When I first started getting serious about guitar, I spent a lot of time on UG and got a lot of suggestions to "practice with a metronome". At the time, I didn't really know why or how doing to helped you improve. In my mind it was just a magical click track that made you better. I would chose a riff and I'd put on the metronome. If I could play it at that speed, I'd up the tempo. I'd repeat that until my playing was incredibly rushed and sloppy, and then continue to play it at the "maximum speed" for days. I'd make it my goal each day to finish at a faster tempo than the last. After a while of this, it became apparent that I wasn't improving much.

I'm just posting this thread to say NEVER PRACTICE THIS WAY. A lot of you already know this, but I know there are tons of beginners or even intermediate guitarists out there still doing this.

I did the "21 day challenge" (see stickies) a few months ago and it all became clear. If you are ever practicing at your "maximum speed", you're doing something wrong. In fact, I'd venture to say that in the beginning, the slower you set the metronome the better. I've found that the best way to improve is the play at the same slow speed for days at a time, and only increase it in increments of 3 or 4 bpm per day AT MOST. The idea is that your body becomes so accustomed to playing the song perfectly that it slowly adapts to the speed over time and it becomes second nature. Like boiling frogs. I know this isn't any new, groundbreaking discovery, but I promise you, if you practice this way, you WILL improve as much as you want.

tl;dr: practice
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Last edited by QuantumMechanix at Jan 31, 2012,
I set tempo randomly...sometimes fast, sometimes slow just to change things up, but im practicing to keep time not to increase speed skills...im beyond that point of caring about how fast i can solo or do rhythm. Playing with a click track or metronome can backfire when you pair up with a drummer who isnt consistant lol...Had a drummer who was decent as an in the pocket drummer, but as soon as fills came in the whole tempo went in another direction...this happened at gigs lol...If tap tempo delay was involved the delay repeats ended up having to be retapped.
As well, I play sometime fast, sometimes slow but never at my maximum speed but just under my maximum speed (20 bpm under my maximum or 10 if the lick is really easy).

An exemple : the fast riff (about 120 bpm I thing) of the intro of Fade to Black (kirk's part) in sixteenth. I did it for about 20 days at 100 bpm ... after these days I was able to do this lick at 120 bpm easily (I can even play it at 130 bpm).

I do not know if it's a coincidence but it works
"Sans la musique, la vie serait une erreur" Nietzsche