How To Practice Guitar With A Metronome (& Without One)
by Tom Hess
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Let me ask you a question:
Which group of guitarists improves their guitar playing most quickly?
Group #1: Those who rarely practice guitar with a metronome.
Group #2: Those who always (or almost always) practice guitar with a metronome.
The answer is... neither.
Yes, you read correctly.
When you practice guitar with a metronome it either improves your guitar playing or slows down your progress, depending on how you use it and when you use it.
Some guitar playing skills are always best when you practice guitar with a metronome (more on this below).
Others musical skills improve faster when you practice guitar in free time (without a metronome).
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The burning question you probably have right now is:
"At what tempo do I start practicing, and how often do I increase the metronome speed?"
Watch this video to find out the answer and practice guitar effectively:
What Happens When You Don't Practice Guitar With A Metronome?
If you don’t practice guitar with a metronome (or use it very rarely), you 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.
So how do you determine when you need to practice guitar with a metronome?
The answer depends on your specific guitar playing goals.
Your daily goals determine when you need to practice guitar with a metronome and how you must use it to improve your guitar playing.
Practice Guitar With A Metronome To Test Your Speed And Get Faster.
Here is something most guitar teachers will not tell you:
When you practice guitar with a metronome it does NOT help you build speed.
Yes, you read correctly.
The metronome 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 guitar to get fast:
(Want to learn more about fast guitar playing? Study this free guitar speed mini course to learn exactly what to do to build lightning-fast guitar speed.)
- 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.
How do you find your top speed?
It 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 practice guitar before you test yourself again.
Practice Guitar With A Metronome To Make Your Timing Rock-Solid And Become A Rhythm Guitar Playing Badass.
It's no secret that you play better in time when you practice guitar with a metronome.
But how do you know when your guitar playing is perfectly in time?
Your timing is perfect when you can make the metronome click “disappear”.
When you play precisely on top of the metronome click, you create a brief illusion that it has disappeared.
As you can see, the metronome is a very powerful tool for improving your guitar playing.
...there is a flip side.
If you use the metronome all the time (or almost all the time), it becomes harder to:
- Identify the precise causes of your guitar playing mistakes.
Many of your guitar technique challenges cannot be solved by metronome practice (even if you practice guitar at a very slow tempo). 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. (Also more on this below.)
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 always practice guitar metronome, you get used to guitar playing (and improvising) with 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).
So, what is the solution?
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, practice guitar without worrying about playing in time or keeping rhythm.
Practice guitar 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 that used to be unplayable for you.