1. Rhythm Introduction: Awareness of the beat

This video starts off with an insight that has helped me a lot in my sense of timing & groove, and that is:

To always have a physical pulse going on while playing. Preferably as much as possible, but at least while practicing.

A physical pulse can be:

  • Tapping along to the beat with your foot.
  • Counting out loud.
  • Banging your head to the beat.

It’s about synchronising your body to the groove, which always helps you to feel the rhythm much more. Of course it’s not possible to always apply this; while playing live, you want to walk freely, and you don’t want to think about moving your legs to the beat. But for practicing it’s a cool extra thing to apply, and you will see it really helps for your basic sense of timing. From there, you can build it up, and you’ll be able to do it while playing more complex stuff. With disciplined training, it gets to be an automatic movement which you don’t have to think about anymore: That’s where the fun starts!

Rhythm Exercises: Rhythm Pyramid

For an overview on the rhythms that I talk about in my lessons, I have created an exercise to get a good view on quarter notes, eighth notes and sixteenth notes, and their respective triplets.

It are simple exercises, but be sure to be able to play them, slowly and also fast. Practice each exercise separately, and if that goes well: do the whole exercise in one go: Exercise 1.5 combines all the switches (from eighth notes to triplets etc.) !

Guitar Pro Exercises:

  • Exercise 1.1: quarter notes, 8th notes and 16th notes.
  • Exercise 1.2: quarter note triplets
  • Exercise 1.3: 8th note triplets
  • Exercise 1.4: 16th note triplets
  • Exercise 1.5: mixing quarter notes, 8th and 16th notes, and their respective triplets.

2. The Matrix

This is a system I have developed for guitar players; it’s a system that you might have seen before, mostly used by drummers, because it’s all about rhythm. On guitar, you can apply it in multiple ways; on different strings, different shapes, and you can even apply it to any scales for example. But for the first overview we stick to the 4 note system, and 3 note system. I chose the most easy “scale” to do this: the chromatic scale.

In later chapters I will show you many more ways to apply this system.

The main thing to focus on while doing these exercises, is consistency! Each palm mute should sound exactly the same, the same intensity. Each open note should have the same brightness, and clearness!

Needless to say: no dead notes, no excess noise in between ANY notes!

With the 8th note system, you want to keep your alternate picking going on, no matter which string you pick. Each note should sound as clear as possible.

With the 8th note and 16th note system; 8th note downstrokes are the basic movement, and in between you add a 16th note upstroke at each accent.

Groups of 4 notes

  • Exercise 2.1 2 strings: 8th notes
  • Exercise 2.2 1 string: 8th notes
  • Exercise 2.3 2 strings: 8th notes and 16th note accents
  • Exercise 2.4 1 string: 8th notes and 16th note accents

Groups of 3 notes (triplets)

  • Exercise 2.5 2 strings: 8th notes
  • Exercise 2.6 2 strings: 8th notes and 16th note accents
  • Exercise 2.7 1 string: 8th notes
  • Exercise 2.8 1 string: 8th notes and 16th note accents

Below you find Guitar Pro files, and backing tracks of all exercises, in 3 different tempos.

3. Patterns: Melodic

Iconic riffs & their use of patterns

  • Exercise 1: 3 notes & variations
  • Exercise 2: 6 notes & switching strings as a variation. Add hammer-ons, pull-offs & bends.
  • Exercise 3: Chord progression based on 3 accents. Lead guitar variations based on the same 3 accents.
  • Exercise 4: Canon in D.This is a clear example of melodic pattern use. The rhythm is set: 4 notes. The movement is set: 4 notes only go up. And with that, he explores the D major key.

Side note: I hope you like these exercises; as a side note, i want to let you know you can use any scale to apply this.

Andy has some very cool chapters in which he goes in-depth about scales and the box patterns they are in. To link it to this exercise; grab a few notes of the scales you learned from Andy, and make as many variations as possible, using 1 rhythm, and a set amount of notes. So start with 3 notes, and explore ALL possibilities. Then, when you master the 3 note versions, go on with 4 notes, of 5, 6 etc.

