You're NOT as Smooth as You Think [BAD TIMING]

For anyone who’s ever been focused on getting better at their sense of feel and timing, the metronome can either be your best friend, or it could be your Number 1 enemy... 

I know from my own experience, (from many years spent teaching), the moment that I can sense the skill level of one of my students reaching a smoother (more fluid point) with a riff, chord progression, or scale idea, that’s when I’m there as quickly as possible - turning on the metronome - to dial in the speed at where the student can perform the guitar part perfectly.

Sometimes, that "starting point of smoothness" is a very slow speed on the metronome. Perhaps only something like quarter-notes at 44 b.p.m. or even slower. The b.p.m. starting speed however doesn’t matter, what does matter, is that the student is using a metronome in the first place.


Once a player can get their song part /drill going at a smooth starting tempo, they’ll be able to take their idea faster, and maintain the smoothness. This is incredibly important, because building a sense of solid time and smooth playing is probably one of the most important things that any of us will ever do as a Musician.

On a metronome, the speed of the beat is clocked at “Beats Per Minute,” also known of as “B.P.M.” This means that 60 b.p.m. is equal to one second on a clock. And, this speed of 60, can often be one of the best places to start trying to study a new musical idea.

If you’re working on a new chord change in a progression, or you’re trying to build up your technique with a new scale run, then after you’ve become somewhat familiar with the part, turn on your metronome to 60 b.p.m. and find out if you can play the idea you’re working on at that speed.

Or, maybe that speed is perhaps slow, or it is too fast, however you feel about the speed you’ll be able to make a decision of which way to alter the speed of the metronome.

As a 3-part example, I’ve got a scale run for you to test this idea with. Begin trying to play the idea at three different speeds; first at 60, and then down at 40, and then speed it up to 80. When you do work like this with a click-track you’ll learn how to work through clocking your feel of the speed of the beat in time.

Example 1). 40 b.p.m.

Example 2). 60 b.p.m.

 Example 3). 80 b.p.m.

While scales and guitar licks can be a fantastic place to help you initially develop the use of a metronome, another really important area for developing smoothness and feel for the beat in time is with chord progressions.

When we’re training ourselves to get better at performing chord changes, (especially with chord types that we might not be very good at), the use of a metronome is one of the best ways to help guitar players nail down the feel (and especially the technique), required for performing as little as two chords moving from one to the next.

I’d like to have you try this yourself by learning to perform chord movements between some unique chord patterns. These aren’t your garden variety, open position chords, so you might need to prepare yourself on their finger layout prior to turning the metronome on.

Chord Patterns:

When you have the fingering down, turn on the metronome, and try that same “beats per minute” feel that we practiced with the previous guitar scale run. Test your skills by switching these chords at; 40, 60 and 80 b.p.m.

Chord Progression:

In wrapping up, it is really important to get clear on (and fully understand) that although a lot of guitarists might ‘think’ that they have decent feel and timing, the reality of the matter is they probably don't.

If a musician isn’t using a metronome to TEST their skill for performing smoothly - in time and to also double-check their ability to properly perform and perfectly execute all of the technical movements of both hands, and of all of the fingers, the truth is that they probably are NOT playing in perfect time.

And, if a musician isn’t playing music in time, that also means there’s a lack of perfection to their relation to feeling music, and also to the musical smoothness to what they’re doing.

So, the choice is up to you as a player. If you want to get a quick dose of the truth, take a guitar lick, or a series of chord changes and turn on a metronome. Discover if you can play through musical ideas to the beat in time at several different speeds. And, if you can’t, well then you’ve got some practicing to do.

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Also, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on all of this in the comment section below... if you enjoyed this video, give it a thumbs up and subscribe for more on YouTube. Thanks again and we'll catch up next week , for another episode of the, "Guitar Blog Insider."



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