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Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitar Lesson: An Introduction to Polyrhythms


Andy McKee is widely considered to be one of the most prolific artists in the world of modern acoustic guitar playing. Alongside guitarists like Michael Hedges, Preston Reed, and Billy McLaughlin, Andy has pioneered countless techniques on the acoustic guitar that have taken the instrument to new heights and completely reshaped the way in which the world perceives the role and capabilities of the acoustic guitar.


In 2006, Andy’s unique use of groundbreaking techniques like two-handing tapping, slap harmonics, and percussion on the guitar body to create various polyrhythms and the impression of an entire orchestra emanating from a mere six strings caught the world’s attention. Since then, Andy has continued to transform the landscape of modern acoustic music, and through his masterful artistry and passion for education, has influenced acoustic guitarists on a global level.


In this online acoustic guitar lesson, Andy teaches one of the fundamental concepts that defines his approach to playing—the use of polyrhythms. He begins by explaining what polyrhythms are and provides a few percussive exercises that you can practice without a guitar in order to begin digesting the concept and developing independence between hands.


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play acoustic fingerstyle guitar from a master musician like Andy McKee? Try some free online acoustic guitar lessons now!


“In modern fingerstyle acoustic guitar playing, maybe more so than most other guitar styles, you’ll often find yourself doing two different very different things with each hand,” Andy explains. “As such, it’s very important to develop independence between your two hands, and to be able to perform polyrhythms.”


What are polyrhythms?

At this point, many of you may be wondering what polyrhythms are. Polyrhythm is the simultaneous use of two or more rhythms that are not necessarily immediately perceived as deriving from one another or presented as a simple manifestation of the same meter. For example, performing a set of two eighth notes against a set of three triplets is a very common polyrhythm.


“Usually with the guitar, we fret the notes we want to play in the left hand and strum or pick the notes with our right hand,” explains Andy. “However, with modern fingerstyle guitar playing, sometimes we’ll do completely different things with each hand, and it’s important to get to a place where that feels comfortable.”


To learn more about polyrhythms, how their utilized in modern fingerstyle acoustic guitar techniques, and how to integrate them into your playing, dive into this online acoustic guitar lesson from Andy McKee:


An Introduction to Polyrhythms with Andy McKee:




Have you always wanted to learn how to play acoustic fingerstyle guitar? Through our comprehensive acoustic guitar lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Andy McKee, and get personal feedback on your playing.


Andy’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner guitar to advanced performance techniques, including two-hand tapping, slap harmonics, and percussion on the guitar body. Plus, you’ll learn many of Andy’s unique original compositions and imaginative covers. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as guitarists and musicians!


Sample some free music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitar Lesson: Alternating Bass Using The Thumb with Andy McKee

Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitar Lesson: Linear Tapping with Andy McKee

Guitar Lesson: Opening Up the Neck Using Triads with Guthrie Trapp




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