The “Tap Tempo” Button

The Tap Tempo Button

Guitar Level: Beginner

A mechanical wind-up metronome in motion
Image via Wikipedia

Most new digital metronomes, drum machines, and time-related effect pedals now come with a button called the “tap tempo” button.  This is a pretty handy feature.  Say you want to learn a particular song and you have the lead sheets, but you are wondering what tempo to play it at – if it’s not written on the lead sheet .  Here’s what to do.  Play the song on your MP3 player, then tap along with the beat on your tap tempo button.  After two or three taps, the device will pick up the tempo and start either a drum loop (if it’s a drum machine), a beat (if it’s a metronome) or an effect such as chorus or delay (if it’s a foot pedal) in perfect time with the song.  It will also give you a number for the beats per minute.

I find that it often helps to slow down the bpm if you are trying to learn either a new song or a lead pattern.  Now that you know the tempo, go ahead and slow it down by 10%-20%.   Once you’ve mastered it at the slower speed, start incrementing the speed up and practicing until you can get it at the correct speed.