How To Practice Guitar Effectively With And Without A Metronome
by Tom Hess
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Which group of guitar players are you in?
Group #1: You rarely use a metronome when you practice guitar. You think that metronome practice is boring and would rather practice things that are fun.
Group #2: You always (or almost always) practice with a metronome to improve your timing and increase your guitar speed.
Fact is, metronome practice can either improve your guitar playing or slow down your progress, depending on how you use it and when you use it.
Some guitar playing skills are always best practiced with a metronome (more on this below).
Others musical skills improve faster when you practice them in free time (without a metronome).
Still other things should be practiced with a metronome some of the time and without the metronome the rest of the time for maximum progress in the shortest amount of time.
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When you know which musical skills fall into what category, you become a better guitarist a lot faster and guitar practice becomes much more enjoyable.
Watch this video to see how to use the metronome correctly to become a better guitarist a lot faster:
When you spend too much time practicing with a metronome, your progress can slow down. This happens because you create weaknesses in your guitar playing (without realizing it) that you have to waste time undoing later.
Some guitar playing skills are always best practiced with a metronome (more on this below). Other musical skills improve faster when you practice them in free time (without a metronome). Other things should be practiced with a metronome some of the time and without the metronome the rest of the time.
On the other hand, if you don’t use a metronome while practicing (or use it very rarely), you will usually struggle to:
Play guitar in time. When your guitar playing lacks rhythmic control, your playing doesn't sound good. You can always feel that something sounds wrong when you play, but it's hard to tell what the mistake is… this is very frustrating.
- Play creative rhythm guitar riffs accurately and in time. The metronome helps you develop a great sense of rhythm and play creative guitar riffs that sound badass. When you don’t use a metronome, it’s hard to make your rhythm guitar playing sound good.
If you use the metronome all the time (or almost all the time), you will usually struggle to:
- Know exactly what holds you back from becoming a badass guitarist. Many of your guitar technique challenges cannot be solved by metronome practice (even if you practice very slowly). Sometimes you must turn the metronome off, and practice way slower than even the slowest tempo on the metronome… without worrying about playing in time. (More about this below.)
Eliminate bad habits from your guitar technique. The metronome can distract you from undoing bad habits and training new, better habits into your technique. (More on this below.)
So how do you determine when you need to practice with a metronome? The answer depends on your specific guitar playing goals. Your daily guitar practice goals determine when you need to use a metronome and how you must use it to improve your guitar playing.
Use A Metronome To Test Your Guitar Speed And Know Exactly What Is Holding You Back From Playing Faster. Here Is How:
Your metronome does NOT help you build guitar speed. It only measures your current level of speed, so you know how well your guitar practice methods are working for you.
To improve your guitar speed, you need to:
- Develop the right guitar technique habits at super slow speeds without the metronome. Don’t worry, it’s quite simple to do this. Watch this video to learn how to practice to play guitar fast:
(Want to learn a proven guitar practice method that lets you build insane guitar speed? Study this free guitar speed mini course to learn exactly what to do to play guitar really, REALLY fast.)
Use the metronome to test how well you have mastered your guitar technique. Here is how:
Find the top speed at which you can play the guitar lick you are practicing and track that speed over time. Your top speed is the tempo at which you can play something 1-2 times without making mistakes. If you are unhappy with your guitar speed, you know you need to do more practice before you test yourself again.
Use A Metronome To Make Your Timing Rock-Solid And Become A Rhythm Guitar Playing Badass. Here Is How:
Metronome practice improves your timing on guitar.
You know that your timing is perfect when you can make the metronome click “disappear”. Here is what this means: When you play precisely on top of the metronome click, you no longer hear the click and create a brief illusion that it has disappeared.
Practice Guitar Without A Metronome To Make Your Guitar Solos Sound A Lot More Creative. Here Is Why (And How) To Do It:
When you practice everything with a metronome, you get used to playing (and improvising) in long streams of 16th notes, triplets and quarter notes. This can make your solos sound boring (even when you are playing all the right notes).
You can make your guitar solos sound a lot more creative by using rubato.
Rubato refers to intentionally playing lead guitar melodies without a clear rhythm to build dramatic musical tension. When you integrate rubato with your other lead guitar techniques, your solos begin to sound truly incredible!
Watch this video to see and hear how to play with rubato and make your guitar licks sound killer (start watching from 0:58 - 2:05)
Check out this free guitar solo lesson to see and hear many examples of rubato that are very easy to play and make your lead guitar solos drip with intense emotion.
Practice Guitar Without A Metronome To Improve Your Guitar Technique Very Quickly. Here Is Why (And How) To Do It:
To improve your guitar technique, you need to practice without worrying about playing in time or keeping rhythm. You need to practice as slowly as it takes to move your hands correctly and train efficient guitar technique habits.
After you establish a correct habit without a metronome, use a metronome to integrate it into your guitar playing and practice playing in time. This is very similar to testing your guitar technique when building your guitar speed.
Want to build A LOT of guitar speed quickly? Check out this free guitar speed mini course that tells you exactly what to do to play guitar really fast and easily play the most challenging guitar licks and solos you used to think were unplayable for you.