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Thread: Improving accuracy and timeing

  1. #1
    Listener of the wind
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    Improving accuracy and timeing

    Hi guys!

    I have seriuos problems with my timeing and my accuracy. This has been a huge issue for me lately since I went to an audition that just went crap. I'd just learned "Cowboys from hell" with Pantera, but during the audition the band more or less stoped playing and the lead guitarist said: "It's not tight." We did some more tryouts, but with all just the same results.. When I got home I fixed a new soundcard and recorded myself. What I heard was really astonished to me, cause it really wasn't tight at all.. I mean, I can't even play the verse-riff in "Cowboys.."

    After been playing for over 3 years now, nailing (at least I thought so) Petrucci-solos and Michael Romeo-solos I thougt I had really benefit from all the practice, but now I understand that I've missed something that will take several months, maybe years to regain.

    So, what's the formula to get tight? I practice with the metronome from time to time, usually doing some chromatic 16th note runs. I understand that's not enough.. Could someone please tell me what I should do? I mean, just playing whole notes, half notes, fourth notes, 8th, 8th triplets etc. from 40 bpm up to whatever feels comfortable? Over and over again?

    Thanks for reading this, hopefully someone can help me..
    Take care everyone!

    /Anders

  2. #2
    IbreatheMusic Author Bizarro's Avatar
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    Jam with a metronome or drum machine, playing rhythms and leads, but mainly rhythm. Record yourself. Do this everyday and figure out what sounds good and what doesn't. Be extremely honest with yourself, no matter how hard it is! Focus on perfect execution, no slop, especially in your rhythm playing. This is very difficult to do for a whole song, IMHO...

    Now that you know you have a problem, you can attack it and fix it. It is never too late! Good luck!

    I don't think I've ever played a song perfectly in 20 years of guitar playing. There is always SOMETHING that could be better!
    -Bizarro
    Google is your friend

  3. #3
    Listener of the wind
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    Thanks man! I'll absorb what you said about honesty, i guess that's somehow the key to what I want to reach. You mentioned everyday recordings and I really gonna do that. I assume I will feel devistated for some days now on before I get any results

    Please, post more suggestions and tips!

  4. #4
    Registered User
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    Bass players and drummers spend about 50% of their practice time just playing time along with some kind of pulse. So if some instruments can devote that much time to very simple tasks, we as guitarists should devote some of our practice schedual to working on our time.

    So, what is just playing time?

    Take 4 notes, any 4, that's all you'll need for a LONG time. Set your metronome to somewhere around 80bpm. Sit there and start playing 1 note per metronome click and play the 4 notes you chose over and over again in the same pattern. After about 10-15 minutes (yes that's a long time to do this concentrating without falling asleep) you will start to notice slight imperfections in your time. Some notes will be a little bit before the click, some will be a little after. If you're playing 4 notes in a bar, the second note will more often then not be rushed. Eventually if you keep doing this while staying concentrated you will really start to absorb the time and out of nowhere you will play a note and you wont hear the metronome click, which is what you're looking for. That's when you know that that one note was completely locked in. Now do this enough so you can not hear the metronome on every note you play after only a few short minutes and you got some damn good time...that's why I said you won't need more then 4 notes for quite a while.

    Yes it's boring and I'm sure you can think of better ways to spend your time...but if you do this on a regular basis it will benefit every aspect of your playing.

  5. #5
    Listener of the wind
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    Quote Originally Posted by silent-storm
    Bass players and drummers spend about 50% of their practice time just playing time along with some kind of pulse. So if some instruments can devote that much time to very simple tasks, we as guitarists should devote some of our practice schedual to working on our time.

    So, what is just playing time?

    Take 4 notes, any 4, that's all you'll need for a LONG time. Set your metronome to somewhere around 80bpm. Sit there and start playing 1 note per metronome click and play the 4 notes you chose over and over again in the same pattern. After about 10-15 minutes (yes that's a long time to do this concentrating without falling asleep) you will start to notice slight imperfections in your time. Some notes will be a little bit before the click, some will be a little after. If you're playing 4 notes in a bar, the second note will more often then not be rushed. Eventually if you keep doing this while staying concentrated you will really start to absorb the time and out of nowhere you will play a note and you wont hear the metronome click, which is what you're looking for. That's when you know that that one note was completely locked in. Now do this enough so you can not hear the metronome on every note you play after only a few short minutes and you got some damn good time...that's why I said you won't need more then 4 notes for quite a while.

    Yes it's boring and I'm sure you can think of better ways to spend your time...but if you do this on a regular basis it will benefit every aspect of your playing.
    That just sounds great. I'll start on it right now.. Is this something that have helped you in your timeing? What was your next step after hitting the beats perfect? Playing half notes, then 4th etc?

