#1
As the title says, I'm having some trouble playing with the metronome. I'm by no means new to music, just new to guitar. I know how it works and stuff, just having some trouble playing along on the guitar. I'm trying to play a song that has some 8th notes then a rest on every other beat. Is there something I can do to improve? Or something that just improves as I get more experienced? I used to play saxophone, so I know how it works, but it's been a little while so I am a little rusty when it comes to sheet music and playing on beat.

But thanks in advance, and advice is much appreciated!
#2
I never used one, but I know of certain tricks you can do to help improve your time keeping. It's important to remember that the metronome is just that. A time keeping device, not a speed building device.

Try firing it up at a sensible speed - perhaps somewhere in the 80-120bpm range - and playing a simple rhythm part along with it as precisely as you can. Once you've developed a natural feel for the tempo, the next step is to slow down the metronome in small increments until you find that limit beyond which the tempo no longer makes sense.

The skill of maintaining a constant tempo hinges largely on your ability to guess when the next click is going to happen and correcting yourself whenever one of your guesses fails to match up with the truth provided by the metronome.

You'll discover that, as the clicks get further and further apart, the margin for error gets a lot wider. Therein lies the challenge...

There are other variations and exercises you can do.

Try using the click as an offbeat so that the clicks represent the ands between the main beats rather than the beats themselves. All you have to do is convince yourself that the beats are falling where you say they are, and not where the clicks occur!
#3
It helps to count the beat as you play. Let me know if you don't know what I mean and I will be happy to elaborate. You might try tapping your foot as well, but I tend to prefer bobbing my head since it doesn't move the guitar around (if you're sitting).
#4
are you good at tapping the beat with your hands on a tabletop or something (sounds simple, but some people are just rhythmically challenged and need to learn it)? if you can do that, then your rhythmic sense is not the problem, but rather your technique. lots of ways this can happen. in the picking hand, maybe your upstrokes are weaker than your downstrokes, causing an imbalance in feel and throwing off your tempo. in the fretting hand, maybe your ring and pinky fingers are weak and can't fret things with precise timing.
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#5
set your met to 8th notes. most mets have a subdivison feature. if not, set your met at twice the tempo you actually want to practice at and that'll be the 8th notes of that tempo. Maybe add accents on the down beats if needed.
#6
Keep your picking hand moving up and down, even when it's not actually picking.
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#7
I found counting the beat out loud while playing helped me a lot (1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and). But it can be difficult to play and count at the same time as you are sort of multi-tasking. I only did it so I could start to feel what it is like to play rhythmically, then I relied more on foot tapping. It's very difficult to pick or strum a note off beat if you are counting. I will always hit that note when I say "one".

My problem with the metronome was that I would listen for the click and try to line that up with what I play, but of course if you listen for the click you will always be behind the beat by the time you react. You need to anticipate the beat, and the only way to do that is to tune into the beat. Bopping your head, tapping your foot, counting along, etc...

Also, let your strumming hand (normally right hand) lead. That might sound odd, but your strumming hand should be strumming, picking, fingerpicking, whatever it is you do, in time on the beat. The left hand imposes chord shapes over what the right hands playing. I've only just overcome the incorrect mentality of letting my left hand lead which in itself leads to poor timing and an amateurish sound. Little hard to explain, but it will eventually make sense.
Last edited by gweddle.nz at Jun 6, 2016,
#9
When you mention that you are "rusty" when it comes to playing on beat, is this in relation to only playing guitar or are you ok when it comes to keeping time in general? If keeping time is itself a problem then it might be a good idea to spend some time practicing keeping time with a metronome without the guitar at first. You can do this by singing/humming or clapping the guitar rhythm with the metronome to internalize the way the rhythm syncs up with the metronome. If you can't feel the way the rhythm fits with the metronome it will be next to impossible to play it.

The next step would be to mute the strings with your fretting hand and just play the rhythm part on its own without worrying about playing/changing chords.

Then finally put chords and rhythm all together along with the metronome.

Working through it in stages will allow you to focus your attention to the metronome click and get in sync with it. If you're new to guitar then trying to keep time with a metronome and strum and switch chords might be a bit overwhelming to try to practice all at once.
#10
Try picking softer. When students can tap the beat but can't pick the strings usually I see they are too stiff and jerky in their picking motion.

I tell students to play quietly and this usually automatically helps them lose the stiff picking technique and improve their timing.
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#11
I have trouble keeping time with the metronome but I think that's normal at this early stage. Sometimes I lose the beat, lose my place or miss the beginning of a measure. Often I can play something fluidly without an external beat but struggle when I try to keep time. I've been starting free-form to learn the pattern, then trying to sync it to a timed beat. I'm not sure if that's right or wrong.

I think I need to spend more time practicing with a metronome (as I'm now doing). My thought is that if I can't play it in time, I can't play it. I read somewhere that guitar is 50% melody and 50% rhythm. To my ears, you need both halves.
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Last edited by Luxion at Jan 1, 2017,
#12
Def try a drum track because it gives you the notes in between so you can relax a bit and let it come natural. Then you can use a metronome and you should be fine. In the end if you have timing with drum track and with smart phones you can always find one then you don't really need a metronome anyways.
#13
King__chubby Try to play some scales and licks between the beats of a metronome. so this is a rhythm - 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and. So play a note on each AND and that will train your brains to feel rhythm better. I'm professional guitar player, and I can tell you that this exercise also helps a lot with synchronizing your left and right hand when you play. If you want more professional tips, contact me. I've got 70 dollar month program to teach you guitar. I build a personal training system for you and become a personal professional guitar coach for you for one month.
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Last edited by tonymetal1 at Aug 30, 2016,
#14
Quote by tonymetal1
King__chubby Try to play some scales and licks between the beats of a metronome. so this is a rhythm - 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and. So play a note on each AND and that will train your brains to feel rhythm better. I'm professional guitar player, and I can tell you that this exercise also helps a lot with synchronizing your left and right hand when you play. If you want more professional tips, contact me. I've got 70 dollar month program to teach you guitar. I build a personal training system for you and become a personal professional guitar coach for you for one month.
if you want contact me here - *link removed by moderator*


5!
#15
I've played in a band that uses a keyboard for a drum machine for the past 4 years. I still have trouble with a metronome or click track. No trouble at all with drum machine, and after that long using it my timing is very good. If I switch over now to a human drummer he'll drive me crazy. I've done this before. Played with a drum machine in the 80's, went to a band with a drummer and it was almost like starting over, it took me a month to get used to a drummer again, because people who have not used a metronome or drum machine have horrible timing.

If you can, try a drum machine, just the simple one on a standard electronic keyboard will do fine. It adds the other background drum parts you normally hear when playing in a band, and is a lot easier to play along with. Look around, I find cheap keyboards at yard sales all the time, but have only found one decent one recently. Didn't have the money. One of the cheap smaller ones would work, but I want it for playing keyboards also and I want full size keys, and a fairly decent range. So one of the 2 foot long kids units just won't do what I want it to do. I found a nice one a couple of weeks ago, full size one, basically a newer model of the one we use onstage, unfortunately we hadn't played recently so I was too broke...

Check around though, I've seen good deals at pawn shops, and now and then I see one at a yard sale for $20 or so.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...