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Using The Metronome App for guitar practice

Team Soundbrenner, in Music lessons
Nov 01, 2021 | 5 min read

3 guitar exercises where you should use your metronome.

Metronomes are vital tools to improving your playing, especially if you are wanting to play more technically advanced pieces of music. 

However, quite often, even if guitar players are practicing with a metronome, they are not using them as effectively as they could be.

And using them more effectively means progressing faster… which is something that we all want.

In this article, we’ll look at some examples of how to use them as effectively as possible in our practicing. 


Chord Playing Exercises

Let’s say we are working on the following chord exercise:

Electric guitar chord playing exercise with 7th chords in different inversions.

As an example, go back to the start of this article and try and count to 10 while reading it. 

  1. Subdivisions. The smallest subdivision that is being used is a quarter note, so we need to ensure the metronome is counting the quarter note.
  2. Chord changes every bar. We will want to make sure we are counting the start of every bar with the metronome.

Using The Metronome App by Soundbrenner for practicing chords 

When practicing this exercise, you can set up the Metronome app as follows:

You can see that the middle button is set to count quarter notes, and that the first beat (the beats are counted by the squares at the top) is set differently to the following three beats.

This image shows how to change the subdivision and beats on Soundbrenner.

Programming a Guitar Pro Drum Track for Practicing Chord Changes

In the following examples, we’ll use Guitar Pro to create a custom drum metronome for this exercise.

We have the same requirements that we looked at for soundbrenner, that we want to count the quarter note subdivision and also count the start of each bar.

Additionally, we will write the count on the metronome track, so we can count out loud while practising.

Add a drum track and set the score to “multi track view”. Then program in the drums with something simple to count the beats and the start of the bar like this:

If you put the cursor on each drum note and press “T”, you can enter the count for that particular beat. 

As you can see from the above tab, you now know exactly which beat every note in the exercise is on, which makes practising much easier! 

Writing the beat on top of the drum part is especially useful if you are new to reading rhythm notation.


Arpeggio based exercise 

The next exercise we’ll look at is an arpeggio based exercise:

In this arpeggio exercise we are playing all 4 inversions of a C#m7 arpeggio along strings 1, 2 and 3.

In this exercise, we’re playing a C#m7 through all it’s inversions, ascending up the neck and back down again. (You can extend the exercise further down the neck, but for brevity I’ve left it as is).

Setting Up The Metronome App by Soundbrenner for Electric Guitar Arpeggio Exercises

It is quite easy to setup Soundbrenner to do the above exercise. 

Here is Soundbrenner setup for playing straight 16ths, counting the start of each beat and counting the start of the bar (like my drum metronome was originally setup):

and here we’ve modified the way Soundbrenner is counting the beat, so that we hear beats 1 and 3 different to 2 and 4:

This is a small change, but can be really helpful. Hopefully, you will also find this beneficial to your practicing.

Programming a Guitar Pro Drum Track for an arpeggio based exercise

When I first started working on this, I had the metronome playing a metronome beat as follows:

However, I found this slightly problematic. I found myself slipping out of time at higher tempos, especially around the third string. For some reason, I was keeping time nicely when changing positions along the 1st string, with the position changes seeming to act as my timing “anchor”.

If that’s not good enough, I wanted the entire piece in time, so I changed the metronome slightly, using a different sound for the start of beats 2 and 4 similar to The Metronome App’s accent.

I found this made it much, much easier to stay in time. 

If you find yourself struggling with an arpeggio based exercise, try setting up your metronome to play different sounds on the inflexion points (where the arpeggio changes direction). 

When practicing in general, if you find a particular section of an exercise difficult, you can try changing the metronome at that point to help you maintain focus.


Programming a metronome for an scale based exercises 

When practicing in general, if you find a particular section of an exercise difficult, you can try changing the metronome at that point to help you maintain focus.

Here is a pretty standard exercise, working on 3 note per string scales, specifically, the melodic minor scale (which is used a lot in neoclassical guitar playing):

A 3 note per string melodic minor scale exercise for electric guitar. We are alternating between ascending and descending through consecutive scale positions, across all 6 strings.

You can see that we are using a 3 note per string melodic minor scale, alternately ascending and descending through scale positions up the neck.

As I previously explained in this article on neoclassical scales for electric guitar, in a classical context the melodic minor scale differs between ascending and descending patterns.

In the above exercise we are using the scale in a rock context, so the scale is the same ascending and descending. 

When practising something like this, the important feature is the start of the beat, which is also the first note on each string. 

You can see that the scale pattern lasts 1.5 bars (at least, when in 4/4 it does). We could have written the exercise in 6/4 and were I to revisit this exercise, I would do so.

However, when it comes to setting up the metronome, it does not make a difference if we are in 4/4 or 6/4.

We are not so interested in the start of the bar here, just the start of the beat. 

Having said that, if you find that it helps you stay in time better to have the start of each pattern counted on the metronome, you can put the exercise in 6/4 and have the metronome count the start of each bar.

So, to count each beat, here is how I would setup the drums on Guitar Pro and the metronome on Soundbrenner:

Programming Guitar Pro Drum Metronome for a 3 Note Per String Scale Exercise 

We would simply have the drums as follows:

A 3 note per string melodic minor scale exercise on electric guitar. We have written the tab in Guitar Pro. We have added a drum track to play a metronome. The exercise is being played using triplet eighth notes.

Setting up The Metronome App for a 3 Note Per String Scale Exercise 

How to setup Sounbrenner for a 3 note per string scale exercise on electric guitar.

As you can see, the start of each beat is the same, and the subdivision is set to triplet eighth notes.

What Tempo Should You Set Your Metronome To?

When it comes to using a metronome, every student has the same question: How fast should I set it?

The answer: I have no idea. Guess at a tempo. If it is too fast, make it slower. If it is too slow, make it faster. 

You have to do a little trial and error to find the tempo that you would be working at, but this will only take a few minutes.

Once you have settled in to a particular tempo, make a note of it like I recommended earlier in a note taking app, so you have a reference point for tomorrow. 

As you get more experience with practicing to a metronome, you’ll get a better feel for where you should start your tempos.

Note: You may find that tomorrow you have to start at a lower tempo and work your way back up to the tempo that you ended on today. This is normal and to be expected.

You may even find that tomorrow, you can’t reach the speed you did today. Again, that is normal. If you keep practicing, you will find that your average tempo per week gradually increases. 


About The Author

Sam Russell has released two albums and teaches guitar technique and composition. Sam currently free lessons and courses for www.study-guitar.com, a website for guitar players who are looking to improve their playing, theory and compositional skills.

Soundbrenner is a company dedicated to help musicians stay focused on what truly matters: their music. By creating innovative devices, such as Soundbrenner Pulse and Core, our goal is to deliver the best possible practice experience for musicians. Click here to find out more.

Got a question about Soundbrenner wearables? Reach out to us at [email protected], we’re happy to help!

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