For some reason most of the self-taught guitar players I know do not own a metronome. Whether they don’t understand the importance of being able to play in time and to tempo, or they think they can keep tempo just fine by tapping their foot, or they are just plain lazy, most self-taught guitar players do not practice with a metronome.
If you want to build speed, timing, and rhythm you need to practice with a metronome frequently. Once I started using one my chops started getting faster, cleaner, and more precise in just a few days. Yours can to.You can get a metronome for very cheap. I even put a link to buy one at the end of this post.
How to use your metronome:
Once you have a metronome you have to know how to use it. The first thing to remember is that you should start slow! You should be playing slow enough that you can hear every guitar note you pick cleanly. This means turn off your distortion so you can really hear how well you execute each note. There is no reason to be ashamed if you have to start practicing a lick at 60BPM, or even 40BPM. Start as slow as you need to. Practice the lick/song/scale at that tempo until you can play it comfortably multiple times. Then increase the speed by 4BPM and start again. Keep repeating until you can play it up to speed.
Counting beats and Note durations.
Most metronomes have different time signatures. I am just going to talk about standard 4/4 time. This means that there are four beats every measure (bar). The following durations apply to 4/4 time signature only.
Each beat is a quarter note. So every beep on your metronome you count a number up until 4. Once you count 4 beats the measure is over and you start over. So you count 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4,etc… and each number is a quarter note. So if you play a new note every time you say a number you are playing quarter notes
If every beat is a quarter note then that means every 2 beats is a half note. So if you play a note and hold it for two numbers you are playing half notes. So you would play on 1 and hold that note until 3 and play a new note on 3 and hold that until the 1 of the next beat. Or you could do the same thing but start on 2 and 4. You can start whenever you want as long as you are holding the notes fore 2 beats.
If a note 2 beats long makes a half note then what do 2 halves make? A whole! So a note 4 beats long is called a whole note. So if you play on 1 and hold it through beat 4 you are playing a whole note. So any note held for 4 beats is a whole note
Now for 8th notes. 8th notes are shorter in duration than quarter notes. If you but an “and” between every note then you will be playing 8th notes. So every time it beeps you count a number and between every number you say an “and”. So “1, and, 2,and, 3, and, 4, and, 1, and, 2, and, 3, and, 4, and etc…If you play a note every time you say a number and on every “and” you are playing 8th notes.
16th notes and 32nd notes are also common. But I won’t go into them now b/c they are pretty fast and you should be starting with the basics.
If you have any questions please post them to the “comments” section.
Here are a few metronomes for you to check out:
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