Rhythm Guitar?

What’s your opinion on the rhythm guitar? Some bands have them, some don’t; actually most don’t, which got me wondering…What does it bring to the table? Dual layers? The occasional acoustic? I’m just going off of my experience with Die and Aoi so I don’t really know that much about them or what they bring to the table or how they change the shape of a bands sound etc.

in most cases I honestly have more respect for the rhythmic guitarists because man Chords are a pain to play (owning myself a guitar and trying to play stuff on it sometimes)

“Rhythm guitar” is a bit of a misnomer for me because the actual process of composition, recording, and then playing songs live requires multiple tracks and multiple takes to create what you perceive to be one continuous progression. The first two is creating coherent music from multiple channels and layers of sound, and the latter damn near requires playback of the former in conjunction with raw musical skill to express it live.

It’s not a dig at the modern musical process because that’s how it is and arguably how it’s always been, but that’s why it’s rare to see a guitarist just devote themselves to the rhythm. Most of those people gravitate towards bass. And if you’re playing guitar who doesn’t want to play lead sometimes, lead is fun! But something I learned picking up guitar is that rhythm is what really matters. Leads sound dry without the support underneath. Bass just makes guitar sound better, bass is the rhythmic complement to the drums, and everyone makes the drummer sound better. Honestly, lead guitar is the least important component of a band which is why not every band or even genre has one. A lot of my favorite licks and riffs have a complementing drum roll, fill, or snare hit somewhere to drive it home. Those pounding double bass sections aren’t there when I practice at home! And a lot of the time, when I’m practicing songs I stitch together various lead and rhythm sections and I’m never quite sure whose part I’m playing.

There are probably some benefits to having an extra guitarist in the band:

  • Flesh out the sound
  • Lots of guitarists trade lead and rhythm from song to song
  • Dual solos if you’re into that
  • More creativity
  • Faster recording process since one guitarist doesn’t have to play all the different takes
  • Different people prefer different guitars and that could bring different tone when it’s played live

I can think of more later.


Having multiple guitars is a pretty big positive in a lot of cases. Having a rhythm guitar playing under a lead adds extra weight to everything live, whereas when a band only has one guitarist and the rhythm part vanishes when the guitarist plays a lead part or a solo can make everything feel pretty empty.

You can also have two rhythm guitars doing slightly different things - different voicings of the same chord, for example, can really thicken up a song and add extra flavor to the parts. You can even do what are called “poly chords,” playing two different chords at once for a new sound - for example, an A major chord layered with a C# minor chord actually sounds really good, and gives you a sound you couldn’t get with just one of them.

Having different guitar tones is also really helpful. In a live situation it just makes everything sound thicker and more full, and in a recording where you pan the different rhythm parts hard left and right, the different tones will make the whole track feel bigger and wider in the stereo field.

Harmonies also become a big thing. If you have two guitarists, you can have them playing the same riff but harmonized with each other, often in 3rds. You CAN do this on a single guitar, but it’s more difficult, especially with faster parts that require more movement around the fretboard. It will also just sound different - the way two notes played on the same guitar into the same amp at the same time interact with one another is VASTLY different from two different guitars plugged into separate amps playing one note each, even if it’s the exact same harmony. There’s more clarity for one, and you can pan the two parts left and right, making that harmony sound WIDE AS HELL on a recording.

When you say Die, you mean from DEG? He’s often listed as “rhythm guitar” on websites, but he actually does a fair number of leads! Mr. Newsman, the big solo on top of the final vocals in the remake of The Final, leads in The IIID Empire, nearly any of the KoRn-esque leads with the flanger effect, one of the solos in Ain’t Afraid to Die, lead lines in Jessica, a lot of the higher parts in Vinushka… he does a fair amount of lead playing in Diru! Kaoru just gets branded “lead guitar” because he’s the bandleader and used to handle the vast majority of lead parts. But Die has been doing lead parts even on Gauze, like the octave melody on Yurameki.

When you say “most bands don’t” have rhythm guitarists, I think that’s a bit of a misunderstanding. In those cases, for the MOST part, that guitarist is doing double duty, switching between playing lead and rhythm parts throughout songs (for example, playing rhythm guitar until the point where the guitar solo hits, then playing the solo, after which they go back to playing the rhythm parts).


I agree with this, but I also think that @xxxx kind of has a point in saying that most bands don’t have a designated rhythm guitarist. Obviously there are plenty of examples of bands with two guitar players, but recently I’ve been seeing a trend in Japanese music, specifically Visual Kei as it’s fairly underground at this point in time, where there is only one guitarist in a lot of guitar-heavy bands. Specifically when I think of Sena from JILUKA, Yoh from NAZARE, and MiA with all of the things he’s doing, they will switch between lead and rhythm guitar during each song, yes, but when they are playing their solo in a song, there will always be a rhythm guitar in the backing track in order to make up for the lack of guitar. This makes me think that either they weren’t able to get a second guitarist when forming their bands, because they couldn’t find anyone who was willing to play second fiddle, or they found that it’s a lot eaiser to use a pre-recorded rhythm part since it would make the band sound tighter and it would be a lot easier than having to work with or pay to work with one more person in their bands, thus making a rhythm guitarist unnecessary. That’s something that I’m seeing a lot more of with quite a few bands, and I don’t know how I feel about it. I understand how it would be a lot easier to work with a backing track, but I feel like working with two guitarists would be a lot more beneficial to a person’s band if they know what they’re doing. Sorry this is so long, I think these instrument threads are pretty interesting.


I think we’re saying mostly the same thing just in different ways. You’re definitely correct, in a one-guitarist band that guitarist won’t be a designated rhythm guitarist specifically. I just meant that they would still have to play rhythm parts

I don’t really care if a band uses backing tracks or not, personally. It’s not like the musicians aren’t also playing their own parts, right? As long as the show is fun, that’s what matters most to me personally :slight_smile:

I think a big part the why it’s happening more here is it’s just easier to deal with one less creative mind vying to get their ideas on an album. It can be super beneficial to have another person to bounce ideas off of, who writes in a different way and can expand upon what you do, but it can also be an invitation for more arguments or fights. Especially if the people involved are new to creative co-working with others, or are otherwise just not very mature. I know when we were teenagers, the other guitarist in my band and I used to argue all the time over creative differences, and if we were a band with a fanbase and pressure it might’ve ripped us apart. It was only when we hit our 20’s that we were able to really come to a good middle ground with each other, and now as we approach 30 we’re able to put our egos aside and see when the other person is right about something. But it took a LOT of time and a lot of working on our egos to get over that.

Don’t be sorry! I could talk for days on this kind of topic :smiley:


“Most bands dont have rhythm guitars” what the hell kind of statement is that? Isnt it more the other way around, like almost every band has rhythm guitars?? Haha. Honestly, as a guitar player myself, i enjoy the rhythm parts oftentimes more than the leads. Just cant beat some chunky riffs, which to be fair are pretty much the foundation for any song. The leads are just the icing on the cake. Think of it this way, if you took out all rhythm guitars and were left with just leads that’d be an awkward and boring listen, probably… but you take out leads and keep the rhythms you still got a pretty coherent song to listen to. Most of the stuff i write is more rhythm focused as for me its the riffs that make songs memorable, solos and nice lead melodies are cool but for me the rhythm riffs more often stick in my head more.