Metronome Studies | Hub Guitar

Metronome Studies

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Need a metronome; should coordinate a playlist on the metronome; maybe take out the part about slowing it down?

Hi. This is Hub Guitar.

If you want to get good at the guitar, you're almost certainly going to have to spend some time with the metronome.

Without the metronome, it is unlikely that your time will improve significantly. You can get some rhythm practice in by playing over backing tracks, but the metronome is a better tool because it lets you focus only on your time. You can also practice with other musicians, and that might help--but only if you play with people who have spent time with the metronome.

We're going to do a very typical funky chord pattern here. Funk is great for working on rhythm because rhythm is so essential to funk music. There are a lot of challenging sixteenth note patterns. You'll get strong by lifting heavier weights, and your rhythm will improve faster by working with increasingly difficult rhythms--as long as you're up to the challenge.

Here's the groove. I'm going to set a metronome to 100. It's okay to practice rhythm slowly. In fact it's usually better. You should practice slow more than half of the time. So we are going to start with a metronome at 100, and there're going to be quarter notes clicking.

So this is a two measure pattern. One measure is the groove, and the other measure is an empty space. Once you've got the time down, you can start throwing some fills into that empty space. We are going to set the metronome to 50, which is basically a simulation of a metronome that's playing 2&4. So a lot of metronome don't really have that many features, you can just cut the tempo in half, if you want cut the beats in half that you're playing to. We are going to throw in couple licks after the groove in that empty measure. This is a good exercise because it takes your concentration away from the rhythm. The challenge is to keep a firm grip on the rhythm even when you're thinking about other things. You'll know you've got it right if you can always land back on that first chord exactly on time. You'll probably notice that if you bite off more than you can chew when you're playing the fill, you'll end up off when you come back to the first beat of the groove.

So start slowly, fill just a few notes at a time.

Once you've got this down, you can change the metronome to only click on the downbeat. So once again, all you've gotta do is cut the metronome's tempo in half to 25, but then we are going to count to make sure that one is lined up with that click.

When I did that I had to track 4 beats in my head, but the metronome only gave me the feedback for 1. That means I'm starting to keep the beat in my head, which is where I want it to be.

Ask any player with solid time how they got it, and the answer is usually: “the metronome.” Although we may be aware of the importance of this work, we neglect it. How can anyone enjoy spending an hour fixated on the dull beat of the infernal clickbox?

The benefits of this exercise outweigh the costs. With patience, your time improves, which makes your playing better.

In this lesson we will practice a simple groove along with the metronome clicking four. Once we can perform it consistently with the click, we’ll reduce the rate of clicking, keeping the tempo the same. This puts our focus to the test.

Let’s start by creating a simple groove. Funky grooves are excellent for this because they are both repetitive and complex.

The Funk Groove

Let’s set our metronome to click quarter notes at 100 BPM, and play this example several times. Notice that there is an empty measure after the groove. Having good time is just as important when you are not playing as it is when you are playing.

This groove might seem pretty simple. The challenge isn’t in the groove; it’s in the time. It’s difficult to focus on rhythm if you’re worried about playing a difficult part. The exercises themselves are simple to understand but difficult to master.

Funk Groove Fill Example

Once mastered, you can do this exercise with any groove or lick. You can also fill the space in measure 2 with a lick, such as this:

Metronome Exercises

  1. Play the funk groove (no fill) with the metronome clicking four at 100 BPM.
  2. Change the metronome to 50 BPM. The tempo hasn’t changed; your metronome is clicking beats 1 & 3. Beats 2 & 4 are silent. Continue to play the groove at the same tempo as before.
  3. With the metronome still on 50 BPM, change your orientation so that you are treating those two clicks as beats 2 & 4. Again, play the groove to the same tempo.
  4. Set the metronome to 25 BPM. As before, the actual tempo remains the same; we are reducing the amount of clicks to one per measure. We’ll play the same groove, with the “click” falling on “1” of each measure.
  5. With the metronome still set to 25 BPM, we’ll consider this click to be the “2” of each measure and continue playing.
  6. With the metronome still set to 25 BPM, we’ll consider this click to be the “3” of each measure, and continue playing.
  7. With the metronome still set to 25 BPM, we’ll consider this click to be the “4” of each measure, and continue playing.

When you’re comfortable with the first groove, try repeating the exercises using another groove or accompaniment part.

You can also progressively diminish the clicks even further: one click every two measures, one click every four measures. You get the idea.

As the creator of Hub Guitar, Grey has compiled hundreds of guitar lessons, written several books, and filmed hundreds of video lessons. He teaches private lessons in his Boston studio, as well as via video chat through TakeLessons.

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