How To Play In Time On Guitar

Want to learn how to play in time? Then you’re in the right place! 

how to play in time

In this free guitar lesson you will learn:

  • The no1 secret to playing in time.
  • 5 tips and tricks which will enhance your musicality.
  • 5 quick & easy steps which will help you become a rhythm guitar god.

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Learning how to play in time is THE most important lesson you can learn on guitar. If you can’t play in time, you will never become the guitarist you want to be.

Having a good sense of time, is essential if you want to become a great guitarist.

How do I learn how to play in time?

If you want to learn how to play in time, you must understand how time signatures and beats work in music.

Most music is in 4/4 time. All this means is that there is 4 beats per bar. To understand this, simply count:

1 2 3 4

This is a constant pulse. The speed of each beat can vary in tempo, however the space between each beat is ALWAYS even.

When you listen to music, you MUST understand where these beats are.

Listen to this audio clip to understand how you can feel the beat of a song:

If you get lost, try and listen to the drums. The drums hold the heart of the groove down.

99% of all drum parts accent the main beats in a bar. The bass drum mainly falls on beats 1 and 3, and the snare falls on beats 2 and 4.

If you can lock in with a drummer, you have a good chance of being able to feel the beat.

Once you’ve listened to the drums, try and tap along on each beat. Remember! Each beat is regular, your beats MUST be constant.

how to play in time

Why is this important to know?

It’s important to understand where the beats are as this builds the foundation for your rhythm playing.

If you don’t know where the beats are, you’ll never be able to play in time.

Now we understand how to feel the beat of a song, let’s look at some essential tips and tricks which will help you stay in time.

Tip#1 Tap Your Foot When You Play

The best way to learn how to play in time is to tap your foot on each beat.

Your foot will tap on the following beats:

  • 1, 2, 3, 4.

This will keep you grounded and will improve your timing.

If you find this too difficult, try and tap your foot on:

  • Beat 1. 
  • Beat 1 and 3. 

Tapping your foot helps you to feel the beat and is the best way to keep yourself in time.

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Tip #2 Count ‘1, 2, 3, 4’

If you want to learn how to play in time, try and count the beats of the bar.

You could do this in your head, or out loud. Saying the beats helps you keep time and makes you aware of where the beats are.

how to play in time

Tip #3 Play To A Metronome

Even though metronomes aren’t the most exciting practice tool. They’re incredibly useful if you want to learn how to play in time.

Try this:

  • Put a metronome and set it to around 80 bpm.
  • Listen to the metronome carefully. Distinguish where the tempo is and try internalise this.
  • Play along with the metronome!

If you’re never used a metronome before, try and play a chord on each beat. You must lock in with the metronome.

Metronomes are SUPER reliable, so your timing has to be spot on. You’ll soon find out if you’re in time when you play along with a metronome.

(If you don't understand the above image please read our article "How To Read Guitar Chordboxes In 60 Seconds". It will make everything clear!)

.

Where can I get a metronome?

You can find a metronome on google, click here to check it out: Google Metronome

If you don’t want to use google, there are plenty of apps out there. We recommend, ‘Time Trainer’.

Alternatively, you can buy a metronome from most music shops.

Metronomes sound boring! I need something inspiring..

If you find metronomes boring, try and play along to a drum beat. A drum groove has loads more character than a metronome and is easier to play too.

One of the best drum apps out there is ‘Drum Genius‘. Drum genius offers hundreds of inspiring drum tracks which you can practice too.

Set up a simple drum groove and jam to your hearts content!

 

timing tips

What about strumming technique?

One of the biggest parts of learning how to play in time, is learning how to strum. Learning how to strum enhances your musicality and forms the foundation of ALL rhythmic techniques.

If you want to become an awesome guitarist, you must learn how to strum.

Learn how to strum here:How To Strum A Guitar

Tip #4 Before you begin playing, listen to the beat of a song

Before you begin playing, listen to the song and try and detect where the beat is.

Once you’ve done this, tap your foot along to the beat. This will help you internalise the groove. When you feel like you’re in time, try and play along.

This will make it much easier to play in time. Don’t jump straight in, ALWAYS listen to the song first.

Tip #5 Accent the first beat with a downstroke

When learning how to play in time, your first stroke should always be a downstroke. As a general rule, any time you’re playing on the beat. Play a downstroke.

You should strum downwards on the following beats:

1 2 3 4

These are the strongest beats in the bar, and should be emphasized with powerful down strokes.

cool guitar

How do I practice staying in time?

If you want to learn how to stay in time, follow these steps:

  • Strum a chord every four beats.
  • Strum a chord on every two beats. (Beats 1 & 3, beats 2 & 4.)
  • Strum a chord on every beat. (Beats 1, 2, 3, & 4.)
  • Add up strokes between each beat.
  • Double your speed!

In this audio clip, jack explains how to do this in more detail. Click play here:

Find Out What You Should Learn Next With Our Guitar Map

If you want to understand where you’re up to in your guitar journey you should take a look at our Guitar Map. It will show you what you ‘should’ know by now (and also what you need to learn next to move forward as a guitarist).

Most people find that the Guitar Map shows them how everything fits together and best of all, it will help you identify gaps in your knowledge that are holding you back.

(There is often just one piece of information that holds people back, 1 key insight that they need to know so they can continue moving forward and improving in their guitar journey.)

We made the Guitar Map so people like you can quickly identify what you don’t know, that you need to know next. We hope that makes sense!?

NOTE: The Guitar Map is now included in our free special report: 'The 7 Steps To Guitar Mastery'.

Want free guitar tips and video lessons delivered to your inbox?

Join over 30,000 other guitar learners and subscribe to our guitar-tips-by-email service. (It's free.)

We'll send you a series of lessons that will move you to the next level of your guitar journey.

Learn how everything fits together quickly, easily and effectively. We share ninja tips (for instant fun!) but also timeless fundamentals that will deepen your understanding.

NGAEM

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