I have recently started practing with a metronome. So far i have kinda nailed quarter and 8th notes but i am having a problem with 16th notes. It appears that i cannot count the beats of the metronome, as well as the 4 16th notes that i play at each beat, at the same time. My question is how do YOU play 16th notes? By "feel" or do you count them along with the metronome beats. Thank you for your time guys.
It helps if you just listen to the metronome, tapping along with your foot and saying some four-syllable word on each beat (e.g. "caterpillar"). Each syllable then represents one 16th note, so you get a feeling for how 16th notes sound at the given tempo. As soon as you can hear the 16th notes in your head, you should also be able to play them.
I would recommend you use alternate picking, starting with a downstroke on the beat. Start repeating a single note in 16ths. Obviously, you want to start with a tempo where you don't immediately run into technical problems. Later you can start playing four different notes on a single string, then you can play a scale (fragment) over more than one string. Always keep it relaxed and remember that tone and articulation are more important than pure speed.
Notwithstanding Matt's answer, it depends on what the tempo is.
After a certain tempo [varies by individual] there is no longer any option to count 'verbally' - either in your head or out loud - you just have to feel it, because the 16ths can still sit nicely in your head long after any attempt to verbalise them will fail.