Improve Rhythm Accuracy And Time on Guitar

unnamed-65There are a lot of things guitar students need to practice, but being able to play in time is one of the most important. Audiences will forgive a few wrong notes but they can’t forgive bad time! (Because if you can’t dance to it…)

While some people seem to have a great natural sense of time, a lot of folks really struggle to find the beat and keep it, and simply practicing with a metronome sometimes isn’t enough. If you can’t do play in time, it’s going to be impossible to lock in with other musicians and play music that you (and other people) want to hear.

When Metronomes and Drum Machines Aren’t Enough

If you are taking guitar lessons, your teacher has probably strongly encouraged you to practice with a metronome and/or drum machine each day. And if you are a good student, you have followed their instructions. But what if you still have not gotten the results you and your teacher are trying to get?

What You Need: Instant Feedback

If you had a metronome that could show you if you were ahead or behind the beat immediately after you picked or strummed your guitar, that would be helpful, right? What if you could earn a “rhythmic score” after 4, 8, 16, or 32 bars? And if you could practice your accuracy when working on quarter to eighth to eighth note triplets, etc.? The quick feedback would make it easy to notice your mistakes and learn to correct yourself.

Practice Like A Drummer: Don’t Be A Russian Dragon

I bought a Roland RMP-5 several years ago because I needed to build my drum skills for a rock band workshop I was teaching. I’ve had a lot of fun drumming on it, and one day I decided to plug my guitar into the extension trigger input.

When I muffled the strings with my fretting hand, I found I could strum all the strings at once, or play a single string, and the “Rhythm Coach” features could be used to measure and improve my timing on guitar, so you can learn to not rush or drag! (Don’t be a Russian Dragon!) I’ve since learned that to get the best reading from the guitar, you can easily access and change about 10 different parameter settings.

Roland doesn’t advertise this possible use for the machine, and I can’t find any other folks who are doing this, so I just contacted the company to see if they know about this and have suggestions for us. 

Rhythm Coach Features:

  • TIME CHECK: Allows visual confirmation of timing accuracy in real time
  • ACCURACY SCORE: Confirms timing accuracy with an actual “score”
  • QUIET COUNT: For developing perfect tempo
  • AUTO UP/DOWN: For developing stamina and endurance
  • RHYTHMIC NOTES: Progressive changes in rhythmic note values

I know this trainer isn’t cheap, but I have used it and seen results in my own playing (and I’ve always had pretty good time), as well as some of my students’ playing. It’s cool to be able to show someone specifically why their time isn’t great, and then help them improve it so that they can see and hear the difference.

Watch the Short Demo:

Link to the Gear

Roland RMP-5 Rhythm Coach
Roland PDS-2 Metal Stand (not required, but helpful)
+ Power Adapter (you can also use batteries)
+ Short Guitar Cable (cables that are too long might not be as good for this purpose)
+ Headphones (so you can choose the click sounds you want to hear, instead of the beep.)


Susan Palmer teaches jazz, blues, and rock guitar styles in Seattle and via webcam. Since 2006, she has been the guitar instructor at Seattle University. Palmer created and taught, “The Rock Project” at Cornish College of the Arts from 2010-15, and she was music instructor at Seattle Girls School for the 2016-17 school year. Palmer is the author of, The Guitar Lesson Companion Method Book Series which is used by teachers and students in over 10 countries, including faculty at Berklee College of Music. Her extensive collection of lesson videos and jam tracks are available for free on YouTube. Palmer’s current and former students perform regularly throughout the country, including these Seattle venues: The Comet, The High Dive, Skylark, Neumos, The Hard Rock Cafe, Chop Suey, The Tractor Tavern, The Rendezvous, The Sorrento Hotel, The Crocodile, The Mix, Cafe Racer, The Edgewater Hotel, The Sunset, and other private events.


I wrote “The Guitar Lesson Companion” Method Books to help students get more out of their guitar lessons and to help teachers save time and be more effective in their studios. These books offer a clear, flexible, and progressive structure with plenty of good sounding exercises, which help students reach their goals faster than ever before. Fellow Guitar Teachers: Are you ready for a guitar method book that takes you and your students seriously? Let’s meet in the The Teachers’ Lounge.


 √ COMPREHENSIVE studies for guitarists of all ages, especially serious college level jazz, blues, and rock guitarists
 √ PROGRESSIVE format takes absolute beginning guitarists step by step into the advanced level
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 √ WORKSHEETS help students gain a thorough understanding of notes, theory, chords, and improvisation
 √ SPIRAL BINDING keeps this book open on your music stand
 √ FREE ONLINE LESSON LIBRARY covers the topics in the books Volume One and Volume Two
 √ FLEXIBLE FORMAT for students taking group or private guitar lessons 


The Guitar Lesson Companion, Volume One is a music reading primer, a chord and scale jam guide, and a basic theory workbook. It’s jam-packed with comprehensive exercises that were designed to take an absolute beginner step by step into the intermediate stages of playing. This book will challenge the average student for 2-3 years with weekly lessons.

The Guitar Lesson Companion, Volume Two is an advanced theory workbook, a chord tone and mode improvisation guide, and a stylistic chord resource. It is a continuation of the first volume, designed with the serious intermediate and advanced level music student in mind. This book will challenge the average student for 2-3 years with weekly lessons.

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