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Q: I've read about using a metronome when you practice. Whats a metronome?
FAQ: Whats a metronome?
A: A metronome is a handy little device that holds perfect beat. It does this by producing regular ticks or beats. A metronome is very useful when you need to practice at a certain tempo or whenever you're trying to increase your speed on the guitar. Tempo on a metronome is Beats per Minute (Abbreviated BPM).
A mechanical Metronome in action. Tick - tock - tick - tock...
Metronomes come in three forms - mechanical, electronic and software. A Mechanical metronome is that funny looking devices you always spotted on your piano teacher's table. Its triangular shape holds a metal ticker you wind up, then stand back to let it rip. You adjust the speed through a slider on the ticker itself.
Most modern metronomes are electronic and these follow the same principle, but use electronics and quartz crystal to maintain beat.
When exactly would you use a metronome? The first answer that comes to my mind is scales! Metronomes are great for practicing scales and increasing your speed through them. You may only be able to play a scale at 150BPM at present, but by practicing with a metronome and increasing the tempo at which you play every day with, say 5BPM's, you'll gradually train you fingers and brain to play quicker and quicker. It's a great feeling!
For those of us using the internet the learn guitar, software metronomes are especially handy. For a great online metronome you can use in your guitar practices, visit the guitar tools section.