollow body. This is the perfect guitar for jazz and rock. The chords sound very clean and the gain is moderately high.
- Different models at various price points
- Guitars are high-quality yet affordable
- Fantastic finish and beautiful designs
- Clean tones
- Dual humbucker
- May need an upgrade if you also play leads
Gretsch is another guitar brand that releases high-quality guitars at an affordable price.
But out of all of the Gretsch models, you should choose the Streamliner series. These guitars are easy to play, have a smaller body design, and look really cool. This guitar has a clean tone, which is perfect for playing open chords. The guitar has lots of resonance and clarity. It’s just an overall quality guitar.
- Great brand name
- Guitar looks fantastic
- Clean tones
- Great price
What Accessories Do You Need?
All guitar players know that the guitar isn’t the only thing you need to play. There are a variety of accessories you need to achieve your sound. So, what accessories are perfect for rhythm guitar?
In order to properly pluck your thicker strings, your picks should also be thicker. If you use a flimsy pick, you risk it breaking while playing. Medium-sized picks are usually a good choice for rhythm players. Find a pick in a material such as celluloid for best results.
Since a rhythm guitar is slightly heavier, you’ll need a sturdy strap to wear while performing. The length doesn’t matter as much as it depends on your size as well as your preference.
In addition, thicker and wider straps can better support your shoulders. Leather straps are the better option. They’re not only visibly more attractive but are sturdier and will last longer.
Should you use the strings that come with your guitar? This depends. You’ll want to use heavier gauge strings. If that’s what is included with the guitar, then great. Thicker strings result in a heavier sound.
How Does a Guitar for Lead Differ?
Lead guitarists play the melody of the song. All lead guitarists are different and require something different from their guitars. But the one thing they all have in common is a lead guitar needs to be able to accommodate their embellishments.
The most defining factor that separates a lead guitar from a rhythm guitar is the size. Melodious guitars don’t have to have a heavy tone, so the construction is slightly different. This makes a lead guitar lighter in weight than a rhythm guitar. Lead guitars typically have thinner necks so guitarists can solo easier.
Of course, there are aesthetics. You can find solo guitars in a variety of lovely finishes, colors, shapes, and designs. But like rhythm guitars, you’ll want to focus on more than just looks. You’ll want to focus on a high-quality guitar made with excellent parts. This ensures the guitar will play well and will last a long time.
Question: Who Are the Best Rhythm Guitarists of All Time?
Answer: The best guitar players aren’t always the ones who play the craziest solos. Even lead guitar players need to have solid rhythm. Some guitar players to use as rhythm inspiration include:
• Pete Townsend (The Who)
• Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones)
• James Hetfield (Metallica)
• Malcolm Young (AC/DC)
• Joan Jett (The Runaways, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts)
• John Lennon (The Beatles)
Question: Who Are the Best Lead Guitarists of All Time?
Answer: On the other end of the spectrum, some of the best lead guitarists ever include:
• Eddie Van Halen
• Jimi Hendrix
• Stevie Ray Vaughn
• Brian May
• Angus Young
• Eric Clapton
• Jimmy Page
• David Gilmour
• Billy Gibbons
Question: What Are the Best Guitar Brands?
Answer: In addition to the guitar brands we mentioned previously, some other great guitar brands include:
Question: Who Are Some Great Rhythm Guitar Players in Metal?
Answer: We already mentioned James Hetfield, but let’s face it, Metallica gets enough credit. There are a plethora of phenomenal rhythm players in metal.
Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine is another world-renowned guitar player who primarily plays rhythm. Mustaine is to this day one of the most influential rhythm guitar metals in all metal. His individualistic playing style set the stage for the modern thrash sound.
Some other key players to mention include Scott Ian (Anthrax), Bill Kelliher (Mastodon), Mårten Hagström (Meshuggah), Mille Petrozza (Kreator), and Rudolf Schenker (Scorpions).
Question: Is It Hard to Play Rhythm Guitar?
Answer: It’s harder than you think! That’s because playing rhythm is actually the most important aspect of playing guitar. Not only that but oversimplifying the rhythm part will likely make you a weaker guitar player.
Question: How Do You Master the Rhythm Guitar?
Answer: When it comes to rhythm guitar, practice makes perfect. But until you can truly master rhythm guitar, here are some tips to know:
• Play along to recordings
• Use a metronome
• Sing the rhythms
• Play the rhythms in small parts before you can play the whole song
There are so many guitar players out there, and a good chunk of these players are rhythm players.
If you’re a rhythm guitar player, you’ll want to know how to pick the best guitar for your needs. There are many features you should look for in a rhythm guitar. The guitar should have a heavier tone. Ideally, your guitar should have humbucker pickups. If you can, play thicker strings for the best sound.
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