Do you use a metronome when practicing guitar? Like the guitar pick and the capo, the metronome is one of the most valuable tools the guitarist has at their disposal. It provides objective feedback on tempo and timing and is a valuable tool to develop a solid sense of rhythm and timing.

If you’re like me, you probably have specific BPM’s you like to set the metronome at when practicing. While it’s good to use a metronome, it’s not going to help your natural sense of timing practicing the same tempos all the time.

Try this incremental series of 16 tempos next time you practice and rotate through setting your metronome to 4 tempos each time you sit down to practice. I find that using this method will allow you to gain a good feel for timing by systematically practicing a wide range of tempos whether it’s lead or rhythm playing. Use this tempo exercise as part of your broader practice routine.

The 16 Tempos

40 – 48 – 56 – 66
42 – 50 – 58 – 69
44 – 52 – 60 – 72
46 – 54 – 63 – 76
The same 16 tempos, but doubled:
80 – 96 – 112 – 132
84 – 100 – 116 – 138
88 – 104 – 120 – 144
92 – 108 – 126 – 152

The Method
During your practice routine, choose the first set of 4 tempos to set your metronome at. Then, the next time you sit down to practice, select the next set of 4 tempos. Spend your entire practice session, whether it’s twenty minutes or three hours just practicing four tempos at a time. Then, the next time you practice, set your metronome to the next set of four tempos. You will hardly notice the difference in tempo but you will be practicing a slightly different tempo each time. The result of this process is that you will develop a natural sense of timing independent of the metronome.