Watch the Accenting Downbeats online guitar lesson by Jeff McErlain from Blues Survival Guide: Rhythm Edition
Getting your right hand rhythm technique is shape is a huge factor of your blues playing. The right hand can be the propellant for the whole groove and act like a built in rhythm section. The quintessential guy for this was Stevie Ray Vaughan, watch just about any performance and you'll see that right hand keeping time, always in motion. This technique is certainly not specific to blues, it is the propellant in any funk rhythm as well. We are going to take a look at some cool eighth note exercises to help gain control over this essential technique. First concentrate on the steady eighths being played with the right hand and just mute with the left. Think about the swing eighth feel that is essential to the blues while playing along with a metronome or drum machine. Then start to add in the rhythm pattern with the left hand. In this example I will playing just the down beats, that refers to beats 1, 2, 3,and 4. That is also when out foot is on the ground when we tap our feet. The up beat is when our foot is in the air, these are eighth notes and we count them 1+2+3+4+. The up beats can also be called the "ands" as in 1 and, 2 and, 3 and, 4 and. You will notice the right hand is doing most of the work just chugging those eighth notes, this is key! This constant eighth note pulse really propels the music forward. This rhythm was common in Dixie Land jazz and earlier jazz, it is also often called the Freddie Green style of playing. Green played guitar with Count Basie and was on of the masters of comping. One of my favorite quotes from him is "You should never hear the guitar by itself. It should be part of the drums so it sounds like the drummer is playing chords." Words to live by for any guitar player.