Guitar Essentials: How to Find the Pocket

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PHOTO: Cindy Moorhead

Finding “the pocket” is a concept traditionally associated with drums or bass—the rhythm section. However, you have to have rhythm no matter what instrument you play, from guitar to trumpet to kazoo.

I consider the pocket to be a force of great magnitude with its own gravitational pull, and finding the pocket is to be yanked toward the pocket as you craft your rhythmic ideas on your instrument. That attraction can sometimes cause you to release a funky James Brown-like grunt, which is normal and should not alarm you when it happens.

The key to finding the pocket is to optimize your practice routine to cater to your musical strengths, so let’s take a look at a couple methods you can try.

Method 1: The Metronome: Whether you use an app on your phone or an actual metronome, this is the most fundamental and proven approach to developing your rhythm chops. Some metronomes are more advanced than others, allowing for customized beat tones and articulations.

Method 2: The Loop Pedal: A much more musical alternative, a loop pedal will certainly thrust you into the groove pocket, as you will be forced to be perfectly on time in order for the music you play to sound correct. This is a great way to work on creative ideas as you refine your rhythm skills.

Whatever means you use to seek and enter the groove pocket, the important thing is that you are honest with yourself and disciplined in your practice. Don’t increase the tempo of a metronome if you can’t play something perfectly clean on the current BPM. For maximum effectiveness, allow the groove swallow you, and enjoy the feeling it provides with a scream of funky attitude.

Tyler Larson is the founder of the guitar-centric website Music Is Win. His entertaining guitar-related content receives hundreds of thousands of video views on Facebook per month, and his online guitar courses tout more than 1,500 students with a cumulative 4.7 rating on Udemy. Get in touch with Tyler on Facebook, watch more of his guitar lessons and vlogs on YouTube, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.