Posted by: worshipguitarguy | November 28, 2006

Playing UK Inspired Worship Part 3: Rhythmic Riffs

vox-logo.jpgOk, here it is, the much awaited (and delayed, no pun intended) Part 3 to the UK rhythmic riffs.   

In part 2 we looked at rhythmic playing following standard chord changes.  Part 3 looks at taking that principle a step further by developing rhythmic riffs based on basic scales and chord variations. 

The D-chord Form

The D-chord form is a huge part of many UK inspired worship guitar riffs and rhythms… you’ll find it at the core of many U2 songs… one popular theory said that the Edge was heavily influenced by Irish folk/national music, where songs in D are very common.

When I play, the high D-chord form is central to my style much like the “B.B. Box” is for B.B. King.

Learning the diagram above is important because it’s at the heart of many UK inspired rhythmic patterns.  Notice the root in the diagram, (the red dot) is in the middle of the scale segment, that means you can go above or below the scales root when you’re playing away.

     One key of playing on the D-chord form is to strum percussively on two of the strings.  By sticking with two strings, you’ll keep the notes ringing clear and distinct, especially when you have your signal washed in strong delay. 

The following two illustrations show two sample riffs built around the D-chord form scale.

 Ex. 1:  Not to Us riff  ___________________________

MP3 Demo
Tab File

The following riff is similar to the one Daniel Carson, Chris Tomlin’s lead guitarist plays on Not to Us.  The riff is played on the D chord form shown above, except when it drops down to the IV chord.   

This riff is played with eighth note strums.  Also it’s played on a Fender Strat with the pickup selector switch set between the bridge and middle pickups.  This setting was used quite a bit by the Edge for many U2 songs. 

I set my delay to a digital delay with a dotted eighth setting.  A dotted eighth note is an eighth plus a sixteenth, (and eighth and a half… 😉  )  If the delay time is set to the tempo of the song, the repeats will fill in the gaps between your strums, giving the part more texture and complexity.  (If playing live, it’s really hard to use a dotted eighth unless you have a consistent drummer, or play with a click track.  If the tempo starts to vary, you’ll find your strumming sounds awful because your delays will lose sync.  If I’m playing where I know the tempo may vary, I use a digital “slapback” style delay which isn’t so tempo dependant.)

 Ex. 2:  Filled with Your Glory riff  ___________________________

MP3 Demo
Tab File

The following riff is similar to the percussive chording heard in “Filled with Your Glory” by Starfield.  It’s a great example of how to use a D-chord form based rhythm pattern on top of chord progressions in a chorus.  

Notes: This riff shows again how to play rhythmic riffs over standard chord changes.  For variety, you could introduce the principle of playing triplets over a series of changes like this. 

What are triplets?  Well, take a song in 4/4 time for example.  You’d count the song 1…2…3…4…1…2…3…4  Well, triplets would introduce a change in the rhythm pattern by introducing triplet or three beats in a rhythm pattern for variation.  For example, over eight beats, you’d count the rhythm pattern you’re playing with 1…2…3…1…2…3…1…2…  with the accents on beat one.  Notice at the end of the pattern you only count 1…2 to make up for the missing two beats in the pattern.



  1. Great lesson. I had always played the moving line in Not To Us using octaves, but doing it like you suggest sounds much better. Couple of questions. 1) How do you go about setting up the slapback style delay that you suggest? I’ve got a dd-5 if it makes any difference. 2) When you talk about playing triplets, do you mean picking out the notes in the chords using a triplet pattern, kind of like Crowder’s riff on Here Is Our King, or are you talking about a triplet strumming pattern? Anyway, thanks for the article and hope you don’t mind the long questions.


  2. I like what you got going on here. How do you even figure some of this stuff out (such as “with the pickup selector switch set between the bridge and middle pickups”)? Amazing.

    On the triplets, another variation I like to do is eighth note triplets. You’d count it like this:
    123-223-323-432 | 123-223…
    Eighth note triplets in 4/4 would give three “hits” per beat and 12 hits per measure.

    It also gives a totally different rhythm, but albeit cool in the right song.

  3. Hey Caleb,
    If doing something with more of a slapback style echo, I’ll usually set my delay to respond with one strong repeat, (about 66%-75% of the original sound) and have it trail off right after that. With delay time, I try to set the repeat so it is about double the tempo of the song… (so it fills in the gaps between my strums.) So if you have a tap tempo that lets you double the speed, you’ll be in good shape.

