Practicing alternate picking on electric guitar with headphones on, how to properly hear the metronome?

Hi guitar friends!

So, my question is somewhat similar to mattswains question earlier with his topic ‘guitar vs backing track volume levels’, but not entirely.

My guitar teacher taught me an awesome lick from the band the fearless flyers, namely ‘introducing the fearless flyers’. It’s very fast and I learned that my picking speed is really slow. So I found this 30 days alternate picking challenge on youtube and basically, I will practice a lot with a metronome the coming 30 days :wink: However, I am doing this on my electric guitar. I have headphones for my amp, but I also need to clearly hear the metronome.

My question is: how do you guys go about practicing stuff to a metronome on electric guitar when using headphones?

Thanks in advance!



What amp?

If it has an aux in or bluetooth you can feed it a metronome signal.


I have a Roland Cube

…Or, can try using a flashing beat instead of the auditory beep. Many free metronome phone apps have this feature. My 35-y/o stand-alone Seiko has an option for a flashing LED.

OK that should feature a ‘AUX IN jack: Stereo miniature phone type’

So you can plug in an audio lead from something making the metronome sound (pc, phone etc) and hear it through the headphones.


Hi Inge,
Long time no see …
And this quote has been discussed before and this is bad advice
you shouldn’t be looking at a metronome , you should be listening to the click.

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Sorry, I must not have been around for that discussion and didn’t realize that a decision had been reached. Thanks for letting me know.

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Hi Rogier,

Yeah I know, it’s been a while! I have still been playing guitar though, I just havent been active in the community for some time. But I will change my ways and post here more often. It’s always fun :slight_smile:

The solution that I found for now is that I have my headphones around my neck so I can clearly hear the guitar but also hear the metronome from the JustinGuitar time trainer app on my phone. Not necessarily ideal but there is only so much I can put my neighbors through :wink:

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Thank you Rob, I had not thought of that, but I will check out if I can manage to do that :slight_smile:

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Sounds like you might have it sorted already, but what I do is have over the ear type headphones for my guitar/amp and have inner ear (pod type) headphones for the metronome/backing track/music that I’m playing along with. I can hear both at the same time. Works for me :slight_smile:

That also sounds like a plan! I will try that, see how that works :slight_smile:

Thanks for that tip!

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This is what I use when I’m also using headphones… my electronic metronome is a 15-20 year old Matrix brand that lights up with 8 LEDs. Since I am often trying to practice without looking at my fingers, this works!!!


Hi Tod @CATMAN62, I’m glad this is working for you! As mentioned above, as well as in another thread, it’s most effective to use the metronome solely as an auditory trainer.

The basic argument is that we don’t “see” the beat in music when playing, we hear it, feel it.

My amp has a Bluetooth audio connection which allows me to send my phone-based metronome app (I use Justin’s Time Trainer App, but any app should work) to the amp. When I plug the headphones into the amp, the metronome comes through as well. I don’t think Inge’s Roland Cube has Bluetooth, but it might be possible to get a receiver and plug it into the aux in if there is one.

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Hi Judi & thanks!
No Bluetooth in my Katana, guess I should have waited to get the one I have!

As far as “hearing” the beat… I’m not sure I completely agree… my early musical background was in a school band. We never practiced along with a metronome, we watched the band director’s baton. In Choir, same thing… watching the teacher’s arm motion.
Also, I find this helpful in keeping from constantly watching my fretting hand or playing “guitar ping-pong” with my attention bouncing back and forth from left to right hands.
In one of Justin’s lessons (Grade 2 maybe), he mentions playing in the dark, I do this quite often with the only light being my trusty metronome!!! :rofl:
Thanks for your input though!


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Haha! I play that game too!
Yes, we are all different. Which makes the world a good place.

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I definitely agree with this statement/sentiment completely for when playing along with a backing track or other musicians. I find it a bit difficult however to feel the beat when playing alone, even with a metronome or just a drum track… as you say, we all learn differently. Also, often we have to adapt or adjust something in our playing to practice/learn something new!
Think back to early on when you were lucky to pkay four downstrums to the bar! It wasn’t easy in the early days! Then you had to adapt to playing 6/8 or alternate picking! THEN fingerstyle shows up!!! These all require different skills & so your working on them. Then, you’ll decide to learn a new song that wants 8 downstrums per bar…… these are all tools we use to increase our proficiency… you see what I mean?
So using the metronome visually is just one more “tool” in my toolbox :toolbox:!!!


Good points. So, to be totally transparent: while I try not to make a habit of it, I actually do sneak peaks at the display of my metronome at times. :wink: I do this especially to check my progress through a song - did I fall off the rhythm without realizing it? While my metronome app allows me to confirm this auditorily (it has a different tone on the downbeat), those brain circuits are already busy trying not to further lose the beat as I check! As you point out, this a tool I use, and it’s nice to have it in the toolbox. :smiling_face:

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The best way to do it is with in ear monitors with a click track or drum beats and what you’re playing. It’s my chosen method for keeping time but I’m happier with a drum track.
This gives you an idea of how to do it:

Ah, some day! I’m still a beginner, and while I love learning about gear I have put a moratorium on my gear purchases…for me it’s too much distraction from focusing on my basic skills!

Hi Tod,
What I have learned from some advanced players here and from Justin and from several teachers is that a visual metronome actually slows down your development (simply because it doesn’t work properly)…looking at the light and playing is impossible knowing if to execute it perfectly… knowing whether that is correct, while if you play with a click it will automatically disappear (the click will not be heard by you ) if you perform it correctly… that is how it works… so it is not a good tool even like you feels it that way , but it would actually slow you down in developing a good sense of rhythm …
Hope this helps ,