Been playing consistently for a little while now (9 months or so), and have just not really utilized a metronome. I wanted to get some input to make sure im not misinterpreting the best way to use it. Basically, when people are referring to say 60 bpm, are they referencing 1/4 notes or 1/16th notes typically? Here's an example at the 11 min mark:

I guess thats 1/16th notes, but i took it to mean if you set a metronome at 60bpm to play a scale then you would usually pluck on the beat as 1/4 notes. I guess you can adjust however suits your need, but since I don't really have any musical background or knowledge I wanted to ask the community their thoughts, opinions.

Here's another video that at the 3min mark he says to start at 60bpm and work your way up...but once again, is he talking about 1/4 notes, 1/16th etc? Because 1/4 notes at 60bpm, thats painfully slow compared to the end goal.

Basically, if someone says they can play or I should be able to play something at 160bpm...to what are they referencing (1 time on the beat...or 4 or etc?)

Sorry I know this is a very basic and probably stupid question, but I just wanted get guitarists input on the subject. Thanks in advance!
In the first video the metronome is set to 60bpm, that means the click is quarter notes at that tempo. However the lick he is playing is sextuplets (24th notes), six notes per beat.
In the second video there is no click to refer to, but again he is playing a lick in groupings of six notes, so I would assume it's supposed to be sextuplets, six notes per beat.
Basically the tempo of the metronome is one thing, but then you need to know whether you're playing eighths, sixteenths, sextuplets, whatever at that tempo. I don't know if those guys mention that in the videos, but it would be helpful if they did so!
The one thing that helped me to really understand the metronome was this one simple thing.

The metronome is the drummer. Fundamentally it is that simple.

I'll show you this straight forward Metallica song as an example:

What you're looking for to find your appropriate bpm is how the drummer is keeping time. For the entirety of the song he is using the kick and snare to keep time. This song it is very easy to spot, and for a lot of songs it will be easy to spot. Other more technical songs sometimes it wont be so easy, especially if you start getting in to progressive stuff.
Generally though you want to look for the kick/snare/hi-hat. For your conventional rock kind of stuff though it's pretty straightforward. Set the metronome so it's essentially being the drummer and that's how you know the bpm.

Even if you're learning a fast solo that might seem crazy intimidating and you're thinking how on earth do i play that to a metronome then there's no need to worry. It's exactly the same. You'll find interestingly enough that during guitar solos that's when the drums remain at their most basic and steady pace so the guitarist can actually keep time. If you take a look at this ridiculous solo for example:

3:00 in those drums are very very straight forward. It couldn't possibly be more simple. It's just the hi-hat. Your metronome becomes that hi-hat.

That's the gist of how to use a metronome. I'm no genius with the theoretical aspects of music, but if you know the basics then a metronome is an invaluable asset and is that simple to use.
Last edited by vayne92 at Jan 20, 2017,
The metronome is typically set to the beat, which in most cases is a quarter note in 4/4. Unless you are playing something at half tempo or practicing a jazz swing feel, you can just assume that "bpm" pretty much always refers to a quarter when you're in any time signature ending in 4 (4/4, 3/4, 2/4). If you're in a triplet-based signature (3/8, 6/8, 12/8), then the beat is a dotted quarter (1 + a 2 + a). And of course if you're in half time (2/2), the beat is half note.

Basically the click is where you place a count.

The metronome is there to supply the tempo and nothing else. The challenge and benefit of using a metronome is that it forces you to play the rhythm within the tempo. Unlike backing tracks, metronomes make you feel and play the "groove" by yourself, which is extremely good practice.
Last edited by cdgraves at Jan 22, 2017,