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Technique: Playing Scales With A Metronome

The Intermediate Method

Playing scales with a metronome develops many areas which benefit your playing. It is a very useful technique exercise to develop your picking speed, accuracy and alternate picking while further developing your scale muscle memory and your ear / finger relationship.


The Lesson

1. I would recommend starting with Pattern 1 of the G Major Scale, start with your second finger on the 6th string root, at 3rd fret).

2. Aim to get your note well synchronised with the metronome click, don't let yourself rush. Rushing is common when people first start out with this, so try and relax and play with it. Don't fight against the click of the metronome - you won't win!

3. Try and tap your foot too to help develop your internal metronome. I'd hope you are doing that already!

4. If you are new to technique exercises then you should start at something like 1 note per metronome click at around 60bpm (Beats Per Minute). Better to start very slowly and get it right. Aim for clarity in every note, don't let any notes smudge or be muffled. And make sure that you are using your finger tips.

5. Only when you can do a scale PERFECTLY 4 times consecutively (in a row) should you move the speed up. You might want to start by moving the metronome up by 10bpm at a time to start but as you get closer to your maximum speed you should slow the increments, maybe just going up by 5 or even 2 bpm at a time.

6. Once you get to 160bpm, move on to 2 notes per click at 80bpm (eighth notes). This means that you will play one note with the click and one note in-between. This is great practice for your alternate picking too because the down pick will always be with the beat and the up pick will be between the clicks!

7. Once you get up to 160bpm again, then move to doing 4 notes per metronome click. This is called playing 16th notes. This is going to take you a while to get to this - so don't worry if you are not here after a week, or a month, or a year!!

8. Make sure that you monitor your technique. I would suggest getting a private lesson or two to check you are picking correctly and that your hand position is good. Remember not to let your wrist bend too much. Ask around among good players and get a teacher recommended.

9. One thing to check as you get faster is that the pick is not moving too much. Remember that you need to make small movements to achieve the best speed. If you find that your pick is moving much more than a few mm from the string then slow down and do some work very slowly and make sure that the pick stays close to the strings.

10. Another common issue is the angle of the pick, check out the lesson on this. Remember it should be at an angle of around 10-15 degrees to the string.

Time to look at some more rhythm next...


Justin's Intermediate Guitar Method - Foundation Stages 1-5 DVD

Intermediate DVD

The 5 x DVD set for the Intermediate Foundation series comes with all the free Intermediate Foundation lessons found on the web site PLUS 3 DVD ONLY lessons for each stage, nearly 2.5 hours of extra material to help you to be as good as you can be, as fast as possible. Check out the main Intermediate Foundation page for the list of bonus lessons on each stage!

Sales of the DVDs allow me to keep the majority of the content free, so I hope will support the growth of this site too, for those that can't afford to buy stuff! :)

Click here or the image to your left for more information and to order.



Lesson ID: IM-124