The most important aspect of musicianship is timing—you either have it or you don’t. This goes for all instruments: drums, guitar, etc. If you don’t have timing, then you won’t get far in music. You’ll never shine brightly. And more specifically, you’ll always struggle when performing with other musicians. Your jams will be disjointed, confusing, and lacking in magic.
I’ve seen hundreds of musicians over the years. And I’ve learned that there is something inherent to a sense of rhythm. It’s something in your bones: you feel the music, it bleeds through you. You lock into the drums and bass inherently. You don’t need to think about counting, since you count without thinking. You strum in synchronicity with the cosmos, directly connected with the Gods of Music. You are a conduit for the Great Wave of Sound.
If you need a metronome, then you’re not a musician. When a music teacher senses that a student is having trouble with timing, he’ll send him home with a metronome. But this is usually not effective. It’s like teaching somebody with two left feet to dance. It’s like teaching a stuttering person how to speak publicly. In short, the student is not a natural. It’s like when Elton John tried to marry that woman—it sounded good on paper, but it was a failed experiment at the end of the day.
The one exception to this metronome solution is in the recording studio. It’s necessary to use a metronome in this setting, since recordings must be perfect. But the dynamics of a studio are different than a live performance.
In life, it’s best to focus on your strengths. The sooner you do this, the better. So if you have a poor sense of timing, then it’s best to focus on something other than music. There are millions of possibilities, and your true calling is lying in another place.