Is rhythm guitar harder than the lead? Is rhythm guitar harder or easier to learn for beginners than the lead guitar? What are the skills needed to play the rhythm and lead guitar? When you are just learning to play the guitar, I believe you usually hear these two terms; the rhythm guitar and lead guitar. However, if you are still unfamiliar with these terms, we will give light to these topics, as there will come a time that you will be able to re encounter these terms as you progress in your journey as a guitar player.
So, before we start with our main discussion, let us first define the two terms. What is the lead guitar? The lead guitar is considered to be a role in a band that is usually assigned to play the intricate single notes in the form of either a solo, melodies, licks, riffs, scales, or hooks of a specific song. In a typical band, the lead guitar has the most freedom to express its playing, which is why many prefer to learn this facet of guitar playing.
On the other hand, the rhythm guitar is another role that makes up the rhythm section in a band, like the bass guitar and drums. Its primary purpose is to lay the foundation while providing the structure and backbone of a particular song at the same time. Every band needs to have a solid rhythm section so that the vocalists and other instruments can do their things.
Which Of The Two Should You Learn First?
There is no stopping you from learning the lead and rhythm guitar at the same time, but for beginners, it would be highly advisable that you start first with the rhythm guitar. Studying rhythm guitar lets you learn the fundamental skills you will need to play any playing style and genre, which is just one of the main reasons you should first learn the rhythm guitar.
Another reason why you should learn the rhythm guitar first is that it lets you develop the skills needed to have good timing when playing the guitar. The ability to play along with a rhythm in sync is what you call timing, and if a guitar player does not have any good timing, surely his playing will really sound terrible. Even lead guitar players need to learn some rhythm guitar skills to build good timing.
The last reason is that it is easier to learn the basic parts of rhythm guitar than the basic parts of the lead guitar. When playing the fundamentals of the rhythm guitar, you usually play guitar chords, which is easier than playing scales. Strumming the guitar is also easier to execute than guitar solos.
Is Rhythm Guitar Harder Than Lead?
If you ask most musicians which is harder between the rhythm and lead guitar, I believe many would say that the lead guitar would be the harder thing to do, and there are reasons why many would say that, as we are going to discuss that in the next topic.
Why Lead Guitar Is Harder Than The Rhythm?
Playing the lead guitar will require more than having a good grasp of rhythm; you also have to play the guitar with your fingers moving faster and more accurately when executing guitar solos, melodies, riffs, and other lead guitar techniques. Your coordination with your fingers and hand is very important to play lead guitar, which can be challenging to master and learn and is also not that important with the rhythm guitar.
One skill that every lead guitar player must be able to develop is speed. However, you should not worry if you are still struggling with this, as many intermediate and advanced lead guitarists also have difficulties playing at a very fast speed. Your speed in playing solos or riffs must also be in rhythm with the song you are playing.
In whatever genre you are playing as a lead guitarist, being able to play fast is an essential skill that lead guitarists should be able to develop with time, and believe me that this will not be easy as you will have to spend more time practicing. Though building up speed on chord changes can also be a little bit difficult, executing advanced lead guitar techniques at a swift pace is still more complex than the other.
One thing you can notice when you are a beginner learning how to play the lead guitar is that you will struggle to match and sync your plucking hand from your fretting hand. This is why many stopped learning the lead guitar, because of its complexity.
Another skill that lead guitarists will have to master is improvisation. The skills of any lead guitar player are usually judged based on their ability to improvise while playing their solos, riff, and melodies over a progression of a specific song. When you play an improvised solo, it tells everything you have learned as a guitar player, from your execution to your knowledge about scales.
For you to develop your improvisation skills to the next level, you have to have better knowledge of major and minor pentatonic scales, blues scales, and many more. You also need to develop your level of skills in executing lead techniques like bending, pull-offs, and hammer-ons. You should also have a solid background with chord progressions, playing scales over chords, and being able to pick out and play melodies.
Though it is important that you know your guitar scales, but above all, improvisation is still a way to express your freedom as a guitar player, so keep in mind that you are not held in the four corners of a room when it comes to playing the lead guitar. When you practice improvising, always keep in your mind that you execute it with your own skills and understanding as a lead guitarist.
Too Many Lead Techniques To Learn
When playing the lead guitar, you will have to learn every lead guitar technique possible and master them. For some advanced-level techniques, you have to know how to execute the pinched harmonics, tapped harmonics, arpeggios, sweeping, dive bombs, tapping, double stops, and many more. However, if you are still a beginner, you need to learn how to execute pull-offs, alternate picking, bending, and hammer-ons.
Can A Guitar Player Be The Lead And Rhythm Guitar Player Simultaneously
Yes, if you are able to master the lead and rhythm guitar, there is no reason for you not to be able to play the role at the same time. Stevie Ray Vaughn is one of the best examples that a lead guitarist is also the rhythm guitar player in a band. When you listen to the song “Pride and Joy,” you notice that Stevie plays a combination of single notes and chords similar to a rhythm. Although he can be one, Stevie is still considered to be one of the best lead guitar players of all time.
So, is rhythm guitar harder than lead? No. When it comes to everything that you will need to learn to master both the rhythm and lead guitar, there are still more complex things to do and know when it comes to lead guitar.