Metronome Secrets for Guitar – 1/4

Welcome to part one of this 4-part series on metronome secrets for guitar. Over the course of these articles I’ll be covering lots of different and interesting ways to use the metronome to improve your time-keeping, groove and technique. This will be a nice intro for those new to this tool, and a nice refresher with some creative new ideas for those who are already metroprone.

First off…

…go and buy one! It doesn’t matter if it’s an old wooden one or a fancy new electronic one, they all do the same job. You can download free metronome apps for most smart phones, or download free metronome programs for your computer. There is literally no excuse for not owning a metronome!

I am constantly losing and re-finding my metronomes, so I’ve ended up accumulating  ton of different ones. Here are my favourites:

  • For general use, the Korg MA -30.

No Guitar? No problem!

Clap in time with the metronome. When you lock just right, your hand-claps will drown out the click and the metronome will sound like it’s disappeared. If you deviate from the pulse, you’ll hear the click ‘poke out’ either side of your hand clap.

While you do this (and while you do any metronome exercise) make sure to tap your foot in time with the click. You can tap on every beat, just on the 2 &4, or even just on the 1…but make sure you keep that foot going. It’ll develop into a constant, physical connection with the pulse – your own built in metronome – something that comes in handy in a lot of situations you might not expect (any kind of playing, sight-reading, transcription etc…).

Speed King

The metronome is a fantastic tool for improving your speed and technical facility on the guitar. I like to take a lick, start it really slow and gradually increase the metronome speed until it’s stretching the limits of my technique. Over time, I’ll be able to play it faster and faster…It’s important to start slow to develop relaxed control and good muscle memory.

In this video I take a blues lick and gradually bump up the tempo. In personal practice, I’ll increase the metronome 4-8bpm each time. To save time on the demo, I bump it up in larger increments (10-20bpm) from starting down at 70bpm and stretching up to 200.
Make sure to check out  2:20, where I base a whole solo around the lick and its variations.

Slow Downer

Another great trick is to slow the part down. Sure, that funk part sounds great at 120bpm, but can you play it at 80bpm…or 50bpm? Not only does playing slowly give you more space to focus on your sound, technique and note choice, it’s also a serious workout for your time. Making a quick part feel funky at a slow tempo is really tough and will help you develop a really professional, mature groove.
One of my absolute favourite guys for this is Robbie Mcintosh – this guy is a wonderful player! Check out his solo at 2:48, it’s a masterclass in restraint and taste.

For more Robbie Mcintosh, check out http://www.robbiemcintosh.com/.

For more metronome secrets for guitar, check out PART 2/4 coming soon!
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