Rhythm Exercises With Mutes

Rhythm Exercises With Mutes.

I’ve writing a lot of blogs lately on chords and scales, but have been neglecting rhythm a bit.
So here it goes!

First off: some music notation clarification.

  1. Slashes represent chords.

    You get a chord sound when you gently “squeeze” the strings against the frets.

  2. X’s represent mutes.

    Mutes sound percussive because you prevent the strings from vibrating after the string attack.
    Mutes occur when you rest your fingers on the strings without pressing them down against the frets.

We all know these following exercises of course, which are really good to develop time feel and rhythmic coordination.


Then there is also this fun rhythm, one of my favorites:


Here’s a ton more rhythms with mutes to train your rhythmic reading.

Rhythms With Mutes

Every bar/line in the above pdf is 1 exercise that you would want to repeat for a while before moving on to the next bar/exercise. A fun way to practice these exercises, is along with a drum beat.

But what I really wanted to get into, are following exercises:


The lines numbered 1, 4 and 7 are the basic starting rhythm, followed by he same rhythm in the next 2 lines with mutes added.

Just to be sure you know how strumming works before you try to tackle this:

  1. Exercises 1, 2 and 3 are strummed: down (miss) down up (on every beat, hence 4 times in a row)
  2. Exercises 4, 5 and 6 are strummed: down up (miss) up (on every beat, hence 4 times in a row)
  3. Exercises 7, 8 and 9 are strummed: down up down (miss) (on every beat, hence 4 times in a row)

Again: all muting happens in the fretting hand. Slash = squeeze strings against frets and X = lift up fingers so the strings move away from the frets but keep touching the strings.

Of all those exercise: you probably will find 5 and 6 the most challenging.

Most people find these REALLY challenging. 🙂
The main reason why most guitar students have a really hard time with the rhythmic coordination for these rhythms, is that these rhythms combine odd and even events.

  1. 3 notes per beat = 3 events
  2. alternating between mute – chord = 2 events

It’s a brain tease. 🙂
If you have a hard tine with these, you want to practice them very slowly.

It’s very tempting for me to include a video here so you can hear these rhythms, but it’s been my experience with students that they miss out on part of the learning experience when they hear me play it, and then just copy me. It’s suddenly easier to play after you heard it once.

So if you really can’t get through it, and you feel you really need me to send you a video of me playing those rhythms, hit me up anytime at [email protected]. Also shoot me an email if you have any questions of if you would like to book a lesson.

You’re on your way to becoming a great guitar player.
Have fun! 🙂


Keep me informed on your progress. You can hit me up in the comments section below.
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