Lessons > Metronomes

Metronomes

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Playing in time is the most overlooked skill for most guitarists. It is also the most important skill when recording or performing. It is all too easy to play without a metronome, but if you cannot play to a beat then you will struggle to record music. If you are planning to be in a band a metronome is the best investment that you can make.

A Metronome creates a constant pulse that is used to keep time. Digital metronomes are the most versatile as they allow you to set any tempo from 40bpm to 250bpm, although the digital beep may be irritating and there's usually no volume control. Drum machines and backing tracks can make good alternatives if you haven't got a metronome.

Playing Quarter Notes

Most music can be divided into groups of four beats, called bars. Each click of the metronome represents one beat. A note that lasts for one beat is called a quarter note and is represented by the crotchet symbol. Set your metronome to 75bpm and play the example below. Count out loud making sure each note lands on the click of the metronome.

E-----------------------------------------------
B-----------------------------------------------
G-----------------------------------------------
D-----------------------------------------------
A-----------------------------------------------
E------0---0---0---0--------0---0---0---0-------
-------1---2---3---4--------1---2---3---4

Playing Eighth Notes

An eighth note lasts for half of a beat. Therefore there are two eighth notes per beat and eight eighth notes in a bar. Eighth notes are represented by the quaver symbol. Set your metronome to 75bpm and play the example below. Count out loud for each pluck ("one and two and…"). The number should land on the click of the beat whilst the "and" should be between the clicks.

E-----------------------------------------------
B-----------------------------------------------
G-----------------------------------------------
D-----------------------------------------------
A-----------------------------------------------
E------0---0---0---0---0---0---0---0------------
-------1--and--2--and--3--and--4--and

E-----------------------------------------------
B-----------------------------------------------
G-----------------------------------------------
D-------------------------------5---7-----------
A------------------5---7---8--------------------
E------5---7---8--------------------------------
-------1--and--2--and--3--and---4--and

Playing Sixteenth Notes

A sixteenth note lasts for a quarter of a beat. Therefore there are four sixteenth notes in a beat and sixteen sixteenth notes in a bar. Sixteenth notes are represented by the semi-quaver symbol. Set your metronome to 60bpm and play the example below. Count out loud and accent the first note of each beat (marked in red).

E-----------------------------------------------
B-----------------------------------------------
G-----------------------------------------------
D-----------------------------------------------
A-----------------------------------------------
E-0--0--0--0--0--0--0--0--0--0--0--0--0--0--0--0
--1 -e -& uh -2- e -& uh -3- e- & uh -4- e- & uh

This next example plays through the A minor scale. Start off at 60bpm and when you can play flawlessly at that speed step it up 10bpm. Rinse, lather, repeat.

E-----------------------------------------------
B-----------------------------------------------
G-----------------------------------------------
D----------------------------------------5----7-
A------------------------5----7----8------------
E---------5----7----8---------------------------
----------1 ---e ---& --uh ---2 ---e ----& --uh

E-----------------------------------------7-----
B-------------------------6----8----10----------
G---------5----7----9---------------------------
D---9-------------------------------------------
A-----------------------------------------------
E-----------------------------------------------
----3 ----e ---& --uh ----4 ---e ----& --uh

Playing Triplets

A triplet is when a beat is divided equally into groups of three notes. Set your metronome to 75bpm and play the example below. Don't forget to count out loud.

E----------------------------------------------
B----------------------------------------------
G------------------------------------5---7---9-
D-------------------------5---7---9------------
A-------------5---7---8------------------------
E-5---7---8------------------------------------
--1 --2 --3 --1 --2 --3 --1 --2 --3 -1 --2 --3