Metronome vs. drum machine

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by 56_Special, Mar 7, 2006.

  1. 56_Special

    56_Special Supporting Member

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    Is it better to practice with a metronome or a drum machine? When I practice with a metronome, I set the click for the 2 and the 4. Here are advantages of each as I see them.

    Metronome advantage: Clicks on the 2 and 4 make you keep time more and rely on the metronome less.

    Drum machine advantage: Better simulates real world playing conditions. Playing with real drum beats gives you practice fitting guitar parts in with drum parts.

    What do you think?
     
  2. gomez1856

    gomez1856 Member

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    I think they both serve their purposes differently. I use both. I use a metronome just as you mention to help me "feel" the beats and their subdivisions.

    I also take exercises that I'm working on and play them along with my DR-880 drum machine. This acomplishes a couple of things for me that a metronome can't:
    1) the most obvious is that it simulates a group setting allowing you to find a groove and get a sense of the "pocket"

    2) Let's say I'm working on a major scale single-note exercise. Maybe I'm working on increasing speed, phrasing, dynamics, anything. With my drum machine (it has rythm accompaniment also), I can keep working on whatever I'm working on, but change the underlying harmony to get an sense of "color" (As Tomo puts it) of the passage over the outlined chords beneath. Example - I'm playing a passage in Dmaj... Well, put the Boss on a D major pattern and it sounds fine. But, how's it sound when I play the same lick or pattern over a Gmaj chord? This can help you simultaneously delve into the world of modality and harmony, all while just practicing the same thing you would have practiced with a metronome.

    So, short answer (for me) is that I use both all the time for completely different purposes and find that (again - for me) they're both indespensible.

    Hope that helps

    Rick
     
  3. Hipster Dofus

    Hipster Dofus Member

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  4. slackandsteel

    slackandsteel Supporting Member

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    Thanks Hipster! :JAM:JAM:JAM
     
  5. fr8_trane

    fr8_trane Member

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    I find a drum machine or loop to be much easier to use than a metronome. This is borne out every time I watch players struggle with a click track in the studio. Most rock/pop musicians need more than the 2 and 4 to accurately keep time.
     
  6. Joe Boy

    Joe Boy Member

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    ..what he said..:)
     
  7. jzucker

    jzucker Silver Supporting Member

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    A metronome used sparsely (i.e. less than 4 beats per measure) forced *YOU* to find all the subdivisions. A drum machine fills in the gaps for you and allows you to be more lazy in your accuracy. They're both valuable but for for purposes of improving accuracy, the metronome is superior.
     
  8. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    Couldn't possibly agree more...I have a whole routine I do myself, as well as give to my students, filling in subdivisions that the metronome's not playing, and I've seen the results.

    I'll tell you, I think the greatest investments I made towards improving my playing many, many years ago were $25 for a cheapie metronome and $30 for a Radio Shack portable cassette recorder.
     
  9. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    Taking Jack's statement one further, a bass player told me once (who has awesome time BTW) try playing so the click is only on the 1 and keep time this way. Try coming in on the 1/16 before the 3rd beat after waiting a bar. Holy crap this is tough. I learned a long time ago it's harder to play less notes sycopated then it is to play more right on the beat. Especially when sight reading.
     
  10. Tomo

    Tomo Member

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    I can't live without my tape recorder!!!

    Tomo
     
  11. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    Try playing with the metronome only clicking on one, then only on two, only on three, then four. Try the metronome clicking only on the "and" of one, then, the "and" of two, three or four. Hear the metronome click as "one" in a bar of three, then play four against it, so the click is always on a different beat. Likewise, four, five, etc. Play scales or lines in offbeat eights with the metronome on the downbeats, then the last two notes of a triplet with the metronome playing the downbeats alone, the last three sixteenths, the last four quintuplets, the last five sextuplets, etc...

    ...like I said, I have a whole routine. Guaranteed to work wonders for your time. And I just gave away quite a bit of it here right now for free!

    Help yourselves!
     
  12. 56_Special

    56_Special Supporting Member

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    Thanks guys! Those are some great suggestions.

    Martin
     
  13. Andy_T

    Andy_T Member

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    haha, I love this term
     
  14. HarryJ

    HarryJ Member

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    Some great suggestions here

    I constantly record myself to aid in the constant quest to reduce the suckage level :)

    I do agree that a metronome, being more minimal, potentially allows more space, and more human error, and therefore a great learning tool.

    But I also have to add, that I also recommend for my students to practice with drum machines and loops simply because it is more fun.
    In general "more fun" translates to more time devoted.

    In the past few months I have discovered the value of the Digitech Jamman looping device. At this point most of my students now also have this.
    I now simply create loops on my computer and port them over via USB 2.
    Students then can work on what ever we are doing at home not to mention having the ability to adjust the tempo.

    I spent much time comparing the Digitech to the Boss, and found the features of the Jamman to be far superior. I must say that surprised me a bit, as in general, I have always preferred Boss in the past.
    It then made a bit more sense when I found out that Digitech built upon the design of the Lexicon Jamman.

    Harry Jacobson
    www.harryj.net
     
  15. fr8_trane

    fr8_trane Member

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    I agree. A metronome will help you develop a better "sense" of internalized timekeeping. But for quick results either with students or in the studio a loop is my preferred method. If you play solo pieces alot a metronome would be invaluable.
     
  16. markp

    markp Member

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    Great lesson!
    I spent years playing with click on quarter notes onle and playing groups of 3,4,5 etc...over each beat and some times trying to playing 3 over 2 and differant stuff.but just trying to play o a click only on 2 makes me feal like a spazz.
    I have alot of work to do before I start bugging you for the rest of routine.Thanks
     
  17. jspax7

    jspax7 Member

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    I agree with all of the great advice on using the metronome. For my students, I've seen better results with drum loops. I recorded a CD with Rock, Blues and Swing beats, Tempos from 60 - 120 BPM, in increments of 6 - 8 BPM. They can practice a song at slower tempos, but still maintain the feeling of a real groove.

    It seems to be more fun to play with drums. Metronomes can be tedious. Not everyone is into it. A great discipline if you can do it though. Start by using what works best for you. If the fun factor helps you to play more, use a drum machine or loops.
     
  18. Thwap

    Thwap Member

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    Right!!! That's how I use them, but for me to explain it would've taken 3x as long. Great cut through the crap straight to the point post. LOL
     
  19. jzucker

    jzucker Silver Supporting Member

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    But this is where we disagree. Sure it's easier to play on the in-between parts with a drum machine because the machine is doing all the work for you. With the metronome, you have to do the work.

    And yes, it's more fun to play with the drum machine. That doesn't mean it's better for your improvement though...
     
  20. Thwap

    Thwap Member

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    No I agree with you, I guess what I would say is I use the drum machine for the impovisational area...because, as you pointed out, it fills the gaps...similar to a band somewhat.

    While the metronome is more like playing "naked"...no where to hide. A lot of the time I'll construct to the metronome, then play to the drum machine to see if "it fits in the pocket".
     

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