Take it for what it's worth... Practice with a metronome


RickBlacker
Full Access
Joined: 10/08/08
Posts: 1,971
RickBlacker
Full Access
Joined: 10/08/08
Posts: 1,971
01/18/2013 5:11 pm
This is going out to all you new guys/gals. For what it's worth, learn from my mistakes and from the get go, use a metronome.

After being here around 4 or 5 years now, I've learned a lot. However, I've also developed some very bad habits. The worst habit I've learn is not using a metronome. Rather I've been using my own internal mental clock when developing my riffs. Did this work for me? Sure, it actually has. I've created riffs, recorded them and sent them to friends who have played guitar years longer than I have and have received comments on how good I stay in time.

So what's the problem then? Well, I was feeling rather good about my playing abilities and wanted to start playing with a drummer, who was actually one of my best friends since high school. We are both 45 years old. He's been playing drums all this time, so he has a good handle on the drums and keeping time.

So anyway, I take my my amp, my guitar down to his jam room. Plug in thinking to myself, this is going to be great, I'm finally going to get a band started and applying some of skills towards making some cool rock and roll.

Well, my dreams and aspirations came to a screeching halt. We have twice tried to jam together. Both times have proven to be difficult at best. He's not able to stay in sync with me and I'm not able to stay in such with him. He will stop and listen to what I'm playing, try to get a beat going but just can't quit figure out my internal rhythm or time signature. I try to match his playing rhythm to my licks and they just don't fit.

So eventually, he was kind enough to tell me that I need to work on playing to a beat, that I needed to go home and start using a metronome. Mind you, he was no where close to being politically correct about it. :p It was not THAT harsh, but there was no sugar coating either. With my tail between my legs I went home. That was about 8 months ago. We've not attempted to play together since. Not because it ruined our friendship or anything like that. You know, life gets in the way, busy summer and all that.

So anyway, after playing for about 5 years now, I find myself having to go take paid private lessons to unlearn some of my bad habits and to get some one on one instructions on getting myself better prepared to play with others. It's kind of like "well duh" kind of stuff, but it's good because it keeps me focused and honest.

And now the icing on the cake... About a year and a half ago maybe two years ago I purchased brand new Boss DR-880 rhythm machine with the intent I would use it all the time for various reasons, one of which was to ensure my riffs matched up with a proper time signature and drum beat. Did I use it? Eh, not really. Mostly it sits and collects dust. Do I use it now? Yup, I just broke out the manual this week to figure out how to start taking advantage of all that it can do for me.


So folks, there you have it. Learn from my mistakes. No matter how well you think that internal clock is, it can fool you and give you a false sense of time. Use a metronome!


Cheers.

*edit*
No, I'm not leaving guitar tricks. Too much good stuff here, I'd drop netflix first if it was a money issue.
[U]Ricks Current Mystery Video[/U] - Updated Monday March/02/2015
# 1
LisaMcC
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 11/02/06
Posts: 3,955
LisaMcC
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 11/02/06
Posts: 3,955
01/18/2013 6:36 pm
Amen, Rick!!

It can indeed be humbling at first,
(take it from someone who knows!)
but working with a metronome is top-notch training
for your musicianship.

Great post - thanks!
Lisa McCormick, GT Instructor
Acoustic, Folk, Pop, Blues

Full Catalog of Lisa's Guitar Tricks Tutorials
Find Lisa on Facebook!
# 2
phillybeatle
Registered User
Joined: 07/20/11
Posts: 194
phillybeatle
Registered User
Joined: 07/20/11
Posts: 194
01/18/2013 6:37 pm
I couldn't agree more.
# 3
Slipin Lizard
Registered User
Joined: 11/15/07
Posts: 711
Slipin Lizard
Registered User
Joined: 11/15/07
Posts: 711
01/19/2013 4:03 am
Great post! I LOVE my DR880... I've programed a few guitar effect presets, but mostly just use two... one overdriven tone, and the other a clean tone. Something I used to do was spin the dial to a random preset pattern, and force myself to play to it... anything... a solo, a repeating riff, chords, whatever. Really helps to break you out of ruts. I think that unit is one of the most under-rated guitar gadgets out there. When I get a chance, I'll try to record something with it and post it for you, but we are still in home-renovation land for the next few months!
# 4
RickBlacker
Full Access
Joined: 10/08/08
Posts: 1,971
RickBlacker
Full Access
Joined: 10/08/08
Posts: 1,971
01/19/2013 2:23 pm
Yeah it is a cool machine. I think my favorite pattern is 26-Slow rock. I just love the swankie feel to the rhythm.

I'm trying to program a new pattern. An exercise pattern for learning how to keep time better. Just want a kick drum snare drum that starts out as 1/4 notes, progresses to 1/8 notes then to 1/16 notes. 4 bars of each.
[U]Ricks Current Mystery Video[/U] - Updated Monday March/02/2015
# 5
IntrepidDad
Registered User
Joined: 08/06/11
Posts: 37
IntrepidDad
Registered User
Joined: 08/06/11
Posts: 37
01/19/2013 6:26 pm
Rick,

Great advice. I'm hoping to add a drum machine sometime this year.

Also, something I've had success with is using backing tracks, both here at GT but also from iTunes. Doing so has given me a sense of interacting with other musicians and has helped my playing.

Steve
# 6
Slipin Lizard
Registered User
Joined: 11/15/07
Posts: 711
Slipin Lizard
Registered User
Joined: 11/15/07
Posts: 711
01/20/2013 7:05 am
Originally Posted by: RickBlacker
I'm trying to program a new pattern. An exercise pattern for learning how to keep time better.


