Time observations


"Uncle Larry"
Just curious how do keep from accidentally sub dividing.
I let my mind drift. Try to be blank. Try to not think of anything. You wouldn't guess that not thinking would be so darned difficult to do lol.

I do go back and forth. I do subdivide. Nothing wrong with that at all. But there's a zone I'm chasing that can only be had when I'm a calm lake in my head. No ripples. No chatter in my mind. No subdividing.

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
I've only gone down to 40, never 20. My time is very solid from years of working with clicks, however, and I've used other tricks to help my time.

1. Setting the metronome to only play off beat 16th notes. Play 8th notes in between the off beats. It constrains you in a totally different way than the on the beat click does.

2. Similar thing but move the down beat on the click in your head mentally to the off beat 8th and then the "e" and then the "a". Got this one from Benny Greb.

3. Subdivide the beat by up to 19. Play whole notes all the way up to 19 notes per beat and be able to move in between any of them effortlessly. This will naturally lead into polyrhythms.

4. Play odd numbered phrases over 4/4 time and feel the shifting one underneath your superimposed time as the phrase resolves back to the downbeat.

All of these are challenging tools to help in your/our quest.

I'm gonna try the 20 bpm thing now


Platinum Member
My question is, how far do I go in fighting for the 'perfect' take?
Unless I'm the artist, I don't push too hard.

And that's because I came to the harsh conclusion some years ago that if I need more than a couple takes to get it right, then I'm probably not good enough to nail it.

I try not to get down about that, because it's usually something specific about the piece that is giving me difficulty, not necessarily an indictment of me as a bad player. But if it isn't happening in the first two or three tries, then it probably won't happen at all.

It's like throwing the Hail Mary pass and just hoping you'll pull off a miracle. Which is really self-indulgent and doesn't serve the artist in any way, even if you can get away with it. Better to accept the reality that this is about as well as you can play it now. And then work on it like crazy so next time you nail it the first time.

The good news: With lots of practice and experience, over time, the list of things that I can't nail the first time gets smaller.


Senior Member
A few things I don't understand but kudos to you for doing this exercise....

First, unless your guitarist also has perfect time I don't really get how playing at 20 bpm to get better time will help you play with someone with imperfect time over a loop.

Second, if you can't hear - most guitar amps have a line out (I think). Buy yourself a cheap powdered speaker and run one cable from the amp into a monitor for yourself. Problem solved.

Even if it's a really small monitor it would probably be more beneficial.


"Uncle Larry"
First, unless your guitarist also has perfect time I don't really get how playing at 20 bpm to get better time will help you play with someone with imperfect time over a loop.
No one does. I don't understand it myself. TBH I don't care. I'm not gonna analyze it. I'm not looking that gifted horse in the mouth. It works like magic for me, and I could not be more pleased with the results. That's all that matters to me. Isn't it curious that since doing this, I'm nailing the looper with alarming accuracy? For the last 9 or 10 gigs I'm nailing it all night long. That never happened before.

Is it possible....that there's a connection with me practicing glacially slow....and me nailing the looper all night for the first time in about 4 years? Nah can't be :)

I got myself to a point where I don't have to hear the loop. Because my time is so much steadier now. It's better if I don't even see him use it. It's better if I close my eyes. I attribute 100% of my ability to not go off the loop to my 20 BPM practice. It strengthens my "time muscle" like nothing else.

I have to say, the guy makes loops that are in time...no hiccups...like 99% of the time. He's really very good at making loops on the fly. All my prior crying was really my own inability to keep rock steady from one section to another.

I got this problem sussed, finally.

Thank you all for your support.


Platinum Member
There are all sorts of peripheral benefits to practicing at really slow tempos. It improves our focus on listening; listening to the click, listening to the spaces between the click and just thinking about time all the time. As drummers, we can get too obsessed with what we're playing and not pay enough attention to the rest of the band and to the spaces in between the notes. Practicing at 20 bpm makes it impossible not to think about those things a LOT. I would expect that to help with real-world band experiences, including playing along with a looper.