As a music student, one of the most important things to learn is how to keep time with the beat. Guitarists, like myself, have a tendency to accompany a drummer and keep the beat that way, but sometimes when you are practicing, there is no drum line to keep in time with. When this happens, a guitar metronomes are one of the best tools for honing your musical skills. These devices can sit near your practice area or can even clip directly onto your headstock; in any situation, finding a good one so that you can play at your best is a great idea.
How Do Guitar Metronomes Work?
Guitar metronomes make an audible beep or click so that you can keep in time. These devices are a bit difficult to get used to at first because it’s like you’re playing with a machine rather than a band mate, but as you progress, you’ll start to understand that these devices are pretty vital to your sense of keeping a beat.
When you need a beat, most metronomes have a setting or dial that allows you to select the desired beats per minute, which is often described as BPM. There are several guitar-oriented metronomes on the market today, and they each can have a different style and functionality.
The Benefits of Using a Metronome in Your Daily Guitar Practice
When you are learning and refining your guitar playing, a metronome delivers two key benefits during your long term and immediate playing. For immediate improvement, a metronome is a great teaching tool that will tell you when your rhythm isn’t as good as it could be. When you are counting aloud during your playing, it helps you organize your playing so that it is always rhythmic.
When developing your skills as a musician, a metronome can also provide some long-term effects as well. When you are developing your guitar playing technique, you will also be developing your long term sense of tempo, which can help you in all of your future playing. In my experience, this is particularly helpful in a band environment; the metronome will gradually make you much better at playing along with just about any drumbeat. Simply put, you’ll gain a better sense of rhythm.
Different Types of Guitar Metronomes
For the most part, dedicated metronomes for a guitar are relatively scarce, but you’ll find that many clip-on tuners come complete with a metronome feature. As we covered, you simply clip the device onto your headstock and set the device to start emitting a beat for you to play by.
Outside of clip-ons, there are also stand alone metronomes that you can use in your practice area; these do an excellent job helping you stay on beat. In fact, some have kickstands so that you can set them on a surface. Whichever type of metronome you use, any guitarist can really benefit from using one.
Learning to Play With the Metronome
Steve Stein has produced an excellent video guide for everyday practice techniques on Youtube. As you might notice, many of these can use a metronome for timing. Additionally, scales like C can also be practiced with a metronome so that you are always on-beat.
As with anything that you teach yourself, it’s always important to work at your own pace and be honest when learning with a metronome. If you are new, simply go at a pace that is friendly to your skill level; in fact, many guitar teachers suggest a beats per minute of about 60 to 65. At this rate, you should easily be able to keep up with the beat and also work on your fretting and strumming to the beat of the metronome.
Testing Your Guitar Playing Speed Using a Metronome
Many guitarists proceed with the understanding that using a metronome will actually quicken their guitar playing speed. In actuality, there are techniques for this that are far more effective. The truth is, it’s much better to use a metronome to test and measure your speed improvements.
One of the most important aspects of proper guitar playing is to improve your speed as you play, this way more complex arrangements become accessible to you. Here’s how to go about performing a test:
- Select the scale that you wish to test your speed playing.
- Set your metronome to a beginning level of tempo.
- Play through the full measure four times. If you don’t mess up during your practice, increase the speed.
- Play the scale again and repeat the process if you don’t mess up
- When you are unable to keep up with the tempo, you have reached your maximum playing speed.
Some Other Factors That You Should Consider
When using one of these devices, there are things that are imperative to do when you are practicing:
Always be honest with yourself
If you are letting yourself go off beat, then this is actually harming your playing. Try to be as honest as possible; if it sounds off, take it from the top.
Listen, listen, listen
You have to focus on every tone being emitted from your metronome. It’s almost more important than the guitar playing itself. This is a skill that you may have to work on. In any case, learn to hone in on the click, beep, or ping.
Just as you have to learn to synchronize your strumming and fretting hand, learn to synchronize both hands with the beat, even if you are strumming more than once per measure. This will help you grow in your guitar skills.
Five Best Guitar Metronome
Our first metronome is designed to be used with a plethora of instruments and has a very good tempo range that will allow you to practice with different timings. For those that don’t know, Aroma isn’t one of the better-known instrument tool manufacturers, but they do have a wide variety of devices of this type that are perfect for guitarists.
Not only does this device serve as an excellent tuner, its metronome feature is easy to use so that you can select a BPM from a range of 30 to 260. Personally, I can’t imagine why anyone would need such a fast-paced beat for their guitar playing, but it’s also nice to have such an option, even if it’s seldom used.
When it comes to tone volume, this is an important feature for a metronome to have; the last thing you want is to be drowned out by your own playing. The Aroma AMT-560 has a fairly great volume range, though it may falter in extreme volume situations.
- This metronome/tuner has a mini-headphone jack that’s perfect for keeping the tone low.
- The accent beat can be altered or even turned off.
- This metronome also features a visual reference as well as an audio one.
- While it is compact, it could be a bit smaller for when you clip it onto a 6 in-line headstock.