4. Patterns Part 2: Rhythmic patterns

  • AC/DC Back in Black, Barracuda, Kashmir
  • Korn
  • Deftones
  • Meshuggah

Textures riffs with patterns:

  • 3.1 Polars riff (long pattern)
  • 3.2 Surreal state of enlightenment (simple pattern that lasts long)

5. Muting techniques: Guitar Ghost Notes


  • 5.1 Awake riff
  • 5.2 Swandive - guitar ghost notes
  • 5.3 Regenesis main riff 1 3 2 3 2 2
  • 5.4 Regenesis 2nd 123 123 123
  • 5.5 Millstone intro
  • 5.6 To Erase a Lifetime riff

6. Polyrhythms: Part 1: Introduction to Polyrhythms

Polyrhythms are used a lot in progressive music, but also in commercial music you see it more and more. It’s a cool way to spice up some otherwise generic riffs, melodies or chord progressions.

The most used and most easy polyrhythm to start with, is 3 against 2. There are 2 rhythms going on at the same time, which can be in various ways: a drummer can play 3 kicks while playing 2 hi-hats, at the same time. Another way to apply it, is to let the drummer play a normal beat, and the guitars go against it with a different rhythm.

The best way to describe 3 against 2 is: 3 quarter note triplets going against 2 quaternotes, they both happen at the same time.

The first exercises I made are without guitar: Try training your mind to play the polyrhythm with just your hands, on any surface. You don’t need to be a drummer to do this, haha! I believe everyone can train their mind to be at ease with polyrhythms, the more you get used to it, the more you can incorporate it into the writing of your own music.

Exercises without guitar:

  • 3 against 2
  • 4 against 3
  • 5 against 4

Exercises with guitar: fingerpicking the polyrhythm with 2 notes:

  • 3 against 2
  • 4 against 3
  • 5 against 4

7. Polyrhythms Part 2: Exercises with drums & guitar: Switch between the 2 polyrhythms

If you get to understand the concept of polyrhythms, the best way to practice them, is to switch between the 2 rhythms while playing. Try to tap along with your foot, or count along loud, to really be aware of which rhythms are happening while you play.

  • 3 against 2, and 2 against 3
  • 4 against 3, and 3 against 4
  • 5 against 4, and 4 against 5

8. Quintuplets: How to use quintuplets in a creative way

Quintuplets tend to sound super technical right away, and for a lot of people it sounds impossible to play. I’ll show you how you can create some versions where it doesn’t feel like that. There are tons of ways to apply this, let’s go through a few ones that I like to use.

Textures riffs using quintuplets:

To Erase a lifetime: quintuplets & H/P ghostnotes
This riff uses hammer-ons on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th accent of a group of 5 notes. If you master this, you can shift the chords anywhere you like, within that rhythm.

Singularity (quintuplets in different forms)
FAST quintuplets! A killer workout for your picking hand, it’s a great way to improve your picking. Be aware that the groups of 5 are uneven; so the next group starts with an upstroke! Keep the alternate picking going on at all times.

This midtempo section goes through some variations you can find within the realm of quintuplets. Riff-wise, but also melody wise. The whole song revolves around these quintuplets, I’ll explain some of the things that are going on.

9. Textures riffs with Polyrhythms

Denying Gravity: intro shivering sleep: 3 against 2
This one is not a beginners polyrhythm, but it’s cool to see what’s possible with these crazy variations. This riff switches between the 2 rhythms all the time. It’s a nice brain teaser!

Oceans Collide - triplets & 3 against 4
This riff is based on triplets, so if you divide the grid into groups of 4, it will feel like a polyrhythm.

Awake riff: 4 against 5
The most known song of Textures; the riff sounds easy, but you’re busy with fast groups of 5 all the time, so this one might be tricky! A step by step tutorial on how to feel at ease with this kind of rhythm.

10. The Matrix: Reloaded

Using the Matrix with counter rhythms / polyrhythmics

Remember the Matrix? These exercises take it to the next level! Applying a backing track which has triplets, to the exercise where you are busy with mainly groups of 4 notes, will end up in a polyrhythm! A great way to trick the mind, and get at ease with polyrhythms some more.

Be aware that, for these exercises, I sometimes changed the amount of repetitions of each group of accents, this way it’s more easy to loop it.

Backing track in triplets: using Groups of 4 notes

  • Exercise 2.1 2 strings: 8th notes
  • Exercise 2.2 1 string: 8th notes
  • Exercise 2.3 2 strings: 8th notes and 16th note accents
  • Exercise 2.4 1 string: 8th notes and 16th note accents

Backing track in 8th notes: using Groups of 3 notes

  • Exercise 2.5 2 strings: 8th notes
  • Exercise 2.6 1 string: 8th notes
  • Exercise 2.7 2 strings: 8th notes and 16th note accents
  • Exercise 2.8 1 string: 8th notes and 16th note accents
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