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How To Use A Metronome for Guitar

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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.

How and why to use a metronome

Metronomes help you play in time. This is probably the most important aspect of playing guitar so it is one that you should try to get right at the start. A good way to start getting used to working with one is to set the beat to about 50 Bpm and strumming some chords evenly with a downstrum on every click. Then try playing the up in-between the beats as well, so that you strum down on the click and up evenly inbetween. See the beginners lessons on strumming.

Lessons that use the metronome will explain how to use it for that particular technique.

Try to set it and play some songs along to it. Try to feel the groove, feel at one with the beat. Sounds silly, but it is really that. Try to feel the beat and be with it, inside it. If you have a drum machine or play along CD's then they are just as helpful, but you can't speed up CDs like you can a metronome.

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