Rhythm Study | Hub Guitar

Rhythm Study

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Hi. This is Hub Guitar.

Let's take a look at the rhythm pyramid. This is a grid of all of the most common ways to divide the beat.

I'm going to set a metronome to 70bpm and just demonstrate all of these rhythms.

First we have whole notes.

Half notes.

Quarter notes.

Now we'll do quarter note triplets. It's going to sound like this. These may take some time to learn, so feel free to come back later.

Eighth notes. Pretty simple.

Now eighth note triplets. For some reason these aren't quite as hard as quarter note triplets. Maybe that's because you've gotta take a single beat and divide into 3. For quarter note triplets, you've gotta divide two notes into 3.

Here is Sixteenth notes.

And finally sixteenth note triplets.

So when you're learning a piece of music, it's a good idea to keep in mind what the fundamental unit of measurement is. Usually that would be the smallest unit that's used. For instance, a tune that uses a few sixteenth notes would probably be counted out in sixteenth note. But if it only uses eighth notes, you just have to count eighth notes.

Practice these patterns and get them under your fingers, and you'll be ready to learn some more advanced rhythms.

Understanding the Rhythm Pyramid

This demonstration shows all of the most common ways beats can be divided. A single measure consisting of four beats can readily be divided into many different groups of pulses.

Especially for the tripletDividing a beat (or a number of equally spaced beats) into three even beats. For instance, dividing one beat into three, or dividing two beats into three. pulses, there would have to be some way for the listener to know that the “real” underlying pulse is the quarter note. For instance, a drummer might play the quarter note rhythm on line three with his foot, and play the rhythm on line four with his hands. The listener will tend to stay grounded to the beat groupings spelled out by the lowest part of the percussion, such as the kick played by the drummer’s foot.

Play each of these rhythms on guitar.

You must use a metronome! Start slowly.

The Exercise

Hear an Example

Listen for an example of the “rhythm pyramid” played on a single note.


Practice performing these rhythms verbally, switching randomly between different lines. Once you’ve internalized all of these rhythms, you will be able to create nearly all common rhythms from them. By combining various pieces of these rhythms, you can create almost unlimited possibilities.

Key Result

  • After mastering this exercise, you can grasp how beats are divided.
  • You will be able to identify the rhythms of the music you listen to.
  • You will be able to use these rhythms in your own playing.
As the creator of Hub Guitar, Grey has compiled hundreds of guitar lessons, written several books, and filmed hundreds of video lessons. He teaches private lessons in his Boston studio, as well as via video chat through TakeLessons.

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