Can’t stop playing ahead of the beat

Hi guitar pickers! I need some help please. I always play ahead of the beat and can’t play on the beat. Using Logic Pro shows I am always the same amount ahead with every note I play. I am sure this lack of timing gives me issues with syncing and locking into a constant smooth rhythm. Has anyone on the forum overcame this problem?


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As a second piece of the puzzle when I play the midi keyboard I am on the beat. Note I am not a keyboard player I only dabble but would consider myself a guitarist so I want to get my picking in time if possible.

What happens when you try playing a bit behind the beat?

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Can you hear this when you play, or is it only on recordings? If it’s the latter it could be red light syndrome or a recording issue, maybe.


Good question. I realized that I did that too. I worked with a metronome but an old experienced bass player told me to get your body swaying to the beat. Or walk your 2 feet the way the old time blues guys did. Albert king played wonderfully a tad behind the beat. Playing ahead of the beat is a bad thing for us guitar players imho. Or anybody😁

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When I feel my timing slip I’ll fire up the metronome (medium speed…anything that is not a challenge) and just try to lock in…that is make the sound of the click disappear by hitting it bang on. You could try this in your DAW with the metronome on then record and see if you haven’t locked in a little more. I find these types of playing ideosyncracies can take months to shed…however 5min of daily focus followed by repeated attention when you play can get you there. Hope this is more helpful than ‘preachy’.


Anyone who recognizes they’re playing ahead of the beat and even goes so far as to analyze wave forms in a daw can definitely fix that problem. You can’t stop playing ahead of the beat? Sorry, but I don’t buy it. It sounds like you already started working on fixing the problem but you just haven’t finished.

Some approaches you can try that might help are relaxing your body, breathing, and especially relaxing your abdominal area. You can try moving some part of your body with your foot, or you could bounce up and down the balls of your feet.

You can also try playing big chords with big motion. This might get you to lower the guitar some. I find it easier to play rhythm when the guitar is lower down by my waist. That’ll get your rhythm feels.


I think that the array of answers already in this post shows that experimenting is the key. I’m quite metronimic and find it hard to play anything rushed or slightly behind the beat (which is a shame because I love it when a player is just behind the beat - groovy!). Just to throw my 2 cents/pence (I’m UK lol): First thing, put down the guitar and clap to a click or drum track - makes you listen more and helps you focus on the timing, not the playing. Then if you feel like you are getting the hang of it, try and clap consistently behind the beat (but not out of time :grinning:). Then you will hopefully have the ability to play ahead, on and behind the beat.

Another thing you could do is slow the metronome done to really slow speeds (less than 50 bpm) and try and clap on the beat. If you can do it at really slow tempos where there is a lot of ‘space’, regular tempos will be much, much easier.

Good luck!!!


Hey @weealf, is it really audible? The effect looks pretty minimal in your picture. Humans can’t really play on the grid, so I would just go by sound and not graphical analysis.

Jimmy Page is known for playing a little ahead of the beat if I remember correctly.

PS: and if you are very consistently ahead of the beat… you can just move the backing track a few ms ahead when you do the mixing :smiley:


Are you sure your roundtrip latency compensation is calibrated correctly?
Can you try to record your keyboard via audio interface and see if you are in front of the beat also?



Very good point! Latency is non-negligible especially if you are using amp simulators like I do. (Unless you have a very powerful computer that can bring down latency to a couple ms).

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Especially because the midi-track seems right on spot, the problem might be audio-related.


Not sure I am skilled enough to do that, I tried but I just get in a flap and feels like I am totally guessing where the beat is.

Not preachy at all, I really appreciate everyone’s comments as the different approaches to learning give me tools and ideas I wouldn’t of thought up myself. I think yes I just need to try and practice locking in 5mins a day. I never practice with a metronome or backing track so this will probably help a lot. Thanks again

Thanks I think like you say I just need to practice more and thanks for the method suggestions I will definitely try these out tonight.

This is something I would of never thought about. Thank you very much, I’ll try this tonight after work and let you know my results.

+1 I came here to say this! If every note is exactly the same amount ahead, this seems highly likely.


Hi @tommo yes it is audible when I play back. I did try just shifting the sync in my daw :grinning: but I thought I better put in some effort to get the tempo lock-in better.

One test you can do, to see if it’s just a latency issue, is to record some tests with the camera phone, e.g. only acoustic guitar on top of a drum loop (simple, and with a good amount of empty space).

you could for example play stuff that has notes in the gaps of the drum loop, then import footage and listen back / look a the waveforms and see if your notes are more on the grid.

Or have the drum loop in logic pro into your headphones, and record the acoustic with the pc microphone, which should have approx no latency.

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Hi @tommo thanks again for your response. This sounds like a good way to test my guitar timing, I will try this and see. Hopefully it is just a latency issue. As this won’t need weeks of practice to sort :joy: I was hoping to spend lock down practicing my right hand picking techniques not timing issues.