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 brand Music is Win. His insightful, uncomplicated guitar lessons and gear demonstrations along with entertaining, satirical content about life as a musician receive tens of millions of video views per month across social media. Tyler is also the creator of the extremely popular online guitar learning platform, Guitar Super System. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Tyler has been teaching guitar for over a decade and operates a production studio in Nashville, TN.