Roles of the guitar Did you know that 10% of the worlds population have, at one time or another, picked up and played a guitar? That’s about 712 million guitarists.

The roles of the guitar in both classical and popular music are incredibly versatile, making it one of the most exciting and rewarding instruments to learn. As well as performing the guitar as a solo instrument, there are two main types of guitar roles: lead and rhythm. Let’s take a closer look.

The Role of the Lead Guitar

The lead guitar plays a part at the centre of the musical piece. This part is usually single notes, but can also be reinforced by chords. Here are the different parts a lead guitarist can play:

  • The melody. Having the lead guitarist play the melody is most common in instrumental music. Often, the guitar will be accompanied by a secondary lead instrument – such as a keyboard or saxophone – that also plays the melody. If there is a singer, the lead guitarist may play the melody during the intro and outro of a song.
  • A counter-melody. Put simply, the counter-melody is a simplified version of the melody, which is usually sung.
  • Solo. Solos are played throughout the song, and are the centre of attention. Solos can be improvised, or composed beforehand.
  • Fills. Fills are like short solos, which are peppered throughout a composition.

The Role of the Rhythm Guitar

Rhythm guitar is an overarching term used to describe the types of accompaniments played by a guitarist. Here are the different parts a rhythm guitarist can play:

  • A comping part. A comping part refers to a pattern or rhythm of chords. The chords can be played at once or as arpeggio, and the effect can be purely percussive by muting the strings. It’s common to have multiple rhythm guitarists playing complementary comping parts.
  • A pad. A pad is a special effect created when a chord or note is struck and sustained. Piano, organ, or wind instruments usually play pads, but rhythm guitarists do too.
  • A riff. Riffs are repeated musical ideas, known as licks. Riffs are usually short and catchy.

Learn the Guitar

Sounds like fun, right? Start your journey toward becoming the best lead or rhythm guitarist you can be today. Give us a call on 02 9602 9774 or fill out the form on this page, and we’ll get right back to you.