There’s no doubt that as many people have always said, “rhythm guitar is a lost art.” The reason for this is all around us if you listen to what has been happening to guitar over the last 25 years or so. The accentuation on lead has been so extreme, there are players who can play literally thousands of notes at full throttle, yet who have never had to play rhythm guitar with anyone! Instead, you can always tell these players by watching how rather than playing rhythm, they simply “lay out” and wait for their next chance to solo!
Well, this certainly is not an acceptable way to approach the instrument, nor a way to become a “well-rounded” player, which is what we all really should aspire to. All parts that we play as guitar players should not only be taken seriously, but they should truly be embraced as something beautiful and viable as an important part of guitar music. Making music is a full-fledged commitment, and this can only happen if you truly have that dedication to, and belief in the parts you play! I certainly recommend that you hone these rhythm skills by playing with others a lot, but also when you play by yourself, concentrating on alternating your leads and rhythm playing. Play a little lead, then comp awhile, use the leads as interjected “fills”, and try to keep the sense of the forward movement of the song in your head. And always remember, when you use some of the time of the song as a fill, you must be able to come back to the correct spot in the tune that lands you properly. I’ve seen many students who lack this ability, and to properly make it happen, you really need to keep hearing the forward motion of the music, even as you play fills. I call this “hearing the band in your head”, and it’s the way I always did some of my best learning and practicing in my early days. It’s a joy to experiment with!
So, I hope you can become one of the “purists” who can start to bring back the fine art of rhythm playing. It’s all really part of the same picture you want to create as a player, and it will always help you in the future as you do more and more professional gigs, especially the ones where you are required to play several parts. Keep in mind you are a guitar player, not a rhythm or lead player!!! Keep up the good work, and always make your musical parts count!