Using a Metronome

November 3rd, 2011 5:34 pm

You can never say enough about the importance of playing in time or keeping good solid rhythm. Using a metronome is one of the best ways to help master this ability. Metronomes click at a set pace based on beats per minute (bpm). They generally range from 40 bpm to 250 bpm. They can also be set for different time signatures. This puts the accented beats in the right spot for the appropriate feel.

Using a metronome at first can be very frustrating as they are very unforgiving. When playing and practicing by yourself you don’t realize how much you speed up and slow down. This tool will remind you of even the slightest inconsistency.

The trick is to start slow and simple. In the beginning you may want to set your metronome at fairly slow pace and just listen first. Once your mind is locked into the beat you can clap, tap your foot, play just a single note or anything simple in time with the beat. Match each click and you’ll be clapping, tapping, or playing perfect quarter notes. Once you get the hang of this try 2 notes per click. Now you’ll be paying perfect eighth notes.

When you first start playing actual music with the metronome start with something you know very well. This way you can focus on the timing without having to think so much about the notes. Like so many things, the more you work with it the easier and more natural it becomes.

Aside from training you to have impeccable timing this will also help you to mark your own personal progress. Play scales, arpeggios, riffs or any musical passage with your metronome. This lets you see at what tempo you can play these clean and evenly. Start slow and as you get more comfortable increase the bpm to push you to the next level.

Try the metronome on this site. Click here.

October 26th, 2011 11:34 pm

Play Happy Birthday

Voicings

September 18th, 2011 5:56 pm

There are several ways to play any one chord. Each chord has a specific set of notes. The different ways to play the same notes are called “voicings”. For this example we are using “A major”. The A major chord consists of an A, a C#, and an E. Any combination of these 3 notes will make an A major. Learning as many “voicings” for each chord adds more diversity to your playing. Shown below are 5 different ways to play A major just using the top 4 strings.

For some more A chord voicings click here.

Compressors

September 4th, 2011 6:18 pm

Another guitar effect gadget you might want to buy is a compressor. Compressors are very useful tools that help even out your sound.

What they do is boost softer notes while taming louder ones. It’s like having someone constantly fine tuning your volume, only electronically and in milliseconds. The adjustment is made before the note even hits the speaker. So if you happen to hit a note too soft or hit another one too hard the adjustment is made before the note even hits the speaker.

Now don’t think you have no control over your own dynamics. The compressor can be adjusted to kick in at certain points. You can control how much control the compressor has over your playing.

By the nature of how it operates it also has the ability to act as a sustainer. As a note’s sound begins to fade the compressor takes the diminishing volume and keeps it up at a constant level. This is very useful in all kinds of rock, blues and modern country.

Like so many other effects pedals there is no shortage to choose from. Boss, MXR, Joe Meek, and Johnson are some popular ones. Just search Guitar Center or Musician’s Friend website to see how many there are. Compressor pedals start at around 100$ and can be as much as 300$. Rackmount compressors can be a whole lot more.

60 Second Lessons

August 31st, 2011 8:32 pm

Introducing 60 Second Lessons! Timely tips from master guitarist John laGreca make learning the guitar a breeze. John laGreca’s 60 Second lessons podcast will be available on iTunes later this fall. Stay tuned and keep strummin’!