- The signal cable at 0.9m is relatively short.
- The battery compartment can come off.
KLIQ MetroPitch — Metronome Tuner
I really love the fact that this features tap tempo. For those who have never used the feature before, tap tempo allows you to set a beat by just tapping a button in a rhythmic pattern. While this feature is present on pedals, amps, and other guitar devices, it is particularly valuable on a metronome because it gives you a bit of extra beat customizability.
When it comes to beats per minute, this metronome has a range of 30 to 250 BPM, which is a great range for refining your speed and playing to the beat. Additionally, you control the tempo by way of a dial, which feels like a more analog solution on a digital device.
There’s a guitar in and out on this metronome, which is a pedal-like solution that I really like for this device. Simply pass the cable through and send it out to your amp. The volume is even loud enough so that you don’t lose the beat as you play amplified.
- The jog wheel (dial) lets you quickly toggle through the modes.The tap tempo function is very useful.
- It displays the beats per measure as well as the beats per minute.
- It features visual as well as audio beat tracking.
- The battery life is very short; expect only about a week or two of usage.
- The volume when you’re using earphones can be a bit too loud.
- This device doesn’t work with rechargeable batteries.
Korg TM50BK Instrument Tuner and Metronome
Korg is one of the top names in instruments, so you can expect a high level of quality from their products. The Korg TM50BK is another guitar metronome that features a tap tempo so that you can create a great-sounding customized beat to play by. This particular metronome is fairly simple to operate so that you can quickly find your beat.
A great feature of this is the presence of a kickstand. While it doesn’t clip on to your headstock, you can easily just place this metronome on a table and play by it from there. While all of the products that we’ve featured here also double as tuners or even tone designers, this product also can be used as tuner and metronome simultaneously.
The display on this guitar metronome features an LCD display. Korg used a needle-style indicator so that you can keep up with the beat; it simply moves back and forth in the timing that you have set.
- It’s really easy to set a good tempo with this using the tap tempo function.
- This device features a jack for headphones.
- This is a backlit device, which makes late night playing easy.
- The tone of the metronome is a bit too “pingy,” which can be a problem for those who want a warmer sound.
- The display, since it’s just a classic LCD, can be hard to read at times.
- The sound can be low.
D’Addario NS Micro Clip-On Tuner
For those who want a smaller form factored metronome, the D’Addario NS Micro Clip-On Tuner will do the job nicely. This is definitely a very discreet metronome; it’s about an inch or less in size on all sides. There is no audible metronome feature on the NS Micro; the beat keeping is entirely visual, which can be a boon if you plan on just looking down at the small screen to keep track.
With such a small size, it’s nice to see that D’Addario considered the placement of this metronome/tuner. With its versatile clip, you can place the device either on the front or the rear of your guitar headstock. When you do this, you won’t lose functionality because there is a flip button that allows you to rotate the screen so that it’s always facing you.
The beats per minute range of this clip-on device are 40 to 270 BPM, which is an excellent range of function. To change the beats per minute, simply utilize the directional arrows that are positioned on the top of the clip-on.
- The display shows three colors so that you’ll easily be able to track tuning or your beat.
- The swivel design is incredibly versatile.
- This is a very accurate metronome.
- While it is an excellent metronome, it’s still more of an add-on feature for the tuner.
- It’s so small that it can easily be lost in between sessions.
- It can be a bit flimsy.
Snark SN-2 All Instrument Tuner with Tap Tempo Metronome
Our final product comes from Snark and is another clip-on type metronome. What makes this a very useful metronome for guitars is the inclusion of a tap tempo. I find this surprising because of the small size of this unit; you wouldn’t think that it would have the real estate for a full-fledged tap tempo.
In any situation, the metronome has several other excellent features like a multicolored and vivid display and the ability to rotate 360 degrees. When it’s clipped onto your instrument, all you’ll have to do is swivel the head so that it faces you. This will allow you to have it oriented just about anywhere on your headstock and it will also accommodate righties and lefties equally.
Like the previous clip-on, the Snark SN-2 doesn’t have an audible beep, but you should be able to keep tempo by watching the vivid and relatively large display.
- This metronome comes with a carrying case.
- It can either tune your guitar through vibrations or through the use of an onboard microphone.
- The display on the metronome function is very colorful and easy to see.
- Since the metronome doesn’t emit a beep or any sound effect at all, you may have issues keeping the beat if you aren’t looking at the device.
- Despite its nice display, you may have issues reading this guitar metronome if you are in a low light situation.
- The back clip isn’t the strongest and can break off.
If you are trying to learn how to keep a rhythm, then a metronome is going to quickly become your musical best friend. Each of these metronomes will help you in your timekeeping, so select the one that has the best features for your play style. Do you like tap tempo? I’ve covered a couple with this feature. Looking for a clip-on unit? Then check out one of the ones I covered. If I absolutely had to pick a favorite, then I think the KLIQ MetroPitch will work well for most guitarists. It has a tap tempo, a good volume, and tons of overall versatility.
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