How to Spice Up Your Rhythm Playing with 6th Intervals

Spicing Up Rhythm Parts with 6th Intervals

A great way to come up with awesome-sounding rhythm guitar parts is combining chord strums with melodic lines in 6ths.

You can hear an amazing example of this in John Mayer’s song “Belief”

Jimi Hendrix is another guitarist who came up with cool rhythm guitar parts using 6ths.

Here’s me covering Jimi’s “Room Full of Mirrors”

So let’s get to it…

In the following examples, I start off really simple and gradually build it up to a funky rhythm guitar part.
For starters, with all these rhythms: move your strumming arm in 16ths subdivision.

What this means is that your strum arm should move 4 times per beat.
As a result: two 8th notes is strummed as down (miss) down (miss)

A quarter note is: down miss miss miss

Exercise 1:

4 quarter notes
Beat 1: hit an A on the low E string (finger it with your thumb)
Beat 2: Am7 chord (pointy finger bars 5th fret top 4 strings)
Beats 3 and 4: 6th intervals

Exercise 2:

Exactly the same thing, but I hit the A bass note twice as two 8th notes.

That already makes it a bit funkier. There is a bit more rhythmic motion.

Exercise 3:

Same thing as exercise 2, but hit the 6th intervals twice each, as 8th notes.

Exercise 4:

This is what we were waiting for and building up towards adding mutes.

Exercise 4 is the same as exercise 2, but we’re adding two 16th note mutes at the end of the 2nd beat.

Exercise 5:

Exercise 5 is the same as exercise 4, but we’re adding two more 16th note mutes at the end of the 3rd beat.

Exercise 6:

Exercise 6 is the same as exercise 5, but we’re adding two more 16th note mutes at the end of the 4th beat.

Keep in mind, you can come up with various cool rhythms altering any of this.

Mutes on 3rd beat only, or on 4th beat only, or combinations, or any combination with 1 or 2 bass notes on the first beat.
You can switch the two 6th intervals, or play other ones.

You can move to another chord and apply all of this in chord progressions.
The above picture shows the same ideas applied to a Dm7 chord.

You could apply these rhythm guitar ideas to an I IV progression: Am | Dm |

Point number 5 on the above graphic, is actually referring to another topic.
It’s mentioning that in this key, the key of A minor, you could play the Jimi Hendrix chord E7#9 as the V chord.

This would give you the following fun chord progression that you could practice these above rhythmic ideas on:

Am7 | Dm7 | Am7 | E7#9

Check it out here:


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