Trouble with metronomes?

Hey guys! I’ve been trying to learn guitar for a while now (Justin Grade 3) on a friend’s guitar. I don’t have a problem with memorizing notes, stretches, quick chord changes, etc. However, I find it really hard to practice with a metronome. I’ve watched YouTube videos on how best to practice with them. I’ve consistently practiced playing notes and scales with them. However, I can’t even hit quarter notes at 100 bpm consistently (much less 8th notes). It’s started to get on my nerves tbh. Any recommendations, exercises, or ideas?

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I’m right there with you. I’ve been working with a metronome for over 2 months and still struggle with it occasionally.

What has worked for me

  • start with just tapping my foot with the metronome
  • I then mute the strings and strum in time with the metronome
  • only then do I add my fretting hand
  • if I make a mistake 3 times I slow down the metronome
    -if I can play a piece perfectly 3 times I increase the metronome speed by 5 or 10 bpm

One observation is that 100bpm is WAY TOO FAST for starting out. I typically start at 45 or 50bpm and work my way up.

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It’s another skill that will improve with practice. I agree with Craig, slow down and get the foot tapping. You need to ‘internalize’ the rhythm. You may find it easier / more natural with a drum beat.

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For me, it all depends on the style of songs. I’m playing 1h a week with a guitar teacher, he plays cords and i have to improvise solos on it. It’s funnier to play with someone together and he’s not asking much money for it. Most of the time I have totally no problems to follow the rythme, It’s like i just “feel” it. But occasionally when hes changing to another style (sorry to saying this, like for example ABBA, I just hate and can’t hear ABBA :sweat_smile::rofl::joy:) then I’m totally missing it. Even if it’s a lot slower.
At home, I’m using a Boss RC10-R loop pedal with drum patters. That’s fun and helps also a lot to play with rythms.

I struggle with the ‘nome as well. A clear signal I need to use it much, much more.

For me, other than consistency, is that the metronome has a “red light” effect on me, like a video camera does. It is like the clicking interferes my brain enough that my fingers don’t know where to go anymore. I hit entirely incorrect strings with both hands as if I have completely forgotten how the tune goes.

I believe this signifies that I have fallen into the trap Justin warned us about early on regarding not using the metronome. My playing is full of small delays to think and find the notes which leads to close, but inconsistent, timing.

The answer? More ‘nome time.

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Start slow. I began at sixty, and tap your foot. If it helps tap your foot and dont play your guitar. I also suggest a looper. I recorded a 60bpm blues suffle and it really helped my rhythm.

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How long have you been playing @JukeBoxHero1 ? You say you are on Grade 3, but have you perhaps rushed through the course a bit, I see that you joined the community in August ‘22. Now, you may have been playing long before you joined the community but if it’s only just over a year, then I am not surprised you are struggling.

I found that every time I added a new ‘layer’ to my playing that I went backwards. I had largely avoided the metronome for the first 18 months and was, not surprisingly, terrible when I started using it. I am much better now, with our old friends time, patience, practice and practice.

Slow yourself down and keep practicing, you’ll get there.

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Tapping would help, but I hold the guitar on both legs and both hands are occupied. It is hard to keep a blink or a nod going, but working on it. I am trying a light torso rock to the beat.

Interesting! Is your metronome digital? I wonder if you could turn the click volume down until you can play with it without it being distracting, and then increase the volume over time?

Interesting, but if I can’t hear it, am I really playing to the metronome? I am trying not to look at the metronome graphic. I think the visual is easier to follow, but not a good long term habit.

I think I just need to use it more and get my brain past the nonsense it makes for itself (story of my life🙄).

I admit, I don’t play to a metronome very often, but I always am playing to a song track, so I have the drum beat. I think that’s better than noting.

You might consider the type of metronome you’re using. For example I bought a digital metronome. It’s a perfectly good one. Has all the features. I hate it. I can’t stand it. It’s a hassle everytime I turn it on. It’s got a USB cord, ugh. I have to reset the thing to my specifications every time I plug it in. I don’t like the click sound. Double and triple ugh. I grew up playing piano on a traditional wind up wooden pyramid metronome and I miss and want THAT click sound. And ease of use. And overall feel.

I would go out and buy one right now but I’m waiting until Christmas because my family needs things to buy me and that’s a perfect gift.

No i mean just turn it down until it’s not so audibly distracting, but that you can still hear it.

Also a suggestion, see my above post to the OP- maybe change to a traditional wind up type that has an easier presence and more natural click sound. Don’t know about anyone else but I can’t stand my digital metronome.

I would highly recommend Justin’s App. I think it’s $2 and the best $2 I’ve ever spent!

Failing that, there’s a free basic metronome on his main site

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I have Justin’s time app already. Trouble is, it’s also digital. I use my phone for playing along to tracks and it’s a hassle switching between apps honestly. I don’t see how ppl can do everything simultaneously on a phone. I must be too old. I just prefer the traditional metronome that uses very little effort to use. I appreciate the suggestions though!

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Set the metronome as much slow as much needed for you to be able to feel you’re doing well and don’t speed up the bpm, just stay there, doing it slow and right…add 5bpm only when you feel you’re super comfortable with it, it may takes weeks, months…it takes time, don’t be in a hurry. Trust the process and enjoy your feeling in control when you practice slowly and doing well.

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A good traditional metronome can be found for about £25. There is something soothing about the tone. I found it preferable to digital clicks.

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I recently learned a concept called “the rule of three” if you are making mistakes on something you are playing, then one of three things needs to change: speed, length, or complexity.

Maybe playing a whole scale forward and back is too long. Maybe the major scale is too complex and you need to switch to a minor pentatonic or quarter/eighth notes are too many things going on in one measure so half notes would be better. Maybe 100 bpm is faster than you’re ready for and you should slow it down to 80 or even 60.

It’s frustrating as heck, but I’m right there with you trying to befriend the metronome. Keep at it, I think metronomes are the main thing guitar players over look. Be patient with yourself, this will pay dividends!

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I’ve been doing this free course for the last couple of weeks, and I think it’s helping.

He goes into a lot of detail of how to exactly set up your metronome for each lesson, and the lessons and exercises are very well structured, with a good progression of difficulty.

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This is a good one to remember - thanks for sharing.

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A fun way of focussing on rhythm beyond using a metronome is to use drum tracks on YouTube, or if you have one available a looper or drum machine. I’m another person that finds the sound of the digital metronomes quite grating but have a backing track or drums really blends in well. This drummer on YouTube does all sorts of styles and bpm - great fun to get lost in! https://www.youtube.com/@fourfortyfouronthefloor23 You can start off on 60 bpm and slowly build up to faster bpm in increments of 10.

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