I'd recommend a straight, kick-snare-hi-hat pattern. Kick on the one beat, snare on the two, kick three, snare four, then 1/8th notes for the hi-hat, 1and2and3andfourand... That will prevent the drums from over-whelming your guitar, and still give you a really solid pattern to keep time. That works for me. Another thing that helped was clapping along with the beat, especially for getting 16th notes with the right timing. You can also probably use some of the preset patterns like "Straight Rock" and just turn the bass off. Thanks for bringing all this up by the way... I literally just finished a nice little jam session because your post motivated me to get my DR880 out... even though we're renovating, I have a place where I can practice and then just put everything in a big tupperware container when I'm done. Home renos are not fun!

Intepid Dad, you might want to check out the Korg Pandora.. lots of guys seem to like them, and its much cheaper than a DR880. I think having something that you can plug into, with built-in guitar processing, along with drums & bass patterns is the way to go (as opposed to similarly priced drum machines that only have drum sounds, and you'd have to plug into amplification). Here's the link to one place that sells the Pandora:

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/amplifiers-effects/korg-pandora-px5d-guitar-multi-effects-processor#review
# 7
JeffS65
Registered User
Joined: 10/07/08
Posts: 1,602
JeffS65
Registered User
Joined: 10/07/08
Posts: 1,602
01/20/2013 12:06 pm
Rick just detailed in the original post the mistake I made practicing from '82 to '86. I was like 'Bah! Who needs it? Too tedious to be strapped down by a timekeeper'.

Right...............

Those habits can set in deep. Even now, on occasion, that lack of discipline has remnants. Yesterday I was recording some slow, mellow stuff. A small lead-like section needed fillin'. The first half was a very 'on-beat' and simple. Done deal. The second half was a little more melodic and floated above the beat a bit. Instead adding some float to the section...It just sounded disconnected.

This is where practicing those years with a metronome woulda been handy. Even your vibrato can wreck you. That's the 'bad' remnant. I have great vibrato. Smooth, sometimes nicely wide. But when you're givin' it a slow shake but varying the tempo during the bends, gotta be careful.

...well, ok...I was also was bent on playing the section in Amin in my head. Even though I knew it would work better in Maj. I just wanted that tension...guess what, it didn't need it.

Any new folks out there, take Ricks advice. It can haunt you for a long time. Even when you've practiced your way out of it and relearned your timing. It's gonna come back and bite you.
# 8
Razbo
Full Access
Joined: 03/02/09
Posts: 1,562
Razbo
Full Access
Joined: 03/02/09
Posts: 1,562
01/20/2013 12:55 pm
I agree. Try and tell this to some people, and it's "just too boring". I believe a metronome per se is great, but the same can be accomplished with a rythmn machine of some sort, backing tracks etc. (Maybe someone disagrees with that?)

I've got the DDR880, but I have to confess it sits on a shelf collecting dust now. I've meticulously programmed a couple of songs, and I find it really frustrating. The menu lay out always seems to put the next thing I need to do always 4 menues away. It's ok for really basic stuff, but try and program something wioith a few parts, like Middle of The Road, and well, that was where I gave up on it. Way faster to just record the two instruments in a DAW. I had originally thought I had a 3-Peice in a Box! Ha, who needs a band? But it's just too cumbersome to get set up for anything beyond basic. imho.

Regardless of all the individual work with timing, I also find it is just different playing with real people. It somehow throws the careful prep out the window. When I practice to a recording, it plays exactly the same thing everytime and people don't. One ear has to always be on the band, ready for someone to forget a verse or passage and be ready to fill, or pick up the verse or whatever. Same goes for the beat. I may occasionally be right, but if everyone else is on the drummer, it does not matter.
...so ever since then, I always hang on to the buckle.
# 9
RickBlacker
Full Access
Joined: 10/08/08
Posts: 1,971
RickBlacker
Full Access
Joined: 10/08/08
Posts: 1,971
01/20/2013 5:12 pm
Hey Raz,
I agree the DR800 is a bit cumbersome to use. I've always relied on the stock patterns. This last week was the first time I ever tried to create my own pattern and it was a simple kick drum, snare in 4:4. Starts out in 1/4 notes, then 1/8 notes then 1/16 notes. Four measures of each.

Lizard
Ha, glad I helped motivate you to whip it out and use it. if you have any good practice patterns and feel like exporting them, feel free to send them to me.

I think the DR880 is one of those hardware devices that could seriously benefit from a computer application.

Hey Jeff...
UGH! I'm too far along in life to be haunted by my past.
[U]Ricks Current Mystery Video[/U] - Updated Monday March/02/2015
# 10
IntrepidDad
Registered User
Joined: 08/06/11
Posts: 37
IntrepidDad
Registered User
Joined: 08/06/11
Posts: 37
01/26/2013 1:56 am
Originally Posted by: Slipin LizardIntepid Dad, you might want to check out the Korg Pandora.. lots of guys seem to like them, and its much cheaper than a DR880. I think having something that you can plug into, with built-in guitar processing, along with drums & bass patterns is the way to go (as opposed to similarly priced drum machines that only have drum sounds, and you'd have to plug into amplification). Here's the link to one place that sells the Pandora:

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/amplifiers-effects/korg-pandora-px5d-guitar-multi-effects-processor#review


Slipin Lizard, thanks for the tip. I'm going to look into this.

Steve / Intrepid Dad
# 11

Please register with a free account to post on the forum.