    As far as triplets, I was referring to strumming a triplet (in that sample), although you could pick arpeggios in a triplet pattern in different songs to create variety for a specific part. The beauty of a triplet is it lets you play a “counter rhythm” of sorts to what the drummer and bass player may be doing.
    Hey JP,
    As far as that tone, the reason I know what pickup setting it was set on was that I played that clip… 😉
    How do you pick out the pickup selector settings? Ya know, I wish I could tell you, but I think it’s just a skill you develop with your ear after listening to specific guitars and how they sound with their pickup selector switches set to different positions. Usually, Fender Strats and Teles are the most noticeable, but you can also pick out Les Pauls and semi-hollows too. A simple rule of thumb is bridge pickups tend to be a little higher in eq, and are described with words like “nasally, thin, or it cuts through better.” Neck pickups tend to be warmer, more full sounding, but can be a hair more muddy.

  4. Great post Gerry… I wonder what the “next” thing in worship guitar will be. What will the “post-Edge” era look like?

    Re: picking out pickup selector settings… it is a geek skill, to be sure. I used to keep slightly-used 9 volts around for my tube screamer. Fresh ones made it sound too brittle. I am a dork.

  5. Ha Ha, you may be a dork Tony, but at least you’ll be a dork with good tone! 😉

    Post Edge era… hmm, the one thing I do think is that church music will hopefully get more creative and experimental, specifically with tones. The only downside is that will require some pretty accomplished musicians, who are also experienced with computers. (I really see stuff like Ableton Live, Reason, and their successors slowly making their way into worship on a more widespread basis.)

  6. I am so grateful for this lesson (and your whole site!). I’ll be studying this for awhile, and then hopefully be able to use it in church. One thing I’m still trying to work out is how to know what “pattern” (like 7-8, 7-10, etc.) to play over what chords–I know everything is movable, but is there a handy way to know what to play over the 1-4-5 progression and minor chords?

  7. I really appreciate this website, I’m learning alot as an electric guitarist. I was wondering if you can post anything on delay effect pedals, and to make the most use out of them.

  8. The delay article is coming, I promise… It’s being written by Ugur Taner, an awesome guitar player from California, who’s a master on U2 tone…

  9. If you use a delay with a tap tempo you can sync the delay with any drummer, no matter how bad. When they slide off tempo a little, just tap it in again. Usually happens when they hit a big chorus and you start to expect it ;). Get yourself a DD5 or a DD20. There are others like the line6 as well but I haven’t used them. I use the same rig as Hillsong United – two delay pedals in series with one custom built outboard tap switch that sets the tempo on both at once. Jad uses two DD5s but I use a DD5 and a 20. You can get all kinds of wicked layered delay textures all in sync with the band. They learn to listen to you and keep in time with it, especially in the quiet sections when your laying down a sweet chimey rhythmic pad. Aaaah, the joy.

  10. hey i was curious how do you get the dotted eigth in your dd-5. i just purchased one and id like to know.
    i will be using layering it with my dl4.
    thanks lots!!!
    oh yeah. and more thing…when you tab in the tempo do you just tap it to 1 2 3 4
    or 1 3 do you know what i mean?

  11. Jay,
    I’ve got a dd-5 and I believe the dotted eighth setting is mode 9. You just set it there, tap on 1-2-3-4 and go! To get it to sound like the demo clips on here, though, you’ll need to turn your effect level up pretty high.


  12. What drum machine machine or software was used in making those clips? They sound really good.

  13. minus 1 machine.

  14. You know Brooks, it was the Drums on Demand module included in the Line6 Guitar Port Riff Works software. Riff Works is an awesome “Digital Sketchpad” for laying down rough ideas. You can create some great sounding rough demos with it.

  15. Hey, I just discovered Part 3 of the guitar riffs. Cool stuff…but how can I find Parts 1 and 2. I get off work in four hours and want to PLAY!

  16. great site! anyhow, just wanted to ask something that you might know. i have a delay that has a tap-tempo but doesn’t have the subdivision features (i.e dotted 8ths). how would i go about setting the dotted 8th note by using a tap-tempo. thanks!

  17. Rhoy,

    Tapping in that case is a little tricky. To do it, you need your drummer to set the tempo, then you need to tap as follows.

    1 y & uh 2 y & uh 3 y & uh 4 y & uh

    So you tap on one, then the & after 2. I’ve been able to do it before, but it takes a bit of practice.

  18. Hi Worships Guitar GUy! I’m trying to get the tab and the mp3 demo for this post but its not working. . THe linked garyleslie website seems to have expired. Any way you could get this back up? Thanks!

  19. Just a heads to let you know the links for the website tabs are dead.

  20. Gerry, the tab links are broken. I would love to get those, though.

  21. PLease Post The TABS AGAIN. Thanks

  22. Hello there – the links are still not working – would it be possible to restor them? regards

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: