Playing with music or just chords

Hi guys newbie here. Is it worth trying to play with a backing track or try to be a little quicker changing chords without the backing music,I can’t keep up with any tracks at the moment my transition is so slow

Hi, I always wanted to learn to be able to solo in different scales. I learnt a few shapes of c major scale and used to try connecting them but didn’t sound that good. I then played with c major backing rhythm and it gave me a new perspective. If you are trying solo then I definitely recommend with a related backing track. If you’re learning to play rhythm itself then I’m not too sure. May be try playing along some slow songs that are in the chords you’re interested in. A basic one could be patience by guns n roses.
Good luck!

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I’m only about 3 years into my journey, but what I’ll try are some combination of the following:

  1. Using a metronome at varying speeds and trying to keep pace when doing my chord changes
  2. I’ll practice learning some lead riffs using instrumental backing tracks on YouTube (BackingTrackTV or Elevated Jam Tracks)
  3. Record myself playing a few minutes of rhythm then playing it back while trying to solo over it. You can edit out the slow changes of the rhythm track :slight_smile:

I slow down the backing track to a speed I can keep up with. As I get better I speed it up. It’s a good measure of progress.


Hi David, apologies if it’s a stupid question but why would you want to play quicker than a backing track?

If there are specific chord changes you come across in songs that you struggle with then focus on those for your OMC / PFC exercises to get them to where you need for whatever songs you’re learning.

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Where abouts are you on Justin’s learning path ? If you are playing along with songs, then it may be necessary to slow the songs down to be able to follow the chord changes. It certainly makes no sense to try and play faster than the original songs but you can improve your speed/transition by practicing One Minute Changes as Mark suggests.

And I guess it is rhythm and chord changes you are referring to, as a couple of months in is way too early to be thinking about lead play.

So two things, if you can’t hit the tempo of the backing track, slow it down and get it right. Practice One Minute Changes to build your ability to change chords quicker.



Cheers for the advice guys only a month or so in to guitaring :+1::guitar:


Good stuff David, if you’re a month or so in then just go slow and work with the exercises Justin lays out. When playing with songs keep it simple strumming, one per bar and work those changes. Everything comes along in its own good time, in the coming weeks and months you’ll be amazed at what you can do!

All the best, keep shredding :slightly_smiling_face::guitar:


Use Anytune to slow the backing track down. Excellent app.

Then just follow some finger exercises as you need to go slow and get the chords right. If you try and go fast you might struggle with finger changes and might develop some incorrect habits at the expense of being fast. Just my advice :blush:
Good luck!

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Hi Symi, it seems you are focussing on playing chords and not solo’s. The backing tracks as far as I understand serve to help those that want to play lead guitar / melodies. For playing along with chords to songs that you learn there are two ways to do that.

  1. Practice your chord changes of the chords that you need for any particular song. There is a practice routine that Justin advocates (one minute changes), that helps you improve your speed in changing chords, start out slowly and than improve. Start out with the chords you need for the most simple 2 and 3 chord songs, then make the step to 4 chords songs, that cover probably 90% of all pop songs.

  2. Use an app, like Anytune, that slows down any particular original song whilst maintaining the original pitch, or even changes pitch for you if you want to play it in another key, to make it easy for you to play along.

I mentioned the key of a song and transposing, there is a nice video by Justin how using a capo can help you change the pitch of what you are playing. If you are comfortable playing G, C and D (major) for instance, you can play the same chords with a capo on the 2nd fret, and you’ll have A, D and E instead. But do practice those changes: 90 percent of music is about keeping the rhythm going.

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As several people have already mentioned, being able to slow down the backing tracks to where you can keep up is the way to proceed here.

IME, the best way to do this is the JustinGuitar Song and lesson app. It’s the easiest way to learn new songs as well.

My second choice would be using the “Playback Speed” setting on YouTube. But this does not work nearly as well…much coarser speed adjustment, and a lot of distortion at slower speed.

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In order to speed up and improve the quality of my chord changes, I would play the 5 Most Common Chord Progressions (Justin has a lesson with this name) to a drum track generated from my Boss RC-5 looper pedal. I started at 60bpm, then would increase it 5-10bpm at a time. I use this drill to practice chord changes, practice new strumming patterns, practice combining percussive hits with strumming, etc.

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David, kudos for asking your questions and seeking help. Things can seem daunting at first.
From your Introduction topic you are only one month + into learning guitar.
The overriding principle is to follow the course.
You could use the Nitsuj videos as a guide for progress.
In terms of chord formation and changes you need to practice the Chord Perfect - explained in written form in the Learn More section of the lesson that introduced the D and A chords.
For chord changes you need to be aiming for a balance between One Minute Changes and general chord play in progressions, strumming and songs of course. One Minute Changes are designed to force your fingers to move faster - albeit at a deliberate sacrifice on the quality of formation (which is why Chord Perfect has to be used also).
Chord progressions you will find in songs. Learn songs, learn songs, learn songs. Yes, you must slow the songs down to a tempo you can match. Even if you strum one chord per bar on the count of one, you are playing a chord progression with changes and that is an essential component of learning to play.
There is software (Audacity is free) to slow mp3 down. The JustinGuitar App has a slow down function and 1500+ songs on it.
Alongside playing with songs, just practice simple strums with any chord changes at a slow tempo and it will help.