How To Calculate Delay To The Song Tempo And Sound Pro On Guitar
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If you use delay on guitar (or any other instrument), but the delay is not in time with the tempo (the BPM of your song) ...
... then your guitar playing will sound messy and muddy.
That’s because, even if YOU are playing in time...
... not having the delay in time with the tempo makes you ‘sound’ out of time.
(At least on all the parts where you use delay on guitar.)
But there is a solution.
Here it is:
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Instead – do what all good players do to sound pro on guitar:
Calculate delay to the song tempo.
(i.e. The BPM of your song.)
If this sounds hard, don’t worry:
There is a very simple way to calculate delay to the song tempo and sound great when you use delay on guitar.
Watch this video that shows you how:
Here is the direct link to the Delay & Frequency calculator mentioned in the video.
Here are a few more advanced tips for how to sound pro on guitar when you calculate delay to the song tempo:
Tip #1 For Sounding Pro When You Set Delay In Time With The Tempo: Make Sure Your Playing Is In Time To Begin With
But you won’t sound pro on guitar (even when you set delay in time with the tempo) if YOU are playing out of time with the BPM of your song.
Here is how to practice playing guitar in time (that will prepare you for using delay in time with the tempo and help you sound pro on guitar):
First, train your timing without your guitar. For example, clap the rhythm of your guitar part to the metronome click. This makes it much easier to hear and feel when you are in sync with the BPM of your song (and when you are not).
Then, when you pick up the guitar and calculate delay to the song tempo, you’ll sound pro on guitar without much effort.
Second, practice playing with bad timing on purpose (for a few seconds at a time). That means: intentionally drag your playing behind the beat or rush ahead of it. Doing this makes you pay greater attention to the beat and helps to play in sync with the BPM of your song when you ARE trying to keep the sound of your delay in time with the tempo. This is a counterintuitive way to make yourself sound pro on guitar.
Third, record yourself and listen back in headphones. Ask yourself if you really sound pro on guitar or not. (Better yet – have a pro guitar player evaluate your playing.) This will help you refine that aspect of your guitar playing quickly.
Tip #2 For Sounding Pro When You Set Delay In Time With The Tempo: Keep Your Hands In Tight Sync
When you use delay on guitar, every little noise that enters your playing becomes more audible. That’s why, if you want to sound pro on guitar, you’d better have your hands totally in sync for each note.
Ironically, that means you should spend a lot of time practicing without delay on guitar. Instead, use regular (dry) distortion with no other effects. It’s much easier to keep delay in time with the song tempo) AFTER you’ve trained your hands to stay in sync.
How do you tighten up your 2-hand synchronization? Watch this video and I’ll show you:
Question: “Tom Hess, are you saying I should never use delay on guitar while practicing?”
Answer: No. Use delay on guitar after you’ve mastered the technical elements of the lick you are practicing. Then you can practice keeping delay in time with the tempo (the BPM of your song). Also use delay on guitar when are getting ready for a recording session. Then you should follow the steps I gave you above to calculate delay to the song tempo and practice playing tight.
But do NOT use delay on guitar while you are building speed (or refining guitar technique) with the licks you are practicing. Doing things in that order will enable you to sound pro on guitar.
Tip #3 For Sounding Pro When You Set Delay In Time With The Tempo: Improve Your Articulation And Pick Attack
The stronger your pick attack – the easier it is to keep your playing clean and sync your delay in time with the tempo (BPM of your song). That’s because you hear fewer noises around each note... and the sound of delay on guitar generally stays in sync with the BPM of the song.
Here is how to practice to make your articulation tighter, so you sound pro on guitar:
- Play unplugged. When you practice unplugged, your ‘intention’ should be to make the unplugged notes as loud as they would sound with an amp. This will expose any weaknesses in your pick attack and force you to make it stronger. To do this, you’ll have to practice a bit slower than the speeds at which you normally play. But when you turn distortion on – you’ll be able to play a bit faster (and you’ll sound pro on guitar with no effort at all.)
- Reverse your picking. When you practice guitar licks on a single string, start them on an upstroke instead of a downstroke. That will force your articulation to improve and thus - help you to sound pro on guitar when you are trying to keep melodies with delay in time with tempo of a song.
Watch this video for more tips on how improve your articulation and sound pro on guitar:
Tip #4 For Sounding Pro When You Set Delay In Time With The Tempo: Keep Your Vibrato In Sync With The BPM Of Your Song.
Believe it or not, keeping delay in time with the tempo of the song when you do vibrato is very hard.
That’s because most guitarists’ vibrato is not in sync with the tempo of the song even when they aren’t using delay on guitar. So, when they do use delay - it only exaggerates the problem.
Practice synching your vibrato to be in sync with the BPM of your song without delay first.
Here is how to do it:
As you practice keeping your vibrato in time with the tempo (the BPM of your song), remember this:
The faster the BPM of your song, the wider the vibrato needs to be to sound good. That’s because if your vibrato is narrow and fast – it sounds nervous. So, fast & narrow vibrato usually won’t make you sound pro on guitar even if you correctly calculate delay to the song tempo.
Conversely, the slower the BPM of your song, the narrower the vibrato should be to sound good. That’s because slow and wide vibrato sounds more like a series of slow bends rather than ‘vibrato’.
Make sure your vibrato sounds pro on guitar even without delay. And after you’ve mastered regular vibrato, calculate delay to the song tempo the right way and practice your vibrato with delay on guitar.
Question: “Tom Hess, when I do vibrato (either with or without delay on guitar), I struggle to get good sustain. Any tips?”
Answer: Fret notes right next to the frets and use stronger pick attack. These 2 things will help to give more sustain. Also, follow the steps I lay out in this video:
Tip #5 For Sounding Pro When You Set Delay In Time With The Tempo: Focus On Controlling Excess String Noise
The more excess noise there is in your guitar playing, the harder is to sound pro on guitar – period. And that goes double when you use try to keep delay in time with the tempo.
That’s because – just like in the case of sloppy 2-hand synchronization – excess noise makes delay sound messy.
Where does excess string noise come from in your guitar playing?
Sloppy noise comes from the lower (in pitch) strings, from the higher in pitch strings and from notes bleeding together.
Here is how to eliminate each type of string noise (to make it easier to sound pro on guitar).
- use thumb muting to mute the thicker strings. As the name implies, rest your picking hand’s thumb on the thicker strings and slide the thumb up and down to keep your playing clean.
- use the fretting hands index finger to mute the higher (in pitch) strings, like this:
And as far as controlling bleeding between strings?
The answer is to master the finger rolling technique in your fretting hand.
This video shows you how:
You now know a few simple ways to level-up your guitar playing. The next step in your quest to play guitar like a pro is to develop all the OTHER skills you need to play guitar the way you’ve always wanted.
I can help you with this in my personalized Breakthrough Guitar Lessons.
Unlike some other lessons (or courses), I create lessons specifically for YOU, based on your skill level and goals. And I give you an almost unlimited amount of feedback between lessons to help you level-up your guitar playing FAST. I’ve helped hundreds of my students become pro-level players and can help you do the same.To learn more, click the button on the banner below.
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