How Do You Use A Metronome for Guitar?

By: Jerry A. Greene

Question: I am learning guitar on my own and read somewhere that using a metronome, or something to keep time can help me improve. Can you give me any guitar exercises to use with a metronome?

Answer: Using a metronome when learning to play guitar, can help you increase your overall performance on the instrument.

Clean Chord Changes

One of the best ways to use a metronome, is to set it to a very slow setting, let's say, 80 BPM (Beats Per Minute) and play a succession of two chords, once every 2 beats. For example, C& G, back and forth until you feel very comfortable with the change in fingering. You want to be sure that all of the fingers are hitting the strings at the same time before going any futher. The next step is to increase the metronome setting by only a few BPM and retain the clean chord change. Try increments of 4, or 8 BPM. Try to play for at least a minute straight without any clunkers. Then increase it again and again, until you reach the upper limits of what you can do, or what the metronome can reach.

Using the Metronome to Play Faster than the Upper Limit

Once you reach the upper limit of the metronome (usually around 220 BPM, or 240 BPM), simply switch the metronome and to a value exactly half of this limit. It will give you the same timing, but only beat half of the time.

Here is an example: Let's say you were playing half notes (2 beats each chord) as above and you got to the upper limit (220 BPM) and you wanted to play faster. Well, you would switch the metronome to 110 BPM and then play on each beat. This would be equal to the same speed you played before (220 BPM). Then you would increase the BPM value slightly each time you were making the changes cleanly.

Playing Harder Guitar Chords, Including Barre Chords

One exercise you'll want to use is the same idea as above, but go back and forth between an open chord and a barre chord.

Scales and Lead Guitar Lines

You can use the same exercises as above to work on your scales and lead guitar lines. Fingerpicking can also be practiced with a metronome.

Metronomes Keep You Focused

When you use a metronome, you are practicing your ability to concentrate. The metronome helps keep you steady and forces you not to play too fast (very common when you know what you're doing in certain sections) and not too slow (when you don't know the changes).

Metronomes Will Decrease Your Time to Guitar Perfection!

If you spend a lot of time with a metronome, you'll soon see how it helps you to become good at your instrument at a much quicker rate than if you were not using one.

It takes discipline, to play with a metronome. This discipline is exactly what is needed when learning to play an instrument with a sense of mastery.