  6. #6
    Groovy Bastard Maarten's Avatar
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    Just stick with the quarter notes I'd say, or pick a simple rhythm, at a slow tempo. It's not something you can really build up mathematically like slightly speeding up the tempo when you've done it at a given tempo or anything, it's about getting better and better at just hitting the note right on the beat at one tempo. After that it's all about learning to play ahead and behind the beat. There are endless variations. Try clapping along with a good drummer and make your clap come EXACTLY in time with the snare, if you do it right you won't hear the clap.
    Also, play along with good records, it's a lot more fun and musical than working with a metronome. I'd suggest some James Brown stuff for this because he always has a superb rhythm section.

  7. #7
    Listener of the wind
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    Yeah, I get your point. But I really need to improve it, and due to how tight I am after these years I've been playing I'm just afraid I will have to spend at least a couple more before I will hit that snare tight enough. I play to records everyday, and I found out that I somehow only listen to the guitar and not the drummer. I've tried to just focus on the drums, but that's almost impossible..

    I would love to play with a drummer, but they aren't plenty were I live and most of them aren't willing to help someone outside their own bands, at least not something as boring as helping me with tempo-exercises.. unfortunatly

    I'll check out James Brown! Thanks for the advices!

  8. #8
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    So you want to tighten up your playing, i'm also a drummer the adage drummers always use is if you want to play tight, then practice slowly and when i mean slowly i mean as slow a your metronome will go.

    Why,

    at a very slow tempo you have to feel the pulse of the beat. the margin for error is much greater (playing fast 16's at 120 BPM will never improve rhythmic accuracy) therefore you must be more accurate to play tightly. start at 90 BPM and then reduce the temp to 30 BPM.

    Secondly, get a book to practice rhythm reading from. I strongly recommend Modern Reading Text in 4/4: For All Instruments by Louis Bellson

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/...362716-9654801

    What does playing tightly mean? well to me it means being able to play rhythmic line, this could be single notes/chords etc, so that the notes synchronise with the time source underlying beat that you are playing with, this could be a drummer, metronome, yourself, accomponaying instrument, soloist etc.

    Notice i said time source, the reason for this is that depending on the situation you are playing in you may not play strict time, but play to a certain feel of the music, for example playing a swung patter which is halfway between triplet feel and quarter note feel. This happens a lot on Jazz, also in modern dance R&B/Garage music, where the swung beat is stretched.

    So to play tight you must LISTEN to the time source you are playing with, and play to the feel of the music.

    To be tight a player must be able to hear, play most importantly feel different time divisions, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8th, 1/4 note triplets, 1/8 note triplets etc

    For each division type you must learn to be able to play, hear and feel the different types. For example 16 notes (below i've put the names commmonly used for 16th notes 1 e & a, 2 e & a etc. underneath i've marked the different rhythmic possibilities for a single beat of 16th notes, play the notes marked with an 'x'

    1 e & a

    (i took out the examples as they didn't appear correctly on the site)

    this is where the book i mentioned comes in it has hundreds of rhythmic examples which progress throught all the different divisions using simple then moving to syncopated rhythms, by the end of the book there are some very complex rhythms.

    If you practice with a metronome using this book playing working towards getting slower and slower your timing will improve dramatically.

    How can you use the examples in the book

    1. play a single chord for each note
    2. play a chord progression using the rhythms in the book for 1, 2, 3, 4, etc bars
    3. play scales to the rhythms
    4. play your favourite lick using the rhythms, sit back and watch how far a single line can go.
    5. if you are practicing 16th notes play a chord or single notes, for the beats in the book accent the notes for the rests, notes not played play a muted string or chord. this could be in a funk, rock, country, jazz style
    6. Apply the idea above to your favourite licks, lines and rhythm playing.
    7. make up your own ideas.
    8 this is a more advanced test for your self. If you have drum machine program the drum machine to play a 8th note rhythm for 8 bars then play nothing for a bar, you play the rhythm, then as the drum machine is quiet play the rhythms from the book. After a bar you will be able to hear if you've maintained the rhythm correctly i.e. as you improve increase the number quiet bars to 4 then 8 then 16. once you can play any rhythm in the LB book and remain in time during the quite part of the beat you are a long way towards being an 'in the pocket player'

    there are endless posibilites that can be used for this kind of stuff.

    Tips for playing with a band.

    when playing with a band and you are having problems locking into the rhythm section (bass and drums/percussion) watch the hands of the drummers, the hand on the high hats will beat out 8th/16th notes etc, the snare will show you where the other beats are coming, 2 and 4 of the bar in basic grooves.

    Tap you feet, nod your head

    Learn to feel the beat of the music inside your head when you are playing so you can lock in and the rhythm is driven from inside you so you are synchronised to the beat not following it. When you follow a beat it will always be a little behind as you are waiting the is a very short delay.

    Relax

    Listen

    I hope this provide some ideas for people wanting to develop their rhythmic playing.

    regards,

    Mac
    Last edited by mac220; 06-21-2005 at 09:44 PM.

  9. #9
    Taiwanese shredder btangel's Avatar
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    play with a metronome. Or if you're learning a piece play along with the song, or GP4/PT file. What I do is play along with the GP4 file with the guitar part turned down, but still hearing it to make sure you're playing it on time.
    Ax: Ibanez JEM7V, '80s Fender Stratocaster
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