I have been playing guitar for over one and half year now. The most annoying mistake I make is that I can't play with backing track.

eg: Sweet Child O' Mine solo - I can play this without any music and some time I make mistakes. But with a backing track I make lot of mistakes, especially fast rip part, when drum start to play fast I completely lose playing. This happens with lots of songs. I think I'm losing concentration when backing track plays. Not with fast songs but with slow songs too.

I practice alone and this has been bugging me for several months now.

Is there anyway I can minimize my mistakes while playing with a backing track?


5 Answers 5


There is no way to completely stop making mistakes, just ways to minimize the probability of them happening.

Try playing with a metronome, this will make sure your tempo doesn't wander while you play without a background. Play with a metronome without a backing track, then try to find a slow version of the song, and play with that (with and without metronome). Then, when you can play that really well, find the original song and play with that. The parts that mess you up you should practice. The problem section, and the 2 or so measures before and after that section.

Try not playing the song, just listening to the backgrounds, count and play in your head.

  • 2
    Or, start with the metronome slow, and increase the tempo on the metronome until you can play the piece fairly well at the same tempo as the original. Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 12:03

My primary instrument is piano tho as previous post, this applies to others. I have always been of the opinion that playing 'slow' along with a backing track is an incorrect approach. In fact, this applies to learning a piece with or without a backing track. I've always attempted to practice a piece in the correct tempo, even one measure at a time.

Other opinions recommend slow first, then faster, etc. I think that the brain is hardwired from the get go when practicing. There are, imho, many physiological changes in your hands (brain) that occur when increasing tempo..

Different muscles etc, undergo extremely subtle but changes when playing slow and fast. Different hand positions, fingering are present when you 'switch' from slow to fast. Take it one riff or one measure at a time and get to the correct speed as soon as possible.

Otherwise, you will get accustomed to playing a piece that will work slowly but not faster. The old neurotransmitters are getting hardwired as you practice and will be difficult to adapt to a different tempo. No, I am not a PHd in this. But I've learned to play a piece correctly at the correct tempo from the **beginning. **, and not have to change positions and fingerings when the tempo changes.

  • Hm. When I play slow it seems like it does help. But, I don't practice the whole thing slowly, just the sections I have trouble with. Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 4:33

You might want to try something like a "Phrase Trainer" which will use a combination of hardware and software to allow you to record a section of a song and then slow down the speed without altering the pitch so you can more easily hear how the guitar solo fits in with the drums and bass and other elements of the song. A phrase trainer will allow you to loop a certain problematic section so you can play it over and over so you can isolate the section (or sections) you are having trouble with. There are even Phase Trainer aps for smart phones.

A google search for "Phrase Trainer" or "Guitar Phrase Trainer" will yield many options.

I would try listening to the song with the lead guitar part at a slower speed over and over until you gain a good feel for how the lead lines fit in with the rest of the arrangement. Then perhaps play along with the lead still in the track (at a slower speed) to further reinforce your sense of timing. Then try your backing track with the lead removed at the same slower speed until you feel you are making fewer mistakes and then gradually start speeding up the track until you can play it full speed or even faster than full speed.

If you don't want to buy a "Phrase Trainer", you can use Audacity - a free multi-track audio editor and recorder Download Audacity Here.

Audacity will allow you to slow the tempo without changing the pitch and you can also use cut and paste to make a loop of the section you wish to work on. So you can make your own software based "Phrase Trainer" with Audacity.

Again I would make a slowed loop of the piece with lead guitar in and start by learning to play along with that before practicing the backing track with lead guitar part removed.

Hope this will work for you.


In the exmaple you give, can I assume that the problem is timing? Ie you may play the right notes etc but finish before/ after the point where the next section of solo kicks in ?

Other people have mentioned using a metronome to get your timing steady - that's really good advice. If you play with one, and timing is the problem, then at first it'll feel like the metronoems is wrong because you're so used to rushing or dragging certain sections. Getting used to playing with a metronome will fix this, and it lasts too- try again months later and maybe the old habits have come back a bit but most likely you'll find you're still a lot better at timing that previously.

A metronome will help a lot in ironing out rushed or slurred notes, but there;s still the skill of playing along with a backing track. For me, the trick was not to listen to what I'm playing but listen to the sound as a whole: Listen to the combined sound of the backing track and your guitar as if you were listening to the song on the radio or someting, and hear where your guitar fits in. This will help with a few things:

1) Mix: listening like this helps a lot of people get their volume right because, for example, it might be that previously you weren't loud enough or were drowning out the drums etc.

2) Remembering where you are: Some tunes can get repetetive and listening to a drum fill or a lick on the bass or something can give you a clue when things are about to change.

3) Timing: If you're focusing on the track as a whole, you're going to hear the parts you need to keep time with so you can use them to gauge whether you've rushed ahead or dragged a little.

If the problem is literally missing notes or not recognising where you are etc, then maybe it's related to how well you can hear yourself ? Make sure you can hear both what you're playing and the backing track clearly. Sometimes it helps to have the track coming out of one speaker and your guitar from another, eg your amp I guess. The separation meakes it easier to decipher in your head.


The answer is that you don't actually know the part as well as you think you do.

When you practice sans backing tracks, you allow yourself to fudge the part. You may be playing all the notes, but you aren't playing them in consistent tempo...i.e. you slow down and speed up according to your ability.

Try this: SING THE GUITAR PART along with the backing track. Do that until you can sing it really well, dead on. THEN, pick up the guitar, and play along with your singing. Then go back to playing the part along with the backing track.

If you can SING WHAT YOU HEAR, then PLAY WHAT YOU SING, you will be successful.

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