This week I got to play with some great drummers: Kenny Aronoff, John Ferraro, and Gregg Bissonette. The week before I played with Chad Wackerman, and the week before that I played with Walfredo Reyes, Jr, the drummer in my band. I'm a lucky guy to have all these amazing musicians around to work with, and I find it very enjoyable to listen carefully to their styles and size up their groove on the fly. I've been playing with all these guys (except Kenny) for years so I know how each of them feels to play with. They all have great center time and none of them drag or rush. But for me, solid rhythm guitar playing is directly related to my ability to center in on the hi-hat. I try to pick up on the subtleties and accents they use or the “chip” it makes when it closes. Think about it: In most kinds of music a rhythm section of guitar, bass, and drums is most locked when the bass player is tight with the kick drum, or at least playing off those figures. So it makes perfect sense that the guitar player, when “paving” a rock solid groove, should follow the other constant in the drum set, and that constant is the hi-hat. Lock in on that pulse, listen to where the drummer is accenting the beat and feel the time in your entire body, not just your tapping foot. Before you know it, the rhythm section will feel like one big groove with the sum of its parts much bigger than each instrument. And what a feeling that is!