To Metronome or not to Metronome? That is the Question

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by levonrocks, Nov 22, 2013.

  1. levonrocks


    Nov 21, 2012
    Easton, PA
    I was playing a gig the other night, and the band that opened up for us was pretty good, but I just wasn't feeling the bass player. He was solid and he had chops, but I just couldn't get into his playing style. It occurred to me that he played like a robot, and he was lacking feel. I got the sense that he practiced with a metronome all the time, and this sucked the individuality out of his playing.

    Don't get me wrong. I practice with a metronome, but I also practice without one. I try to play in a variety of contexts, so that I keep my playing interesting.

    So here lies the question: To metronome or not to metronome?
  2. ebick


    Sep 3, 2013
    I use the metronome specifically to work towards increasing my speed. Once I get fluent at the speed I am after (or as fast as I am capable), I'm off the metronome.
  3. wideload


    Apr 15, 2004
    Metronomes always drag...
  4. Kragnorak


    Sep 20, 2008
    One metronome exercise is to pretend that the metronome clicks are a backbeat. Then play basslines that give the illusion that the metronome is grooving, just through your placement of notes.

    My guess is that the bassist in question has not mastered that exercise.
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  6. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Best use of a metrome when practicing "your groove"....Victor sees the worth, as many do, as this being constructive use of a metronome rather than constrictive use.

    In this link, a brief talk about tempo within the beat, or visa versa, at the end you will hear a metronome will change to suit what is going on around it.
  7. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    I use a metronome to refine my inner sense of the pulse. It's a way I can make sure I'm feeling the pulse in my body, and not letting my hands lead. I think that's what Fergie was referring to, in Vic's advice about metronomes.

    In practice time, I play to a click about a third of the time. If I'm disciplining a particular pattern or line, it's on. (That includes working up my speed on something.) If I'm exploring some chord extensions, messing with wide-interval jumps or neck-spanning lines, or trying to push my creative limits, I turn it off and often just play rubato.
  8. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    No comment other than I side with J. Berlin.
  9. Fuzz Aldrin

    Fuzz Aldrin Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2012
  10. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    Even if you don't sound like a robot, the engineer in the recording studio will make sure you do by lining you up in Pro Tools. :D
  11. RDUB

    RDUB Supporting Member

    What's with all the metronome stuff, lately? It's a tool, use it if you want to.

    Not locking up with the drummer, or fighting him will make you sound like a robot. Not practising with a metronome.
  12. Schmorgy


    Jul 2, 2012
    If you never practice to a metronome, you're going to be wasting your time and the engineer's if you ever go to record in a studio, as that recording will be done to a metronome. Even if you never PLAY to a metronome, it will improve your internal sense of time enough to make it worthwhile PRACTICING to it.
  13. I only use metronome for scales and exercises and will switch the clicks between down and up beats. Makes it more interesting.
  14. GastonD


    Nov 18, 2013
    Belgrade, Serbia
    I say, forget about the metronome when LEARNING new stuff, but it can be a nice and helpful assistance when PRACTICING stuff you're pretty comfortable with.
  15. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Simple rule of thumb: If playing with click causes you to play differently than without it you have work to do. I think most of us who've found methods that work have tried lots of different ideas and settled on what gives the end result we were after. There's no one size fits all way to achieve consistent meter or good feel...or anything else for that matter. You have to experiment and observe.

    For me time is mostly about how well I can communicate rhythmically with other players. Getting comfortable with playing to click certainly has not hurt this goal. Great meter doesn't mean great feel but I can't think of many players who have great feel and inconsistent meter.
  16. Randyt

    Randyt Supporting Member

    Jul 21, 2010
    Barrie, Canada
    Always practice with a metronome...when I first started I hated it!!! its just part of my practice.
    I always use a metronome when starting a new song...put it extremely slow...perfect practice...makes permanent!!
  17. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
  18. Schmorgy


    Jul 2, 2012

    If having to follow time makes you play like a robot, then your time sucked to begin with and you were hiding it with expressive notes or just simply not being as easily heard.
  19. mrb327

    mrb327 Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2013
    Brain cramp...
  20. headband


    Oct 18, 2013
    I don't use one regularly, but I think they are great for perfecting your "inner clock".
    I also had an experience lately where I just couldn't get the groove right on a funked up version of an old blues standard. When I played the lick with a metronome I could hear the problem at once.
    I'm an ex-engineer, and i remember in engineering school when students were complaining in a Modern Controls class ( a pretty math-heavy, complicated class) that "why do we have to take this when we will never use it". I remember the answer well - "It's a tool to put in your toolbox - whether or not you use it is up to you". I bet you most in the class never have used it (this was 45 years ago), but I ended up working in a steel mill with computer control where this stuff was very helpful in solving a nagging problem we had.
    Sorry to ramble, but I feel the same way about a metronome - don't throw it out, and try it sometimes. It might help you.
  21. 10cc


    Oct 28, 2013
    It helps heroin addicts.