Playing Rhythm Guitar: Understanding Triplets Part 1


In previous rhythm guitar tutorials, we have looked at how to count and perform whole notes, half notes, quarter notes and eighth notes.

In this tutorial we begin our look at triplets.

Here is what triplets looks like in standard notation:

triplets standard notationHere is what triplets in rhythmic notation look like:

triplets rhythmic notation

How to Count Triplets

The triplet divides the beat into 3 divisions.

triplet counting 1

Triplets can also be counted as:

triplet counting 2I would recommend that you use the 1 + ah, 2 + ah, 3 + ah, 4 + ah counting method because you will find it easier to use when you get into more complex triplet-based rhythmic figures.

And by the way the “+” is pronounced as “and”.  So you would count 1 + ah, 2 + ah, 3 + ah, 4 + ah as: “1 and ah, 2 and ah, 3 and ah, 4 and ah”.

Now let’s look at some examples so you can get used counted and clapping triplets.

Be sure to count out loud as you tap your foot with your metronome while you play through the following rhythm exercises.

Rhythm Exercise 1

triplet counting 1Practice Rhythm Exercise 1 several times. Your goal is to get the feel of the triplet.

Start with a moderate tempo and then move to a faster tempo.

Remember that accuracy is always important, so pick your tempo based upon where you make minimal mistakes. You do want to challenge yourself, but there is a fine line between pushing yourself and unknowingly teaching yourself to repeat mistakes.

If you practice something over and over and are consistently making mistakes, you are actually teaching yourself to make those mistakes. If this is the case, it means you need to slow it down.

Now it’s time to mix triplets with quarter notes.

Rhythm Exercise 2

triplet counting ex 2

Rhythm Exercise 3

triplet counting ex 3This one is tricky.  In rhythm exercise 3 we combine triplets with eighth notes.  What makes it tricky at first is that you need to switch how you divide and count the beat.

As you will recall, eighth notes are counted as:

counting eighth notes rhythmic notation

In rhythm exercise 3 you switch between triplets and eighth notes.

triplet counting ex 3Be sure to clap out loud, and tap your foot with your metronome as you perform the above exercise.

Rhythm Exercise 4

In Rhythm Exercise 4 we combine eighth notes and triplets in the same measure.

triplet counting ex 4

Rhythm Exercise 5

In Rhythm Exercise 5 we also combine eighth notes and triplets in the same measure, but this time we switch the order around.

triplet counting ex 5Have fun with these rhythms.  In part 2 of this series on triplets, we will look at how to apply triplet figures to rhythm guitar strumming patterns.

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Playing Rhythm Guitar: Understanding Triplets Part 1 — 1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Playing Rhythm Guitar: Understanding Triplets Part 2 | Guitar Accelerator Blog: Play Guitar - Electric and Acoustic Guitar Lessons

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