December 12, 2023

Using a metronome when learning to play guitar

This week we look at how you use a metronome to help with your timing while learning to play the guitar.

A metronome is a device that makes a sound to indicate beats so you can keep in time when you are playing the guitar. A metronome keeps perfect time so that you can learn the songs you love properly. Also metronomes are adjustable, meaning you can make them beat faster or slower. This lets you learn a song at a slower pace before building it up to full speed.

Older metronomes were like wind up clocks that had a swinging pendulum and were generally powered by a spring. On the end of the pendulum was a weight that could be moved to change the tempo (tempo is a musical term that basically means speed). Modern metronomes are electronic and generally battery powered. They are operated by pressing buttons or turning a dial. Older metronomes make a clicking sound like a clock whereas more modern metronomes generally make a pinging sound to denote each beat.

Metronomes are very important for all musicians because they will keep your playing in time. Nearly all modern rock recordings are made with a metronome and most dedicated professionals practice with one. The reason for this is that without a constant beat it is easy for a musician to go out of time. This also applies to practice as you should be trying to play in time as much as possible.

Newer metronomes can do some pretty amazing things like playing differing time signatures like 3/4, 6/8, and 7/8 for example. They can also be set to make different sounds depending on the beat. For example you can set most newer metronomes to have a different sound at the start of a bar so you always know where beat one is.

When using a metronome you should push yourself but practice with tempos that you can handle. This will make you a better player — though you may find it difficult at first it is something that will pay dividends in the future.

Using a metronome is very important when you are practicing but there are times when you should play without it. When you are trying to be creative or if you are experimenting with different things there is no real need to use a metronome.

As you can see a metronome is a very useful tool to have in your “learn to play guitar” toolbox and there are many good online metronomes you can use for free.
We also include a software based metronome in the Full Jamorama Beginners to Advanced course if you are interested.

Tune in next week when we provide some great Tech Tips about looking after your prized guitar to keep it in the best condition for years of playing.

Learn more about Jon Coursey on his Google profile.

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