Every riff in a different BPM?


Platinum Member
If he wants to progress as a musician he should listen to you.
If he's a great friend then he would listen to you.
This. Also: Unless his friendship is so amazing that you can find a way to overlook this, it's not meant to be your band. Speaking for me, this would drive me crazy unless I knew going in that it was a legitimate compositional goal of the band to write music this way. And from your posts, I glean that it is not that.

I think you can be this guy's friend, but probably not his bandmate. I understand that's a hard sell, but it's possible to be friends without being in a band together, and it's also possible to be in a band (and actually work well together) without being friends.


Silver Member
Maybe you can have him convince himself.

Record. Get a recording of you both playing the music as he's presenting it. Then find a common tempo where that collection of riffs works, then listen back and judge for yourself what sounds best. Maybe ask some friends what they think sounds best, as long as they don't know who's ideas are who's.

If he's your pal, maybe you just need to make do. Maybe you can have him write to a metronome, perhaps you have the capability to give him some basic programmed drums to jam to, or maybe you can record yourself playing to a click and make some loops of that.

Myself, I don't necessarily think tempo shifts are inherently bad. I play in a group that uses them sometimes. It's all about context. However, I tend to believe that it usually works better if it's a deliberate choice in writing, not just stumbling into it without a clue of the difference.


Senior Member
It seems like every now and then you find a person who has absolutely no sense of timing. I was in a band last year where that person was the singer. He came in and out when he felt like it and did things like starting to sing the chorus before the verse had even finished.

The biggest problem this guy seems to have is that he doesn't listen, to neither the music nor to what his bandmates are saying. What about if all the other members of the band clubbed together and told him that what he is proposing is unworkable? If it gets so bad, you and the other guys in the band could tell him that you're looking for a more suitable guitarist. He'll then surely start to look at himself.

It would be great if we could listen to one of his ideas.


Gold Member
Yes. rhythmically he is terrible and off time. I just can't put up with it anymore.
OK, I was one of the people that thought he was doing it on purpose... so he thinks he's playing in time, but really isn't.

The thing is, other than rhythm he's an extremely skilled guitarist.
That's a curious statement... What is he skilled at if he can't keep time or a steady rhythm? I'm not trying to be insulting, but rhythm is critical for all instruments, not just drums. The rhythm of an instrument is equally as important as the scales.

Is he taking lessons? It sounds like he is just a beginner, or maybe self-taught, but a few lessons might help him get on track...


Platinum Member
If the guy can't play in time, he's not a good guitarist. He might be able to show off well in a music shop but all the licks in the World aren't worth a damn if he can't play in time.
Maybe it's me, but aren't there regularly these same kinds of threads that say something like:
"My (fill in instrumentalist) really blows. He sucks like an F5, won't take advice, writes lousy songs and doesn't play the covers right, gets drunk and argues with the audience, refuses to play in time just to spite everyone, insists his sad sack tone-deaf wife sings lead vocals, and when politely questioned gets combative, saying - it's my PA anyway so screw you guys. But I love the man like a brother, known him since third grade, he's such a sensitive soul I daren't kick his worthless backside to the curb cos it would just kill the poor sap. What should I do guys?"
And the answers all come back: eject, eject, eject!


Silver Member
Been there, done that (the tone-deaf wife!!!)

The earlier you tell the other person what you think and sort it out, the better the odds you can stay friends. If the first rehearsal is a catastrophe, don't just let it continue.


Silver Member
If he's not willing to listen to advice, then you're already in a toxic environment.

Get yourself out of there asap. There's no reason you can't stay friends, but you need to be clear that his way of playing and writing doesn't work for you.


Senior Member
Lots of great replies, thanks everyone, can't get to everyone individually so I'll just lay out some answers.

Yes. rhythmically he is terrible and off time. I just can't put up with it anymore. I pride myself on playing tight, practicing to a metronome and understanding how to play in complex time signatures, and he can't even play in 4/4. Sometimes I won't change my speed to match his when he starts fluctuating just to prove a point that he's playing way off time, but he won't even notice we're off time. I've tried explaining to him the fundamentals of rhythm over and over, showed him how to play to a metronome. He just doesn't get it. Worse, he doesn't want to get it and feels like it's unnecessary. Unfortunate, because otherwise he's a pretty skilled guitarist.

Yes, we have messed around with covers. Same story. He can't keep a consistent rhythm or stay on time. And yes, he doesn't even notice it.

Yes, his songs are just a bunch of shit piled together with not much structure at all. The riffs sound nice, but they aren't structured right. And yes, he uses the creativity excuse to cover up his lack of knowledge of the subject.

Yes, he's one of my closest friends which makes it impossible for me to just break all ties. The thing is, other than rhythm he's an extremely skilled guitarist. It's just beyond frustrating as a drummer when I pride myself with playing tight and theoretically sound. I don't want to leave my band because he's such a great friend - this band is his life, and I know he won't find another drummer. But I just don't have interest in playing in it anymore, and I'm afraid this constant stubborn environment will put me into bad habits of playing.

I don't know what I should do.
Difficult situation. Maybe treat it as an open drum solo thing over various guitar themes... If you know when the next riff is coming up, lead into it with a complex fill and change to a new tempo/rhythm to fit.

Might turn out very cool in an abstract sort of way!


Senior Member
That's certainly a bit of a pickle you're in mate! I think your best option is to record your band playing a basic cover and let him have a listen to it... if he spots where he is off time and actually agrees with you about the rhythm and timing being important, then you may be able to get somewhere... if not, your best bet is to leave the band, but explain to him why. There's nothing wrong with keeping him as a friend if he's a good mate, but a band with no rhythm is not gonna get a lot of gigs!

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Time and unity is everything.

Really, I could step more carefully, but what you're having to put up with is ridiculous.

Maybe he should just start a one man band.


"Uncle Larry"
People like this...you will never change him. It has to come from within him.

You have to pick your battles. Me, I'd pass on that particular battle, it has all the hallmarks of an exercise in frustration. Enabling this kind of playing....he'll love that, and you'll want to physically hurt him after a while. If you really are a good friend, the best thing (in the long run) is to be honest with this guy that his meter is non-existent. Which is MAJOR dealbreaker for you.

Friends don't let friends play out of time. Be firm firm firm on that. No compromises. Tell him maybe in the future when he gets his timing issues straightened out, you guys can try again. He has to know that he has a major issue with meter.

If you're that good friends with him and your friendship is conditional that you be in his band, that's not what I'd call a friendship. What do you want to do, choose his happiness over yours? Don't do that.

Some tough love is in order here. You have to fire him or leave the band. He has to know the sole reason is his time. It's a dealbreaker. The rest is up to him. He needs to be jolted out of the headspace he's in, and being nice won't do it. You need to be in a band that will push your boundaries. Either that or play wet nurse to your friend for the rest of your life.

The "song" he is proposing sounds laughable. I can't believe you even considered it. Stand up for what you know is right.


Platinum Member
Good advice, Larry.

If it were me, and you guys really grew up together, I wouldn't abandon him. I have a soft spot for groups where the guys all grew up together and I think some really special music can get made that way.

At the same time, you can't move forward until everyone is able to play in time and you can start really arranging the songs.

You have to give him some close friend tough-love.

Bring out a metronome and plug it to the PA. Set it slow and work through some of the parts, then string them together in time to the click.